Elvis Imafidon

PhD, Director of the Centre for Global and Comparative Philosophies, SOAS University of London

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Fluidity, Relationality and Personhood in African Understanding of Health and Wellbeing

The shift from body-centred to person-centred healthcare discourse acknowledges the importance of personhood in health and wellbeing. But who is a person or what constitutes personhood? Sub-Saharan African philosophies of personhood emphasise the fluid and relational natures of the self in the attainment and sustenance of personhood and wellbeing. Concerning fluidity, personhood and wellbeing are not fixed or static states of being. There is always room for being-better. The fluidity and dynamism depend largely on relationality. Concerning relationality, personhood and wellbeing are co-created and collaboratively achieved by agents in an active and lively community of beings, including humans and non-humans. In this talk, I explore these features of African Philosophies of Personhood and their importance in thinking about person-centred healthcare. The fluidity of the self indicates the fluid realities of health and wellbeing, the non-stable nature of being-healthy. The relationality of the self shows the importance for co-creating wellbeing and health at all levels of engagement as well as the need for a holistic approach to a person’s health and wellbeing. I show that these features of African philosophies of personhood are significant for rethinking healthcare services at individual, community and global levels including planetary health.

Elvis Imafidon (PhD) lectures in the Department of Religions and Philosophies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is also the Director of the Centre for Global and Comparative Philosophies at the same institution and a Research Associate at the African Centre for Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science (ACEPS), University of Johannesburg, South Africa. His background is in the philosophy of difference, philosophy of corporeality, philosophy of healthcare, philosophy of disability, comparative philosophy, ethics, and ontology, primarily from African philosophical perspectives. He has published many articles and essays in reputed journals such as Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Nursing Philosophy, Polylog, International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies, Foundations of Science, and the Journal of Human Rights Practice.  He is the author and editor of several books including Ontologized Ethics: New Essays in African Meta-ethics (Lexington Books 2014), The Ethics of Subjectivity: Perspectives since the Dawn of Modernity (Palgrave Macmillan 2015), African Philosophy and the Otherness of Albinism: White Skin, Black Race (Routledge 2019), Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference (Springer 2020), Cultural Representations of Albinism in Africa: Narratives of Change (Peter Lang 2022), and Handbook of African Philosophy (Springer 2023).