2009 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS)


Conference Theme 2009

Communities and Transformations in Africa and African Studies

Queens University, Kingston Ontario, Canada,
4-7 May 2009

Striving for community is at the heart of ubuntu, the African philosophy that stresses mutual obligations and responsibility. From far-flung kinship networks, artisan guilds and women’s informal associations to regional or pan-African political movements, Africans across the ages have looked to communities to give meaning to their lives and to resolve conflict or find protection. Community is also close to the heart of Africanist scholars and activists outside of Africa who seek to support each other and to express solidarity with African colleagues. Yet dysfunctional communities such as gangs, cliques, and tribalist groups have been a bane to efforts to develop and democratize. New media are rapidly changing the ways that communities cohere and the ways that scholars and activists relate and research them.

The Canadian Association of African Studies invites proposals for papers that consider transformations in the many different types of communities and community-building initiatives in Africa and among Africanists. As well, we invite papers on other changes that reflect both great potential and risk to Africa. Nature and beauty, for example, abound on the continent yet have also resulted in harmful stereotyping and exploitation through sex tourism and the expropriation of indigenous communities in conservation efforts. Talent abounds as well: in the arts, in scholarship and in economic and political leadership. How can African beauty and talent be understood, appreciated, and harnessed without reproducing destructive relationships, but rather imagining and moving towards stronger, healthier communities?