The Changing Dynamics of Memory and Community in West African History & Anthropology: A summer institute for college and university faculty
July 17 – July 30, 2005
University of Ghana
Program statement: The lack of written sources and the oral nature of African societies once left Africa in the domain of anthropology, not history. Pioneering historians of Africa formulated a methodology that would submit oral traditions to the methods and techniques of textual criticism. Using written sources to amplify and cross-check oral traditions and eye-witness accounts was crucial for pioneers like Jan Vansina to establish the validity of oral evidence. Historians today embrace memory as dynamic, with different recollections of an event at different points in an informant’s lifetime not necessarily contradictory or divergent. Anthropologists grapple with a similarly basic challenge in critiques of their concept of community. It assumes a culture and society that are neatly bounded and relatively homogeneous, and it underpins the central ethnographic methodology of participant observation. Recognizing the reality of multiple conflicting identities within and intimate transnational connections between communities, researchers now question common-sense dichotomies like insider/outsider, traditional/modern, and local/global. Going beyond these simple definitions has involved paying serious but critical attention to historical imagination and textual history. As shifting paradigms in both fields bring their methodologies closer together, this summer institute will investigate how much these new approaches to memory and community have privileged African voices and advanced the pursuit of usable knowledge. The institute will also address non-oral sources, written and visual, and examine scholarly approaches within and outside Africa.
Tentative Schedule and Itinerary: The institute will be based at the Institute for African Studies at the University of Ghana and will consist of a series of lectures, seminars and discussion sessions. In addition, as part of the institute, participants will travel to Kumasi and to Cape Coast and Elmina castles. A detailed program will be sent to all participants in May.
Costs: The cost per participant is $2,500. This fee will include the full cost of the seminar sessions at the University of Ghana (all lectures and seminars); lodging, breakfasts, lunches, and approximately one half of the evening meals; and all local and in-country transportation. Participants will be responsible for their own airfare to and from Accra; bar, telephone and other incidental expenses; and occasional evening meals.
Dr. Ibrahima Thioub (Universite Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal) and Dr. Emmanuel Akyeampong (Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA) will team up to serve as directors of the 2005 WARA Summer Institute.
Professor Thioub is the Chair of the History Department at Universite Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. He holds a doctorate in African Modern History and teaches courses on the history and historiography of Africa, the history of Islam, and African historiography of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. His research interests also include art, music and literature; the history of film; labor history, diplomatic history and international affairs, educational technology, environmental and agricultural history and geography. Professor Thioub is the president of the Association de Recherche Ouest Africain and is on the advisory board for H-West Africa.
Professor Akyeampong is Chair of the Committee on African Studies at Harvard University and professor of history. He holds a doctorate in African History and his research and teaching have focused on West African history, Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa, comparative slavery, gender in African history, health, disease, and ecology in African history, and the social history of alcohol. He is the author of Between the Sea and the Lagoon: an Eco-Social History of the Anlo of Southeastern Ghana, c.1850 to Recent Times (2001) and Drink, Power, and Cultural Change: A Social History of Alcohol in Ghana, c. 1800 to Recent Times (1996). Professor Akyeampong is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and is the Vice President of the West African Research Association.
Application: Participation in the seminar will be limited to 12. For more information or an application form please contact WARA at the e-mail address given below. Applications must be received by February 15.
West African Research Association
Boston University African Studies Center
270 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit the website at http://www.warc-croa.org
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