This article is an effort to put some of the paradoxical and confusing concepts of ubuntu on
the table. Both the terms ‘nostalgia’ and ‘imagination’ provide us with language that can
help us to talk about this complex of ideas and perspectives. On the one hand, the clouds
of nostalgia surrounding ubuntu will be acknowledged and used. On the other hand, the
difficulties and challenges brought about by nostalgic language have to be explored with
imagination. Options for the conducting of empirical research in order to create a thicker
understanding, including nostalgic language, will then be discussed. I will firstly reflect on
the role of nostalgia as the atmosphere within which concepts of ubuntu find breathing space.
Then the two types of nostalgia, namely restorative and reflective nostalgia will be discussed.
The choice for reflective nostalgia will be argued and explained and this will hopefully provide
an imaginative basis for the development of the research project on such an evasive concept
as ubuntu. In conclusion some methodological guidelines, based on the postfoundational
approach, will be drawn.