Culture, Politics and Labor in Southern Africa Conference

Culture, Politics and Labor in Southern Africa
An International Seminar to be held at the
Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas
Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil
May 11-14, 2015

Scholars have long ago pointed out that Africa is not a homogenous continent. Even so, references to the “History of Africa” continue, often drawing upon a selective highlighting of colonial policies and experiences that effectively separates Africa into English, Portuguese, French, German (etc.) spheres of colonization. “Culture, Politics and Labor in Southern Africa” is an international seminar that proposes a shift in this approach. On the one hand, it seeks to emphasize the perspectives of Africans – not just an “African perspective,” but the points of view of peoples who saw, dealt with and resisted the presence of Europeans (including during the periods that the established historiography calls pre or post colonial). As a result, it proposes on the other hand an analysis of Southern Africa: an extensive area in which Bantu peoples predominated (and still do). Thus, what we seek to discuss is how various political organizations, with a common cultural substratum, faced the presence of the Portuguese, Dutch, German, and English over time. Such a perspective does not necessarily denote a comparative approach. Rather, the objective is to investigate specific contexts so that, from them, we can discuss the political and theoretical dimensions that are imposed on the historian who focuses on the “History of Africa” from an “African” point of view. Representing more than an analytical approach, we expect that the participation of Angolan and Mozambican historians in this international seminar can highlight the roles of Africans in the production of historical knowledge about themselves.

This international seminar also seeks to deepen the academic ties between the Department of History/Harriet Tubman Institute at York University and the Centro de Pesquisa em História Social da Cultura of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Over the past five years professors and graduate students from UNICAMP have been hosted by York University in internships and scientific meetings. Following the beginning of this relationship, the two universities signed a cooperation agreement in 2012. This international seminar, jointly organized by a team of junior, mid-career, and senior scholars from each university, deepens these institutional exchanges and expands contacts with researchers from universities and research centers around the Atlantic world with which both teams have been working systematically. We are particularly interested in fostering dialogue between researchers working on topics related to the history of Southern Africa, thereby creating conditions for debate and confrontation of ideas and interpretations that can effectively contribute to the development of research in progress at UNICAMP, York, and beyond.

Last, but not least, this international seminar further provides an opportunity to discuss the conditions of the production of research in Brazil related to Southern Africa. As such, we are also interested in presentations that focus on sources available for research and/or concentrate on methodological questions that enable us to use them. Acknowledging the importance of African institutions in this debate, we wish to bring forth the point of view of those responsible for safe-holding, preserving, and managing access to large bodies of extant primary sources.

ORGANIZATION OF THE EVENT
The main themes of this international seminar are: 1) Gender, Politics, and Culture; 2) People of Urban Spaces; 3) Frontiers of Slavery; 4) Forced Labor; 5) Africans and Colonial Policies; and 6) African Archives: Policies of Preservation and Accessibility. The seminar will have three plenary sessions tackling broad themes of the past of Southern Africa. A number of round-tables will be dedicated to discussing more specific topics and will allow for horizontal dialogue between different chronologies and geographic contexts. There will also be a series of workshops dedicated to discussing primary sources, presenting important bodies of documentation for research, and dealing with other issues directly related to archival investigation.

The activities of this international seminar will be distributed according to the following:
11/05/2015
18:00 Plenary

12/05/2015
9:00-12:00 Workshop
12:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Roundtable
15:30-15:45 Break
15:45-17:15 Roundtable
17:15-17:30 Break
17:30 Plenary

13/05/2015
9:00-12:00 Workshop
12:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Roundtable
15:30-15:45 Break
15:45-17:15 Roundtable
17:15-17:30 Break
19:00 Dinner (at cost for seminar participants)

14/05/2015
9:00-12:00 Workshop
12:00-14:00 Lunch
14:00-15:30 Roundtable
15:30-15:45 Break
15:45-17:15 Roundtable
17:15-17:30 Break
17:30 Plenary

NB: All activities of this international seminar will be carried out in Portuguese, with a question and answer period programmed for each of the sessions.

PARTICIPANTS
It is anticipated that, beyond the three (3) plenaries, this international seminar will have a total of 33 presentations: 15 will be related to sources (five in each one of the three workshops) and 18 linked to the broad themes mentioned above (three in each of the six roundtables). It is expected that all presentations will be based upon research that has been completed, is in progress, or otherwise relates to the direct experience of presenters.

Those interested in participating in this international seminar should send the following information to seminarioyorkunicamp@gmail.com before 25 September, 2014: a) Title and summary (250 words maximum) of the proposed presentation; and b) Curriculum Vitae (complete and updated). The Organizing Committee will select presentations from the proposals submitted, allocating them into roundtables and workshops according to their characteristics and the themes mentioned above.

It is hoped that all of the paper presenters will have their roundtrip airfares and local accommodations for the days of the event covered by Brazilian and Canadian funds. To do so, a number of funding applications will be submitted to various institutions, with results available only in February 2015: however, given the rules of funding agencies, we can only guarantee financial assistance for those who already have a Ph D. For those with access to funds from their own institutions to cover their expenses (partially or in full), please let us know of that possibility when sending in your paper proposals.

Organizing Committee:
Frank J. Luce (York University)
José C. Curto (York University)
Lucilene Reginaldo (Unicamp)
Omar Ribeiro Thomaz (Unicamp)
Robert W. A. Slenes (Unicamp)
Silvia Hunold Lara (Unicamp)
Aboubacar Fofana Léon (Ph D student, York University)
Andrea Mendes (Ph D student, Unicamp)
Crislayne Alfagali (Ph D student, Unicamp)
Estevam C. Thompson (Ph D student, York University)
Giovani Grillo de Salve (Ph D student, Unicamp)
Maíra Cavalcanti Vale (Ph D student, Unicamp)
Raquel G. A. Gomes (Ph D student, Unicamp)
Tracy Lopes (Ph D student, York University)
Vanessa S. Oliveira (Ph D student, York University)

Comments are closed.