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Lab02


Creolising Africa: a collaborative approach 
Chairs:
Manuela Boatca (Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg)
Iain Walker (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Discussants:
Ananya Jahanara Kabir (King's college London )
Dominique Somda (HUMA-UCT)
Markus Arnold (University of Cape Town)
Ari Gautier (None)
Format:
Lab
Location:
Room 1234
Sessions:
Wednesday 8 June, 16:00-17:30 (UTC+2)

Short Abstract:

This laboratory will bring together different strands of research on creolization as they have evolved across the African continent, in order to propose “creolizing Africa” as a comprehensive new research agenda that moves away from terrestrial conceptualization of history and identity and privileges instead the view from coastlines and archipelagos.

Long Abstract:

The concept of creolization has not been utilized in any overarching manner within the larger field of African Studies. Nevertheless, there has been discussion of creolization as a cultural process both on the Atlantic coast — from Cape Verde and Liberia to the Western Cape — and in Eastern Africa — the creole cultures of Seychelles and the Mascarenes as well as the Swahili. Despite diverse investigations into creolized cultures on the African continent, some the product of the European encounter, others generated within other regional complexes, they remain confined to disciplinary or geographic silos: linguistics, Black Atlantic Studies, Indian Ocean studies, Lusophone studies. This laboratory will bring together different strands of research on creolization as they have evolved across the African continent, in order to propose “creolizing Africa” as a comprehensive new research agenda.

Drawing on our research on creolized cultural forms of West Africa, Cape Verde, Seychelles and the Mascarenes, on Indian Ocean creolized cultures, including those of peninsular India, and on the potential of creolizing theory in the Social Sciences, we use this laboratory not only to demonstrate the amenability of littoral African enclaves to theories of creolization, but also to put creolization of enclaves in active dialogue with creolization of islands, and thereby assess mercantile and plantation economies as twin motors of the processes of cultural innovation under duress that we comprehend as “creolization.” The idea will be to advocate new ways to (de)centre “Africa” and “Africanity” in interdisciplinary approaches in order to bypass or counter nativist assertions while opening up unexpected approaches to considerations of racial justice as well as interdisciplinarity, that move away from terrestrial conceptualization of history and identity and privilege instead the view from coastlines and archipelagos.