Mission Statement of The Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancement (DISA)
The mission of the Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancement is to create and promote Afrocentric scholarship and to build upon the research of Cheikh Anta Diop. Our guiding philosophy is Afrocentric scholarship for the upliftment of African people and for the betterment of the world.
History of DISA and the Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference
The Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference was initiated by Molefi K. Asante to coincide with the introduction of the first doctoral program in African American Studies at Temple University.
From the beginning, the CADI Conference was defined as an instrument where space for intellectual growth could be created and sustained in an environment of free discourse. At its inception the conference had three objectives: 1) introduction of the new discipline, 2) professional and collegial networking among students and faculty in Black Studies, and 3) advancement of disciplinary knowledge around the Afrocentric idea.
Named for the brilliant Senegalese scholar, Cheikh Anta Diop, who single-handedly revised the text on African antiquity by writing several books exposing the methods Europeans had employed to falsify African history, the conference assumed a leadership role in the projection of Afrocentric consciousness. Diop was the inspiration for the conference because, in his two important works translated into English–The African Origin of Civilization and Civilization or Barbarism–he had demonstrated the advantages of sound scholarship. His research methods were multidimensional and his expertise was sharp, always projecting a measure of African intellectual integrity in pursuit of truth.
Diop himself asserted that his work was designed to scientifically reestablish the place of Ancient Egypt (Kemet) in the orbit of African history and culture, and to recover Kemet’s rich legacy in expanding the horizons of knowledge and history in the interest of the African People in particular and Humanity in general. Further, Diop recommended a “return to Egypt in all domains” or a critical engagement with Kemet as a fundamental source for paradigms of excellence, achievement and possibilities in all disciplines of human knowledge. Diop contended that such a return for critical retrieval and creative reconstruction “is a necessary condition to reconcile African civilizations with human history; to build a modern body of human sciences; and to renew African culture.”
Enhancing and transmitting competence and expertise on ancient African civilizations as well as advancing Pan-African consciousness are enduring enterprises in the Afrocentric engagement of the world and its phenomena. The Pan-African personality embodies the historical memory, common sense, collective consciousness, artifacts, social institutions, innovations and creative visions of the composite African People. As such, the Pan-African Personality reflects the contemporary conditions of African people globally. Africans are involved in a wide range of activities to improve our conditions and life chances. The efficacies of our institutions, programs and activities require reflective evaluations that use Afrocentric criteria.
Accepting the charge by Diop, Nkrumah, and others, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante advanced the theory, methodology and paradigm of Afrocentricity in the academy. In 1988, Asante and colleagues founded the Cheikh Anta Diop International Conference in conjunction with establishing the first Ph.D. program in African American Studies. Since its inception, every autumn, scholars from around the world convene in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to advance the Afrocentric paradigm, strengthen and expand this scholarly community (especially those disciplines committed to advancing African agency at all levels), and to address critical issues confronting Africans at home and abroad. Held in October each year, the conference highlights the latest in Afrocentric research by facilitating panels and papers on various aspects of African and African Diaspora cultures, histories, thoughts and practices from within the Afrocentric intellectual framework. Outstanding books, articles, and other Afrocentric research initiatives are recognized each year at the Awards Luncheon.
The conference was associated with Temple University until 1996, when it became affiliated with the Association of Nubian Kemetic Heritage (ANKH). Beginning in 2009, the conference was convened by the Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancement (DISA), which is now responsible for its organization, personnel, and programming. In addition to facilitating the conference, the Diopian Institute of Scholarly Advancement (DISA) is committed to utilizing scholarship in order to qualify and advance African agency at all levels.