Northwestern’s The Africa Seminar 2023 Graduate Student Conference

The Africa Seminar at Northwestern University’s Program for African Studies invites papers that engage with the study of Africa, African-American, Africana, and Diaspora Studies on the theme of built environments. The hybrid one-day conference will be hosted at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, on May 5th, 2023.

The built environment includes all the human-made physical spaces where people work and live. Each piece has a story to tell: the materials used, the shape of the building, the choice of resources and provisioning, whom we live and work with, and how they are located in relation to one another. How has this changed through the decades on the continent? How do different imperial styles of architecture and concepts of urban spaces influence the African cities they colonized? Can the African influence be traced back to the imperial styles? Are there specific periodization for African(a) built environments? What is the starting point for the decolonization of spaces, of maps and geographies?

As an interdisciplinary community, the Africa Seminar therefore invites contributions and questions from across the disciplines as we think through materials, cities, and architecture in the past, present and future. The conference is primarily a forum for graduate students but other participants are welcome to submit papers for consideration

Papers and Posters may engage with but are not limited to the following:

  • Interrogations on what constitutes the built environment
  • Explorations into the physical, social, cultural, and intellectual realms of the built environment
  • The place of African epistemology in world-building
  • The state of historic, contemporary, and future African Architecture(s)
  • Inquiry into the economic, social, historical, linguistic, geopolitical, ecological, biomedical, and psychological factors that shape African world-building
  • Examinations of public policy, urban planning, and infrastructural projects
  • The impact of physical structures and landscapes on daily life and vice versa
  • Critiques into geographies and other spatial and temporal relationships with place and environment
  • The nation-state as a development partner and/or technical lead

Contribution formats may include:

  • Paper presentation
  • Poster
  • Visual media (artwork, photography, fashion)
  • Film
  • Audio
  • Performance (live or recorded)

Submission guidelines:
Abstract (or a portfolio of work with the artist’s statement) should be no more than 250 words. Please use the following link to submit: Any questions can be directed to
Submission Deadline: February 15, 2023


AfriSem 2023 CFP