From 22 to 24 November 2007 the Belgian Association of Africanists organizes an international colloquium on “Borderlands and Frontiers in Africa”. This colloquium will take place in Leuven, Belgium. It focuses on frontiers, borders, and boundaries in Africa, and, especially, on the many ways people throughout the continent deal with them. The colloquium welcomes contributions from scholars across the humanities and social sciences working in and on Africa, and encourages African scholars to shed their light on this fascinating field.
The colloquium will deal with the three following themes:
1. borders, borderlands and the state
Borders can be understood in many different ways. One immediately thinks of political boundaries, about the nation-state and its criterion of territoriality and sovereignty. In the case of Africa, one immediately thinks of the Berlin conference, of the artificial – not arbitrary – boundaries it effected, or the many border issues and conflicts that have risen ever since.
Some of these issues are: Boundary-making: borders and their history; Borders, state and unfixity; Colonialism and its boundaries; Borders, borderlands and marginalization; Borders and violence; Borderland economies
2. The political ecology of borderlands
The presence of a boundary also shapes the landscape. Conversely, the landscape is and always has been an important factor in determining the border. Think of, for instance so-called natural boundaries and the tendency to naturalize the state by referring to rivers or mountain chains.
This theme draws attention to daily life in Africa’s border zones, for instance with regard to the experience of state throughout the colonial and postcolonial period. Ideology and rethorics notwithstanding, perhaps this state effect accounts for the continuity rather than rupture people experience between the colony and postcolony.
Topics that spring to mind here are, for instance: The genealogy of border scapes; Development at the margins; Natural borders and environmental change; Border ecology; Deserts and refugees; Settlers and the internal African frontier
3. Shifting frontiers
Typically, the notion of borderlands is applied to, for instance, the border between Mexico and the USA, or to the Spanish enclaves Melilla and Ceuta in Morocco. Here we witness not only the confrontation between two nations, cultures or even subcontinents, but also between hopes and harsh reality, rich and poor, illusion and exploitation. Sometimes, life in these border zones is the result of a series of conscious choices, a strategy in itself - but often it is not.
Frontiers and the city; Frontiers of violence; The margins of modernity; Boundaries and resistance; Religious boundaries and border lands
The full call for papers and conference details (literature, practical stuff) can be found on www.borderlands.be. Abstracts are expected before August 1st 2007. Finished papers are due before November 15 2007. Please direct all corrsepondence regarding this colloquiu to firstname.lastname@example.org
Steven Van Wolputte
Assist. Professor, anthropology program coordinator
Africa Research Centre (ARC)
Faculty of Social Sciences
Parkstraat 45 - bus 3615
tel: + 32 16 32 54 96
fax: + 32 16 32 59 02
www.africaresearch.be Email: email@example.com Visit the website at http://www.borderlands.be
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