With the transfers of power in still-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, the époque of ‘traditional chieftaincy’ seemed to be finally over. The chiefs that had been regarded by ‘modern’ colonial officials, and by social scientists, as an outmoded product of either the colonial state, or of African ‘despotism’, appeared to lose all of their authority. Some of the more ‘radical’ postcolonial governments, like in Guinea-Conakry or in Tanzania, would engage to abolish ‘traditional rule’ altogether.
However, fifty years later, we are puzzled by the resilience of chieftaincy in many parts of the African continent. Moreover, it has to be asked what in the end had been the role of the ‘traditional rulers’ inside the late colonial states, and if the chiefs did not retain a good part of their room for manoeuvre. Did ‘traditional rulers’ learn how to ‘play the game’? Can the 1940s and 1950s even be understood as a period in which they acquired the skills to survive after independence?
We invite scholars from all disciplines of the humanities and social sciences, but, above all, historians and anthropologists to participate in the conference to be held on
27 and 28 May 2010
at the University of Porto, Portugal, organised by the Centre of African Studies (CEAUP).
This conference will attempt to describe, from a comparative perspective, the role of the institution of chieftaincy under the colonial states. It will address a large number of subjects, those including:
• the role of the chiefs in tax enforcement and forced labour;
• chiefs as instruments of the colonial state, and their personal interest;
• the boundaries of chiefly activities;
• established dynasties vs. favourites of colonial administration: the mechanisms of succession;
• the role of the chiefs during decolonisation.
We would ask for proposals for conference papers until the 31 January 2010. Papers are expected to have a length of approximately 20 minutes. Main conference language is English, contributions in Portuguese and French are possible. Proposals should be addressed to email@example.com.
A selection of the most innovative conference papers will be published as a special issue of Africana Studia in December 2010.
Centro de Estudos Africanos U. P.
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto
Via Panorâmica s/n
4150-564 Porto Email: ceaup@letras
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