2015 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS)

Published on June 14, 2018

2015 Annual Conference of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS)

Conference Theme 2015

Ideas on Africa

Date: June 3 – 5, 2015
Place: University of Ottawa, 75 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5

Convened under the auspices of the annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences


With the independence of African states in the 1950s and 1960s the idea of freedom was paramount. The oppression of slavery, indentured labor, colonial rule and violence, was now transcended by the freedom of independence, still denied Africans under apartheid in South Africa and under Segregation in Rhodesia. “When I talk of freedom and independence for Africa” Nkrumah declared, “I mean that the vast African majority should be accepted as forming the basis of government in Africa”. Writers such as Mudimbe (The Invention of Africa), Eric Hobsbawm & Terrence Ranger (The Invention of Tradition) and Edward Said (Orientalism) privilege ideas as social constructivism. There were those, like Kwame Nkrumah, Leopold Seédar Senghor, Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere and Nelson Mandela, whose ideas of the nationalist project were meant to translate into the perfect freedom which, in several cases, remains a challenging project.

Yet the obstacles were formidable: the colonial legacy, the conflicting ideas from presidents, philosophers, political scientists and other intellectuals on the preferred nature of the postcolonial states have increased in complexities in a now global world. The same goes for issues like development, citizenship or, the very perception of Africa itself. More often than not, NGOs, missionaries, politicians, academics, film makers, writers and the media have created an at times reductionist, if not problematic ideas on Africa from a range of vantage points.

The questions this conference might raise include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What idea does Africa project of itself when one carefully scrutinizes life and death in postcolonial Africa?
  • At what condition will Africa become part of the so-called global village?
  • How have engagements in Africa by the Global North affected not only Africa but the intervening countries?
  • What ideological assumptions (racial, religious, economic, and evolutionary) have undergirded such engagements? How have the engagements in question in turn shaped these ideological assumptions?
  • What domestic considerations (religious, economic, political, theoretical) prompt outside engagement in Africa? Which types of engagement are “justified” and on what basis do we judge this?
  • How can the contemporary African Diaspora shape and/or has shaped the idea of Africa by affecting the Global North and its policies toward Africa?
  • What political, religious or philosophical constructions, if any, determines “Africanness”
  • Is “national” or “African” literature a racial, cultural or geographic construct?

CAAS 2015 focuses on the Ideas on Africa, on the African state, on development, on Africa’s place in the international community, of freedom in the postcolonial world. Ideas on Africa will thus seek to scrutinize the (self) representation of Africa between interventions and engagements, with a special emphasis on the crisis on the postcolonial nationhood or citizenship, as well as issues ranging from democracy to Human Rights, in order to better understand the modalities surrounding ideas on Africa, both from within the continent and beyond.

While we welcome individual papers specifically addressed to these broad questions, CAAS encourages also panel proposals related more or less to the present conference theme. The organizing committee reserves the right to make minor changes in the overall configuration of panels. The conference will be organized so that most panels are multidisciplinary, giving scholars a chance to enter a dialogue with their colleagues in other disciplines.

Each paper proposal will indicate the author’s name and affiliation, the title of the paper, an abstract (150-300 words), and a list of keywords.

Each panel must consist of at least four papers. A panel proposal should include a title, a brief description (150-300 words), a list of topics to be covered, email addresses, and affiliations of panel members.

CJAS Editorial Team will consider the best papers on the theme for a Special Issue.

The deadline for submitting paper proposals and panel proposals is March 1, 2015. Please submit your proposal to: CAASACEA@carleton.ca

Information on registration costs is available at: http://congress2015.ca

The organizing committee, the Executive Committee of the association, and all of its members look forward to welcoming you to University of Ottawa in June 2015.


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