The 7th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) will be taking place at the University of Basel (Switzerland) from 29th June to 1 July 2017. The theme for this year is “Urban Africa – Urban Africans: New encounters of the rural and the urban,” and I am aware from the preliminary call for panels that there is considerable interest in discussing and addressing issues about how current urbanization trends are impacting societies and individuals in terms of artistic, aesthetic and cultural responses, just as much as the more widely discussed dynamics and precarities of socio-economic, political and environmental change.
This conference is a gift for contemporary cultural geographers from continental Africa and the global African diasporas who wish to actively challenge and push back against the highly contentious and problematic pedagogies associated with so-called “African Studies” within the European academy. Indeed, the conference conveners at the University of Basel (CASB) have stated the following in their recently issued call for papers, presentations and other contributions:
“The key issue… is how urbanization processes in Africa transform conventional objects of African Studies and how [you/me/we] gear up to face such changes … While the urban will be prominent, the proposed conference theme will also look into the entanglements of the rural with the urban, especially with a view to addressing an implicit assumption underlying the study of Africa and which concerns the supposed rural ‘nature’ of the continent as well as the constitutive nature of the tension between tradition and modernity.”
CASB conference conveners, University of Basel (Switzerland)
Earlier in September I was pleased to present a conference paper at AfroEuropeans V: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe (University of Münster, 16-19 September 2015) – the fifth biennial network event exploring socio-political issues and spatialities relating to histories of migration, diaspora formation, economic interdependencies and cultural links between Africa and Europe.
My contribution formed part of a diverse programme of speeches, panel presentations, structured debates and artistic performances that enabled participants to engage in wide-ranging, interdisciplinary dialogues about past and present-day life experiences of Africans and Diasporans in Europe, with a particular focus on the role of activism within academia.
The opening keynote address by political scientist Jamie Schearer (a founding member of the European Network for People of African Descent (ENPAD)) set an optimistic tone for the conference by outlining the many positive and tangible ways ENPAD was initiating effective advocacy and awareness-raising campaigns, publishing educational resources and providing safe spaces for discussing the many complex and challenging issues of race and racism(s) faced by Africans in Europe. Some of the most successful projects recently undertaken in Amsterdam, London, Warsaw and Berlin were foregrounded – including the Black Heritage Amsterdam Tours, the “# Ferguson is Everywhere” campaign, and wider political lobbying related to issues of police violence, racial profiling, and inequalities within systems of justice. Fittingly, we were reminded of key figures in German history and political activism who have made significant contributions to discourses on challenging racism, xenophobia, stereotyping, anti-blackness, sexism and homophobia – not least the Afro-German poet and educationalist May Ayim (1960-1996), and the African-American writer and rights activist Audre Lorde (1934-1992). Continue reading Memory and Museums at “AfroEuropeans V” (University of Münster, Germany)
The fifth African European Studies conference (AfroEurope@ns V: Black Cultures and Identities in Europe) will be held at the University of Münster (Germany) from 16th to 19th September 2015.
The event has been organised as an inter-disciplinary conference with papers covering literature, history, music, theatre, art, translation, politics, immigration, youth culture and European policies. Afroeurope@ns V brings together scholars, critics, activists and artists to debate and discuss these issues.
With contributions envisaged from across Europe, Africa and Asia, and the Americas, the conference will enhance the field of African European Studies as well as lead the way towards a new awareness of the essential contributions of Europe’s black populations in all fields.
Abstracts for AfroEurope@ns V (up to 300 words, written in English) should be submitted no later than 1 March 2015 via the conference website: http://www.wwu.de/AFROEU2015/.
The academic committee will reply to all submissions no later than 15 April 2015.
Submissions addressing the following topic and themes are welcomed:
Racism(s) and austerity: comparative approaches across Europe
Colonial remains and historical interaction between Africa and Europe