This panel re-examines the role of race and ethnicity in Africa's socio-economic and political development. Prior to now discourses on Africa's economic backwardness, political crises, conflict and war, most especially since the end of the Cold War, have focused on race and ethnicity. Other factors noted in the literature are world powers’ sudden withdrawal of supports for autocratic government, military autocracy, and mono-economic nature of most African countries. In these discourses, not only were race and ethnicity given a primary place, fears were also expressed that Africa’s future is strewn with ethnic-induced conflicts and wars. The Rwandan Genocide, the civil wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Somalia were blamed on race and ethnic hatred. Criticisms of this liberal-bourgeois view have coalesced on its inability to conceptualize society in terms of class and class struggle.
While not denying the existence of race and ethnicity in Africa, recent developments in Africa, especially since the Arab Spring, have necessitated a re-think of the role of race and ethnicity in Africa’s development. For instance, the Arab Spring, a term describing the wave of revolutionary demonstrations and protests, riots and civil wars that started in December of 2010 in the Arab world, has brought about radical change of government in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. In these places, non-violent and violent demonstrations, riots, and civil wars cut-across racial and ethnic divides. Also recently, radical Islamic groups have flowered across Africa – Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), Ansar al-Din, al-Shabaab, etc. have shown, on the one hand, how race and ethnicity can be subordinated for a higher course and, on the other hand, how people, irrespective of race and ethnicity, can come together to reject a threat.
Undoubtedly, these and other examples are eloquent testimonials that race and ethnicity may not necessarily be as monolithic and influential as previously thought. This panel, which commemorates the scholarship of Professor Toyin Falola in Africa, African-American and Black Studies, engages with these new developments, especially as they challenged received knowledge on race and ethnicity in Africa. The panel seeks research papers that explore these new ways at looking at race and ethnicity, especially in relation to social, political, and economic development in Africa. The panel’s overall objective is to engage the different ways race and ethnicity have been deployed over the years and, given recent developments, how best to harness race and ethnicity for development.
Interested scholars should send their 250-word abstracts/descriptions of their papers and contact details to Bukola Oyeniyi at BukolaOyeniyi@MissouriState.edu on or before April 30, 2014.
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