World’s First African Humanities Workshop to Be Held in Addis Ababa

Workshop Overview 
The first African Humanities Initiative Workshop, Addis 2019, will be held at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa in January. Hosted by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) in collaboration with the College of Performing and Visual Art and the Center of African Studies at Addis Ababa University, Addis 2019 aims to gather artists, art commentators, and humanists from across the continent. The goal of the Addis 2019 workshop is to re-conceptualize Africa as a theoretical category, as well as a prism to examine the contemporary world. We propose to explore Africa as concept and method, discussing current modes of theorizing Africa in the humanities and the arts.

The Addis 2019 workshop will include three intensive seminars focused on re-conceptualizing Africa as both a theoretical category and a prism to examine the contemporary world. Through art, literature, performance, and philosophy, the seminars will build on the possibility of Africa that flourished across the continent and into the diaspora during the early years of decolonization. During the course of the workshop, participants will critically engage the category of Africa itself, looking beyond both the post-Cold War focus on Africa as a metaphor for regression, decay, and urgent intervention and the limited opposition between ‘crisis’ and ‘renaissance.’ The new public debates on freedom and emancipation in the continent cut across differences framed in terms of ethnic or national affiliation, language, region, religion, or historical background. Addis 2019 will focus on redefining and multiplying the images of Africa and Africans past and present. Through intensive seminars and related activities, which will include lectures, panels, artists talks, and site visits, participants will explore a range of critical positions and cultural practices. They will reflect on current and historical modes of theorizing Africa – and develop new ones. The thematic seminars will be led by:

  • Simon Gikandi (Princeton University, USA)
  • Elizabeth Giorgis (Addis) and Dagmawi Woubshet (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Mshai Mwangola (Nairobi, Kenya)

The mentorship and training of new cohorts of graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences will form a core element of Addis 2019. In addition to the mentorship and training that will be a key aspect of the thematic seminars, practical sessions, offered throughout the two-week workshop, will focus on publication and article development; grant and proposal writing; pedagogy and syllabus development; and collaborative research. Academic leaders and journal editors will convene these sessions, they include:

  • Akosua Adomako Ampofo (University of Ghana, Legon)
  • Carli Coetzee (Journal of African Cultural Studies)
  • Catarina Gomes (Catholic University, Angola)
  • Julie Mehretu
  • James Ogude (University of Pretoria)

Seminars, readings, and discussions for Addis 2019 will take place in English.

About the CHCI Africa Humanities Workshop 
Supported by a multi-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Africa Humanities Workshops are designed to strengthen the humanities in Africa by supporting the research and training of advanced graduate students and early-career scholars. The annual workshops are sites of collaborative investigation. They include a combined focus on the development and circulation of new scholarship; collective inquiry through seminars and discussion; and training through practical workshops and professional development activities. These workshops are directed by the conviction that institutions in which individual scholars are able to thrive, collaborate, draw upon others, and create legacies are necessary elements of any project that seeks to have long term effects. The CHCI workshops are designed to be such an institution for the humanities in Africa.

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