Call for Papers
Workshop: Challenges and Potentials of Interdisciplinary Thinking
Across the Arabic Speaking and Sub-Saharan African Divide.
Date: April 4-6, 2003
Location: Cairo, Egypt
A workshop organized by the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies
at the American University in Cairo
Organizers: Dr. Martina Rieker & Dr. Cynthia Nelson
Processes of globalization and internationalization of academic knowledge production are posing new questions and challenges to older area studies paradigms. This rethinking of African and Middle Eastern studies is taking place within global northern academic institutions (e.g. Mmembe, Appiah), while questions within the continent are increasingly being recast within the categories of development (e.g. women’s studies). There is a certain growing dissonance between southern local and global academic spheres. Generally there is a sense that the area studies paradigm has exhausted is usefulness for understanding the contemporary world. The quest for post-area studies models is not without its challenges. Not least among these are the new cultural models for rethinking spatial relationships as evidenced in the vibrant debates in the field of anthropology over the last five years.
Area studies is based upon a statist imagination of the world. Just as the free flow of peoples, ideas and goods have been rendered problematic in postcolonial Africa, likewise the academic understanding of links and connections between the Arabic speaking and sub-Saharan regions have remained outside area studies modes of thinking. Contemporary attempts to reassess these issues have taken two trajectories. One trajectory has privileged culture as a way to understand the post-statist African continent (e.g. the Islamicate cultural zones). Others have looked at questions of displacement and rupture, i.e. the failure of the modernist project in Africa, (e.g. labor migration, forced migration, refugee making). The purpose of this workshop is to examine more closely the possibilities for a new understanding of the histories and linkages between Arabic speaking and sub-Saharan Africa. We want to bring together a group of scholars who have been involved in challenging and re-thinking this African divide. If our understanding of Africa has been defined by the categories of meaning making within the modern nation-state then this workshop will explore how a study of Africa that is sensitive and in tune with post area studies sensibilities might pose different sets of questions to the complex dynamics of the life-worlds of gendered subjects across the African divide.
Fifteen scholars will be invited to participate in this workshop. Interested parties should submit a 500 word abstract by January 15, 2003. A 20-25 page workshop paper to be distributed among participants prior to the workshop is due March 15, 2003. Limited funding opportunities are available. For more information regarding the workshop write to Dr. Martina Rieker. Please submit abstracts to the IGWS secretariat: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Institute for Gender and Women's Studies
American University in Cairo
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