P147
Dichotomic 'Fault Lines': Exploring the Mutual Constitution of Binary Formulations in African Histories

Convenors:
Jessica Farrell (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Discussant:
Elisio Macamo
Format:
Panels
Location:
KH111
Start time:
1 July, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This panel critically engages with questions concerning "the constitutive nature" of dichotomic formulations (e.g. rural vs. urban) in African studies. Panelists interrogate the 'fault lines' inherent within dichotomous framings to better apprehend how they conscript us to Eurocentric archetypes.

Long abstract:

This panel will explore how dichotomous framings, such as rural versus urban, tradition versus modernity, and savage versus civilized, limit what is and what can be said in the field of African studies. By questioning the very premises which underlie these often taken for granted binaries, we will interrogate the ways in which African studies generally, but particularly the discipline of history, has been conscripted into a reliance on a variety of eurocentric archetypes for the production of knowledge about Africa, thus helping to both perpetuate and naturalize these epistemological and ontological frameworks. In doing this work, we seek to critically engage with what the ECAS Call for Papers refers to as "the constitutive nature of the tension between tradition and modernity" in African studies by troubling the 'fault lines' inherent in this formulation. For our purposes, the concept of 'fault lines' is thought simultaneously as the breaks, slippages, overlaps, and variations produced through the tenacity/obstinacy of disciplinary reason and Western conceptualizations/assumptions, and also as a formulation which enables the possibility for critique/critical engagement along the breaks, slippages, overlaps, and variations therein. Looking at how processes of urbanization have historically been described through and defined by assumed hierarchical relationships with the presumed inferior 'other', the papers included in this panel will address how dichotomic formulations such as rural versus urban are not only mutually reinforcing, but mutually constituted as well, helping to further legitimate and perpetuate obfuscating binaries such as traditional versus modern and savage versus civilized.