African Studies Conference coming to USIU-Africa in October

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Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza engages students in a Q&A discussion on the ramifications of theTransatlantic slave trade in society, following the screening of the documentary “Slavery Routes” at the UN Office in Nairobi headquarters on Monday, March25. More than 500 students from 12 local universities gathered to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade. The theme of the event was “Power of the Arts for Justice.” Photo: UNIC Nairobi

By Dr Njoki Wamai

USIU-Africa has won a bid to host the 3rd African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) Meeting this Fall semester from October 22-24, 2019.

The Association’s 3rd Biennial Conference 2019 will also be held for the first time in East Africa, under the theme: African and Africana Knowledges: Pasts, Present and Futures, from October 24-26, 2019.

The African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) was established in 2013 as an interdisplinary association for African studies to re-center Africa as the global center for African studies, and to provide a forum for learning and unlearning African studies from previous European and American lenses.

A member of the Local Organizing Committee Assistant Professor of International Relations Dr. Njoki Wamai, says that the theme focuses on a particularly exciting on-going conversation about the politics of knowledge on the African continent.

Although Africa has made immense contributions to global intellectual welfare, it is ironic that it continues to be regarded as the poorest continent in knowledge production. The erroneous representation of Africa today is partly as a result of those past representations that still represent Africa in popular media and scholarship as hopeless, poor, dark, and devoid of knowledge.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Paul Zeleza in his book on Manufacturing African Studies has observed that, “...since the institutionalization of African Studies in the 1950s African studies has been in a perpetual state of crisis”.

Prof. Zeleza also locates this crisis in “..the unyielding intellectual, institutional and ideological contestations among the producers and consumers of Africanist knowledge who are divided by the inscriptions and hierarchies of race and nationality, locational and spatial affiliations, epistemological orientations, and ambitions”.

To this end the ASAA is looking at past and existing representations about Africa, current counter narratives in various disciplines, and the imagined futures for Africans in knowledge production.

The conference also hopes to take stock of empirical, methodological and analytical contributions made by Africans and Africans in diaspora, challenge dominant discourses on Africa and the inherited structures of knowledge production which still constrain our African imagination as well as provide new pathways for knowledge production in different disciplines.

The ASAA executive committee and the local organizing committee at USIU-Africa have invited panel and paper submissions interrogating questions of knowledge production on Africa in the past, the present, and the future under variety of subthemes available from the ASAA website at www.as-aa.org.

Faculty are also invited to join the local organizing committee by indicating their interest to the Secretary through email (smuchai@usiu.ac.ke) by April 15, 2019. Students interested in volunteering for the conference should also submit a cover letter and resume by the same date.

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