This panel seeks papers that address the rural and urban dialectics in African art historical scholarship. How might we consider the dynamics of space, place and belonging; how they shape social imagination and reflected in artistic practices? How are ideas of the rural and the urban mobilized?
Traditionally, African art scholarship approach the rural, referred to as the upcountry, as a space of authenticity where art and artistic practices in precolonial styles, though vanishing, can still be found. Conversely, the urban setting, associated with city life, is viewed as the sphere of hybridized reality and "cosmolocal" modernity (Simbao 2010), where modern and contemporary art and artists thrive. It goes without question that the paradigms of the pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial have become unworkable and impractical. Art in Africa today is characterized by multiple temporalities co-existing side by side (Kasfir, 2013). Artists in different parts of the continent create with traditional and new media and in a variety of styles and forms in diverse locales often moving between rural and urban settings. How might we reassess this dialectal territorialization of cultural production in Africa which, while serving as a framework for ordering art historical knowledge, continues to uphold the anthropological roots of the field? How might we reconsider the dynamics of space, place and belonging; how they shape contemporary social imagination around Africa and reflected in artistic practices? To this end we invite papers that provide new approaches to writing African art history. The papers should address among others: • The multi-temporal and multi-spatial nature of artistic practice in contemporary Africa • Old and new art geographies in Africa and their implications • Intra-national and trans-continental artists' mobility • Visuality and artists imagination of the rural and urban • The audacity and meaning of place in artistic practice