This panel assesses the state of the debate on production and circulation of knowledge in Africa, offering new conceptual tools and approaches. Our goal is to discuss knowledge construction and exchange within and about Africa, stressing the central role played by African actors.
In recent years, the ways in which knowledge was constructed and the processes of circulations have received attention of scholars. Scholars have explored how knowledge circulated around the world, stressing how all actors appropriated skills, reconfigured knowledge, and (re) created systems of governance. Not much focus has been paid on how African societies participated in this processes, although African knowledge was not marginalized. This panel takes stock of the state of the debate to offer new conceptual tools and approaches to the study of knowledge construction and exchange within and about Africa from the 16th to the 19th centuries, stressing the central role played by African societies and African actors. Knowledge exchange here is understood in the form of natural science types of formal skills or on collection of data to enhance control and administration, in mechanisms such as censuses, maps, ethnography reports. In many cases, these were part of the same processes. Key questions include: Which types of knowledge were produced by Africans? Who were the producers and intermediaries in these exchanges? Which forms of knowledge arrive in Africa and were adopted by Africans? Which practices were employed in the constructions of skills? Which types of knowledge were produced about Africa and Africans? How did Africans impact these constructions? Through which kind of routes knowledge circulated among African and societies located elsewhere? We invite papers that will contribute to these questions, both theoretically and through analysis of specific cases.