Call for papers: Panel to be proposed for the ASA Meetings
“Africa at a Crossroads” New Orleans, LA - November 19-22, 2009
African Ceramics from the Bend of the Niger to the Black Volta
This panel will explore the significance of ceramics within a particular region of West Africa as major bearers of important ritual, social and historical information, and thus worthy of the attention of scholars from a variety of disciplines. The region that extends from the bend of the Niger River in Mali at the edge of the Sahara, across southern Mali, Burkina Faso, and northern Côte d’Ivoire, south to the Black Volta of Ghana is an ideal setting for this study. It is a region linked for a millennium by the rise and fall of great empires, by struggles for economic and political power among states, by extensive trade and migration, as well as by the devastating impact of warfare and slavery. Among other topics, historians have documented the movement of traders and the lucrative commerce in gold, ivory, kola, and slaves; archaeologists have drawn our attention to the complexity of urban centers and the diversity of cultural traditions in time and space; and anthropologists have explored the impact of Islam and Christianity on traditional belief systems. Art historians have tended to concentrate their studies on masquerade and sculptural forms produced primarily by men identified with the major ethnic groups in the region (e.g. Bamana, Dogon, Mossi, Senufo), rather than tackle the implications of relations among or between these great traditions. There has been little effort to explore the role of women artists living, working and moving about the region as cultural minorities responding to the needs and desires of peoples of diverse ethno-linguistic origins. A focus on the ceramic arts in this region affords a particularly rich framework for such study – it has significant time depth, the opportunity to explore arts in domestic as well as ritual contexts, and a chance to highlight women as significant contributors to the cultural history of the region.
Contributions are sought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Please respond to me no later than March 1, 2009. The ASA deadline for completion of the panel proposal including all membership and conference registrations is March 15.
Barbara E. Frank
Barbara E. Frank
Departments of Art and Africana Studies
Stony Brook University
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