Afrisem Graduate Conference: Call for Papers & Fund Your Travel

What: Afrisem Annual Graduate Conference
Where: Northwestern University
When: April 4-6, 2019
Theme: African Studies Now: Decolonizing the Field
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Robtel Pailey, Oxford University

The Program of African Studies graduate student seminar (AfriSem) invites graduate student
papers in the study of Africa and its communities engaging with the theme: African Studies
Now: Decolonizing the Field. Interested participants should submit abstracts of 250 words maximum to by January 31, 2019. Please include your name, affiliation,  and contact details in the submission, and include “Abstract submission” in the subject line. There are a limited number of small travel grants available.

As indicated by such movements as #RhodesMustFall, the manner of organizing and disseminating knowledge about Africa remains fairly hegemonic. Scholarship about Africa relies on specific cultural viewpoints and political interests, and, lamentably, fails to take into consideration knowledge production occurring on the continent outside the confines of privileged spaces of academic instruction.This predicament provoked the Liberian scholar, Robtel Pailey, to ask, “where is the ‘African’ in African Studies?”

What is the state of African Studies today? And what does it mean to decolonize the field? This conference will consider, through multidisciplinary dialogue, the origins of African Studies, its contentions, and ways of conceiving of the study of Africa. Such topics may include—but are not limited to:
1) Memory and archives
2) Language and translation
3) Gender and sexuality
4) Ethics of African studies
5) Globalization, cosmopolitanism and modernity
6) Decolonizing the academy
7) Perspectives on violence, conflict, peace, and human rights

Presentations are welcome from a diverse range of disciplines in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. We are also interested in papers that engage with art, society, governance, and education. The conference is primarily a forum for graduate students to present their research to a cross-disciplinary audience. All presenters will be notified of acceptance by February 8th, 2019. Accepted presentations will be considered for publication in The Pan-Africanist journal.

Please contact the organizers on with questions and inquiries.


UW-Madison graduate students with accepted papers are eligible to apply for a $300 scholarship from African Studies to present their paper. To request support, email your abstract and a copy of your acceptance letter to by Monday, February 11th.