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As African Studies responds to calls for “decolonization”, the archive is both a source of inspiration and a threat. This panel invites papers that consider epistemological and material aspects of African archives, currently and historically, in order to imagine our shared ‘archival futures’.
Drawing on the tenets of Afrofuturism, scholar Miranda Mims offers “archival-futurism” as a way to imagine “a future where those who have been traditionally silenced by archives, will be visible, not merely to exist with little or no agency, but to be the makers and shapers of the archives.” Mims thus draws attention to the “silenced” as both an archival subject and architect. This raises issues pertaining to the visibility of the marginalized within the archival record as well as in the creation and control over archives themselves. In order to explore the relationship between the historiographical and the political, this panel bundles these issues under the themes of ‘recognition’ and ‘redistribution’. As African Studies responds to calls for the “decolonization” of our academic practices in teaching and research, the historical archive is both a source of inspiration and a threat: the epistemological and material dimensions of archives create opportunities to further ‘decolonization’, yet the contents of archives present stark imagery of why ‘decolonization’ is so necessary. This tension is epitomized in the ongoing struggles across Africa and among its diaspora for archival restitution, and the promotion of approaches that decenter Eurocentric understandings of archives. This panel invites papers that consider such efforts, currently and historically, in order to join Mims in imagining our shared ‘archival futures’.
Accepted papers:Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -
Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien)
Dan Hodgkinson (University of Oxford)