2012 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS)


Conference Theme 2012

Africa in transformation: Africa of individuals, Africa of generations

Université Laval, Québec, Canada
2-4 May 2012

The Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) extends a special invitation to all scholars and professionals working on all aspects of African Studies for its next annual conference to be held on May 2-4, 2012, at Université Laval in Québec City, Canada. The meeting will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts and the Faculty of Social Sciences with support from Laval University, the two Faculties, the Groupe Interuniversitaire d’Études et de Recherches sur les Sociétés Africaines (GIERSA), the Observatoire Démographique et Statistique de l’Espace Francophone (ODSEF), and the Chaire de recherche du Canada en littératures africaines et Francophonie. Our aim is to attract an international group of specialists at all stages in their careers for discussion and dialogue in both of Canada’s official languages, across disciplines, and between scholars and professionals based in both the North and South.

In recent times African societies have experienced tremendous changes, whether the dimension be social, economic, demographic, political, media-related, cultural, or religious. This conference aims to explore, in both French and English, the many facets of these mutations at the level of individuals as well as at the level of social groups such as generations, and in the varied contexts of self-affirmation, the restructuring or erosion of political arrangements, economic crisis, social tension, affirmation of religious identities, and cultural pluralism. In the tradition of CAAS, the conference hopes to inspire interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary inquiry as well as perspectives over the longue durée.

To be sure, the conference will welcome papers on all topics, but three major themes may serve to guide reflection about the dramatic changes in Africa raised in the preceding paragraph:

  • Theme 1: Observation of the relationships between younger and older people, men and women, social classes, and generations in order to analyze the origins of tensions, negotiations as well as the often complex strategies that lead to cooperation. This theme privileges consideration of the internal dynamics of African societies and encourages the reexamination of other classic themes—the power of gerontocracy, the role of youth as either dependents of their elders or fomenters of violence, or the situation of women as prisoners of social inferiority.
  • Theme 2: Analysis of how African societies, as illustrated through the lives of famous people as well as the not-so-famous and family dynamics both within and between generations, arrived at ways of responding to or even resisting th! e numerous challenges posed by slave trades, diverse imperialisms, decolonizations, political autocracies, democratic transitions and their diverse evolutions, and changes in the face of globalization;
  • Theme 3: Review considerations of the different forms of participation in social and public life, and the variety of forms of civic mobilization—of individuals, social groups, and generations in times of severe political and socioeconomic crisis. Such an approach encourages reflection about the varied ways that people and groups position themselves regarding individualization or community or the two taken together. It also promotes analysis of the emergence of various forms of socialization and sociability which may give rise to solidarity. Finally, it allows study of how these forms of participation are expressed—in the mass media, popular culture, and arts and literature.

The Canadian Association of African Studies and its journal, the Canadian Journal of African Studies have long served as important platforms for scholarship on Africa. As such, and in addition to the more focused themes elaborated above, the conference welcomes papers on a broad range of topics and themes related to the continent, both disciplinary and interdisciplinary. Hence the meeting will be an occasion to share, in both French and English, research on topics such as the state in Africa, civil society, migrations, the slave trades, Africa in the international arena, conflicts within the continent, linguistic practice, religious dynamics, and so on. In keeping with the bilingual nature of CAAS, paper and panel proposals in French are particularly welcomed.