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Colonial insurgency and counterinsurgency shaped decolonisation across Africa. This panel, bringing together new scholarship, will explore how civilians, colonial officials and guerrillas all participated in processes of future-making, with significant post-colonial and contemporary resonances.
The panel hopes to bring together a new generation of scholars working on the practices and legacies of colonial insurgency and counterinsurgency. Across the continent from Algeria, through Kenya and Guinea-Bissau, to Namibia, the process of decolonisation was marked by multi-sided violence and various practices of future-making. From high-modernist villagisation to guerrilla bureaucracies, both insurgents and counterinsurgents jockeyed to shape post-colonial states, ideas, and identities. New scholarship, much of which emanating from young scholars on the continent itself, has come to move beyond a straightforward military-historical approach to counterinsurgency, to show how everyday citizens interacted with its modernising impulses. African post-colonial states were in diverse ways a product of both the counterinsurgent and insurgent projects, often uncomfortably reconciled by state officials who had been on both sides of the divide.
Future-making provides an important framing for studying the period of decolonisation, by allowing for detailed exploration of the various futures historical actors imagined, and how certain ones became reality. Decolonisation was for many African states a violent rupture, an age of radical flux comparable to the present opportunities provided by technological innovation. This occurred not just in the corridors of metropolitan power, but at the grassroots, where indigenous idioms of freedom intermingled with global currents of ideas . This topic has significant contemporary relevance due to the continuing inter-relation of insurgency, violence, and state-making across Africa, with new visions of the future constantly closing and opening-up.
Accepted papers:Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -
Riley Linebaugh (The Leibniz Institute of European History)
Abdifatah Tahir (University of Manchester)
Thomas Wright (University of York)
Michael Shirungu Fabianus Kandjeke Kavera (School of Military Science, University of Namibia) Ndumba J Kamwanyah (University of Namibia) Kletus Likuwa (University of Namibia)
Sandra Araújo (University of Warwick)