CFP: African Cultural Production and the Rhetoric of Humanism

Posted on Nov 1, 2016

The French social philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy, in his book Being Singular Plural, (2000) posits that existence is inherently co-existence. This deeply humanistic vision of social relations resonates with the traditional African philosophy of life which, in a nutshell, boils down to: ‘I am because we are, and because we are therefore I am.’ (Cobbah, 1987). The spirit of hospitality, community, respect for human beings and even for objects exemplifies this approach to life. According to Léopold Sédar Senghor, one of the founding fathers of the Négritude movement, this aspect of African culture is a key aspect of black peoples’ contribution to the architecture of a “Universal Civilization” (Liberté 1. Négritude et humanisme, 1964). At the second conference of Black Artists and Writers held in Rome in 1959, Senghor argued for the centrality of human beings in all artistic creation and appealed to African artists and writers to produce works that deal with the quotidian realities and challenges of African people. As evidenced by its rich corpus, the primary focus of cultural production in traditional and modern African societies is the longing for the emergence of communities whose daily praxis is driven by the principles of social justice, peace and dignity. The changing conditions in African countries due to multi-party democracies, corruption, civil unrest, famine, natural disasters, disease, poverty, social inequities and wars, have given rise to new discourses informed by this ideal. Furthermore, the emergence of information technologies has also enabled new artistic dimensions in the continent’s cultural production and artists of all disciplines have crafted their works to fit these new realities while placing the rhetoric of humanism at their core. Yet very few cultural and literary critics have explored this interminable quest for humanistic societies in an extensive manner. We invite interested scholars to submit essays analyzing African cultural production through a critical examination of the discursive strategies and frameworks in which the question of humanism is dealt with in any one or more of the following art forms: literature, cinema, video games, performing arts, painting, sculpture, photography, cartoon and music. Essays for the collection will be between 6000 and 6500 words long including notes. Ideas for proposals could be based on (but not limited to) any of the topics below: Women’s Status Children’s and Minority Rights Religion and Traditional Rites Systems of Justice (Im)Migration and the Refugee Question Power, Violence and Governance War and Trauma Gender and Sexuality The Environment Humanitarian Aid (Neo)Colonial Relations Humanistic Discourses in Africa and the African Diaspora Please send your proposal in a Word or Word-compatible document of approximately 300 words in English via an email attachment to the editors Lifongo Vetinde (vetinde@gmail.com) and Jean-Blaise Samou (samouj@ripon.edu) not later than January...

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CFP: Workshopping Approaches to Race, Racism, and Racialization in Ethnographic Examinations of China-Africa and South-South Encounters

Posted on Sep 27, 2016

January 13, 2017 New York University The spectre of race haunts the China-Africa moment. A consequence of the steady stream of sensational stories about South-South interactions is the realization of W.E.B Du Bois’s observation that “crossings of the global color line make for anxious investigations.” The historian Jamie Monson argues that the study of “China-Africa” has become a “hot” topic precisely because the expansion of Chinese capital and migration to Africa (and vice versa) has disturbed implicit racial geographies and global hierarchies of value. Surprisingly however,  critical or intersectional perspectives on race have been limited in the emerging field of China-Africa studies. Political economists and ethnographers have frequently gestured towards issues of race, racism and racialization in African-Chinese interactions (or talked around it in terms of culture, language, ethnicity etc.), but a sustained in-depth, critical, and reflexive conversation is needed.  Instead, we have seen a pattern of impassioned apologetic or polemic responses that follow periodic “racist scandals” which appear in international media reporting on the topic. These scandals, ranging from a restaurant in Nairobi that banned black patrons after sunset, to a Chinese laundry detergent ad that recycled the trope of “washing” a black man into whiteness, have frequently become focal points in a predominantly “West-East” narrative of comparative racisms originating in the global North.  These scandals have been simultaneously interpreted as either tokens of “deep-seated” Chinese racisms or hypocritical “Western” media constructions or misinterpretations. These debates touch on the very definition of “racism” and its use in the discussion of global inequalities, discourses, and practices, both in the context of a “rising” global South and the lingering inequalities of the “West and the rest.” Missing from these discussions, however, have been the insights that ethnographic approaches could offer, or a critical stance on the positionality of experiences and claims about race, racialization, and racism. On January 13, 2017, we will gather at New York University to move beyond periodic scandals and grapple with the concepts of race, racialization, and racism more broadly within the context of China-Africa or South-South interactions. We invite up-and-coming scholars who are wrestling with these issues, particularly in Chinese-African connections, but also in transnational Afro-Asian, and South-South formations more generally. What we are seeking is not so much completed or polished work, but rather thinkpieces, reflections, and works in progress which evince attempts to think through these issues. We especially welcome scholars who have conducted (or plan to conduct) ethnographic fieldwork or in-depth historical research. The aim of the workshop is to promote a conversation which we hope will both sharpen critical approaches to race in the study of China-Africa, and also contribute to the anthropology of race more broadly. We hope to address...

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CFP: North African Literary and Cultural Studies

Posted on Sep 27, 2016

2017 NeMLA Convention, Baltimore, MD, March 23-26 We are seeking papers for a session on NORTH AFRICAN literatures and cultures at the upcoming Northeast Modern Language Association Convention (NeMLA) to be held in BALTIMORE, March 23-26, 2017. We welcome submissions that open original and ground-breaking avenues for the study of North Africa. Please submit abstracts online by following this link to the NeMLA website: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/User/SubmitAbstract/16388 The deadline to submit abstracts is SEPTEMBER 30th 2016. Questions about this session should be addressed to Professor Ziad Bentahar at zbentahar@towson.edu using the subject heading “NeMLA...

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