Finding Africa 2017/18 (UK)
Theorising Africa: Reviewing a History of Ideas
University of Leeds
Seminar Series 2018 – Call For Papers
The field of cultural theory has – for as long as it’s been a discipline – been dominated by Western epistemologies. Our ways of knowing have, undoubtably, always required a framework through which they can be conceptualised – or even legitimised. The consequence of this institutionalisation of thought, which has its roots in a myriad of complex historical and structural implementations of power, is that other epistemologies often get overlooked or even rebranded under different names or theories, at the behest of fitting the demands and criteria of Western academe. The notion of a history of ideas that is grounded in a Euro-American paradigm obscures, and limits, our understanding of and engagement with the multiplicities of meaning at work in cultural analysis. Theorising Africa seeks to explore what it means to be human, to be a member of society, through the exploration of identity, aesthetics, and politics by placing cultural theory and African epistemic frameworks in dialogue.
The concept of Ubuntu finds its distorted counterpart in some versions of post-humanist thought. Ideas of community deriving from Igbo cosmology similarly find their traces – albeit inversely – in much of the discourses pertaining to community building in the fields of cultural theory, law, and literature. Subverting the closure inherent in binary oppositions, we seek to bridge the divide that has so far disadvantaged African epistemologies on the academic platform, entering into dialogue and engaging with a richly diverse history of ideas.
For this seminar series we are interested in looking to Africa for its history of ideas: How has African thought transcended boundaries and how can it continue to do so? What can African thought contribute to the many blind spots in the fields of cultural theory? How can these contributions account for the work of knowledge-making? In what ways are these contributions necessary?
We seek papers and proposals on topics including, but not limited to:
- African literary theory
- Reframing the history of ideas – philosophical interrogations
- Cultural analysis
- African Futures
- Politics and bio-violence
- Feminisms and policy
- Community building
- The creaturely
- Art History
- Challenges to the legacy of the writer
- Any non-conforming inquiry which doesn’t fall into a field
Please get in touch with proposals (max 300 words + bio) in Word format to findingpocoafrica@by 10 January 2018.
Finding Africa is an independent postcolonial African studies platform that facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue by various agents, mainly in the form of seminars, both in academia and beyond. Seminars are hosted by the University of Leeds’ Centre for African Studies in the UK and by the Rhodes University English Department in South Africa, and they welcome academics from the UK, South Africa, and beyond.