CfP: 50 Years of African Independencies: Challenges to Modernity

Another interesting call for papers that came into my inbox …

50 Years of African Independencies: Challenges to Modernity

Lisbon, 9-11 September 2010


Between 9 and 11 Sep 2010, the CEA ISCTE/IUL and the CEAUP are organizing the 7th Iberian

Presentation

How does Africa look at its past, its present, its future? Rather than wondering about the reality of specific African conceptions of historical time, the CIEA7 proposes to examine the terms by which African societies refer to a transformative vision of the past and the dynamics of the present, in search of visions of the future. Our aim is to see how their visions transcend the particular identities of societies and nations of the continent and evaluate their regional, political and religious variations.

Fifty years after the independence of most African countries, the continent is facing a range of new opportunities for international dialogue. Such new opportunities undermine traditional assumptions that relate to their historical relationship with their former colonizing countries while valuing the nature and variety of their cultural heritage.

Various African societies have found innovative responses to the challenges of globalization, either relating to the fields of trade, politics and culture or to the complex scenarios of economic, environmental and energy crises that have been affecting all humanity. These responses and the accompanying re-readings of the past have been the basis of profound identity shifts that reveal the weaknesses of attempts to apply external models of society and state of European and American origin to African countries.

For the three plenary sessions of the Congress, the Executive Board considers it important to define a set of specific topics focused on recent transformations in African historiography, an analysis of the contemporary dynamics of African states, and conflicting perceptions of the continent's future.

Plenary Sessions

Session 1: Colonial History and Preparation of Independences

For the past 50 years,1960 has been regarded by historians and politicians as a fundamental rupture, which completely redefined the relationship between African societies and their old metropolises. It was only recently that it became acceptable to attempt to understand decolonization as a process with many continuities that promoted the emergence of African-European networks - both formal and informal - and whose main period, between 1945 and 1960 (or 1975 in the case of the Portuguese empire), reshaped the composition of local elites and authorities. Political attitudes and experiences changed, such as the assumption (or not) of democratic and participatory principles. In addition, the last fifteen (or thirty) years of the late colonial period were marked by major changes in the traditional institutions of African societies and by the introduction of 'modern' structures for transforming regional economies.

These contradictory developments have not been sufficiently studied and lack a comparative perspective. The organizers of the session welcome proposals that can contribute to the development of analytical models of these quite heterogeneous historical realities, and will prefer presentations that emphasize the role of African historical actors.

Session 2: African State in Debate

Fifty years after the independencies, African states are facing new challenges both at local and global level. Locally, they are faced with new requirements, be it the democratization processes imposed in the past 20 years, recent demand for greater decentralization of power, and the liberalization and deregulation of markets. In this session we propose to question the multiplicity of state models in Africa, and the intricacies of local power: democratic models and oligarchies, local disputes and recurring regional conflicts, fragile states and regional powers. This session invites the submission of panels addressing the role of international institutions and the new “moral order” as a prerequisite of access to external financing in support of African states; inspecting conflicts in Africa and peace building and peacekeeping processes; focusing on decentralization processes of in Africa and state intervention; questioning development plans and their implementation, the economic survival of African states, the role of cost-effective solutions in the survival of local populations, and the influence of diasporas in state building; discussing the integration of African states in the new international order, considering the interest represented by Brazil, India and China or the policy initiated by the Obama administration; and the relationship between African and European states.

Session 3: African modernities?

Africa is usually portrayed as a continent where external models of development seem bound to fail. This is generally true for large projects designed without taking local characteristics into account. A closer look at specific situations on the ground reveals the strong dynamism of African societies and the enormous capacity demonstrated by both individuals and groups to combine endogenous and exogenous elements to develop numerous strategies that challenge superficial categorizations. Such creativity is found in very diverse areas such as migration, trade, ICTs and the fields of health and youth, and in the reconfiguring of the sociopolitical and religious spheres. This local DIY allows African societies to adapt to new contexts while keeping some of their traditions alive, thereby producing tensions that challenge the limits of the usual notions of modernity. This session welcomes panels that address these many expressions of creativity.

Call for Panels

The Center for African Studies (ISCTE / Lisbon University Institute) and the Center for African Studies of the University of Porto are organizing the 7th Iberian Congress of African Studies which will be hosted by ISCTE / Lisbon University Institute between 9 and 11 September 2010.

We invite all interested parties to submit proposals for panels to one of the plenary sessions proposed. The organizers will give preference to panels co-organized by researchers from different universities and institutions.

The official languages of the Congress are Portuguese, Spanish and English, and the panels can be spoken in any of these languages.

Proposals for panels should be sent to: vii.congresso.estudos.africanos@gmail.com

Dates to remember:

December 10 to January 20: Call for panels

February 15: Communication of accepted panels

February 20 to March 30: Call for papers

April 30: Notification of accepted papers

Contact

CEA/ISCTE-IUL
Av. das Forças Armadas
Edifício ISCTE, Sala 2N17
1649-026 Lisboa - Portugal

Tel: +351 217 903 067
Fax: +351 217 955 361
URL: http://cea.iscte.pt
Email: cea@iscte.pt

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