Fault Lines: Rethinking Temporal and Disciplinary Traditions in African Studies



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Preliminary Program

University of Minnesota International African Studies Conference
Fault Lines: Rethinking Temporal and Disciplinary Traditions in African Studies”
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Campus

April 21-23, 2016

Hosted by:

The African History Graduate Student Collaborative

Sponsored by:
Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World (CSPW, University of Minnesota), Institute for Advanced Study (IAS, University of Minnesota), University of Minnesota Department of History, Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC, University of Minnesota), The African Studies Initiative (ASI, Title VI - Department of Education, University of Minnesota), University of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, The Department of African American and African Studies (AA&AS, University of Minnesota), University of Minnesota Department of Anthropology, Department of Curriculum and Instruction (CEHD, University of Minnesota), University of Minnesota Department of Sociology, and the Program in the History of Medicine (Medical School, University of Minnesota)



Conference Theme

The inaugural University of Minnesota International African Studies Conference, “Fault Lines,” will bring together graduate students, junior and senior scholars concerned with how existing systems of knowledge production have shaped the contours and limits of the varying disciplines that cohere around African Studies.

This international conference aims to encourage dialogues and debates about various “fault lines” in African Studies - thought simultaneously as the tenacity/obstinacy of disciplinary reason and Western conceptualizations/assumptions, and as enabling the possibility for critique/critical engagement along the breaks, slippages, overlaps, and variations therein. The opportunities opened up by a rethinking of these fault lines advance our belief that sustained critical scholarship is necessary in order for the various disciplines under the umbrella of African Studies to remain dynamic. There is a need to (re)ignite discussions provoked by questions addressed to the critical humanities and other theoretical positions by postcolonial thought and from the Global South.

“Fault Lines” extends from discussions in a research workshop, titled “The Problem of Time in African History,” funded by the CSPW, that concluded by emphasizing time and temporality as problems, or fault lines, rather than historical facts. While the historical convention is to divide the history of the continent into three distinct temporal categories - the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial - this understanding of African pasts places the West as the referent and predisposes any form of knowledge production to Western understandings of African history, with the consequence that Africa is continually reproduced as the subject ‘other’ of disciplinary reason/practice. The workshop critically examined history, resonating across disciplines, themes, and in particular the idea of the nation-state, engaging with debates not only about time in Africa, but also in regards to diverse methodological approaches. As such, this conference aims to interrogate how these questions of history and historiography have implications outside the discipline of history, how they play out in other disciplines, as well as to examine the limits various disciplinary conventions place on, and the conceits implicated in, an authoritative “knowing” of Africa.

The African History Graduate Student Collaborative is pleased to welcome scholars from around the globe to the Twin Cities for our inaugural International African Studies Conference at the University of Minnesota to expand our discussions of “Fault Lines” in African studies and create new spaces for dialogue across both disciplinary and geographic boundaries.

Preliminary Conference Schedule

Thursday April 21st


9:00-10:45

Welcome Address and Open Discussion

Dr. Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, Department of History, University of Minnesota and Dr. Gary Minkley, SARChI Chair in Social Change, University of Fort Hare

Recommended Reading: Luis de Miranda. Is A New Life Possible? Deleuze and the Lines. Deleuze Studies 7.1 (2013): 106–152.




10:45-11:00

Coffee Break


11:00-12:15

Queer African Studies Roundtable

Recommended Reading: “African Queer Studies,” Gukira With(Out) Predicates (blog), August 24th 2014, https://gukira.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/african-queer-studies/




12:30-2:00

Lunch (Provided by AHGSC for all Conference Participants)


2:00-3:00

“Usakos: Photographs Beyond Ruins,” curated by Paul Grendon, Giorgio Meischer, Lorena Rizzo and Tina Smith

Introductory comments from exhibition curator, Dr. Giorgio Miescher and Dr. Lorena Rizzo, followed by a brief Q&A session


4:00-6:00

“Newes from the Dead": an unnatural moment in the history of Natural Philosophy,” as part of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Thursdays at Four Lecture Series

Dr. Jane Taylor, Wole Soyinka Chair of Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds

Recommended Reading: Laura Gowing, “Secret Births and Infanticide in Seventeenth-Century England,” Past & Present, No. 156 (1997): 87-115.






Friday April 22nd


9:00-11:00

Panel 1A:

(Post)Colonial Presents and the Reproduction of Racialized Space




Panel 1B:

Temporal Disruptions: Medical History and Ethnography in Africa



11:00-11:15

Coffee Break


11:15-12:45

Panel 2A:

Experiencing Race: (Re)Deployments of Racial Constructions, Depictions, and Registers




Panel 2B:

Disciplinary Cartographies: Interrogating the Imperatives of World History and Area Studies




12:45-2:00

Lunch (Provided by AHGSC for all Conference Participants)


2:00-3:30

Panel 3A:

Ethnography to Sociology: African Grids of Intelligibility and Social Thought




Panel 3B:

Critical Pedagogy: Reconceptualizing African Chronologies in our Classrooms



4:00-6:00

Keynote Address given by Dr. Jane Taylor with reception to follow




Saturday April 23rd


9:00-11:00

Panel 4A:

Thinking with Space in Historical Analysis



Panel 4B:

Multimodal Mixing: Interdisciplinary Methods to Exploring Identity, Orality and Power for Black/African diasporas




11:00-11:15

Coffee Break


11:15-12:45

Panel 5A:

Archival Disruptions: Interrogating the Mnemotechnics of Conventional Historical Imaginaries




Panel 5B:

Making ‘Space’ for Gender: Alternate Narratives and the Pursuit of New Theories and Praxis



12:45-2:00

Lunch (Provided by AHGSC for all Conference Participants)


2:00-3:30

Panel 6A:

After the Event: Power, Memory and Violence




Panel 6B:

Orality and the Geography of Texts



4:00-5:30

Final Reflections Roundtable


7:00

Conference Dinner


Detailed Panel and Roundtable Descriptions

Queer African Studies Roundtable
Synopsis: Is “queer” a useful analytical category in African Studies? This roundtable reflects on the developments and trajectories in the burgeoning field of Queer African Studies. Born out of artistic, activist, and scholarly networks of sexual and gender non-conforming persons, Queer African Studies, Zethu Matebeni contends in Reclaiming Afrikan, “opens up a conversation for us to rewrite the ways in which we exist as people who move around this continent and beyond.” But, do “we” need to identify as queer to join in on these fruitful discussions? Through debating the usefulness of intellectual fields emerging, on the surface, from identity politics, roundtable participants discuss the limits and potential for Queer African Studies to expose the tensions born out of colonialism and playing out in the various academic spaces that make up African Studies.
Roundtable Participants: Elliot James, Danai S. Mupotsa and Jigna Desai

Recommended Reading: “African Queer Studies,” Gukira With(Out) Predicates (blog), August 24th 2014, https://gukira.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/african-queer-studies/


Panel 1A: “(Post)Colonial Presents and the Reproduction of Racialized Space”
Panel Chair: Paul Vig, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Melanie Boehi, Basel Graduate School of History and Centre for African Studies Basel, University of Basel

“‘White space’ and time at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden”


Sarah Godsell, Department of History, University of Witwatersrand

“Belonging to bantustans: language and exclusion in apartheid and democratic South Africa”


Alicia Lazzarini, Department of Geography, Environment and Society, University of Minnesota

“Spaces of Leisure and Pleasure: The Role of ‘The Club’ in the Lusophone Postcolony”


Danai S. Mupotsa, African Literature, School of Language, Literature and Media, University of the Witwatersrand

“The White Wedding”


Nqobile Zulu, Development Studies, University of Witwatersrand

“Contemporary game farming: a colonial present”


Panel 1B: Temporal Disruptions: Medical History and Ethnography in Africa
Panel Chair: Gabriale Payne, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: Ramah McKay, History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania

Crystal Biruk, Department of Anthropology, Oberlin College

“‘An anthropologist among the demographers:’ Disciplinary stakes in colonial and global health worlds”
Julia Cummiskey, History of Medicine & African History, The Johns Hopkins University

“Disparity and Decrepitude in the Archive”


Tara Dosumu Diener, Program in Anthropology and History, University of Michigan

“The Dog that Didn’t Bark: Ward Ethnography and the Case of the Missing Evidence”


Marissa Mika, Department of History, University of San Francisco

“Living Archives, Dying Wards on the Uganda Cancer Institute”


Panel 2A: “Experiencing Race: (Re)Deployments of Racial Constructions, Depictions, and Registers”
Panel Chair: Jessica Farrell, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: TBD
Ana Cláudia dos Santos São Bernardo, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Minnesota

“Race and Representation in Mozambique: An Analysis of Mia Couto’s ‘Sidney Poitier in the Barbershop of Firipe Beruberu’”


Bryan Schmidt, Department of Theatre Arts & Dance, University of Minnesota

“The Play’s the Thing at Grahamstown: The Intersection of Aesthetic Production and Economic Displacement”


Elizabeth Williams, Department of History, University of Minnesota

“The ‘Jews of Africa’ vs. the Jews of Europe: Indian Opposition to Jewish Settlement in Kenya, 1938”


Panel 2B: Disciplinary Cartographies: Interrogating the Imperatives of World History and Area Studies
Panel Chair: Jessica Farrell, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: Katharine Gerbner
Jim Igoe, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

“African Studies Beyond African Studies or the Paradoxical Potential of Fault Lines”


Leslie Witz, Department of History, University of the Western Cape

“A Re-View of Africa [not] in World History: Transnational History, and a Return to Anniston, Alabama”


Tom Wolfe, Department of History, University of Minnesota

The Uses and Abuses of Continents


Panel 3A: Ethnography to Sociology: African Grids of Intelligibility and Social Thought
Panel Chair: Virgil Slade, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: Michael Goldman
Jonathan Schoots, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago

“An African Sociology? The Sociological Imagination of S.E.K. Mqhayi”


Louisa Rice, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

“New Disciplines: The Institut Francais D’Afrique Noire at the End of Empire in West Africa”


Christopher Kirchgasler, Department of Curriculum & Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Historicizing Transnational School Reforms in Kenya (Or, Why Not and Ethnography?)”


Panel 3B: Critical Pedagogy: Reconceptualizing African Chronologies in our Classrooms
Panel Chair: Elliot James, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: Tracey Deutsch
Beth Ann Williams, Department of History, University of Illinois/Urbana

Embodied Syllabi: Using Thematics to Break Away from Chronological Organization


Jodie Marshall, Department of History, Michigan State University

“Debating Transitions in the African History Classroom”


Rob Rouphail, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Paper Title TBD”


Panel 4A: Thinking with Space in Historical Analysis
Panel Chair: Janeke Thumbran, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Julia Büchele, Center for African Studies, University of Basel and Visiting Scholar in the African American and African Studies Department, Harvard University

“(Im)mobile Privilege. Navigating Time and Space in Kampala’s traffic”


Noah Gasser, History and Philosophy, University of Basel, and Dominic Westhoff, African Studies, University of Basel

“Exploring Spaces – Thoughts from Fieldwork in Usakos”


Luregn Lengenhagger, History Department, University of Zurich

“Nature, War and Space in North-Eastern Namibia after 1960”


Elísio Macamo, African Studies, University of Basel

“Spatial Biographies – Place and time in narratives of self in a Neo-Pentecostal setting”


Giorgio Miescher, Namibian and Southern African Studies, University of Basel

“Drawing the line: Architecture and the historical geography of a South African town”


Panel 4B: Multimodal Mixing: Interdisciplinary Methods to Exploring Identity, Orality and Power for Black/African diasporas
Panel Chair: Paul Vig, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: Shaden Tageldin
Hawa Y. Mire, Environmental Studies, York University

“ReWriting a National Imaginary Through Orality”


Suban Nur Cooley, Digital Rhetoric and Professional Writing, Michigan State University

“Gurigey meeye? (Where is my home?): Nomad seeking the sensation of home”


Shewonda Leger, Rhetoric and Writing, Michigan State University

“Fixing The Standard: The Black Women's Reclamation Of Power”


Panel 5A: Archival Disruptions: Interrogating the Mnemotechnics of Conventional Historical Imaginaries
Panel Chair: Jessica Farrell, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: JB Shank
Sinazo Mtshemla, Department of History, University of Fort Hare

“Can there be African Time? Working Uncomfortably with the Concept Time and its Rhythms of Irregularities in Archiving of African Music”


Heather Wares, South African Heritage Resources Agency

“Finding Meermin: An Exhibition without Objects”


Helena Pohlandt-McCormick, Department of History, University of Minnesota and Gary Minkley, SARChI Chair in Social Change, University of Fort Hare

“Paper Title TBD”


Adam A. Blackler, Department of History, University of Minnesota

“Mein lieber Theodore”: Hendrik Witbooi and German Perceptions of Colonial Namibia, 1884-1905”


Panel 5B: Making ‘Space’ for Gender: Alternate Narratives and the Pursuit of New Theories and Praxis
Panel Chair: Virgil Slade, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: TBD
Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Department of Design, Housing and Apparel, University of Minnesota

“Infusing people-environment questions in African Diaspora discourses – The domestic experiences of Somalis in Minnesota”


Tara Reyelts, Department of History, Michigan State University

“Gendering the Anti-Colonial Struggle in Igboland, Nigeria, 1914-1929”


Bilan Hashi, Department of Gender Studies, Queens University

“Alternative Discourses of Somali Female Sexuality and Womanhood”


Panel 6A: After the Event: Power, Memory and Violence
Panel Chair: Elliot James, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: TBD
Ahmed Sh. Ibrahim, Cultural Anthropology, City University of New York

“The Temporality of the Category of Youth in Somalia”


Lidwien Kapteijns, Department of History, Wellesley College

“Fault lines in Somali History – Historical Spin, Communal Violence, and ‘Dangerous Memories’ in Somalia”


George Agbo, Center for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape

“Challenging the Frivolities of Power: The Ubiquitous Camera and the Nigerian Political Elites”



Panel 6B: Orality and the Geography of Texts
Panel Chair: Gabriale Payne, Department of History, University of Minnesota
Panel Discussant: TBD
Kevin Huselid, Hispanic Literatures and Cultures, University of Minnesota

“Towards a Literary Geography of Zoning Practices in Lourenço Marques, Mozambique”


Xavier Guégan, Department of History, University of Winchester

“Writing History in the aftermath of Algeria’s Independence: La Revue d’Histoire et de Civilisation du Maghreb, 1966-1976”


Satty Flaherty-Echeverría, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies, University of Minnesota and Denise Malauene, Department of History, University of Minnesota

"Ngoma Yethu: Understanding the “I” via time, rhythm and religion in Mozambique"


Njeri R. Githire, Department of African American & African Studies, University of Minnesota

“Paper Title TBD”


Final Reflections Roundtable
Synopsis:
Participants: TBD


Featured Events
Regis Center for Art Presents:
Exhibition: “Usakos – Photographs Beyond Ruins: The Old Location Albums 1920s-1960s”

The exhibition Photographs Beyond Ruins focuses on a central Namibian town, Usakos. The town’s history is linked to the development of the South African railway system in Namibia, which brought remarkable prosperity to Usakos in the 1940s and 1950s but which caused a major socio-economic decline in the early 1960s. During this time, the South African apartheid administration decided to transform the town according to racial segregation and apartheid urban planning by moving the African population out of their residential area into newly built, racially and ethnically segregated townships which were situated on the town’s outskirts.

The exhibition chooses a particular point in the history of colonialism and apartheid and of community building and forced removals. It places at its centre stage three private archives of photographic collections assembled over several decades by four women residents of Usakos. These photographs constitute personal albums, subjective narratives and aesthetic interventions in the course of a history that denied them visibility and voice as women, residents, citizens and human beings.

Representing the social, cultural and aesthetic variety of life in the ‘old location’ (‘ou lokasie’), the photographs inform the ways in which people relate to them today: with pride and a deep sense of nostalgia and loss. It is this reflection of the past in the present that characterises Paul Grendon’s photographs and which complements the display of the Usakos old location albums. Here, Usakos’ landscape emerges as a palimpsest of scar tissue: a place and space of colonial ruination, interwoven with histories and memories, silences and voices, absences and presences of those who lived and those who continue to make a living there.

This full-colour exhibition catalogue is a joint work by two historians (Giorgio Miescher and Lorena Rizzo), an exhibition curator (Tina Smith) and a photographer (Paul Grendon).


The Institute for Advanced Study Presents:
Dr. Jane Taylor, Wole Soyinka Chair of Drama and Theatre Studies at the University of Leeds
Newes from the Dead”:

an unnatural moment in the history of Natural Philosophy

Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 4:00pm

Crosby Seminar Room, 240 Northrop
Abstract:

In 1650 Oxford is in the midst of the Bloody civil war, in which divine and secular authority are both at issue. A young woman, hanged for infanticide, is given over to the university scholars, for an anatomy lesson. Shockingly she ‘comes back to life’ on the anatomy table. This paper raises a series of meditations about philosophy, the history of science, relations of gender, knowledge, and power. Suggested background reading from Prof. Taylor: Laura Gowing, “Secret Births and Infanticide in Seventeenth-Century England”.




About AHGSC
The 2016 Inaugural University of Minnesota International African Studies Conference (IASC) is the brainchild of the African History Graduate Student Collaborative (AHGSC). Our “collaboration” began during a research workshop, titled “The Problem of Time in African History”, funded by the the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World (CSPW), which critically examined the disciplinary practices that have often lead historians to reproduce Africa as the subject ‘other’ of the West and predisposed all systems of knowledge production to Western understandings of African histories. AHGSC firmly believes that this critical work is essential to all disciplinary approaches to the study of Africa and has thus organized this conference with the intention of bringing together Africanist scholars from around the world in order to create new opportunities for discussion and collaboration between Africanist scholars across disparate geographical spaces. Our aim is to produce lasting relationships and conversations among Africanist scholars working within various institutions nationally and internationally.
AHGSC Members and Bios
Jessica Farrell, IASC Co-Chair and PhD Candidate in African History
Jess received her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in anthropology and political science and minoring in history and writing. Her dissertation, “(Re)Capturing Empire: A Reconsideration of Liberia’s Precarious Sovereignty and American Empire as Exception in the 19th-Century,” focuses on the relationship between the Liberian government, the American Colonization Society, and the United States’ government in the mid-19th century. Specifically, her work places the recaptured Africans (individuals freed off illegal slaving ships by the US Navy and sent to Liberia) at the center of analysis in order to interrogate the concepts of Liberian sovereignty and American empire.
Elliot James, PhD Candidate in African History
Elliot currently holds a Diversity Pre-Doctoral Teaching Fellowship at the University of Minnesota, Morris, where he is also completing his dissertation, "Sithutha Isizwe ('We carry the nation'): Gender and the (un) Making of the Taxi in South Africa, 1908-Present." At UMM he teaches Africa Since 1700 and Gender & Sexuality in African History, and serves on the African and Black American Studies curriculum committee. Born and raised in the Bronx, NYC, his 11-year engagement with intellectuals and institutions in South Africa shapes his approach to African History. His teaching and research additionally benefit from 15 years of social justice work in U.S. queer people of color communities.
Gabriale Payne, PhD Candidate in African History
Gabriale received her BA in History with a minor in Anthropology from the University of Colorado at Denver. Her dissertation, titled “Making ‘The Cut’: Kikuyu Conceptions of the Body, Gender, and Ethnicity, and the Invention of Modern Gender/Sexuality, Kenya c. 1895 to the Present” traces the intertextual reconstruction of competing discourses on Female Genital Cutting (FGC) among the Kikuyu in multiple knowledge sites in order to examine the relationship between discourses on FGC, broader discourses on gender/sexuality, and the ‘invention’ of ethnicity in colonial and post-colonial Kenya (c. 1895 to the present). She argues that that the Kikuyu case can help us to better understand global re-conceptions of gender in the ‘modern’ age, revealing the complex ways in which colonialism and colonial re-conceptions of gender/sexuality are intimately related to the construction of modern conceptions of race/ethnicity and what it means to be properly ‘modern.’
Janeke Thumbran, PhD Candidate in African History
Janeke received her undergraduate degree from the University of Pretoria. She holds a Masters degree in Information and Communication Sciences from Tilburg University, The Netherlands as well as a Masters in History from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her dissertation “Community by Design: Self-Reliance and Trusteeship at the University of Pretoria, 1948-2012” is on a former all-white university in South Africa. It examines the university’s attempts to create community during the apartheid period by conceiving of itself as a trustee of black neighborhoods in and around Pretoria. Looking specifically at how the disciplines of sociology, social work and architecture were used as the mechanisms for community and trusteeship during apartheid, Janeke argues that the university’s policy of community engagement serves a similar function in the post-apartheid period.
Virgil Slade, IASC Co-Chair, PhD Candidate in African History
Virgil received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) in Cape Town, South Africa. Prior to pursuing his doctoral degree at the UMN, Virgil spent two years working as a researcher on three sport related exhibitions at the District Six Museum in Cape Town where he was able to combine his two primary interests – history and sport. Whereas the thesis he completed for his Master’s degree interrogated how the native subject is overdetermined by the colonial archive, his doctoral research is focused upon the relationship that sport in post-apartheid South Africa has with the racial identity politics associated with the previous regime. This project privileges the body as a site of knowledge production in order to circumnavigate the confines of ‘what can be said’ imposed by the discipline of history and its continued reliance on the archive as hegemonic source.
Paul Vig, PhD Candidate in African History
Paul received his BA in History and Religion from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. Prior to beginning the doctoral program in History at the University of Minnesota, Paul spent two years in South Africa as a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps where he worked as a Primary Education Consultant at two primary schools in the Waterberg District community of Ga-Seleka. This work cultivated a desire to more fully understand the conditions that produced the inequalities constituted in the Waterberg between the Tswana and Pedi communities and the surrounding Afrikaner and English owned game farms, prompting Paul’s return to graduate research at the University of Minnesota. His dissertation project examines the history of hunting in South Africa and its entangled relationships to the organization and deployment of notions of race and development. Specifically this project explores the Waterberg District and the space of the game farm as sites for analyzing these connections and histories, as well as how history as a discipline is complicit in these relationships.

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