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Afrique-Asie : réseaux, échanges, transversalités


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Over the past thirty years, interest in exchanges between Africa and Asia has grown exponentially. In June 2010, the Centre d’Etudes des Mondes Africains (CEMAf)1 will be holding a symposium on this theme. An outline of questions to be explored in this context follows.

The theme on which the symposium will focus is vast and brings to bear a wide range of scholarly disciplines. Among these are the fields of anthropology, archaeology, art history and visual culture, economics, geopolitics, history, international relations, legal studies, linguistics, musicology and political science.

Contemporary ties between Africa and Asia – exchanges involving the transit of persons, capital, technologies and imaginaries – are closely linked to centuries-old networks. In part marginalized, or set aside, during the colonial period and, thereafter, with the rise of emergent nation states, a number of these networks have witnessed a noteworthy revitalization in recent decades. This in turn has led to an extension of these and related networks to new territories, geographical and otherwise. This state of affairs has significantly altered relationships with the “North” articulated during the colonial era and in the years immediately following Independence.

With these developments in mind, scholars in the humanities and the social sciences interested in exchanges between Africa and Asia must address two sets of issues, both of which will constitute key foci for the symposium: (1) the diversity of forms of mobility that have in the past shaped, and that continue to shape, these exchanges and (2) the emergence of novel sites and practices linking the local and the global in this setting.

The symposium seeks to:

(1) Chart developments in scholarly approaches to exchanges between Africa and Asia over the past three decades, with a focus on de-centering classically Eurocentric gazes;

(2) Highlight novel ways of thinking about these exchanges, in particular as relates to emergent readings of globalization based on lived experience and analytical frameworks developed in Africa and Asia;

(3) Open up new avenues of research by encouraging dialogue and fostering future, joint undertakings between scholars working in a range of emergent disciplines, on novel themes and approaches and with sources that are only now beginning to be identified and tapped.

1 CNRS, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Université de Provence.


With the foregoing as a guide, the symposium will address:

• South-South population movements, notably as concerns: relations and exchanges between communities; forms of creolization and métissage; approaches to and constructions of gender; shifting and emergent practices, tactics and identities in the articulation of diasporic spaces; forms of, and phenomena associated with, migration, movement between (and in between) places, return to points of departure and, in these various settings, processes of memory transmission and the development and transformation of imaginaries over the short, medium and long term…

• Emergence of economic complementarities, notably as relates to: flows of capital, large-scale economic undertakings (management of natural resources, infrastructures [roads, etc.], urban and rural development, new markets, goods and materials, novel forms of entrepreneurship, exports associated with new technologies and health- related concerns); smaller-scale economic undertakings (small and medium-sized commercial ventures, remittances); proscribed commercial practices and modes of exchange…

• Reciprocal exchanges, borrowings and minglings in the realm of cultural production, notably: in the arts, from painting and sculpture to music, performance, literature, theatre, comics, film, video and new information and communication technologies; in the context of biennales, festivals and related gatherings focusing on cultural production; in the religious sphere; as relates to perceptions of the world articulated in practices of everyday life, rumors and novel approaches to the exchange of ideas.

From settlement patterns and histories to recent and evolving “takes” on migration, from forms of cultural and artistic syncretism to economic and ideological exchanges, a wealth of topics, and of lenses available to study these, draw our attention. These and related tools offer critical insight into manifold, reciprocal forms of circulation between African and Asian worlds.

Paper proposals are sought in the form of a title and abstract (maximum 1/2 page, single spaced). Persons whose proposals have been selected for presentation will be asked to provide a second, more detailed abstract.

Deadline: 1 May 2009.

Symposium languages: English, French.

E.mail proposals to: cemaf.africa.asia@gmail.com.


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