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Shaping African futures from the subsoils [CRG African Literatures] 
Marie Pernice (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3)
Sophie Moulard (Sciences-Po Bordeaux)
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Anthropology (x) Futures (y)
Neues Seminargebäude, Seminarraum 15
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

As our entry in the Anthropocene is debated among the scientific community, calls to come back « down to earth » (Latour, 2017) in order to inhabit the Earth from its soil increase. In this panel, we would thus like to reflect upon African futures sinking down into the subsoils of the continent.

Long Abstract:

Squeezing out by an ever more aggressive extractivism the resources consumed by our society, the future we build is doomed to root itself in an hollowed out soil threatening to collapse under us. To try and hinder this process, scientists and philosophers put forward new ways of thinking inspired by the mineral world, especially by its temporality (Bjornerud, 2018) and by geological phenomena such as sedimentation (Duperrex, 2022).

Hence, in this panel we suggest to take the point of view of the mineral to imagine Africa's futures from its subsoils. Our approach wants to be both anthropological and literary.

Indeed, the hollowing of the subsoils impacts not only the future balance of African natural areas, but also the one of the human groups who live interdepently with them. This leads to investigate the strategies developped to inhabit an unstable soil, and how the daily attention paid to endangered subterranean spaces reshapes relationships within the communities who are related to them.

A number of recently published African novels, permeated by the imaginary of the underground, adress precisely these environmental and anthropological issues. A city whose foundations are eaten away by artisanal copper mines in Sinzo Aanza's work (2015), a delta devastated by oil industry in Helon Habila's (2010): vulnerable subterranean spaces and the fate of those who rely on them generate literary plots. Trying to capture through their writing subterranean ecosystems, authors unveil their unique esthetics and the crucial part they play in the building of African futures.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -