Knowledge(s) of the past, present and future in a changing Africa [Africanists Network] 
David O'Kane (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)
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Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

Africa may be 'rising', but its diverse trajectories remain highly debatable. This panel presents empirical and theoretical papers dealing with the ways in which Africa's peoples produce knowledge of the past, present and future, in order to ensure their present and future security.

Long Abstract

Contemporary African communities remain faced with the problem of securing their human futures in the context of legacies of the past and challenges of the present. In spite of hyperbolic conceptions of an 'Africa Rising' towards a new condition of economic growth and social betterment, the wider reality in the continent remains one in which persistent problems of poverty, structural underdevelopment, environmental problems and political instability combine to create a state of uncertainty and unpredictability where the future (short-term or long-term) is concerned. In facing the challenges of a volatile present and unpredictable future, Africa's peoples employ a number of cultural and social tools. Older social and cultural forms, such as kinship systems, or newer forms such as the (allegedly) emerging new African middle classes, are both oriented towards the problem of ensuring personal and collective security in the future. This is true in cases of directly economic and political phenomena, and also in those that might seem to be only indirectly concerned with such phenomena. We welcome papers in the areas of kinship, power, economy, environment, work, and other areas which deal with the problems associated with securing human futures in Africa, and which deal with those problems by grasping cases of the production and organization of knowledge about the past, present and future in diverse African contexts. In addition to more empirically-oriented papers, the panel will also include those which deal with these questions from a broader theoretical perspective.

Accepted papers: