From Plato to Zizek, the study of intellectual history is overwhelmingly confined to the on-going conversation within the Western canon. This narrative is arbitrary if not wilfully exclusionary. No region of the world has been so totally marginalized from this history as much as Africa. The aim of this conference taking place on 24 to 25 November 2018 in Berlin, therefore, is to adopt an Afrocentric approach to intellectual history. In so doing, we will insert Africa into the existing history of the global intellectual tradition and challenge the ways intellectual history is conventionally done. The thematic and chronological remit of the conference is broad and we invite papers on all topics concerning African intellectual history, whether they be methodological/theoretical or content-driven.
By focussing on the knowledge produced by Africans themselves, or how globally circulating ideas were transformed within the geographic, political, economic, and cultural space of Africa, papers may illuminate how the continent has contributed to a myriad of intellectual traditions around the world. While ‘connections’, ‘networks’, and ‘entanglements’ are an integral and welcome theme within the ‘global’, we equally invite papers on ‘rupture’ with the Western episteme. We also encourage papers on regional or pan-African intellectual traditions that somehow address ‘globality’ or move beyond a narration of the nation-state.
Rather than reconstructing a narrow African ‘canon’, papers may choose to focus on the plethora of diverse ways in which Africans imagined and debated the issues of their time. To list but a few examples, such presentations may consider visual, oral, artistic, musical, journalistic, or radio sources as part and parcel of the creation and maintenance of African epistemologies. The purpose of the conference is not, however, to render Western epistemologies monolithic. Therefore, speakers could also address Western or non-African thinkers (Asians in Africa, for example) whose ideas were sympathetic to African knowledge systems or whose social and political imaginaries were largely textured by an Afrocentric life-world/context.
All paper proposals (max. 250 words) must be submitted to: AfricaGIH@gmail.com by midnight (CET) on 31st August 2018. Please also include a CV with your institutional affiliation, position, name, and email address. Proposals will be provisionally accepted or rejected by 3rd September 2018. Should presenters wish, their papers will form part of a book proposal for an edited volume on Africa in Global Intellectual History to appear in 2020. Full draft papers of accepted proposals must be sent to the above email address by 26st October 2018. All full papers should include notes and citations according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
There is no registration fee but attendees should log their interest at AfricaGIH@gmail.com. We regret to say that we cannot reimburse costs for accommodation. Funds are available to make a contribution to the travel expenses of our presenters.
Professor Toyin Falola (University of Texas at Austin) & Dr Emma Hunter (University of Edinburgh)
Dr Vikram Visana
Zeit & Ort
24.11.2018 - 25.11.2018
Freie Universität Berlin