Decolonizing African Studies

Conference PosterNancy Kendall and Upenyu Majee, in coordination with the African Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, are hosting a one-day workshop on Decolonizing African Studies, on November 18, 2019. The workshop is open to all and brings together decoloniality scholars, Africanist students and academics (both African and non-African)* from across disciplines, and university Area Studies administrators to explore and rethink the relationships among colonialism, decoloniality, and African Studies at UW-Madison and at universities around the world. We are honored to be joined by our invited keynote speakers:

  • Dr. Akosua Adomako Ampofo, Professor of African and Gender Studies, University of Ghana; & President, African Studies Association of Africa
  • Dr. Emilie Diouf, Assistant Professor of English, Brandeis University
  • Dr. Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Head of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute and Professor of Development Studies, University of South Africa

The imperative to decenter traditional and existing frameworks arises from the recognition that the academic field of African Studies in the U.S. and other western contexts and institutions has been shaped by and grounded in non-African interests and has mainly been advanced by non-African scholars. Notably, African Studies Centers and Programs in U.S. universities owe their establishment to U.S. military and intelligence interests, and they continue to reflect these interests in their focus on area and language studies for U.S. citizens, their resource streams, and the organization of their engagement with the U.S. government. The subsequent institutionalization and professionalization of the field of African Studies through the creation of the African Studies Association (ASA) in 1957 has embodied these tensions—for example, by helping to solidify the off-the-continent location of the largest and most prized African(a) collections in the world (e.g. the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies). The same applies to the majority of the key African Studies journals and the most prominent publishers. No less significant, the evolution of African Studies as a field has not only often been disconnected from the study of African Diasporas, but has also traditionally constrained academic and professional spaces for African or Africa-descendent scholars and administrators to thrive.

This workshop, therefore, deploys a decolonial lens to interrogate the following: the evolution of the U.S. government’s area studies project; the role of public-private funding agencies (e.g. foundations) in generating and disseminating knowledge about/on Africa; the role of trans-continental university and community partnerships in current and potential approaches to African Studies; the multiple meanings and varying expectations associated with working as an African and/or Africanists in academia; admission, recruitment, and hiring practices and their intersection with nationality, gender, racialization/racism, and language, amongst many other factors; the dominance of siloed academic disciplines as the main fields in African Studies; the sidelining of the African Diaspora within area studies programs; and possibilities for carrying out a decolonial agenda at the institutional, disciplinary, epistemological, pedagogical, and methodological levels.

While knowledge about Africa is generated and disseminated in all sorts of spaces (e.g. communities, think tanks, corporate organizations, government agencies), this workshop focuses on the academic field of African Studies. This is because, through research, teaching, and learning functions, and outreach and collaboration models, university departments and areas studies centers/programs have both embodied and struggled to transform the racial and imperial politics that undergird the field of African Studies in the U.S. from the 1960s to the present. As training institutions, universities concomitantly hold great promise for leading efforts to decolonize African Studies and its institutions. It is this intersection of the philosophical, theoretical, and practical that workshop participants will address using decolonial, interdisciplinary, and intersectional approaches to understanding the linkages, synergies, and disconnects between the past, present, and imagined futures of African Studies.

*We recognize that the field of African Studies continues to wrestle with the issue of who embodies the space of “African.” This workshop provides an opportunity to debate the conceptual reasons for either collapsing the categories African and Africanist into one or for treating them as separate.

Nancy KendallNancy Kendall

Chair and Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Director of the African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

Upenyu MajeeUpenyu Majee

Project Manager of Ubuntu Dialogues at the African Studies Center, Michigan State University

 

 

See the tabs below for more information about this workshop. 

 

Registration for this event is now closed.

 

Decolonizing African Studies

Monday, November 18, 2019

9:00 am – 4:45 pm | Wisconsin Idea Room | Education Building | campus map

 

Decolonizing African Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison

CONFERENCE SCHEDULE

Monday, November 18, 2019

9:00 am – 4:45 pm | Wisconsin Idea Room | Education Building | campus map

9:00 am: Welcome – Drumming Performance

  • Mass Mbaye: Gëwël/Griot, Senegal

 

9:10 am: Opening Remarks 

  • Nancy Kendall (Moderator): Faculty Director, African Studies Program; Prof. and Chair, Educational Policy Studies, UW-Madison

 

9:20 – 10:50 am: African Studies, Decoloniality, Decolonization, and the Academy

  • Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni: Head, Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI) and Prof., Department of Development Studies, the University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Akosua Adamako Ampofo: Prof., African and Gender Studies, University of Ghana; and President, African Studies Association of Africa
  • Nancy Kendall (Moderator): Faculty Director, African Studies Program; Prof. and Chair, Educational Policy Studies, UW-Madison

 

10:50 am: Break

 

11:00 – 12:15 pm: Feminism, Decolonization, and African Studies

  • Emilie Diouf: Assistant Prof. of English, Brandeis University
  • Unifier Tshimangadzo Dryer: PhD Candidate, African Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
  • Akosua Adamako Ampofo (Discussant): Prof., African and Gender Studies, University of Ghana; and President, African Studies Association of Africa
  • Aili Tripp (Discussant): Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, and Chair, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

12:15 – 1:00 pm: LUNCH

 

1:00 – 1:45 pm: Re-envisioning African Studies in U.S. Universities

  • Jamie Monson: Director: African Studies Center; and Prof., History, Michigan State University
  • Neil Kodesh: Prof., History, UW-Madison
  • Katrina Daly Thompson (Discussant): Prof., African Cultural Studies and Director of the Program in African Languages, UW-Madison
  • Upenyu Majee (Moderator): Project Manager, Ubuntu Dialogues: Museums and Communities Connect, African Studies Center, Michigan State University

 

1:45 – 2:00 pm: Break

 

2:00 – 3:30 pm: Knowledge Generation on/in Africa

  • Ainehi Edoro: Assistant Prof., English, UW-Madison – Role of Social Media
  • Emilie Songolo: Senior Librarian, African, Global and Francophone Studies and Social Sciences, UW-Madison
  • Faisal Abdu’Allah: Associate Professor of Art, Faculty Director of The Studio, Division of the Arts, UW-Madison
  • Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni (Discussant): Head, Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI) and Prof., Department of Development Studies, the University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Tejumola Olaniyan (Moderator): Louise Durham Mead Professor of English and Wole Soyinka Professor Of The Humanities, UW-Madison

 

3:30 – 3:45 pm: Break

 

3:45 – 4:30 pm: Commentary and Reflection

  • Dorothy Mayne: (Moderator) Assistant Director, African Studies Program, UW-Madison

 

4:30 – 4:35 pm: Closing Remarks

  • Aleia McCord: Associate Director, African Studies Program, UW-Madison

 

4:35 – 4:45 pm: Musical Performance

  • Tinashe Hofisi: Graduate Student, Law School, UW-Madison

5:30 – 7:00 pm: History Department Round table: “Decolonizing Pedagogy” 

Location: Curti Lounge (Rm. 5233 Mosse Humanities Bldg)

Event website

 

Guests

AAA

AKOSUA ADOMAKO AMPOFO

Professor of African and Gender Studies, University of Ghana; and President, African Studies Association of Africa

EMILIE DIOUF

Assistant Professor of English, Brandeis University

Sabelo

SABELO NDLOVU-GATSHENI

Head of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute and Professor of Development Studies, University of South Africa

Speakers

Faisal Abdu'Allah

Faisal Abdu’Allah | Associate Professor of Art, Faculty Director of The Studio, Division of the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Katrina Daly Thompson

Katrina Daly Thompson | Professor of African Cultural Studies, the Director of the Program in African Languages, and a core faculty member in Second Language Acquisition, with additional affiliations in Anthropology, Gender & Women’s Studies, Religious Studies, Folklore, and the Middle Eastern Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Unifier Dyer

Unifier Tshimangadzo Dyer | PhD student in African Cultural Studies and president of that African Cultural Studies Student Association, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ainehi Edoro

Ainehi Edoro | Assistant Professor of English and African Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin,-Madison

Nancy Kendall | Chair and Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Director of the African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Neil Kodesh | Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Upenyu Majee | Project Manager of Ubuntu Dialogues at the African Studies Center, Michigan State University

Jamie Monson

Jamie Monson | Director of the African Studies Center, Michigan State University

Tejumola Olaniyan

Tejumola Olaniyan | Louise Durham Mead Professor of English and Wole Soyinka Professor Of The Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Emilie Songolo

Emilie Songolo | African Studies Bibliographer, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aili Tripp

Aili Mari Tripp | Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, and Chair, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

Decolonizing African Studies

Monday, November 18, 2019

9:00 am – 4:45 pm | Wisconsin Idea Room | Education Building | campus map

Activities

For additional information on what to see and do while in Madison:

Parking

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