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Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies - BIGSAS

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Cluster Conference "Africa*n Relations: Modalities Reflected"

14 - 17 July 2021

Starting in July 2021, the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence will convene a series of annual conferences designed to bring the thematic work of the previous academic year to fruition. The 2021 conference will be held online and revolve around “Modalities”, the annual theme of the 2020-2021 academic year.

As one of the four heuristic angles around which the Cluster organizes its joint theoretical and conceptual work, modalities or modes of relating serve as a guide to the study of multiplicity, relationality and reflexivity, the Cluster’s core concepts. The angle of modalities is designed to support the systematisation of research findings, but also to connect to a variety of theoretical concepts derived from the modes of relations the Cluster members encounter in their research.

The 2021 conference will provide a forum to advance theoretical debates, fine-tune the respective concepts, mobilise related methodologies, and promote intellectual exchange within the Cluster – including the University of Bayreuth and the African Cluster Centres at Moi University (Kenya), Rhodes University (South Africa), Joseph Ki-Zerbo University (Burkina Faso), and the University of Lagos (Nigeria) – and with scholars connected to our network and beyond.

The conference will start on 14 July with a keynote by the Senegalese sociologist Fatou Sow, a veritable pioneer of African feminist studies, who will speak about “Relating Women in African Studies: A Critical View.” The second keynote will be held on 16 July by the leading decolonial thinker Boaventura de Sousa Santos from Portugal, who will explore the question of “Decolonizing the University” from the perspective of the epistemologies of the Global South. Other plenary events include an artist lecture by the Kenyan writer Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and a conversation with artivists in the evening of 16 July.

A further highlight will be the first annual Okwui Enwezor Distinguished Lecture, a new lecture format jointly introduced by the Africa Multiple Cluster and Iwalewahaus, where a prominent artist, curator, or scholar will engage with groundbreaking contributions to the rethinking of African arts in a global perspective. The inaugural Okwui Enwezor lecturer will be the renowned art historian Chika Okeke-Agulu from Princeton University, who will speak in the evening of 15 July.

A total of nine panels and four roundtables will engage with modalities from various perspectives. Participants representing a wide range of academic disciplines will explore ways and processes of relating that can be contradictory, complementary or cooperative and may articulate themselves in terms of exchange, acceptance, adaptation, affiliation, inclusion, cooperation, (mutual) influence, dependence, hierarchisation, competition, conflict, struggle, rejection, resistance, or denial. In line with the Cluster’s dynamic perspective on multiplicity, the panels and roundtables will foreground the transformations various modes of relating undergo over time, and the ways in which they vary across different contexts. Moreover, and in keeping with the Cluster’s focus on reflexivity and the aim of reconfiguring African studies, some of the conference events will interrogate power relationships and open up intersectional perspectives on the simultaneity of differences and hierarchies. The conference will conclude on 17 July with a roundtable discussion featuring members of the Cluster’s Advisory Board.

The registration link, the programme and the abstract brochure of the conference may be found here. Please register for participation.

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