Canadian Association of African Studies Conference 2021

Theme: Achieving Ubuntu: Reframing Equity, Partnership and Social Change

Location: Ivey Business School, Western University, London Ontario

Dates: Monday, June 7th to Thursday, June 10th, 2021 

 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 hosted by the Africa Institute, Western University on June 6-9th, 2021 at the Ivey Business School. The CAAS hopes to inspire interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary inquiry as well as perspectives in relation to the ongoing exploration of anti Black racism and anti colonialism.  The African philosophy of Ubuntu – “I am what I am, because of who we all are” offers a powerful framework through which members of CAAS can engage with our theme: Achieving Ubuntu: Reframing Equity, Partnership and Social Change.

The African philosophy of Ubuntu – “I am what I am, because of who we all are” offers an ideal spirit with which members of CAAS can engage with anti-black racism.  The CAAS theme of Achieving Ubuntu: Reframing Equity, Partnership and Social Change endeavors to convey an Ubuntu spirit, one in which we remain in the struggle of truly achieving Ubuntu in the academy and in the world.  Colonial legacies, disciplinary boundaries, the entrenched ‘single story’ of violence and suffering, undermine the rich and varied ways in which African societies have risen, communicate, engage with and transform.   Concurrently, the spirit of Ubuntu recognizes humanness, interconnectedness, generosity.  “[Ruel Khoza] argues that the distinctive collective consciousness of Africans is manifested in their behaviour patterns, expressions, and spiritual self-fulfillment, in which values such as the universal brotherhood or Africans sharing and treating other people as humans are concretised.” (Prinsloo; Boyi)  Thus, Achieving Ubuntu: Reframing Equity, Partnership and Social Change aspires to build bridges and recognize connections even as we acknowledge our diverse methods, goals, and points of departure.

As always, the conference welcomes papers on all topics, but for those reflecting on the dynamics of bridging divides and achieving Ubuntu, we suggest the following axes to orient contributions from a multidisciplinary and global perspective:

  1. The design and functioning of ‘helping’ narratives with contested views of how they may privilege the helper over the hopes, needs and recognition of the marginalized
  2. Considerations of how equity and partnership may simultaneously aim to bridge and reinforce divides
  3. Cases of research or social change initiatives that illustrate the potential for bringing paradigms into productive dialogue
  4. Observed or challenged patterns, dichotomies and differences that lend insight to equity and partnership.

Deadline for proposal submission: December 07, 2020. Please submit your proposals to our new online submission system: 

In the meantime, please prepare your submissions in the following manner:

  1. Paper proposals should include the name(s) and the email address(s) of the (co)author(s), the institutional affiliation(s), the title of the proposed presentation, and an abstract (max 300 words). In the event of a co-authored paper, please kindly indicate which of the authors will be attending the conference.
  2. A panel proposal or roundtable proposal should include a panel title and brief description (300-600 words) and the intent of the panel, the name of the panel organizer(s) and of panel participants. Please provide the email addresses of all participants along with their institutional affiliations. Panels should consist of no more than four participants.

Note on submissions that were accepted in 2020:

The CAAS Conference Committee would like to make clear that submissions that were accepted for the cancelled conference in 2020 are considered approved and will be incorporated automatically as part of the 2021 conference. We encourage those whose submissions were accepted for last year’s conference to update and re-submit those previous proposals if they wish to do so.

 Diversity statement:

 CAAS is committed to equity and diversity and welcomes applications from women, visible minorities, Africa-based scholars, scholars at all ranks and career stage, persons with disabilities, and persons of any sexual orientation or gender identity. CAAS is enriched intellectually, socially and culturally by the presence and participation of people from diverse backgrounds.

In conjunction with CAAS, the Canadian Journal of African Studies is actively seeking to further diversify the journal’s content and operations, both to reflect CAAS’s membership and to engage more closely with knowledge production from the continent that is the journal’s focus. The journal remains committed to its mandate to publish scholarship in both English and French.

Important notice on COVID and the mode of conference proceedings: 

 Given the unpredictable situation resulting from the COVID pandemic, the committee members of the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) would like to inform all applicants that there is a possibility that conference proceedings may be conducted in-person, by virtual means, or in ‘hybrid’ form utilizing a combination of in-person and remote methods. The determination of the specific mode (or modes) of the conference’s proceedings will be determined and announced at a later date contingent on evolving public health safety considerations and governmental regulations.