01. Communication and Power in African Politics (Society)

This panel aims to reflect on character, correlation, function, and meaning between communication and power in African politics (society). People and organisations live (survive) in “communication and power” every day around the world (not only in the public scenes), including Africa. We have seen various types of political communication, from the presidential palace to the streets, from public ceremonies for celebrating the national hero to everyday derision or mocking against the “beloved” national leader, from an authoritarian regime to a more democratic regime, allowing broad freedom of speech. Scholars of African politics have likely focused on the relations from top to down and merely from down to the top. However, we also need to focus on the political approaches of the powerless actors, carefully studying the hidden texts (Scott, 1990): underground practices of resistance to the state (or powerful actors), such as derision (sketches, popular theatre, caricature of newspapers, and satire newspapers), popular song, etc. This panel examines political communication-related acts that take place at various locations and times and then compares these acts in order to understand communication and power in African politics (society) more comprehensively. We welcome papers from Africanist scholars of different academic disciplines in human and social science.

Aghi Bahi (Universite Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire)
Takuo Iwata (Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan)

02. The First Thousand Days of Life; Reproductive and Early Life Interventions

The panel addresses the question of what it is to be human by considering a newly emergent knowledge field, ‘the first thousand days of life’. Shaped by new epigenetic findings about heritability and older concerns about population health and growth, this field anticipates that ‘investments’ in early childhood will have positive individual and population effects over time, including generationally. The field has the capacity to reinvigorate questions about entitlements – to health, redress, etc. – at the same time as it reinstates older (and often colonial) models of relationship, responsibility and care. The panelists will consider the making of this field and critically engage with its potentialities, including the potential to remake knowledge about human becoming. We will pay particular attention to the raced and gendered assumptions of prevailing knowledge systems, and to the effects of policies enacted in their name.

Fiona Ross (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

03. Critical Mass Mobilisation and Institutional Design for State-Building in Africa

This panel is proposed by the African Leadership Centre (ALC), a Pan African initiative based at the University of Nairobi and Kings College London, which mobilises the critical mass of African youth for action on peace and security leadership. It will focus on emerging themes in the generation and dissemination of knowledge to respond to the most vexing and perplexing challenges at the nexus of peace, security and development on the continent. The discussions will feature some of the current research on mid-generation impact research, complexities of knowledge production in various regions in Africa, and the processes through which bridges are erected or dismantled in post-conflict reconstruction. Related themes that will be explored include the notions and trajectories of institutional design and how social identities interact with state-building efforts in Africa. These themes are in line with the scope of the conference that aims to address old questions in new imaginaries in contemporary Africa.

Clement Sefa-Nyarko (La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
Moses Tofa (African Leadership Centre, Nairobi, Kenya)

04. Relations to Plants as a Heritage From Below in African Cities

This double panel aims at gathering researchers in social sciences and humanities reflecting on the knowledge and forms of attachment to plants of the inhabitants of African cities, as part of the urban heritages produced from below and rarely recognised by the local and international institutions.

This double panel is built around INFRAPATRI, an interdisciplinary research programme (2021-2025) focusing on the knowledge and forms of attachment to plants of the inhabitants of Yaoundé (Cameroon), Ibadan (Nigeria), Porto-Novo (Benin Republic) and Dakar (Senegal). It will aim at discussing the first results of the programme by bringing together researchers in the social sciences and humanities working on similar topics in African cities.

The memorial relationships of city dwellers to plants, among other alternative heritage dynamics, are rarely recognised by the institutions (Cousin, Mengin 2011). However since their foundation, African cities have included multiple plants and green spaces (Sheridan and Nyamweru 2007). Today, they are often threatened by urbanisation policies, even if plants have also been recently brought back into fashion in many African cities, under the banner of the ‘sustainable city’ model put forward by international cooperation and development agencies (Myers 2016).

Plants in African cities are also daily used in a variety of ways based on practical or symbolic knowledge (Juhé-Beaulaton, 2009, Bigon and Katz, 2016). Together, these knowledges and uses belong to diverse urban communities based on family, ethnic identity, religion, neighbourhood, profession or political representation (Bondaz 2011, Ernston 2012). They are preserved and transmitted through different channels, at the basis of diverse forms of urban identification (Dorier-Apprill and Gervais-Lambony 2007). This panel will be thus an opportunity to present these plural relationships to plants and to analyse them in relation to past and present institutional attempts to manage urban nature in Africa.

Emilie Guitard (CNRS/UMR Prodig, Aubervilliers, France)
Saheed Aderinto (Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, United States)

05. What Does it Mean to be African in a Multispecies World?

The animal turn poses exciting theoretical, analytical and methodological challenges but has lagged behind considerably in African Studies. What it means to be African in a multispecies world is an ‘old question’ that can be approached through ‘new imaginaries’ and importantly contribute to these.

Scientific evidence nowadays leaves no doubt that humans differ from other animals only in degree and not in kind. Animals, or non-human animals, are fellow sentient beings with personalities; individuals that experience and (co)construct (social) realities. Consequently, it would be reductionist to consider ‘the social’ (like in the social sciences and African Studies) a uniquely human affair. With the awareness that human exclusivity, superiority and anthropocentrism no longer hold, non-human animals, and their absences and invisibilities, are becoming of increasing concern to social scientific research and theory building. The resulting ‘animal turn’ poses exciting intellectual challenges, theoretically, analytically and in terms of methods, because most – if not all – theories and methodologies have a rather anthropocentric bias. The animal turn has lagged behind considerably in African Studies, even if many of the primates, parrots and elephants that formed the front-runners in research regarding consciousness, language, intelligence, culture and agency in non-human animals were African species, and African ontologies, epistemologies and axiologies can be of profound value to multispecies research. In this panel, we rethink what it means to be African in a multispecies world. Reflecting the conference title, this is an ‘old question’ indeed, but one which can be approached through ‘new imaginaries’ and contribute to these. We invite colleagues to join us in an effort to fundamentally rethink some of the general and cherished assumptions within African Studies regarding the in- or exclusion of non-human animals, opening a space for experimental methodologies, creative analyses and novel theory building.

Vanessa Wijngaarden (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Harry Wels (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

08. The Humanities in the Age of STEM [Roundtable]

[A roundtable of the Historical Society of Liberia]

In the last several decades, we have witnessed growing worldwide support for STEM – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Consequently, international funds for academic programs are being directed more frequently to STEM. With relatively little national resources for individual academic programs, the significance of this shift cannot be overstated. Prior to the age of STEM, the humanities – including history, political science, English, and philosophy – benefitted from international funds, even as the humanities were perceived as a “soft science”. However, in the age of STEM, support for programs in engineering, computer science, public health, and mathematics, for example, seems to be the model for international assistance to institutions of higher learning. This panel is organised by the Historical Society of Liberia (HSL), an interdisciplinary body of scholars and history enthusiasts dedicated to promoting Liberia’s past. The panel will examine the current state of the humanities in Liberian universities and colleges. In addition, it will evaluate the impact of STEM in relation to the humanities. Finally, the panel intends to consider alternative approaches for supporting the humanities in the age of STEM.

Cassandra Mark-Thiesen (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
William Ezra Allen (University of Liberia, Monrovia, Liberia)

10. Forming the Authentic Human Being: Trajectories of Islamic Learning and Knowledge Transmission in Africa

This panel invites fresh perspectives on Islamic learning in Africa. It seeks to shed light on approaches to the formation of “authentic human beings” in both formal and informal educational settings, paying special attention to intersectional dimensions and to geographic and linguistic diversity.

Building on recent scholarship on Islam in Africa that highlights the formation of “authentic human beings” as one of the primary objectives of Islamic educational endeavours, this panel proposes fresh perspectives on Islamic learning in various African settings. We invite papers that explore both formal and informal educational contexts and specifically encourage contributions that question this conventional divide as well as other received wisdom in the study of Islamic education in African Muslim societies. Our proposed focus on character formation is designed to explore more holistic understandings of Islamic learning that emerge out of empirical case studies, rather than viewing it mainly as discursive knowledge transmission, or in terms of intellectual grooming, or through the normative lens of texts. Approaching Islamic learning in terms of the formation of human beings allows us to foreground the corporeal and experiential dimension of knowledge transmission as well as processes of mediatisation, which all highlight notions of authenticity that might be drawn from a wide variety of sources – oral and textual, explicit and implicit, local or and global. We are especially keen on presentations that take intersectional perspectives by highlighting, for instance, gender roles in Islamic learning, girls and women as students and transmitters of knowledge, notions of masculinity in male-dominated educational settings, and power differentials related to race, ethnicity, and class. We also seek paper proposals that represent the geographic and linguistic diversity of Muslim societies in Africa.

Hassan Ndzovu (Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya)
Britta Frede (Moi University, Eldoret, Kenya)

107. (Re)Conceptualisations of the ‘Human’ in Africa Across Disciplinary Boundaries: Methods, Possibilities, and Provincialisation/Universality

From the ruins of colonialism and the aftermath of the failure of the enlightenment to produce a universal human, this panel will grapple with two questions: 1) what kind of human is possible from various localities across the African continent and 2) what does it mean to engage with the question of the human against the backdrop of ongoing structural violence in the 20th and 21st century (including new forms of imperialism, state-sanctioned surveillance and militarisation, and slow violence from environmental degradation and new stratifications of the working poor to unprecedented scales of gender-based violence and ongoing political corruption). Embracing the call for intellectual experimentation and inter-disciplinary collaboration, this panel will address the question of the human within the academy and from the perspective of African studies. It will produce a variety of preliminary conceptualisations of the human and motivate specific case studies and methodologies from history, medical humanities, sociology, and psychology to demonstrate the necessity of reframing the question of the human. Our panel explores ways of thinking the human in Africa into the world while foregrounding new interpretations of the human in relation to contemporary features of life-worlds in post-colonial contexts. The purpose of this panel is to collaboratively delineate the limits and possibilities for reconceptualising the human in the 21st century while also making an argument for the provincialisation of the question of the human as a means to facilitate and reshape debates over the utility of the question itself on a global scale.

Vincenza Mazzeo (Johns Hopkins University, United States)
Emory Kalema (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Sinethemba Makanya (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Ellison Tjirera (University of Namibia, Namibia)

109. Documenting African Environmental Challenges

In the last decades, environment challenges have gained prominence among researchers in “area studies”. Scholars such as Byron Caminero Santangelo (2014), Dipesh Chakrabarty (2012), Irène Assiba d’Almeida, Lucie Viakinnou-Brinson and Thelma Pinto (2014), Elizabeth Dloughrey and George B. Handley (2011), Ogaga Okuyade (2013), Mohamed Salih (1999), William Slaymaker (2001), Guillaume Blanc (2020) and Malcolm Ferdinand (2019) have convincingly argued that in their attempt to redefine world economic infrastructures, global and transnational structures have significantly fragilised African ecosystems and their inhabitants.

Whether through overfishing on the Atlantic coasts of the continent, petroleum exploration in its oceans, copper or uranium mining in the Sahel, or precious metal and Zircon harvesting in central Africa, the dominant profit-oriented Anthropocene caused a heavy blow to the ecology of various African spaces, threatened human and wildlife and even jeopardised the practice of religious systems. In Kenya, Cameroon or Senegal, for example, major Chinese, Gulf countries or Indian companies have joined with the former colonial powers to secure vast swaps of lands for the harvesting of crops exclusively destined for export.

On the African continent today, the new face of globalisation has solidified an already unequal economy by destabilising local ways of inhabiting the earth, destroying cultures, further damaging the environment, thus endangering local social structures.

Given the above, it is not all surprising that today, many documentary filmmakers craft images that expose the devastating effects of hastily crafted economic agreements compounded with the unforgiving consequences of climate change, soil erosion, air pollution, the poisoning of sea and ground mammals. This panel will examine how these environmental challenges are represented on the screen by filmmakers from different parts of the continent. It focuses on African documentaries dealing with the clash of opposing Anthropocene. It seeks to examine the representation of the environmental jeopardies dealt to human and animal life on the continent.

Alexie Tcheuyap (University of Toronto, Canada)
Anny-Dominique Curtius (University of Iowa, United States)
Etienne-Marie Lassi (University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)
Sada Niang (University of Victoria, Canada)

11. Women as Lesser Humans? Tracing the Evolution and Prospects of Women’s Influence in African Parliaments

While special mechanisms such as quotas have been successful to increase women’s descriptive representation, it is far harder to ensure substantive representation in legislatures in Africa despite pressing policy issues for women such as poverty, social exclusion, and high levels of gender-based violence. This panel aims to interrogate the factors that prevent substantive representation and equal participation of women legislators.

Since the introduction of the Beijing Platform for Action, 1995, women’s political participation and representation in legislatures and other political structures have increased. While numbers are still below the parity level worldwide, with women’s representation in sub-Saharan Africa at an average of 24%, the question now turns to the impact of women’s presence in parliamentary structures. Although several countries have taken proactive measures such as instituting affirmative action strategies like quotas and reserved seats to enhance women’s descriptive political participation, these reforms to address gendered discrimination in parliamentary structures don’t explain why women’s influence does not translate into policy influence. There is a need to better understand how the androcentric nature of legislatures, gender stereotypes, and patriarchal beliefs impede women’s substantive representation. This panel interrogates gender and power relations in parliamentary structures and women’s constant struggle for visibility. Submissions are invited that analyze gender regimes in diverse African parliaments, examine the nature of obstacles that prevent women’s equal participation, assess existing interventions such as women’s parliaments, parliamentary women’s caucuses, women’s homosocial networks, and others that may enhance women’s substantive representation in parliament and papers that study the role of critical feminist actors and women members of parliament’s alliances with the women’s movement to increase substantive representation through agenda-setting.

Hannah Muzee (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Amanda Gouws (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)

110. Humanity, Africanity, and the Global Political Economy: How Will Africans and the Diaspora Contribute to the Fourth Industrial Revolution? [Roundtable]

This roundtable convenes contributors from African countries and the diaspora to explore international political, social, economic, and cultural issues relevant to African citizens and the diaspora. Issues that will be discussed include Pan-Africanism, classism, racism, sexism and colourism, xenophobia and Afrophobia, as well as international development and African urban and rural class structures.
Participants will explore how despite the transitions between the Atlantic trade of slavery, colonisation, African independence movements, and the current global, digital political economy – which depends on African economies for exports and labour, as well as the diaspora – Africans have been economically, socially, and politically integral throughout each era. Nevertheless, Africans have become politically and economically marginalised within the global political economy, creating an inherently prejudiced, contrived, and egregious violation of international human rights. Participants will explore the roles of Africans in the contemporary global political economy, which can be viewed as a metacolonial society. ‘Metacolonial’ is defined as an international colonial system that goes beyond the scope and depth of what classical colonialism and neocolonialism had achieved and marginalises former colonial masters as well as subjects.

DaQuan Lawrence (Howard University, Washington, United States)

111. Biocultural Identities in Africa: Shifting Perspectives and Environmental Practices

This plenary discussion will offer thoughts and perspectives on biocultural identities and their relevance to concepts and discourses of identity in Africa. Drawing on the research of archaeologist Curtis Marean, ecologist Peter Bridgewater and social anthropologist Rose Boswell, among others, we aim to discuss the importance of shifting and potentially resituating narratives of identity in Africa to be part of a more inclusive discussion on identity. The biocultural approach (McElroy 1990) offers a holistic view of humans as biological, social and cultural beings in relation to the environment. Historically, biocultural studies have focused on the role of genetic and phenotypic traits to understand illness and health outcomes. Today, other aspects of biocultural research focus on the archaeological, sensory, bio-spiritual, and ecologically embedded nature of humans and the role of these bio-specificities in shaping human experience and identity. In discussing biocultural identities in Africa, the participants hope to also shift dominant thoughts and perspectives on identity and environmental management practices.

Rosabelle Boswell (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

112. Toward Shifting Africa’s Position in the Global Science and Research Ecosystem [Roundtable]

This roundtable aims to provide a platform to stimulate debate and explore initial answers to three interconnected questions: 1. “How do we envision a future global research and science ecosystem in which African constituencies and terms take their rightful place in knowledge production?” 2. “Can efforts to redress structural power imbalances in “global North-Africa” research collaborations help foster such a transformed ecosystem?” And, if so, 3. “What directions do such efforts need to take and what social policy responses are required to underpin them?”

Efforts to decolonise the African research ecosystem in general and higher education, in particular, have been primary objectives of post-independence leaders and scholars from the continent. Endeavours to Africanise universities and critiques of Africa’s scientific dependence and extraversion are relevant examples. While critical voices remained side-lined during, and in the wake of the 1980s neoliberal incursion in African states and social policymaking, calls for the decolonisation of African academia and research have returned to the centre. Emphasis is being placed on epistemological and linguistic orientations, iconographies, and institutional policy practices. Key foci have been a valorisation of African knowledge systems and a disruption of dominant Western frames and interests in the generation and dissemination and the use of knowledge products to engage policy and political processes. Subject-specific and Africa-led decolonial agendas are also being pursued in fields such as law, development studies, history, literature, ecology or public health. In parallel, an expanding discourse on equitable research partnerships has concentrated on the need for greater fairness, between actors in the global North and their African counterparts, in the setting of research agendas for collaborative Africa-facing inquiry, in the administration of, and division of labour and resources within research projects, and in access to rewards and scientific publications. Ultimately, both strands of the debate are about the relationality of Africa and former colonial powers in the realm of research and science. However, equitable partnerships’ discourses do not typically centre African or decolonial perspectives. Conversely, current decolonial debates pay limited attention to the nature and dynamics of “global North-Africa” research collaborations and how they might reproduce or shift colonial hierarchies in knowledge production in Africa and globally. Neither discourse gives prominence to the role of organisational policy (within research or higher education institutions) or social policy in shaping research relations.

This roundtable seeks to build on and foster further cross-fertilisation among the different strands of debate by foregrounding questions about the role that structural change in international research collaborations might play in advancing a decolonised African and global research and science ecosystem, and about the role of organisational policy and social policy in underpinning such transformative change.

Isabella Aboderin (Perivoli Africa Research Centre (PARC), University of Bristol, United Kingdom)

113. Who Owns Africa? China, Euro-American Institutions and the New Scramble

The panel addresses the role of China and Euro-American institutions (private and public) in Africa’s development. It examines the question of Africa’s sovereignty in the face of competing interests from the Global North and East to exploit the resources of the continent. The contributors revisit the concept of neocolonialism, interrogating the role of foreign actors on the continent and their role in perpetuating corruption and bad leadership. Some of the contributions in the panel will also examine specifically the question of China in Africa. Should Africans or the world at large be worried about the influx of China on the continent? Is China’s Africa policy a “win-win” as China claims, or is it a neocolonial policy in which China benefits by exploiting African resources?

Bekeh Ukelina (State University of New York, United States)

12. The City and the Human

As the making of the human is the moral project of modernity, the making of the city is its worlding. In what ways is the design of the city, in both its metropolitan and colonial configurations, also the design of the human?

Metropolitan civilisation and the human being are the foundational historical constructs of modernity. The scientific study of ourselves, the ‘humanitas’, rather than the divine, is consolidated in the European Enlightenment to produce the modern disciplines. The human is an aesthetic liberal project, bestowed with the transcendent intellectual capacities to attain universal knowledge, limitless prosperity, and ever-accumulating freedoms. Kantian and Hegelian philosophy also provided the human with a spatial ontology, whereby the ‘West’, or Europe and its settler extensions, is the wellspring of the human.

Yet this Enlightenment schema also institutes the ‘Anthropos’, the barbarian subject, and the ‘Antipodes’, nativist territories in want of civilisation, producing a racial capitalism and global knowledge apartheid in the colonisation of the Global South. The social sciences and humanities in modern Western epistemology have historically marginalised the spatial conditions under which science and freedom are produced, rendered non-political and universal. However, a radical tradition of black, feminist, Muslim, Jewish, indigenous, and queer perspectives in critical phenomenology decentres the universalist claims of modern subjectivity, instead underscoring the embodied and relational nature of the human.

‘The City and the Human’ invites multidisciplinary contributions in the spatial humanities, including urban anthropology, urban sociology, urban political economy, literary and religious studies, and architecture and urbanism, to frame critical spatial coordinates of the human as a material, intersubjective and relational assemblage. Spatial economies of the human/ barbarian may include, but are not limited to, readings of the city from the plantation, the prison, the camp, the university, the church, the museum, and the ghetto.

Sadiq Toffa (University of Cape Town, South Africa; Hamilton, Canada)

14. Afropolitan and Afrotopian Poetics: Figuring the Possibles, Recreating the World

‘Afropolitanism’ and ‘Afrotopia’ – respectively coined by Achille Mbembe (2005, 2010) and Felwine Sarr (2016) – are among the various critical concepts brought forward, since the turn of the century, to rethink from Africa the cultural and political identities of the continent, the Global South, and current globalization. The two concepts, which should not be conflated but which appear in many respects as complementary, encourage the deconstruction of various ‘grand’ narratives and paradigms (modernism, nationalism, nativism) and call for the imagination of a new relational anthropology where circulation, plurality, and syncretism become key features.

Their critical, programmatic, and visionary framework does not only harbour a humanist dimension (“montée en humanité” / “uplifting humanity”) and engage with relevant thinkers from Africa and the African diaspora (Fanon, Césaire, Senghor, Mudimbe), but acknowledges the arts and literature as particular sites and manifestations of the Afropolitan and Afrotopian renewal. Over the last fifteen years, African writers (on the continent and elsewhere) have been influenced by Mbembe’s and Sarr’s concepts and taken up their ideas in their literary work. More largely, they have also been inspired by the collaborative project ‘Les Ateliers de la Pensée’, which, initiated in Dakar in 2016 by the two thinkers, can be considered amongst the various materializations of the Afropolitan and Afrotopian vision.

This panel seeks proposals for papers (in English and French) which discuss – theoretically and/or as case studies – contemporary literary production from African writers whose works have been productively informed by elements from Afropolitanism and Afrotopia, and whose poetics therefore contribute to the creative figuration and critical rethinking of the human for and from the continent.

Markus Arnold (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Elara Bertho (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) / Les Afriques dans le monde (LAM), Paris & Bordeaux, France)

16. Dreaming, Conversion and Inspiration: Oneiric Imaginaries in Contemporary Africa

This panel seeks to trace the connections between dreaming and the world of the invisible from comparative and multidisciplinary perspectives. Dreams have long been studied in anthropology. Among historians, archaeologists and scholars of literature, there has been increased recognition of dream studies in recognition of the social and religious dynamics produced during the dream-time.

The objective is to foster an international discussion to develop tools for analysing how individuals experience everyday religiosity in Africa, and about ways of sensing invisible spirits and the divine, especially in “conversion dreams” and in “inspirational” or creative dreams. Following recent scholarly moves (Soares 2006, 2016), the aim is to challenge scholarship that presents different religions as separate blocs and does not study them within a common analytical frame. Dreams of the Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, the Qur’an, and the Bible could all shed light on African encounters with various Others in different settings. Papers are welcome on the following topics, among others: ethnographic case studies of visitational, inspirational and investiture dreams; conversion dreams; Christian-inspired dreaming in Muslim worlds; dreams and jihadism; gender, dreaming and the unseen; inspirational dreams in poetic and artistic creation; representations of dreams and the unseen in art and popular culture; and sources for dreams study (digital dream reports, dream books, dream diaries, literary dream reports, etc.). Visual and art-based approaches and methods are welcome, and short films that relate to the topic will be screened.

Authors are invited to send an abstract (max. 300 words) and a short bio (100 words) to Amalia Dragani at the following email address: amalia.dragani@ufl.edu. Abstracts and papers can be presented in English, Italian, or French. Paper proposals are welcome from both experienced scholars and PhD students. Selected papers will be published in an edited volume or a special issue of a scholarly journal.

Amalia Dragani (University of Florida, Gainesville, United States)

17. We Engage, Yet Are Not Seen: Whither Africa’s UNSC Women, Peace and Security Agenda? [Roundtable]

This roundtable asks Africans to reflect on the UN Security Council’s women, peace and security (WPS) agenda, highlight African action, and question dominant narratives about engagement in multiple arenas. Young scholars, advocates, and leaders are particularly welcome.

To what degree will Africans of every gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, faith, ability, and age shape the United Nations Security Council’s women, peace and security (WPS) agenda? Is inclusive engagement a fact on the ground, a possibility just out of reach, or a mirage? In the decades since the passing of resolution 1325, how have Africans authored, enacted, and experienced WPS? The agenda is critiqued by feminists in Africa and the ‘global South’ as essentialising and eliding the representativeness and experiences of people living in conflict. It is often identified as elite-driven and selectively employing mainly liberal feminist perspectives. Peace work by Africans, whether state-level leadership in landmark political positions, such as the Windhoek Declaration and Namibia Plan of Action (2000) – a precursor to resolution 1325 – or the revolutionary, non-violent protests of Sudanese women in 2019, are understood to be ‘unseen’ by some proponents and opponents of WPS.

This roundtable asks Africans to reflect on the WPS agenda, critique dominant narratives and highlight African action. Prospective speakers and participants include researchers and policymakers from African universities; representatives of governments implementing the WPS agenda; civil society advocates; and policymakers from UNWomen. However, young scholars, advocates, and leaders working on and/or across the WPS agenda’s participation, protection, prevention and relief, and recovery pillars are particularly welcome to contribute.

Provocations/presenters are invited to submit abstracts for 5-10 minute inputs on the following key themes:

  • conceptualising peace
  • meaningful, inclusive participation
  • resisting armed violence
  • truth, justice and reconciliation
  • transforming oppression

Angela Muvumba Sellström (Nordic Africa Institute (NAI), Uppsala, Sweden)
Shuvai Busuman Nyoni (African Leadership Centre (ALC), Nairobi, Kenya)

18. Future Visions of Research Cooperation in African Studies

African studies are changing rapidly, not only with regard to themes and methods, but even more to the self-understanding and the ways of how participation from different institutional and spatial backgrounds are evaluated. Postcolonial critique and epistemological challenges of research formats mainly anchored in the Global North have led to an increasing interest in new formats of research but also of collaboration between researchers situated in institutions of the Global North with those on the South. New ways of cooperation are not only emerging due to individual interests of cooperation but also because of an institutional awareness of the necessity of collaboration. Initiatives from different backgrounds are seeking answers to the demand of de-centralising African Studies as well as to the request of a fair participation of researchers from the Global South. Last but not least, funding institutions are also looking for more North-South cooperations. How did these new settings change research practices and results, and, therewith, the epistemological landscapes of knowledge production? Our panel/roundtable aims at bringing together experiences from different institutional backgrounds. How is research cooperation practised, which challenges are shaping the field of cooperation? Which models of partnership could be seen as future-building? Which are the visions for future research? Which are the future visions that might orientate collaborative research?

We particularly invite representatives of research institutions and research consortia to exchange about future visions for research in African Studies that could be seen as role models for future research.

Erdmute Alber (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Enocent Msindo (Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa)
Muyiwa Falaiye (University of Lagos, Nigeria)

19. Economic and Monetary Sovereignty in West Africa: An ‘Old’ Question in Need of New and Transformative Imaginaries

Self-determination and the quest for full sovereignty have been perennial aims of human social groups and nation-states. They have been hard to achieve as global relations of power and inequality have always infringed on the human ability to freedom. With a view to Africa, this human pursuit has indeed been an ‘old’ question, and the quest for answers has not at all been finished. In order to develop new potential imaginaries, this panel we investigate historically and in comparative fashion how West African societies have attempted to increase their political and economic sovereignty with a particular focus on the interaction between governments, finance and labour. We will discuss how most West African countries became exporters of only one or two commodities with the help of foreign capital and military force. In the second step, we will focus on how postcolonial, newly independent governments have attempted to move away from this with the help of domestic resources, the creation of public and private banks, foreign debt and, most recently, stronger relations with China since independence. Increasing economic complexity, diversifying the economy and thus to reduce dependencies on the world market have been perennial pursuits but have often failed. The Covid crisis has put this into stark relief, again. How can we explain recurrent debt crises and the difficulties in moving away from raw commodity export dependency? Which role do global and domestic social relations play, and what does that mean for the state in West Africa? To find answers to these questions, we work with notions such as the legacies of colonialism, the question of imperialism, racial capitalism, the creation and diversification of dependencies, financial subordination and coloniality and gauge how productive they are to find answers to the question why full self-determination has been so hard to achieve.

Habil Kai Koddenbrock (University of Bayreuth, Germany)

20. Disruptive Bodies, Unsettling Truths: LGBTQI+ Migrations on and From the African Continent

On 15 November 1884, the major European powers met in Berlin to carve up a continent. While as an event, the ‘scramble for Africa’ lasted less than a century, its legacies can be seen in many contemporary social, legal and cultural structures on the continent. These inherited modes of social regulation are perhaps most visible in the use of colonial-era penal codes. Those perceived to transgress sexual and gender norms are frequently subjected to exclusion, violence, surveillance, and in some cases, criminal prosecution – positioning anything outside the bounds of heterosexuality as patently unAfrican. This has led to a new phenomenon in Africa’s long history of migration: the movement of people fleeing persecution on the grounds of their sexuality and/or gender. Alongside this movement, the existence of anti-LGBTQI+ laws and the prevalence of heteronormative rhetoric are increasingly cited by Western commentators as evidence of Africa’s inescapable brutality. In the process, the colonial notion of a savage continent in need of salvation is repackaged and repurposed for the twenty-first century. Despite a growing body of knowledge challenging this, at the centre of this discourse is the figure of the LGBTQI+ refugee, always imagined as seeking freedom and liberation in the ‘progressive’ West. This panel seeks to contribute to existing scholarly debates on LGBTQI+ migration by bringing together diverse inputs with a particular interest in what happens when borders, sexualities, genders, identities, languages and mobilities come up against the histories, trajectories, futures and imaginaries of the African continent.

B Camminga (African Centre for Migration and Society, Johannesburg, South Africa)

21. Conversations From the South: Decolonising Southern Thinking

This panel invites scholars from Africa and other Souths to dialogue about the possibilities of decolonizing thought in the Global South. It will serve as a space to authentically think together from and for Africa and the South.
The panel will share research, case studies, comparative studies and concepts that can contribute to the construction of alternative knowledge and rescue epistemologies in the process of being silenced. In a world in deep crisis and accelerated transformation, we believe that the Global South (Africa in particular) is well-positioned to contribute to the imagination of more humane alternative futures – and to the very survival of humanity. In this sense, we think about Global South contributions in terms of concepts and practices of interconnectivity, conviviality, communality, equality, and emancipations.

The participants of this panel call for the construction of intellectual South-South bridges. We hope that these bridges can be built from the South, without intermediation, in the same spirit that founded this African Studies Association of Africa.

Participants: Education for transformation and Liberation: Examining Amilcar Cabral’s National Culture and Paulo Freire’s Cultural Action and Conscientization as a South-South intellectual bridge – Mjiba Frehiwot (University of Ghana) | Three conceptions of harmony in the Global South – Thaddeus Metz (University of Pretoria) | Social Science Research Ethics and Knowledge Production from the South and with the South – Carla Braga (Universidade Eduardo Mondlane) | La coopération universitaire Nord-Sud revisitée : rampe de la colonialité ou (im)passe de décolonialité ? – Germain Ngoie Tshibambe (Université de Lubumbashi) | The value of Latin American ideas under the apartheid state – Laura Efron (Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina)

Chair and Discussant: Fabricio Pereira (UNIRIO, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Mjiba Frehiwot (University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana)
Fabricio Pereira da Silva (UNIRIO, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

22. Engaged Research in African Studies [Roundtable]

Conducting ‘engaged research’ with communities is increasingly recognised as vital to addressing local problems and to fostering networks and collectives of change-makers, both within academia and beyond. Engaged research is advanced with community partners, from the outset, rather than for them, and is a key strand of ensuring African institutions and scholars are at the heart of conversations on the research agenda.

This roundtable seeks to explore ways of maximising the value of African Studies research to society, of amplifying African voices in African Studies research, and will cover the following:

  • The typically linear pathways to impact currently taken by African Studies researchers (research, publication, dissemination, impact)
  • Levels of confidence among African studies researchers regarding impact – how to ‘generate impact’?
  • What does engaged African Studies look like?
  • What is the place for local communities in academic research?
  • Strategies for engaging end-users at the start of the process – which problem to focus on?
  • The use of real-world issue ‘problem-statements’
  • How can institutions/policymakers/funders assist or better facilitate engaged research?
  • What is the role of academic publishers in a non-linear, engaged model?
  • Shared experience of engaged research approaches or methods

The roundtable will be convened by African Studies journals editors and Routledge, Taylor & Francis (Elizabeth Walker, Global Head of Portfolio, Area Studies), and will seek to involve colleagues with experience in research management within Africa. Additional resources: As part of the roundtable, we will look to provide delegates with some advice and resources on increasing the impact of their own research.

Elizabeth Walker (Routledge, Taylor & Francis, Oxford, United Kingdom)

24. The Problem of Infertility and Personhood

Infertility is a prevalent issue that affects both men and women in Africa. It is estimated that one in ten couples experience difficulties in conceiving a child or multiple offspring. When a couple faces childlessness, however, women are often the first to be blamed. This panel explores how women and men experience infertility and its management in Africa. It addresses the cultural constructions of infertility and how to achieve full personhood for those who do not conform to the ideals of womanhood as mothers and manhood as fathers. The panel provides an opportunity to reflect upon the stigma surrounding infertility (whether deliberate or involuntary) and the many side effects that stigma creates. Individual papers may focus on one or more facets of the problem of infertility and personhood from a historical or contemporary perspective. Papers may explore and deliberate on the psychosocial well-being of women and men with infertility. Others may wish to analyse how individual women and men, communities, medical professionals, public health officials, and international agencies address (or fail to address) the social isolation that follows individuals and couples struggling to conceive. The history and realities of seeking fertility treatment (whether bio-medical, spiritual, or holistic) may be examined. Therefore, we invite paper submissions addressing the psychosocial well-being of women and men with infertility, and the meanings and experiences of infertility, that are based upon anthropological, historical, literary (broadly defined to include oral, digital, and written forms of expression), sociological, and/or medical research.

Florence Naab (University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana)
Alice Kang (University of Nebraska Lincoln, Lincoln, United States)

25. We Are Married to the Deities: The Interplay of Traditional Religion and Chieftaincy, the Power of a Priestess in Focus on the Koankre Shrine

Despite the remarkable amount of scholarship on African traditional religion and chieftaincy, a relatively small amount of work is devoted to the discussion of the interplay of politics, gender and the priesthood institution in most African societies. Very little has been written on the relationship that exists between these two institutions, especially the roles priestesses play in the chieftaincy institution and vice versa. Knowing how the chieftaincy is dependent on the traditional priesthood institution for its existence, specific key issues this paper addresses include the role priestess play in rituals performances and how these intend to bring tensions within these two institutions in the management of their communities. Mostly, scholars have argued that the chieftaincy institution relies so much on the priesthood institution for survival; however, there has been little exploration, particularly on priestess’s role with respect to the impact they have in the development of the chieftaincy institution.

Harriet Boateng Aduako (University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana)

26. What Does It Mean to Produce African Studies in Africa? [Roundtable]

In this roundtable discussion, editors of African Studies journals and representatives of African Studies centres based in Africa raise questions around space-making in the knowledge realm. What does it mean to produce journals and African Studies centres today in Africa for the continent and the world? What role do African journals play in the global African Studies knowledge economy? What role do African Studies Centres have in hosting and shaping African Studies scholarship, policy, and practice? To what extent do journals and centres convene communities and conversations? To what extent do they facilitate provocations and challenge hegemonies? How do we think through knowledge production about Africa and the world, building of the academy, contributing to society, and nurturing of the human through the vehicle of African Studies journals and centres in Africa?

In bringing together African-based journal and centre representatives, this roundtable opens up exchange around the place and space of the African Studies in Africa operation too often underrecognised in the global knowledge environment. It seeks insights from editors and centre representatives around their epistemological visions, their multifaceted remits, and their strategic approaches. It explores highlights of key emerging themes and directions, the challenges of the pandemic, and the dynamics of partnerships.

Where next for African Studies journals and centres in Africa?

Janet Remmington (Taylor & Francis, Oxford, United Kingdom; University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Claudia Gastrow (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

29. Critical African Studies [Roundtable]

This roundtable, hosted by the journal Critical African Studies, explores the question of criticality in African Studies. Through 4–5 short presentations and open discussion, we will interrogate the idea of “the critical” and its implications for understanding the discipline of African studies in the contemporary moment.

Shari Daya (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Hazel Gray (Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

30. Personal and Family Names in Societies in Africa: Analysing Changing Naming Conventions

The personal and family names that parents give to their children typically emerge from social consensus about what are proper or desirable names. Customs regarding the assignment of family names are often rigid. A family name of the present may be indicative of social status several centuries prior. Hence, “social science history” work has used the intergenerational transmission of family names as a measure of the evolution of inequality. Family names are also indicative of ethnicity in many societies. Identity transformations, especially as societies encountered Christianity and Islam in the 20th century, can be approached through analysis of the evolution of family names. Personal names also are interesting to social scientists. In some societies, the consensus is towards naming children unique names that reflect some aspect of the circumstances of the child’s birth or some value that one or more parent (or other adults with naming authority in a community) might want to communicate. These “botanical names” – meaningful words communicating a public, or hidden, meaning known to some members of the community – have been declining in frequency. Personal names may be increasingly conformist, or “uniquist,” or indicative of celebrity-identifiers that are replacing community markers. In short, there is a rich archive of meaning in personal naming conventions that is available for understanding social transformations.
This panel proposes to gather several papers that use quantitative or qualitative methods to build on prior research describing various aspects of family and personal names. The scope will be broad, and if enough participants respond, paper proposals may be grouped into more narrow thematic panels.

Michael Kevane (Santa Clara University, San Jose, United States)

31. Infrastructure Panel: Making African Research Visible and Accessible

The aim of this panel is to present the most important recent developments in information infrastructure and scholarly communication concerning research in and from the African continent.

Recent developments in open access, preprints and research repositories have created a paradigm shift in scholarly communication. On one hand, there has been a transformation in access to research outputs beyond paywalled subscription journals. On the other hand, these innovations have great potential in enhancing the visibility of African research. How can researchers in African Studies use these infrastructures for their benefit? What factors are hindering them from doing so? What could a stronger international network of research infrastructures look like?

This panel invites professionals from repositories, databases and research portals to share the latest developments in their fields and to enter into conversation with academics.

Anne Schumann Douosson (Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany)
Mark P. Snyders (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)

33. Media, Mediation and the Production of History

In recent years significant attention has been paid to hierarchies of knowledge production within the global academic market, in particular given what is experienced by many as a growing divide in knowledge production about Africa between Africa and Europe + North America. However, within academia it becomes easy to forget the plethora of actors – be they community leaders, artists, directors, and literary authors – participating in the production of history. Their reach has indeed frequently outpaced that of the professional historian. What have these relations looked like on the African continent? This panel engages with particular forms of media and mediation that have been used to capture and disseminate African History across Africa, as well as general history from an African perspective.

What may the lens of media studies reveal about cultural production in Africa as it pertains to the production and publication of history? How have production practices and processes shifted over time? And, in a context where local scholars have recently reprimanded how too many African universities are currently preoccupied with present-oriented topics (perpetuating a neglect of the study of the human condition) who are the continent’s most critical producers of history today.

Cassandra Mark-Thiesen (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Ruramisai Charumbira (WBKolleg, University of Bern, Switzerland)

34. The Struggle Over the Ummah: Race, Place and Membership in the Community of Believers

The objective of the panel is to bring together students and scholars who conduct anthropological research on Islam in Africa. This panel specifically focuses on the racialisation processes with regard to the Muslim communities in the continent. So, it invites the panelists to adopt a critical race framework and combine ethnographic methods with an intersectional approach.

This panel examines the racial configuration of the Ummah, often translated as the global community of believers, by centring on the experiences of African Muslims. The idea of the Ummah as a community of believers is, in reality, quite a complex construction. Yet much of the discussion has tended to gloss over broader social issues including race, while putting greater emphasis on the religious dimension. Additionally, debates on race and Islam in Africa have mainly concentrated on the history of slavery and its legacy in post-abolition societies. This panel makes an anthropological contribution to these debates by analysing the racialisation of contemporary African Muslim communities in relation to both local non-Muslim communities and transnational Muslim communities from the Middle East, South Asia, Europe and America. Moving beyond the primacy of ‘Muslim’ religious affinities within the Ummah, we agree with Vahed that the concept of Ummah ‘does not erase for a moment racial, class, gender, cultural or other divides’ (2021, 11). Following on from this, we ask: What racialised discourses on and about particular Muslim groups exist, and how do they play out at the micro-level? In what ways do Muslims themselves reinforce, reconfigure and resist these racialised discourses? How are local racial formations tied to /entangled with global hierarchies of race? And finally, how do we place these within the particular histories, cultures and political economies in which Muslim communities are situated?

Ezgi Guner (Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey)
Yasmin Ismail (Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany)

35. Opportunities, Challenges and Future Imaginaries

This panel brings together papers that explore the challenges and opportunities facing African Island States. It reflects on the histories of representation, democracy and global positionality on a planet shaped by climate collapse, rising authoritarianism and pandemics. Its goal is to bring diverse speakers into dialogue on the role of islands in contemporary regional politics, using storytelling in its broadest sense to do so. The panel invites submissions from scholars, writers and activists to engage in dialogue based on an oceanic perspective of the continent and of the globe.

This panel brings together papers that explore the challenges and opportunities facing African Island States. It reflects on the histories of representation, democracy and global positionality on a planet shaped by climate collapse, rising authoritarianism and pandemics. Its goal is to bring diverse speakers into dialogue on the role of islands in contemporary regional politics, using storytelling in its broadest sense to do so. The panel invites submissions from scholars, writers and activists to engage in dialogue based on an oceanic perspective of the continent and of the globe.

Jess Auerbach (North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)
Naseem Aumeerally (University of Mauritius, Reduit, Mauritius)

36. Revisiting the Bargain of Collaboration in Colonial and Post-Colonial Africa

African intermediaries were ubiquitous in encounters between Europeans and Africans throughout the continent from the eighteenth to the late twentieth centuries. In Intermediaries, Interpreters, and Clerks, Benjamin Lawrance, Emily Osborn, and Richard Roberts explored a cross-section of African personnel employed at the lower levels of European colonial administrations in Africa, namely, the marginalized local go-betweens – interpreters, translators, clerks, letter writers, and “bush lawyers” – whose mediations shaped relations of power between Europeans and Africans from the early 1800s to the 1960s. This panel, chaired by Phumla Nkosi (UCT) revisits this important community of historical actors with a new perspective, focusing on the role of Africans as mediators, collaborators, and agents of power within imperial and postcolonial authority, both European and African, to revisit the “bargain of collaboration,” a term borrowed from Ronald Robinson. Allison Shutt (Hendix College) revisits the attempt by the infamous sell-out, Jasper Savanhu, a prominent African member of the Central African Federation (1953–1963), to refashion his political respectability. Vusumuzi R. Kumalo (Nelson Mandela Univ.) revisit white-authored memoirs of cross-racial artistic collaboration in theatre, film, and literature to reveal the significance of apartheid as a vehicle for reshaping reminiscences of the bargains of collaboration undertaken in South Africa in the 1950s and 60s. Julie McArthur (Univ. of Toronto) studies the mapping of the Kenya-Somali frontier and the construction of imperial landscapes in east Africa, highlighting the role of visual culture and intermediary figures in the contestations over territoriality, mobility, and sovereignty. Marius Kothor (Yale Univ.) examines the experience of Togolese women merchants, the powerful Nana Benz, and the legacy of the first elected Africa woman mayor in independent Africa, Marie Sivomey. Benjamin N. Lawrance (Univ. of Arizona) provides discussion and commentary.

Chair: Phumla Nkosi (University of Cape Town) Presenters: Allison Shutt (Hendrix College), “Nationalist No More: Jasper Savanhu’s Lament.” | Vusumuzi R. Kumalo (Nelson Mandela University), “Collaborators across Apartheid’s Artscape: History, Memory, and Cross-Racial Artistic Partnership.” | Julie MacArthur (University of Toronto), “Visualizing Imperial Landscapes: Frontiers of Imagination in the Mapping of Eastern Africa” | Marius Kothor (Yale University), “‘They Gave us a Big Market, and they Appointed a Woman to Administer it’: Marie Sivomey, Lomé’s Merchants, and the Rise of Military Rule in Togo, 1967–1974.” Discussant: Benjamin N. Lawrance (University of Arizona / African Studies Review)

Benjamin N. Lawrance (University of Arizona, Tucson, United States)

37.A South-South Migration and Inequalities I: Ethiopia-South Africa Corridor

There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that South-South migration (SSM) accounts for nearly half of all international migration. This knowledge is yet to dent the persisting reality that international migration routinely centres on South-North migration. This panel rethinks this practice. It foregrounds the relationship between inequality and migration and rethinks the concepts which were developed under the assumptions underlying the study of South-North migration. The aim is to: deepen academic and policy understandings of the relationships between SSM and inequality; explore the impacts and effectiveness of interventions to reduce inequalities associated with SSM; and raise questions in the hope of shifting ideas and policy processes around mobility. With particular attention on migration from the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia) to South Africa, but not limited to place-space context, this panel brings together empirical research and policy analyses on South-South and African intercontinental migration rooted (while not trapped) in history, context and place.

The panel themes include:

  • Childhood migration
  • Resource flows
  • Poverty and income inequalities

The panel is interested in the extent to which migration between Ethiopia and South Africa is reducing or exacerbating multi-dimensional inequalities. There is need to understand the extent to which SS trajectories of movements; pull and push factors; impacts and effects at destination and origin; time-space-place; peoples, policies or nation states; the economy as well as re-centring human development of peoples could narrow inequalities with respect to SSM.

Research on child migration perceives children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults, thus providing leeway for adults to speak for them and consequently strip them of their agency. What would re-centring the human development of children entail? The panel seeks studies that question the view of children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults to studies that consider children as active agents.

Related panels: 37b + 72

Henrietta Nyamnjoh (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Dereje Feyissa Dori (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)

37.B South-South Migration and Inequalities II: South Africa-Ethiopia Corridor

There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that South-South migration (SSM) accounts for nearly half of all international migration. This knowledge is yet to dent the persisting reality that international migration routinely centres on South-North migration. This panel rethinks this practice. It foregrounds the relationship between inequality and migration and rethinks the concepts which were developed under the assumptions underlying the study of South-North migration. The aim is to: deepen academic and policy understandings of the relationships between SSM and inequality; explore the impacts and effectiveness of interventions to reduce inequalities associated with SSM; and raise questions in the hope of shifting ideas and policy processes around mobility. With particular attention on migration from the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia) to South Africa, but not limited to place-space context, this panel brings together empirical research and policy analyses on South-South and African intercontinental migration rooted (while not trapped) in history, context and place.

The panel themes include:

  • Childhood migration
  • Resource flows
  • Poverty and income inequalities

The panel is interested in the extent to which migration between Ethiopia and South Africa is reducing or exacerbating multi-dimensional inequalities. There is need to understand the extent to which SS trajectories of movements; pull and push factors; impacts and effects at destination and origin; time-space-place; peoples, policies or nation states; the economy as well as re-centring human development of peoples could narrow inequalities with respect to SSM.

Research on child migration perceives children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults, thus providing leeway for adults to speak for them and consequently strip them of their agency. What would re-centring the human development of children entail? The panel seeks studies that question the view of children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults to studies that consider children as active agents.

Related panels: 37a + 72

Henrietta Nyamnjoh (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Dereje Feyissa Dori (Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia)

39a. A Critical Examination of Methodologies in African Studies Research [Roundtable]

This round table features scholars from African countries and the Diaspora exploring approaches to decolonizing methodologies in African Studies, particularly in the humanities and the social behavioural sciences.

In this moment of a global reckoning on normative systems of power, it is critical that we focus on producing research that centres African experiences and avoids treating the continent as a monolith. The proposed round table engages in debates around decolonizing African Studies and cultivating new methods of inquiry. We begin by defining what constitutes decolonisation and examine if it is possible to decolonize research methods in general and in African Studies specifically. These questions around epistemology and the potential to create knowledge that centres Africa is explored using fields in the humanities and the social behavioural sciences. More specifically, we examine these issues in the contexts of African feminisms, cultural studies, political ideology and education, philosophy, African politics, and political economy. The scholars represent a range of African countries and the Diaspora, placing discussions of the positionality of the researcher in comparative perspective.

Mjiba Frehiwot (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana)

39b. Are African Studies Centres Gatekeepers of African Knowledge Production and Enablers of (De)Colonisation? [Roundtable]

Recent calls to decolonise the Academy are led by, amongst others, African Studies centres which accept the need to reframe the terms of their engagement with Africa at a structural, conceptual and practical level. However, questions remain whether such centres remain the ever-present gate keepers for African researchers and African knowledge production in the current academic setting. There are a number of reasons for this. First, academic space and access to it is regularly defended by (white? male?) academics through the deployment of seemingly neutral devices such as ‘objectivity’ or ‘standard methodology’ often to the exclusion of African knowledge-making and African knowledge systems Secondly, well-established African Studies centres, pre-dominantly located in the Global North, carry with them the heavy baggage of colonialism. After all, they were established to aid the ‘scientific’ understanding of the colonised. Today, they remain just as well-equipped and located in the “right” geographical sphere that allows them to maintain and control access to African Studies. 

In view of these factors, the participants of the roundtable discuss the relationality between theoretical and practical factors of decolonisation in academic space. A special focus will be put on the correlation between the academic engagement with theoretical concepts around decolonisation and the practical agenda of the centres reflecting the call to decolonise African studies.

Prof. Thoko Kaime (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Isabelle Zundel (University of Bayreuth, Germany)

40. Legitimacy in Knowledge Production – “Who Has The Right to Talk About What?” [Roundtable]

The global knowledge production project as encapsulated in university systems prides itself on openness to novel ideas and ways of thinking. This is evidenced, for example, by the requirement that published works contain some element of novelty. Yet, even with this ideological orientation towards newness, there are very inflexible, tacit ideas about the types of bodies that are sanctioned to think about and introduce new paradigms. This rigidity reproduces itself on multiple levels, ranging from the power relations encoded in lead-partner funding grants between different countries to the strategic location of scientific personnel for global social media companies. In this roundtable, we reflect on the ways in which African bodies are expected to be recipients or adapters in the global knowledge production system and how this narrowness inevitably undermines the values of this very system. Bringing together scholars and practitioners from both the sciences and the humanities, we look forward to a lively and critical debate.

Malebogo Ngoepe (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Jess Auerbach (North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa)

41. Intimate Archives: Gender, Sexuality, and The Boundaries of the Human

In the last decades, feminist and queer studies have been particularly invested in problematising the boundaries of “the human” as a universal category. This critical body of work has shown that gender and sexual normativities have been constitutive of “hierarchies of humanness”, by which certain bodies were de-humanised and deemed as nonhuman, sub-human or in-human. Modern historiography and conventional archives have played a critical role in reifying these processes of de-humanisation. Of late, the “archival turn” in scholarship, activism, and the arts has called for a thorough rethinking of the archive as a concept speaking to issues of memory and history; knowledge and authority; violence, justice and redressal. In particular, feminist and queer scholarship and activism have critically engaged existing archives, while also devising alternative practices of archiving and creative strategies of re-imagining the past (and the future). Intervening on this debate, this panel calls for an exploration of the politics of archives, gender, sexuality, and intimacy in the African continent. We are interested in proposals interrogating, pushing, and expanding the boundaries of what gets to be legible and historicised as human in the colonial and postcolonial archive – and, likewise, of what is denied humanity. We invite research on intimacies and desires that transgress these boundaries, not only by unsettling notions of the human but also by actively engaging the nonhuman. Finally, we also invite papers connecting the archival politics of “the past” to queer and feminist contemporary struggles, intellectual debates, or artistic/creative projects about the future.

Caio Simoes De Araujo (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Srila Roy
Emily Bridger

42. (De-)Humanising Health? Responsibilisation and Racialised Space in Times of Corona

This panel brings a critical lens for the exploration of the question of the human and its conception at the health crises provoked by the COVID-19 pandemic and its (exclusionary) politics of humanitarian responses

This panel explores the question of the human at the existential crises provoked by COVID-19. The pandemic is a reminder that we need to engage health’s entanglements with intersecting inequalities underlying claims to humanity. We furthermore need to reflect upon what categories of people are not included in the “humanitarian” politics of saving lives and what versions of “medical profiling” are at work in the implication of the African alterity, for example, in expert warnings pathologizing Africa as a place of human suffering.

COVID-19 pandemic space has been marked by calls for quarantine. The policing of compliance with quarantine regimes relies on activating individuals to co-produce their own and others’ health or ‘responsibilising’ citizens. In South Africa, quarantine measures face particular challenges as the majority resides in impoverished townships. These urban spaces contain histories about inequality, racial segregation, and “hygienic boundaries” in their relation to past epidemics.

Our panel therefore welcomes papers that address how people negotiate quarantine norms in spaces marked by such a history and context: What scientific observations/assumptions about space, sanitation, and hygiene have directed public health debates towards responsibilised behaviour and how have they been taken up by citizens? What role has race played in this respect? What discourses of difference occur alongside new terms of recognition for the future of humanity in representations of “Africa”´s (in-)capacity to respond to COVID-19? Do the exclusionary politics of a humanitarian response rest (or not) on a more substantive marginalisation of Africans from current conceptions of the human?

Caroline Meier zu Biesen (Global Health Lab, University of Leipzig, Germany)
Marian Burchardt (Global Health Lab, University of Leipzig, Germany)
Nkululeko Nkomo (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

43. The ‘Human’ in African Public Space I & II [Roundtable]

The overall question we propose to focus on is: How is public space used and produced in Johannesburg, and what does that tell us about what it means to be a member of the postcolonial African ‘public’? How is public space used and produced in Johannesburg, and what does that tell us about what it means to be a member of the postcolonial South African ‘public’? Are there any generalisable concepts and understandings emerging from this discussion that hold potential for better understanding the interplay between the public and space on the continent? The discussion is framed by research that explores the dissonance between the imagined socially-cohesive quality of South African public space and the often-conflictual and/or contradictory experiences of such spaces in Johannesburg, which do not always align with this aspiration. The convenors begin by framing the argument, drawing from relevant fieldwork in Johannesburg. This is followed by brief inputs from the other participants, highlighting learnings and examples rooted in their work as private and public stakeholders involved in planning, activating, and sustaining public space in line with the aspirational dream of socially-cohesive public places. In opening up the discussion for wider audience participation, we ask: 1) What is the interplay between the imaginary quality of space as cohesive, the experiences of public space in the city, and our common humanity / Africanness? And how does this interrelate with notions of acceptable/unacceptable behaviour? 2) What are exciting examples of interventions and activations in Johannesburg’s public spaces, and what are we learning from them? And 3) How does our common humanity rest on common membership of a public?

Roundtable I is a South African-specific panel, focusing largely on Johannesburg, with a multidisciplinary group of discussants. Roundtable II convenes a continental panel of experts drawing on different countries/regions in response to this theme.

Carmel Rawhani (Wits-TUB-UniLag Urban Lab, Johannesburg, South Africa)

45. Towards Radical Reclaiming of African Economic Futures

We ‘must run while others walk,’ Nyerere pleaded, expressing legitimate aspirations for development of African people whose majority constitutes what is referred to as the ‘Bottom Billion’. Nyerere’s call to run and catch up was used by African nationalists who announced nation-building projects in their respective countries. And it has been entrenched with the pursuit of economic growth. Today, the ‘Africa on the rise’ narrative has gained momentum both within and outside the continent following impressive growth rates. Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want envisions “a different and better Africa” (AU Commission, 2015:2). The vision designed by political mainstream sticks to the goal of economic growth and envisions Africa as the global powerhouse of the future, signalling a continued desire for more growth. However, there is a much richer discourse on African Futures within African societies than the official positions pretend. Social groups with diverse backgrounds are demanding for autonomous spaces to create futures outside of the hegemonic constructs (Kinyanjui, 2019). Indigenous communities and rural movements fighting against multinational mining corporations, land alienation (Moyo & Yeros, 2005), large infrastructural projects and genetic modification point to a different future. These concerted efforts attest to the disenchantment with current development designs. The developmental trajectory of the Global North with its fetish of economic growth has turned out to be globally and intergenerationally unjust and has already come under pressure in the Global North itself, where it originated following Industrial Revolution in the mid-18th century. This system has produced global inequalities, ecological breakdown, and global financial crises.

Indeed, African scholars are already asking provocative questions: ‘Africa on the rise, but to where?’. Thandika Mkandawire (2011) argue that what is needed is a series of political battles within different African countries to ensure that the interests of elites are made to match more squarely with those of non-elite groups. As Ian Taylor (2016) points out, measuring economic progress by privileging ‘growth for growth’s sake’ tells us little about broad-based development. Many African scholars have argued that Africa should turn over a new leaf, a new history of Man that does not repeat practices of the European economic system. Africa’s history, diversity of lifestyles, and worldviews undoubtedly provide fertile ground to (re)produce different worlds and provide new terms of reference and recognition for the future of humanity. Against this background, this panel calls for contributions presenting African visions of developmental paths which take global and intergenerational justice into account, reflecting their philosophical underpinnings and suggesting policy strategies for their realisation. We invite scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to reflect on the “Radical Reclaiming of African Economic Futures” focusing on:

  • Philosophical backgrounds for African Futures: what do African philosophies like masakhane, ubuntu, ujamaa, utu etc., recommend regarding desirable futures?
  • Visions of African Futures: How do African visions of Sustainable Development look like, and which parallels to the Degrowth concepts do they contain?
  • Policy Strategies for African Futures: Which localised discourses, habits and commoning practices have opposed colonialism and capitalism?

Leiyo Singo (University of Bayreuth, Germany; University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Stefan Ouma (University of Bayreuth, Germany)
Eugen Pissarskoi (Tübingen University, Germany)
Kerstin Schopp (Tübingen University, Germany)
Richard Mbunda (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

46. Platform Politics and Silicon Savannahs: How New Digital Technologies Shape Mobility in African Cities [Roundtable]

While technological innovation is often associated with cities like San Francisco or Bangalore, several African cities are experiencing an agglomeration of ICT related companies. Both Kigali and Nairobi have been dubbed ‘Silicon Savannahs’, celebrated for their adoption of smart city programmes and projects. Like in most African cities, the mobility sectors in Kigali and Nairobi are dominated by ‘paratransit’, in particular motorcycle taxis and minibuses. There is considerable potential for new digital innovations to dramatically alter the operations of these distributed and dynamic sectors, creating more integrated, accountable and demand-driven services delivery systems. This process is already underway; however, there is limited research on how these processes are re-shaping urban life – particularly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to this gap in research, the panel team have been building a research network of Africa-based researchers (funded by VREF). The purpose of the roundtable is two-fold: first, panelists will reflect on the research of the network, with a particular focus on Kigali (Rwanda), Nairobi (Kenya), and Cape Town (South Africa); and second, it will reflect on a broader research agenda, theoretical and governance implications for thinking about the social, cultural and technical eco-systems (which includes drivers, app developers, financers, government officials and residents) shaping mobility in African cities.

Rike Sitas (African Centre for Cities, Cape Town, South Africa)
Liza Cirolia (African Centre for Cities, Cape Town, South Africa)
Alexis Sebarenzi (University of Rwanda, Kigali, Rwanda)
Prince Gume (British Institute of Eastern Africa, Nairobi, Kenya)
Andrea Pollio (Polytechnic University of Turin, Italy)

47. Queer Touches/Queering Touch as Ways of Being and Becoming Human

A panel sponsored by the ASAUK and dedicated to supporting the work of the next generation of scholars
The rubric for this panel invites participants to engage with questions of queerness in scholarship as well as in various domains of activism. We invite submissions from participants who are engaged in research and activism related to queerness and skin; queerness and touch; queerness and proximity; queerness and intimacy; queerness as way of being human. We encourage abstracts and proposals that reflect on the located meanings of queerness and on intersectionalities of place, language and class. We are eager to assemble a Pan-African team of participants who can use this gathering to build future intra-continental networks. Participants are welcome to present work in progress or to showcase already polished research. Through the panel, we aim to build networks and to contribute to existing archives; early and mid-career scholars will be particularly welcomed to take part.

Once abstracts have been received, we shall circulate a reading list and discussion points, as well as arrange for pre-circulation of draft papers. This panel is a collaboration with the ASAUK NextGen2020+ and with the Journal Work Academy. Please address questions to Carli Coetzee africajacs@gmail.com and Gibson Ncube ncubegibson@yahoo.fr

Carli Coetzee (Journal of African Cultural Studies (JACS), Oxford, United Kingdom)
Gibson Ncube (University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe)

49. African Studies Centenary: Disciplinarity and the Future of African Studies

In celebration of the centenary of the journal African Studies, this panel explores the making of the field of African Studies from the position of the continent and the diaspora. We seek to understand the history, present and future of African Studies in Africa. Towards this end, the panel explores the relationship between established academic disciplines and African Studies as a field, as well as inviting scholars to reflect on the significance of African Studies to current areas of study that stretch across disciplines and which we believe are opening up either new fields or have received renewed relevance in the current political environment.

Claudia Gastrow (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Khwezi Mkhize (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

50. Exploring “Humanity” in 21st Century Africa: Approaches in the Arts, Culture and Performance

The prevalent understanding of human nature in the modern and post-modern era regards man’s technical advancement as key. This worldview places Africa within the realms of destruction, questionable systems of justice, and a dignity steeped in notions of the nobility of savagery.

However, there is an effort from African academics to reclaim humanity with calls to confront and dismantle prevalent discourses by de-centring racism, by de-colonising, among others. This panel proposes ideas and approaches in the arts, culture and performance as spaces for knowledge production that centres our human-ness as Africans.

Joseph Okong’o begins by exploring humanism in East African popular music, going beyond the ideas of easy entertainment, to problematise destruction and despair as lived experience. He uses two key songs to address the material and metaphysical as everyday life experience.

Solomon Waliaula examines the spectatorship experience of European televisual football, arguing that it produces social identities and informal streams of income generation, which go against the logic of global popular culture.

Lydia Muthuma discusses the toppling of colonial monuments, taking us “From Queen Victoria to Jeevanjee: public art and the marginalised”. She queries the (mis)understandings of this symbolic gesture of decoloniality.

Fred Mbogo continues this discussion, in the public sphere, through his analysis of a Kenyan film Lame. It defies dominant ideas in filmography. It’s refusal to ‘conform’ opens up a “we-also-have-our-own-story” conversation.

Caroline Mose takes the discussions to Twitter Space as a subversion of traditional academic conferences. Twitter subverts hierarchical structures. Mose interrogates the positioning of African users within spaces that pander to capitalism, patriarchy, and other discourses that contribute to the skewed view of humanity and being African.

Lydia Muthuma (Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya)

51. Urban Informality and African Potentials: Case studies from Uganda, Niger and Cameroon

Africa is rapidly urbanising, with economic globalisation and the spread of COVID-19 infections making it harder than ever for people to live in African cities. However, despite such difficulties, many choose to continue living in the city. Behind this is the fact that rural life in Africa is also becoming more difficult.

Then, how do people living in African cities solve the difficulties they encounter in urban life and survive their daily lives? The panellists of this panel focus on the informality of African cities and consider it not as urban problems but as a solution for urban people to survive in cities and as “African potential”.

It is well known that many people in African cities have devised ways to live without formal economies and societies and owe almost all of their lives to “informal” economies and societies. In other words, the African urban population is trying to make unstable life stable by creating their jobs and incomes, seeking out food and places to live, forming mutual aid groups, and obtaining useful information and connections without relying on the governments or large companies. All of these practices are voluntary and creative processes called “informality”.
What are the characteristics of the informality created by the people of African cities compared to other regions? What kind of philosophies and values emerge there, and what kind of conflicts and joys exist? We clarify them from concrete cases in Uganda, Niger and Cameroon.

Misa Hirano-Nomoto (Kyoto University, Japan)
Antoine Socpa (University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon)
Shuichi Oyama (Kyoto University, Japan)
Georgina Seera (Kyoto University, Japan)
Ange Bergson
Lendja Ngnemzué (UFR Eri-TES, Paris 8 University, France)

52. Thinking about Revolutions in Africa/African Revolutions [Roundtable]

This roundtable departs from observations on the Sudanese Revolution to invite co-thinkers to reflect on how revolutions are conceptualised when they happen in Africa. People across the continent talked about the Sudanese revolution as a “model revolution”. Resilience in the face of state violence, women’s active participation and the refusal to accept a military takeover were frequently cited to praise the revolutionary moment. For some post-revolutionary Sudan has arrived. Others worry about counter-revolutionaries messing with the smooth flow of the transition.

This raises an important question about the way in which revolutions are conceptualised. Some scholars insist that there is no need for talking about post-revolution- or counter-revolution, for that matter. For instance, the Sudanese scholar Nisrin Elamin invites us to see revolutions as processes that go beyond a demand for regime change. She gives us a room to appreciate revolutions as moments of multiple possibilities, not linear undertakings which begin here and end there. This means that the narrative of failure/success can be challenged by moving away from asking normative questions of whether the revolution has failed or succeeded. In light of this, this roundtable tries to imagine revolutions in Africa outside of a normative binary-rather as processes that open multiple registers of socio-political, economic and cultural imagination. We are interested in rethinking what constitutes revolutions. We also ask: when do demands for socio-political transformations qualify as revolution and by what standards? How can we avoid imposing a euro-centric conception of revolution and rethink the notion differently?

Participants/conveners: Serawit Debele, Semeneh Asfaw, Nisrin Elamin, Asher Gamedze, Azza Mustafa

Serawit Debele (Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, Bayreuth University, Germany)

53. Questioning the Old, Imagining the New: On Being Human in Post-Revolution Sudan

This panel explores various forms of engagement with the ongoing revolution in Sudan with hopes of stimulating a debate on old questions and new imaginaries of what constitutes a human amidst the ongoing revolution and why it matters.

Sudan’s revolution, the latest in the global social movement scene in scale and intensity, two years on, continues to raise questions about the limits of established socio-political and economic knowledge and epistemologies that usually accompany these kinds of ruptures, challenging in their wake notions of neoliberal democracy and its policy prescription tools. Between the promise of overcoming Islamic authoritarianism (peacefully and humanly – a universal moment of recognizing the human in Sudan) and the ambiguities of an enduring legacy of kleptocratic rule (external imperialism and internal hegemony) the Sudanese risk being rebranded as unsalvageable and thus inhumane.

Papers in this panel will investigate the dynamics of these struggles and their role in either prolonging/entrenching these (inhumane) ambiguities or else resisting and reforming them (humane). Their domain, contrary to mainstream understanding, not only political settlements and macroeconomics but ideological lines and political agendas within civil society. Class, gender relations and ethnicity play a role in drawing together/apart players, shaping agendas/institutions during post-revolution. How can these differentiations as planted in historical, cultural and political realities produce new fields of knowledge to rehabilitate the Sudanese human/ more humane Sudanese?

With this new epistemology of social justice, the panel invites insights from research and various forms of engagement with the ongoing revolution; with the hope to stimulate conversation about what constitutes a human amidst the ongoing developments, including ethical frameworks, quandaries disrupted and emerging and why it matters. We welcome critical reflections from various fields, e.g. the political economy of identity politics, knowledge production, the role of civil society, social movements, development, environmentalism and gender relations.

Raga Makawi (SOAS University of London, United Kingdom; African Arguments)
Salma Abdalla (Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Ås, Norway)

55. Africa and the Representation of Sexualities: Old Questions, New Possibilities

The study and representation of sexualities in African societies depicts a long road where all kinds of others (individuals, institutions, agencies) projected their interests and preoccupations on to African bodies. For a long time, the representation of sexualities in Africa has been the realm of Euro-American racial and “ethno-pornographic” imaginations, and continues to be. At the same time, heteropatriarchal nationalist imaginations by African leaders articulate(d) nativist, misogynist and homophobic obsessions. Correspondingly, sex and sexualities have long been the object of global health, development studies and social justice for improving people’s lives, where scholars, activists and professionals have become the major actors. While we cannot put this variety of actors and processes on the same line, to the contrary, we do want to look at the question of gender and sexuality from the angle of representation. Who represents whom and based on what? What kind of imaginations or assumptions underlie processes of representations? Which knowledge gets in and what is left out? Ultimately, the matter of representation is about the question whose lives and experiences are the basis of the production of knowledge. Also, we propose not only to look at the question of representation by others but also invite papers that look at our own practices as scholars, artists, thinkers, activists. We would like to think collectively about the future of studying sexualities so as to (re)theorise and, perhaps, decolonize the study of sexuality.

Rachel Spronk (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands)
S.N. Nyeck (Emory School of Law, University of Colorado Boulder, United States)
Serena Dankwa

56. Transformative Constitutionalism: What “Human” is Imagined in the Human Rights Contained in the South African Constitution?

In recent years the critique of the constitution includes a fundamental challenge to the way the “human” is conceptualised in Human Rights in South Africa. Critical questions about humanistic ideas about dignity, ownership, freedom, self-expression, and equality that are associated with the constitution are being asked. In post-apartheid South Africa, many have argued that the protection of Human Rights has failed to disrupt historically entrenched power relations, instead have reinforced and legitimised inequalities in post-apartheid. This has meant that those who are white and/or male and/or bodily able and/or middle class, and/or heterosexual have benefited most from Human Rights discourse and protection as outlined in the constitution. This raises questions about the who or what of the “human” are we talking about when we talk about Human Rights? If Human Rights is mediated by power, what becomes of the “human” in Human Rights?

Lwando Scott (Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)

This panel invites contributions that reflect on how the culture of consumption and its global impact is imagined in literary and popular culture in Africa.

Trade in goods has always been an integral part of being human. Cultures and continents connect through the exchange of objects. However, in the second half of the twentieth century, this movement of goods, driven by an expanding consumer culture, has increased exponentially. In the era of accelerating climate change, the damaging side effects of this global culture of consumption is increasingly coming under scrutiny. Things such as fossil fuels, plastics, technological items not only give shape to everyday life in contemporary society they also make starkly visible global inequalities. This panel brings together papers that explore the many ways in which the culture of consumption and its global impact is imagined in literary and popular culture in Africa. We invite contributions that reflect on new ways of imagining commodities and new and old forms of consumption in Africa. Topics might include reflections on the ways in which sacred objects and artefacts become commodities, new mediums of communication as well as popular culture as itself a mobile commodity, shaping economic transactions but also forms of desire and pleasure.

Louise Green (Stellenbosch University, South Africa)
Philip Aghoghovwia (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

58. Quantum Greetings from the Ancestors [Roundtable]

This roundtable launches a documentary film series: Quantum Greetings from the Ancestors. The project is rooted in the African concept and practice of Ubuntu (Nguni) or Hunhu (Shona) – Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (Nguni) or Munhu munhu muvanhu (Shona). To the ordinary eye, these statements sound quite human-centric, expressions of the idea of the human. However, as our film series demonstrates, in greeting one another, humans (and Africans in particular) also acknowledge the beingness of the natural world that makes our humanity possible on this planet, and in this solar system.

Quantum Greetings from the Ancestors theorises the world holistically, the human as embedded in the land, the air, the waterways, fire, and this very earth, the ground of our being and consciousness at this time. It “centres African epistemologies [in an attempt] to re-imagine the future of the human” through Ubuntu/Hunhu.

Practically, our roundtable invites participants to demonstrate other African ways of greeting the human, the land, the air, the waterways, the fire, and the ethers – the land of the Ancestors, ukuba ngu Muntu eBantwini/kuva Munhu muVanhu. Finally, Quantum Greetings from the Ancestors contributes to this year’s conference theme: Africa and the Human: Old Questions New Imaginaries by offering an old idea – human greetings – as a “new space for knowledge production in Africa” for African and global renewal in the Anthropocene age and beyond.

Ruramisai Charumbira (WBKolleg, University of Bern, Switzerland)
Maganthrie Pillay (WBKolleg, University of Bern, Switzerland)

59. Ageing and Care in Africa

Care provision for older people in southern Africa is most commonly undertaken by the family in multi-generational households. Despite the crucial role that older people play in labour and care economies, and despite the fact that countries in southern Africa are ageing rapidly, little is known about how the family provides care in conjunction with different actors, such as the state, religious groups, and NGOs. This panel will bring together researchers, and government officials from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and Zimbabwe, and discuss the sustainability of care of older persons in Southern Africa. More specifically, the panellists will review the necessary support for the caregivers currently in place in different contexts across the region and reflect on what would make care sustainable from the standpoint of the people who provide the care.

The panel will discuss ongoing collaborative work, which is focussing on the architecture of care provision for older persons in the region and supports for caregivers. The panel will examine what informal care work looks like and how is it supported by the state, NGOs, church etc. The literature on the variation in the intensity and diversity of informal care work, and the ways that care work affects and is affected by older persons’ health status, their ageing processes and gender within the region, is limited. The panel will review how unpaid care work intersects with existing policies and practices, and we will discuss the role that third parties play as mediating structures linking family caregivers with formal care arrangements as both respond to the escalating crisis of care.

Elena Moore (University of Cape Town, South Africa)

62. Critical AI, Risk Assessment and the Future of the Human: Pan-African Perspectives [Double Panel]

African governments, corporations, INGOs, and other stakeholders are keen to stress the promise of artificial intelligence (AI) in all fields of life. Some of these discourses focus on how Africa can achieve prosperity and development and overcome poverty, inequalities, and conflict through AI.

In this double panel, we want to critically engage with African AI narratives, starting from the acknowledgement that these are neither geographically exceptional nor historically unique; they often conjure utopian visions and echo various iterations of the always recurring ideas of progress and “modernity”.

These optimistic narratives are complicated by a growing number of voices denouncing the potential for increased surveillance and commodification of private existences and the use of algorithms in the social and political life of marginalised populations in Africa and the global South used as “testing grounds” before redeployment in the global North.

We want to explore the possibility of useful and beneficial AI applications in various domains in African contexts by moving beyond a conception of ethics and risk assessment that appear as simple afterthoughts to enthusiastic and futuristic reinventions of the continent via the salvific intervention of AI.

Under what conditions and in what circumstances can AI applications be beneficial for African communities and societies? What are the theoretical, methodological, and ethical principles that should drive the risk assessment of AI? Should African people and states retain the right to say no to AI in specific domains and contexts? How can they exercise such agency? These are some of the questions we will explore in this panel. We look for theoretical, methodological, and empirical contributions focused on any region, country, or area of Africa.

Vito Laterza (University of Adger, Norway)
Dominique Somda (HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

63. Publishing for the Future: Digital Technologies and the Promotion of Knowledge from Africa

Publishing for the future will explore ways of promoting knowledge production from Africa to a wider audience with the use of new technologies. The rise of research and knowledge production in Africa requires sustainable digital technologies that will create publishing opportunities and improve the reach and impact of books published on the continent. The rationale behind the development of a collaborative new platform, African Scholarship Online, will be presented as one of a number of possible strategies to increase the visibility and accessibility of African scholarly books.

African research has grown substantially in recent years. While it amounts to less than 1% of the total global output, between 2012 and 2016, it grew by almost 40%, while the number of academic authors in Africa increased by a massive 43%. Since most researchers would typically first publish with their local or regional presses, one would expect a growth of university and / or scholarly presses on the continent. However, the opportunities for local publishing remain limited. Where they exist, the reach of books tends to be limited to the region of origin or, at a premium, to the traditional large ‘global North’ markets (North America, the UK and Europe), and only minimally within Africa itself. In various ways, digital technologies should make both the publication and dissemination of content to a wider audience possible. Is this happening? And if not, why not?

This panel of publishers and authors based in Southern Africa will explore some of the obstacles that currently exist, as well as opportunities that new technologies might offer, enable for a more sustainable and equitable sharing of knowledge about and from Africa. Among these is the African Scholarship Online platform, which aims to promote books by African authors that are published on the continent.

Veronica Klipp (Wits University Press, Johannesburg, South Africa)

64. Technology and Sexual Order in the Age of New Media in Africa

This panel would like to describe, in a critical way and in a comparative perspective, the production and circulation of “new” imaginaries and practices due to the Web 2.0 revolution, taking place today in the vast domain of sexual and affective interactions in Africa.

The panel wishes to gather papers proposing a critical ethnography of digital communities (Telegram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc.) whose agenda, beyond the facilitation of sexual relations, is the realisation of erotic fantasies and the assumption of an ethos of sexuality whose major characteristics are: speed, ephemerality and expense. Such an agenda constitutes an emblematic exemplification of the power of technological overdetermination. As such, Yaovi Akakpo observes: “we must not forget that the question of technique is, initially, that of the technocolonisation of things, that tendency of scientific truths and artefacts, under the influence of technocratic choices and freedoms, to”co-determine” or overdetermine everything, to challenge and invest the doing and the having, the anthropo-symbolic, social and historical totality.” (2019:21).

The domains of sexuality and affects do not escape, from this point of view, the hold of techno-colonialism, which appears not only as an amplifier of possibilities and the medium of an agonistic effervescence of fantasies, the revealer, not only of a “new” sexual order in the production of sexual interactions but also of a great thirst, of the suffering of individuals incarcerated in oppressive desires and for which certain digital platforms represent an opportunity to get out of the prison of the “id”…

The expected contributions will mainly deal with :

  • processes of sexual socialization within digital communities dedicated to dating
  • ethnography of the languages and imaginaries of the members of these digital communities
  • description of the modalities of access (financial, relational, etc.) to these communities

Parfait Akana (The Muntu Institute [African Humanities and Social Sciences] and University of Yaoundé II (Advanced School of Mass Communication), Cameroon)
Rachel Adams

65. Decolonising the Mind: Between Ubuntu Theory and Praxis [Roundtable]

A panel sponsored by the ASAUK and dedicated to supporting the work of the next generation of scholars

‘Decoloniality’ features prominently in our contemporary moment as educational and cultural institutions seek to decolonise frameworks, fields of study, curricula and pedagogy. This roundtable moves the question of decolonising away from that of institutions to individuals and communities in its concern with what decolonisation looks like in relation to the psychology of African peoples.

We seek to generate conversations across academic disciplines and invite contributions that reflect on how lived experiences might be understood, consciously and unconsciously, using research methods that offer a decolonised perspective. Multi- and Trans-disciplinary approaches that include inter-and intra-continental voices of African scholarship are sought after for a conversation that emerges from psychology (in the broadest conception of the field) and expands into an intertwined understanding of lived experiences. As in Ubuntu, an African life philosophy that espouses interdependence and solidarity among people (Nwoye 2017), this roundtable is interested in how, for example, research participants can contribute to decolonised research methodology(ies) as co-researchers.

This roundtable will imagine decolonised research methods for the African paradigm. Submissions that include (but not limited to) the following topics are welcome: centering spirituality and communality in developing African psychology methodologies; socioanalytic methods, African languages, storytelling and oral cultures as sites of indigenous knowledge; interiority and decoloniality in African literature and film; historical memory and decolonial praxis.

We are eager to assemble a Pan-African team of participants who can use this gathering to build future intra-continental networks. Early and mid-career scholars are particularly welcomed to take part. This panel is a collaboration with the ASAUK NextGen2020+ and with the Journal Work Academy. Please address questions to Neo Pule PuleNT@ufs.ac.za and Louisa Egbunike louisa.egbunike@durham.ac.uk

Neo Pule (University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

66. Next-Generation Africa: Creating Solutions for the Global Community

The question of the human in the 21st century has presented a global existential crisis for several years now, but this crisis has only intensified with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and the BLM movement, which has also touched seemingly every corner of the globe, as the fight for black lives is a fight for our collective humanity. While many western societies are finally beginning to recognise and to try to address the realities of systemic racism and colonialism/post-colonialism, clearly the way forward must include voices from traditionally underrepresented peoples and regions. African perspectives and solutions to issues afflicting its vulnerable populations can address not only the question of what is needed in Africa but can enlighten the global dialogue around the question of the human and what do we mean when we talk about wellness and welfare, caring for the young and old, social justice and equality for all. In the wake of the current global crisis, this panel considers local approaches to issues of social welfare, accountability, poverty reduction, child protection and sustainability.

Bringing together African early-career researchers and practitioners supported by the Yale Fox Fellowship program, the panel will ask what lessons can be learnt from comparisons with other countries and what methods are best suited to accommodate locally sustainable futures, examining issues including policing, child welfare, poverty alleviation, and health policy.

Isabel Jijón (Yale University, New Haven, United States)

67. Epistemological Unity in STEM and Diversity in the Humanities

Some scholars in area studies in the global south differentiate between ‘southern’ and ‘northern’ epistemologies (Santos 2018; Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 2018, 2020, 2021; Mamdani 2020). The aim of this panel is to explore and assess available reasons for this differentiation. This will be done considering the understanding that around the world, there seems to be fundamental physical and metaphysical unity in STEM. For instance, the same set of drugs cure the same set of ailments, just as the same principles of physics explain the operation of the Internet, cars and drones around the world. Scientists everywhere have about the same answers to questions about what a virus is, what specific tools to use to locate one, and how to expel it when it attacks a host. These are tangible evidence of a fundamental agreement in context, metaphysics and epistemology. Considering this scenario, this panel intends to focus on the following and/or related questions: What is the nature of the difference between epistemology in STEM and epistemologies in humanities areas? And what exactly is the nature of the projected differentiation between humanist epistemologies? Are there areas of life (or subject areas) studied in the Humanities, where there happen to be fundamental epistemological agreements (just like in STEM areas)? If so, what are they? What are the areas where there are epistemological differences across cultures and societies? What are ‘northern’ and ‘southern’ epistemologies, and which areas do they apply to? To what extent is it still relevant to focus on demarcating between northern and southern epistemologies in a world continuously confronted by common problems in need of urgent partnerships? How is a differentiation between epistemologies necessary for re-imagining the future of humans and Africa’s contribution to this new future? If there is an African epistemology, what is in fact its core: its nature and prospects?

Anthony Chinaemerem Ajah (University of Nigeria Nsukka, Nsukka, Nigeria)
Emmanuel Ifeanyi Ani
Uchenna Okeja

68. Revisiting the ‘New Man’ (Homem Novo)

The co-convenors of this panel propose to explore the relationship between African socialist projects of the ‘New Man’ (often inspired by projects elsewhere in the world) and the human.

We ask: is the now old idea of the ‘New Man’ an imaginary that turned its back on the human completely? Was the highly gendered idea of the ‘New Man’ both masculinist and anti-feminist or did it contain emergent feminisms? Can a search for and study of Africanist humanisms in these socialist-inspired models re-invigorate and help us imagine a different present? Could the human, as a category, forge new political imaginaries able to oppose the colonial violence and practices hindering the maintenance of such practices in post-independence times? As the post-independence regimes struggle and the socialist project is replaced by economic adjustment programs and now by biopolitical processes to deal with the current pandemic, how do these states and societies imagine the human?

While projects around the ‘New Man’ in newly independent Mozambique and Angola crafted future-oriented imaginaries and rooted themselves in modernist ideas and science, their concepts were often taken up by visual artists, writers, jurists, musicians, and everyday citizens. The construction of the New Man was a realm in which some asserted their militancy, advocating and filling out the state’s concept while others reinvented it, pushing the boundaries of ideology and nationalism.

Suzana Sousa (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)
Marissa Moorman (University of Wisconsin–Madison, United States)
Delinda Collier (School of the Art Institute of Chicago, United States)

69. Art as Research – Critical and Creative Engagements with Technology [Roundtable]

The !Khwa Ttu heritage centre near Cape Town traces the history of humans from their earliest origins in Africa to contemporary San life. Their exhibition highlights three key features of being human: we are story-telling, social creatures who use technology. Some of the oldest questions about being human can derive from these themes. This panel engages with these themes through new imaginaries, exploring contemporary creative approaches that use a range of technologies to tell stories and connect people – from Virtual Reality (VR) to documentary film, to social sculpture and Relational Aesthetics. South African artist and researcher Ralph Borland uses social VR to create online virtual art spaces exploring histories of Pan-African activism. South African documentary film-maker and researcher Francois Verster speaks truth to power and tells stories from a range of communities in Africa. US-Zimbabwean artist and lecturer Chido Johnson’s collaborative, socially-engaged art practice uses vernacular African wire-car culture to connect communities in Detroit and Zimbabwe. Irish artist and academic Glenn Loughran uses VR as a teaching tool in his MA course in artistic practices shaped by ‘archipelagic thinking’, a decolonial spatial discourse that emphasises relationality and locality. Irish artist and academic Mick Wilson is a high-level leader on international projects for art as research, his work including ideas of the human, and the ethics of care. A roundtable discussion between these artist-researchers will explore questions including: how can artists and researchers communicate critical observations to audiences in engaging ways? Can intellectual and academic work capture a fuller spectrum of human experience beyond textual enquiry? How can people be empowered to make meaningful assessments of new technologies? And how can people connect and learn across different locations, particularly across North and South, in productive and creative ways?

Ralph Borland (HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

70. Africa and the World: New Transnational Histories

This panel seeks proposals that challenge African diaspora histories that are so often dominated by Atlantic world perspectives and stories of enslavement. Scholarship can shift these conceptualisations of the diaspora by recognising other deep historical and more recent political connections occurring in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean worlds. Vital histories of migration have also unfolded within the boundaries of the continent itself. For example, what earlier trade dynamics and cultural exchanges challenge the common focus on European imperialism? Are there narrative or collaborative approaches that can centre Africa in new ways in histories of migration? Can we reimagine global history with a focus on mobilities within the African continent itself? How have the varying degrees of force and freedom inherent in African migrations affected definitions of the human?

This panel is being convened by History in Africa, one of the two flagship journals published by the African Studies Association based in the US. We hope to enhance the visibility of the Journal with increased participation of Africa-based scholars as writers, readers, and reviewers. Given the focus of the Journal, we are particularly interested in innovative methodological or historiographical approaches that reimagine how Africans have shaped and transformed transregional and global histories. Like the conference organisers, we see knowledge production by scholars of Africa as crucial to the field of history as well as to interdisciplinary work.

Lorelle Semley (College of the Holy Cross and History in Africa, Worcester, United States)
Mandisa Mbali (University of Cape Town, Editorial Review Board of History in Africa, South Africa)

704. Urban Africa Under Stress: Rethinking Economic Pressure in Cities [Roundtable]

In this roundtable, we would like to think through ‘pressure’ as experienced and theorized in different contexts in Africa, to discuss and learn about its varied articulations, towards enabling auxiliary understandings of the manifestations and vagaries of capitalist political economies in Africa.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restructuring of the global economy it has triggered have exacerbated the need to study a topic that has flown under the radar of social scientists for too long: individuals and social groups experiencing economic pressure, which manifests in a myriad of somatic and psychological ways. The fallout from pressure – sleeplessness, ulcers, an atmosphere of hopelessness and social mistrust, gambling, suicides, as well as a growing concern about a lack of mental health facilities – now pervades urban as well as rural environments in Africa. This roundtable discussion aims at taking a fresh look at the phenomenon of economic pressure through a decisively comparative and interdisciplinary approach. We will critically interrogate the role of economic pressure in the lives of both the rich and the poor, the unemployed and the workforce, and across class in order to answer, among others, the following questions: What meanings does economic pressure take on as it travels between different contexts? How do city dwellers of diverse class, religious and gender backgrounds experience pressure in their professional and private lives? What is the relation between individually perceived economic pressure and structural changes of the economy or polity? And finally: How can inter-disciplinary methodological and/or theoretical approaches deepen our understanding of economic pressure in Africa – the forms it assumes, the actions it motivates and the effects it generates?

Jörg Wiegratz (University of Leeds, United Kingdom; University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Catherine Dolan (SOAS University of London, United Kingdom)
Wangui Kimari (HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Mario Schmidt (University of Cologne, Germany; Future Rural Africa)

71. Scripting of Bodies: Critiquing the Cannibalisation of Women and the Making of New Imaginations of Collective Efforts

This panel locates the scripting of bodies within four broader discussions of racialised, patriarchal capitalism: (i) social and human-material relations; (ii) ecofeminism and embodiment; (iii) feminist political economy; and (iv) extractivism. The idea for this panel originated from a work in progress project on breastfeeding, which offers a lens through which we discuss multiple intersecting assumptions and conceptions of women’s bodies and nature. Specifically, we seek to make visible and problematise numerous connections by examining:

  • the racialised and female body as part of nature, its separation, objectification and resulting social relations;
  • how food/nutrients are coded through scientific “standards”, professional agencies (FAO), policies such as SDG/MDGs, and natural and development sciences;
  • how mothering and womanhood are socially shaped through this “moment of care”;
  • how the notion of “worth” is associated through a particular ascribed value to breastfeeding;
  • unpack paid and unpaid work and labouring connected to a value system which renders labouring women as decentralised, atomised and hidden/tucked away;
  • how lactating (at all and any costs) for the development of the child/human might be a continuum to how nature is conceived for a Western orientated economic development model (at all and any costs).

This panel therefore invites papers that explore:

  • extractivist models and their implications and consequences for bodies, nature and our views of humans’ relations to nature;
  • how western science is used to discipline specific bodies and nature;
  • situated knowledge and alternative ways of knowing and being, orientated towards building collective socio-ecological just commons;
  • the body as part of nature, its separation, objectification and resulting social relations;
  • the relationship between social reproduction and breastfeeding, nature, food work, solidarity, new imaginations, the making of alternative economies, and building feminist economies of life.

Lauren Paremoer (University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Donna Andrews (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

72. South-South Migration and Inequalities III: Synthesis – Panels I & II [Roundtable]

There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that South-South migration (SSM) accounts for nearly half of all international migration. This knowledge is yet to dent the persisting reality that international migration routinely centres on South-North migration. This panel rethinks this practice. It foregrounds the relationship between inequality and migration and rethinks the concepts which were developed under the assumptions underlying the study of South-North migration. The aim is to: deepen academic and policy understandings of the relationships between SSM and inequality; explore the impacts and effectiveness of interventions to reduce inequalities associated with SSM; and raise questions in the hope of shifting ideas and policy processes around mobility. With particular attention on migration from the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia) to South Africa, but not limited to place-space context, this panel brings together empirical research and policy analyses on South-South and African intercontinental migration rooted (while not trapped) in history, context and place.

The panel themes include:

  • Childhood migration
  • Resource flows
  • Poverty and income inequalities

The panel is interested in the extent to which migration between Ethiopia and South Africa is reducing or exacerbating multi-dimensional inequalities. There is need to understand the extent to which SS trajectories of movements; pull and push factors; impacts and effects at destination and origin; time-space-place; peoples, policies or nation states; the economy as well as re-centring human development of peoples could narrow inequalities with respect to SSM.

Research on child migration perceives children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults, thus providing leeway for adults to speak for them and consequently strip them of their agency. What would re-centring the human development of children entail? The panel seeks studies that question the view of children as ‘luggage’ and a cause for anxiety for adults to studies that consider children as active agents.

Related panels: 37a (I) + 37b (II)

Faisal Garba Muhammed (University of Cape Town, South Africa; Ghana)

74. Africa Scholarly Publishing and Research Dissemination

This panel brings researchers concerned with publishing and dissemination in Africa to explore its current state, challenges, and possible interventions to strengthen it. The focus lies on the ways in which publishing decentres hegemonic epistemologies of thinking the human in Africa and globally.

Knowledge production is a core aspect of the fourth industrial revolution, where data and research constitute the currency of an economy driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), yet, even though Africa has 12 percent of the world’s population, it contributes less than 1 percent to global research. This has continued to be a major challenge in unlocking post-independence growth, international development, sustainability, and innovation across the continent. The state of scholarly publishing and research dissemination in Africa is complex, with a myriad of issues spanning from socio-political, economic, and cultural and unique in every country in Africa. Despite these obstacles, Africa has the potential to contribute to world knowledge and establish new standards of reference and acknowledgement for humanity’s future. This panel hopes to bring together scholars in knowledge production, publishing, research dissemination, information studies, in a broader sense, to engage in conceptual, empirical, theoretical and methodological reflections on the state of scholarly publishing and dissemination in Africa and the interventions that need to be carried out to strengthen it.

Job Mwaura (HUMA – Institute for Humanities in Africa, University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Mame-Penda Ba (Gaston Berger University, Saint-Louis, Senegal)

75. Campus Forms

What relation exists between the human and the African university – as an idea, an institution, and a physical space – in our contemporary moment? This panel seeks papers that probe this question by way of exploring contemporary literary and cultural texts and contexts for the institution that has long been charged with developing, proving, and nurturing a distinctly African humanism on a world stage. Decades of structural adjustment, a surge of internationally visible student movements, public uproar over sexual harassment and gendered vulnerability on campus, a global pandemic, and the recent fire that destroyed one of the continent’s oldest academic libraries are just some of the contexts that add urgency to the question of what the use, mission, and cultural and political resonances of the university in this tumultuous third decade of the twenty-first century. What humanising and/or de-humanising work does the African university do? What do cultural texts tell us about the stakes and status of knowledge production, pedagogy, “study,” and institutionality today?

We are most interested in papers that focus on African institutions (that is, not on Africans studying or working at European or American universities); that attend to mobility, broadly construed (across borders, across institutions, and/or between institutional/campus space and other spaces); and that approach African university narratives from a comparative perspective. Work that attends to lesser-known campuses, and cultural texts created in languages other than English, is especially welcome.

Anne Gulick (University of South Carolina, Columbia, United States)
Carli Coetzee (Journal of African Cultural Studies (JACS), Oxford, United Kingdom)
Luleadey Worku

76. Mapping: Registers and Scale

The legacies of colonial and apartheid spatial histories continue to shape planning and design in the present. Large scale dispossession, displacement and containment shape both the making of ‘the Human” subject; and the antiblack techniques that inform many methods of mapping. This disposability has been made very apparent during these times of the COVID-19 crisis in South Africa for instance, as we continue to witness people suffering from hunger and watching their homes destroyed under the authority state and private actors. These authorities and their use of official strategies reflect the transhistorical inheritances of many African cities, where social, economic, political arrangements by which land and home become terms by which categories of the person are produced, or said another way, that citizenship is articulated. Mapping offers some access to the problem of this history and makes it a productive lens to engage the ambiguity around the category of ’the Human’ in several ways. This panel aims to bring together scholars interested in Black and African spatial experiences and practices as orientations towards, besides and against official mapping strategies. Paper presentations specifically focus on methodological questions aimed at circumventing hegemonic spatial planning and design. Specifically, the aim is to investigate multiple and possibly concurrent registers of experience as tools to approach African cities and the ways their users occupy, navigate and re-shape ongoing spatial imaginaries and institutions. Along with multiplying the registers from which we see, papers also consider scale, scales or scaling as a similarly reorienting practice. In pursuing the register and scale as lenses, papers also aim to also consider the ways that people confront the dehumanising effects of hegemonic techniques.

Nelly Ganta (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

77. Critical African Masculinities Studies

This panel seeks to examine African masculine institutions of gender by placing men at the centre of scholarship /inquiry about gender in Africa. The centring of men also reads men as gendered beings like women and girls. Reading African men as gendered beings is informed by a growing body of theories in critical men’s studies as espoused by Connell (1995); (2000) and Messerschmitt (2005). Both scholars suggest that masculine gender qualities and performance are not monolithic/uniform and constant throughout one’s life. But there exist different forms of masculinities within a society and their relationship to each other is punctuated by inequalities among men. This means that studies on African genders and femininities are challenged to view men in a different light, not as oppressors of women and children, but as subjected to gender norms and societal expectations so that what they perform as part of their gender script is influenced by their immediate social, economic and political spheres. This does not mean that men are to be studied and represented as victims of several forms of ideologies such as colonialism, slavery, racism, migration capitalism. It means we have to read and understand their negotiation of gender identities and relationships with other men, women and children within the contexts of their localities. This may shed light into rethinking men’s subjectivities in relation to gender-based violence and freeing men from the dogmas of gendered institutions.

The papers to be presented under this panel seek to create synergies between African feminisms, African sexualities and African masculinities and they aim to examine how African men and boys contest, defend and recreate ‘newer’ subjectivities within their different cultural contexts and how these identities are impacted by social realities. We welcome papers that examine African masculinities’ recreation within the contexts of cultural traditions that play a significant role in the making of African masculinities; papers that examine male sexualities and queer identities; papers that examine the relationships between African masculinities and feminist studies and the role that women/feminism play in the transformation or lack of transformation in African masculinity performances; papers that examine how masculinity recreation merge and contest with the global circulation of humans and goods within Africa and beyond. We also welcome papers that use different genres/media to grasps the issues of African masculinities such as film, literary studies, music and other popular culture artefacts.

Nonhlanhla Dlamini (University of the Free State, Harrismith, South Africa)

78. Becoming a Muntu (Human)… [Roundtable]

This roundtable would like to propose, from the intellectual and philosophical heritage of Fabien Eboussi Boulaga, the ways of a habitation of the world by the African subject. The roundtable would like to start from a strong hypothesis that runs through all of Fabien Eboussi Boulaga’s philosophical work and which postulates that the keystone of our advent to ourselves lies in our capacity to become “human”. Becoming human is a task to be restarted unceasingly, a conquest over heteronomy which, in the African experience of the world, takes traumatic forms that make the African subject the radical interpreter of various forms of dispossession, the most important being ontological. But, what does “being oneself” mean, and how can one be oneself? The roundtable would like to explore, in relation to such questions, the propositions found in the philosophy of Fabien Eboussi Boulaga. Thus, in resonance with the themes of the Congress and the work of this great thinker, the following questions will be addressed:

  • religious transformations in Africa
  • the production of “superfluous lives” and the intensification of regimes of enmity
  • academic freedom
  • African anthropology and the question of authenticity
  • violence and injustices suffered by women
  • democracy and the postcolonial state

Parfait Akana (The Muntu Institute [African Humanities and Social Sciences] and University of Yaoundé II (Advanced School of Mass Communication), Cameroon)

79. Recent Dilemmas of Unstable Democracies: Southern Africa in Comparative Perspective

This proposal aims to reflect, in a comparative perspective, on the dilemmas of unstable (re)democratisation processes in Southern Africa (with Brazil as a counterpoint), after the regimes of political violence faced by countries in the region and the respective solutions found to deal with their legacies. The aim is to put into perspective the process of inflexion started with the new constitutions, some of which are paradigmatic in the field of human rights (such as South Africa and Brazil) and which had decisive influences on the redistribution of power in these countries. We discuss the ongoing questions in this new institutional framework, which was constituted in the clash and in the concrete action of the political groups at stake when historically subaltern sectors gain a voice in the public debate. In most of the southern region, the process of supranational dimension was characterized by the institution of social policies formulated from international agreements in order to deal with historical inequalities and promote new forms of sociability and coexistence. With a wide-ranging impact, these policies of global dimensions are confronted with local issues and specific traditions that involve nuances in their legitimation in the international arena, bringing problems to be questioned related to tensions between the emergence of subjects of rights, on an identity basis, and the principle of universality on which the notion of rights is based, considering the current setback in respect for human rights on a global scale.

Laura Moutinho (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil)
Fernanda Almeida (Centre for Humanities Research, University of Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa)
Paulo Neves (Federal University of ABC (Brazil), Santo André, Brazil)

80. Youth Aspirations for Being Human After COVID-19: Lessons from Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Nigeria and Uganda

This panel will look at youth aspirations for being human after COVID-19 and how they respond to the theme of being ‘Human’ in the context of increased unemployment and loss of livelihoods using case studies from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.

Despite the positive economic growth in Africa over the years, most countries are unable to create sufficient employment opportunities for young people (Page, 2012). According to ILO 2020 Youth Unemployment Trends in Africa report for 2019, youth in Africa are confronted with myriad challenges ranging from unemployment due to economic crisis and poor commodity prices. The growing youth bulge in Africa is expected to either present an opportunity to reap from the demographic dividend or a crisis if governments fail to provide sufficient opportunities for youth. African youth lack prospects and opportunities as a result of being increasingly marginalized. One of the major challenges facing African youth is the high unemployment resulting from the economic and governance crisis in Africa, driving them to protests, informality, migration, crime and violence (Abebe 2020; Abbink & Kessel, 2005; Atnafu et al. 2014; Branch and Mampillay 2015; Coulter et al., 2008, Honwana 2014, Iwilade 2020, Yeboah 2020). This panel will focus on how African youth strive to be human and reclaim their humanity despite the myriad challenges they face. Drawing on five country case studies, the panel will share findings from a Youth Aspirations Research Project conducted in 2021 by PASGR is supported by the Mastercard Foundation.

Njoki Wamai (Partnership for African Social and Governance Research, Nairobi, Kenya)
Martin Atela
Daniel Doh
Elizabeth Onyango

81. African Memory Studies

“Every individual memory constitutes itself in communication with others. These “others,” however, are not just any set of people, rather they are groups who conceive their unity and peculiarity through a common image of their past.” – Jan Assman

As memory studies scholarship continues to develop across a range of disciplines, there is an increasing focus on the mnemonic traditions of African communities and the varied and complex ways the past is mediated, interpreted and invented via a range of traditional and contemporary technologies and institutions.

Whether imaginary, experienced or inherited, figures of the past loom large in the social, cultural and political life of communities across Africa and the diaspora – these temporal anchors and modalities shape ethnic, political, familial, religious and cultural affiliation – and while this has long been the case, the role of memory institutions and practice has yet been given adequate scholarly attention to bring it in-line with the broadening developments of the memory field. Contemporary digital communication technology continues to accelerate, contort and amplify the actual and imaginary past, as well as the institutions that shape this engagement, and so it is at this critical junction that an urgent assessment of the mnemonic landscape among African communities and nations is required.

This panel seeks contributions from those interested in progressing debates and discussions around memory studies within the African context. We welcome papers concerned broadly with the topic of memory, historical memory and cultural memory, as well as those that are concerned with contextualising these discussions within a contemporary digital media environment. Contributions are encouraged from a range of disciplines, including: Politics, History, Music & Art, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Languages & Linguistics, Literary & Film Studies and Information studies. Please address questions to Nathan Richards n.richards@sussex.ac.uk and Louisa Egbunike louisa.egbunike@durham.ac.uk

Nathan Richards (University of Sussex, London, United Kingdom)

82. Africa and Cannabis: Historical Narratives and Contemporary Debates

Cannabis has and continues to play an important role in a number of African societies, not only as an intoxicant but medicine, as a cultural marker, political topic and economic tool. This panel seeks to explore the multiplicity of understandings of cannabis and the role it has played in shaping the development of African societies.

From the condemnatory to the celebratory, there are many narratives about cannabis in African societies. Whether conflicting or supportive, many of the narratives have long and complex histories, in part reflecting the broader forces which have tempered African identities. Used as a tool for the legitimation of oppression, as a rallying symbol for cultural resurgence, a political podium, economic vehicle, or simply as an intoxicant, cannabis has been and continues to be an emotive subject, and a highly topical one. This panel will provide a space for the presentation of research and for discussion of cannabis-related topics in Africa. So as to provide an account of the contemporary that is reflective of the past, the panel’s key focus will be on the influence of history on present-day debates. Themes covered will include the use of cannabis as a justification for legislative oppression or as a symbolic marker of political rebellion, cannabis livelihoods, development and the role cannabis may begin to play in the socio-economic development of communities and regions now and in the future. As such, in exploring the history and meaning of cannabis in Africa, so too do we explore broader themes in contemporary African societies.

Simon Howell (Cape Town Centre of Criminology, University of Cape Town, South Africa)
Gernot Klantschnig (University of Bristol, United Kingdom)

90. Humanitarianism and the Promised (but Failed) Redemption of African Humanness [Roundtable]

This session is conceptualised as a roundtable to address how humanitarianism, in its practices, has positioned itself as a force of redemption of African Humanness and failed to carry out that project. Didier Fassim locates the origins of the modern humanitarian movement at the historical moment when “moral sentiments became the driving force for a politics, which was not simply a politics of pity, as Hannah Arendt argues, but also one of solidarity”. Kwame Anthony Appiah, in Cosmopolitanism. Ethics in a World of Strangers suggest that the implementation of the cosmopolitan ethics requires from each of us to go beyond entrench localism: “Each person you know and can affect is someone to whom you have responsibilities: to say this is just to affirm the very idea of morality. The challenge, then, is to take minds and hearts formed over the long millennia of living in local troops and equip them with ideas of institutions that will allow us to live together as the global tribe we have become”. The “ethics of human progress” (Calhoun 74) and the “cosmopolitan vision of world citizenship” (Calhoun 75) forms the core of the modern humanitarian movement. In this session, we argue that the promise of human solidarity has yet to be fully realised. Participants at this session will look at faith-based humanitarian practices (mostly, but not limited to the colonial era) that tried to challenge colonial policies and practices but replicated important aspects of paternalism and infantilisation of African populations. The enduring impact of this infantilisation, coupled with the presumed good faith of humanitarian, could account for the questionable practices of Dr Albert Schweitzer in Lambarene or some of the most egregious human rights abuses in the Congo Free State. Drawing on the work of the CIHA Blog as well as African novelists, playwrights and social theorists, the panel brings together students of humanitarianism around the conceptual work of excavation that remains to be done to critically account for the redemption of African humanness. We also invite reflections on recent efforts by Faith-based organisations (FBOs, e.g. Christian Aid) that are actively taking onboard interrelationship between colonialism, missionising, and racism.

Cilas Kemedjio (University of Rochester, New York, United States)
Mame-Penda Ba (Gaston Berger University, Saint-Louis, Senegal)

91. Reclaiming African Humanness and the Redemption of Humanitarian Practices

This second CIHA-organized panel includes paper presentations that are focused on the best practices that have been at work and/or could be at work to redeem the place of African humanity in the Humanitarian Ideal. Despite the “growing recognition that noble actions can have negative and unintended consequences”, “humanitarianism begins with an impulse and becomes known as a practice”. This session focuses on humanitarian practices that are effective in the redemption of human dignity. What kinds of best practices currently exist? For example, The Sphere Project and Do No Harm principles, articulated during the 1990s, continue to be refined. How well do they work in specific sites, such as among refugees in Dadaad in Kenya or Banyamulenge in Eastern Congo? Whenever these best practices are missing or do not go far enough, what should they consist of? This panel represents both a celebration of moves towards equity and inclusion and a programmatic return to what humanitarianism ought to be in the first place.

Elias Opongo (Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations, Nairobi, Kenya)
Cilas Kemedjio (University of Rochester, New York, United States)