REVISITING THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS OF AFRICANISTS
IN A GLOBALISED WORLD
October 24-26, 2013
INSTITUTE OF AFRICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF GHANA
CALL FOR PAPERS
African Studies has certainly come a long way since the establishment of the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana in 1961; it was at the time one of a few such institutes on the African continent. At its formal opening by Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, in October 1963, the President defined the mandate for Africanists in his the African Genius. In that speech he exhorted the distinguished guests, the fellowship of the Institute, and Africanists as a whole, inter alia, as follows:
One essential function of this Institute must surely be to study the history, culture and institutions, languages and arts of Ghana and of Africa in new African centred ways ... By the work of this Institute, we must re-assess and assert the glories and achievements of our African past and inspire our generation, and succeeding generations, with a vision of a better future.
The year 1962 saw the University of Ghana host the first International Congress of Pan Africanists. The roll call of the invited guests and participants is a reflection of the status of the discipline and the importance of the congress agenda. The congress was chaired by the late Prof. Onwuka Dike, the first African Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan. It can be recalled that Dike noted two important strands for Africana scholars that retain salience half a century later. At the 1962 congress he remarked as follows:
[…] But the African continent stands for […] particular ways of life, particular solutions to the problems of human survival … particular responses to the human dilemma. ... African Studies will be the means to the achievement for the African of a greater self-respect, the means to the
creation of a surer African personality in the face of the modern world.
Dike’s foremost concern, however, was how scholars on the continent, primarily, but also those in the Diaspora, would mobilise themselves into a team to coordinate resources towards the study of the continent and its peoples, and we might add, its Diasporas. He considered the task to be urgent. Sadly, the place of that meeting in helping to define the discipline of African Studies in Africa, especially, but also in her Diasporas and beyond, has largely been neglected. And so it is that the 2013 conference seeks to assess and also celebrate the journey travelled so far, including the academic achievements of some of our foremothers and forefathers, and in the process chart a course for the future.
The IAS is thus hosting an international conference that will bring together scholars, practitioners and activists to revisit the 1962 congress, reflect on the largely unfinished business that lies before us, and strategise on the way forward and in so doing bring our diverse strengths and experiences together for a new Africa.
Details for Abstract Submission
The International Conference on African Studies, taking place at the University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana, October 24th – October 26th, 2013 on the theme “Revisiting the First International Congress of Africanists in A Globalised World” invites proposals for panels and individual papers.
Deadline for Proposal submissions: 17th April, 2013
Proposals should consist of:
ii) Abstract – 200 words maximum
Conference language: English
Submission via web: Abstracts should be sent to the following address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Notification of acceptance: 28th June, 2013
Deadline for submission of complete papers online: 4th September, 2013
Panel and individual papers on the under listed themes and their sub-themes are invited. Panels/presenters are however not restricted to the listed sub-themes and are welcome to present on other related topics. For further enquires please send an email to email@example.com.
African Studies and the Disciplines
African Studies is inherently multi and inter-disciplinary, encapsulating the approaches and methods that allow us to weave together the multiple strands that make up the histories and contemporary realities of the peoples of Africa. The significance of African History to the African Studies project is obvious, considering that other disciplines have developed on the basis of their own histories; and thus history became one of the cornerstones of African Studies. However, the interactions between African Studies and the rest of the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Physical and Applied Sciences are not always so obvious. Until African issues began to be studied, much of globally-accessible scholarship was Greco-Roman and European in orientation. If scholars derive insights from their environments and histories, then the study of issues in the African environments naturally compelled scholars to come up with new and alternative insights that make context-specific sense. This context-specific sense, we soon learned, was also relevant to other non-Western and Western societies. Many theoretical developments owe a debt to the study of African societies and institutions—take the case of alliance and descent models in kinship studies; the conceptualisations of family and household; alternative philosophical traditions; notions of rationality etc. On the other hand, African Studies have been influenced by Western-derived disciplines and have engaged in dialogue with them. Sometimes these disciplines have been a source of challenge to African Studies because of the dominance of Euro-centric models.
This thematic group invites papers that reflect on the enormous contributions the disciplines within African studies have made to “traditional” disciplines and vice-versa. Papers and panels might consider, but are not limited to, the following:
• Contributions to the concepts, theories, and frameworks within disciplines
• The formation and contestation of canons
• Development of new and alternative methodologies
• Cross-relationships and interactions across disciplines
• How the interdisciplinary development has provided source materials that have enriched our comprehension of non-African societies
• The projection, preservation and politics of identity—Africanness, the African personality, Negritude, Blackness, People of Colour etc.
• Perceptions of relevance, institutional cultures and other areas of struggle
• Mapping the cultures of Africa and erasing/diminishing the false barriers created by the colonial project, and revealing important connections across contemporary borders
• Knowledge benefits of the architecture, mathematics, engineering, natural, biological, and applied, particularly health sciences
Challenges of Teaching and Researching African Studies
The field of African Studies was formulated initially to serve non-African interests nearly a century ago. Gradually, a Pan-Africanist nationalist struggle developed, culminating in the appropriation of the field as a key epistemological foundation for the new Africa. However, 50 years of African university education has not focused on the development of African epistemologies. This has left the vision of the initiators of African Studies unfulfilled. There is cause to revisit the vision, examine the internal and external factors leading to the current situation, and project possible threats and challenges for the future.
• Strengthening research and teaching capacity to advance African Studies
• Challenges presented by the research environment
• Institutional contexts within which the teaching and researching of African Studies is done
• In/Appropriate methodology for researching and teaching African Studies
• Funding of African Studies research
• Perception of African Studies in African Universities and in institutions of learning outside Africa
• African Studies and the policy environment
• New epistemologies in African Studies
African Studies and National Development
Different dimensions of development have influenced African Studies. Themes in African Studies have been closely related with the following issues: dilemmas of community development and adult education in the 1950s; the need to develop national integration, national cultures and project positive images of Africa and African cultures in the 1960s; a critique of modernization in the form of dependency theory and the call for an international economic order in the 1970s; and the problems of globalization in the 1990s. Themes for this topic may develop from the ensuing concerns:
• African Studies and National Culture, Cultural Nationalism and National Development
• African Studies and Development Studies: Theoretical and institutional relations, and narratives of development in environment, agriculture, social welfare, gender, ethnicity and class, poverty, infrastructure, and manufacturing
• African Studies & Development: changes in dominant paradigms over the past 60 years
• African Studies Past, Present and Future--challenges and prospects
• African Studies and Neo-Liberalism: achievements and failures in National Development under Neo-liberalism
• Development Co-operations: South-South Development Co-operations, Changing frameworks and potentials
Africa and the Diasporas
The African Diaspora spans many centuries and it remains dynamic as Africans have not ceased to migrate and/or form communities in other parts of the world. Throughout history, diasporal Africans have faced dilemmas and challenges on issues of identity and the color line, belonging-ness, culture, history, religion, politics etc. and how to relate to the mother continent. Attitudes of Africans on the continent to those of the Diasporas also need interrogation, as well as special cases such as the maroons in Suriname, Brazil, Haiti, Jamaica, etc. The subject matter of the African Diaspora is therefore an expansive field that challenges scholars.
• African Migration
• The African Diaspora in the Americas
• The African Diaspora and Africa
• The African Diaspora in Asia
• The African Diaspora in Europe (UK, France, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands, etc.)
• The Plantation System and the African Diaspora
• The Civil Rights Movement in the US
• Cold War Politics and the African Diaspora
• The Afro-Latin Experience
• Religion in the African Diaspora
• The economic geography of the African Diaspora
• Mass media and the African Diasporas
• Race, Gender and Class and the African Diasporas
• Recent African Immigrants in the Diasporas
Leadership and Governance
One of the major cravings of our time is effective leadership and governance. Yet recent world events attest to widespread problems associated with leadership and governance. And in the African context transformational leadership is at the core of its ability to win the future.
Leadership is about organizing people to achieve common goals for the good of society. To this end, students of leadership have produced theories and “best practices” involving traits, transparency, situational interaction, function, transformation, transaction, style, gender, behavior, power, vision, intelligence, cultures, accountability, habits, among others. This notwithstanding, there has been little focus on the study of African leadership and governance. Thus, the development of Africa-centered theoretical and applied studies in African leadership and governance remains a major challenge.
This theme will seek to explore leadership and governance in the traditional African context, the colonial period and post-independence.
• Traditional rulers in ancient Africa, the colonial period and post-independence
• The role of traditional and modern leaders in African political systems
• Modern political leadership in Africa
• The role of accountability, transparency and ethics in governance
• The role of ethnicity in African politics, leadership and governance
• Gender in African leadership and governance
• Leadership in NGOs, Educational leadership
• African leadership concepts
• African religious leadership and governance
• African presidential leadership
• African Entrepreneurial and/or Corporate leadership
Science, Technology and African Studies
Although European science is based on universal application, some reflexivity is required on the context in which scientific institutions have developed in Africa. The late colonial to early independence period was one of establishing Western-centered scientific institutions. However, these sought to denigrate African ideas and institutions rather than building on existing knowledge and needs. How has science fared in Africa and has it met the needs and aspirations of Africans and the global community?
The themes for panels could include the following:
• Major constraints within the development of science and technology in Africa
• The relationship between assumptions and received wisdom operating in international and national policy frameworks and institutional settings
• Innovative approaches to science that have developed within Africa
• The major constraints in teaching science in Africa and building a scientific community and scientific institutions
• The interactions between science and other cultural values in institutional settings
• The potential for modern/contemporary science to build upon indigenous knowledge systems
• The impact of modern science and technology on African traditional values, cultures and technologies
Abena Karikari (Conference Coordinator)
Institute of African Studies
University of Ghana
P.O. Box LG 73
Accra,Ghana Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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