Hat tip: Zola Mumford
Africa: In Search of Alternatives
Nordic Africa Days 2009
1-3 October – Trondheim, Norway
The conference is organised by Africa Network Norway, in close cooperation with the Nordic Africa Institute. It is interdisciplinary and open to researchers, master students and practitioners who apply research-based knowledge pertaining to African issues. More information is available at
The global financial crisis has lately been on everyone’s lips. It began in 2007 with a liquidity crisis and the bursting of the US housing bubble, before it deepened and widened until the media proclaimed that ‘the world as we know it is going down!’ Official forecasts still project a worsening worldwide recession. Earlier projections suggested that Africa would not be too adversely affected, but the IMF now predicts that the continent will be hard hit. The global downturn affects Africa through reduced capital inflows, lower demand for its exports, low commodity prices, and reduced remittances. These developments combine with other challenges on the continent, associated with transnational movements, maladapted structures, and failed policies and ideologies that extend beyond the African context.
However, recent years have been a period of unprecedented economic growth in many parts of Africa. Some countries experience more wealth and stability, as well as a stronger democratic trend that facilitate foreign investment and development. In turn, this spurs new debates regarding privatisation, diversification and the distribution and redistribution of wealth. Not the least, these debates concern energy consumption and resource management.
Africa searches for alternatives: for new ways to foster development and claim its place in a global context, without destroying the natural environment.
At the same time, ordinary people have their concerns regarding how to survive, handle illness and inequality, and bring meaning to their lives.
Local discourses struggle to sustain people’s experiences of post-colonial Africa, as they intertwine and are co-produced with global practices and discourses that challenge them in fundamental ways. These broader social trends are manifest in a variety of rich cultural expressions from language and ritual to fashion, film, and literature, including modern art and music.
What are we to make of all this? NAD 2009 challenges researchers to focus on these efforts and strivings for something better and more fruitful, in their discussions of different areas of nature, society, and culture in Africa. In the current situation, it is important to gain knowledge of the dynamic and creative potential of the processes and phenomena we study, in order to strengthen people’s capacity to cope with crisis and facilitate growth. This claim rests not only on a sympathetic reading of contemporary Africa, but is inspired by calls for ‘robust knowledge’ – a growing trend in the philosophy of science. We therefore welcome engaged and forward-looking perspectives that aim to make a difference in the world.
We especially invite panels concerning the following areas: – the financial crisis; – energy, environment, and resource management; – peace building, reconciliation, and conflict prevention; – agriculture and food production; – livelihoods and health; – urbanization; – children, youth and gender; – governance and human rights; – language and artistic expressions; – Africa’s international relations. Panels concerning other topics are also warmly welcome.
Following the tradition of NAD, PhD candidates and other young scholars are strongly encouraged to participate. NAD aims to be a forum for academic exchange and intellectual development, where contributions from a new generation of researchers play a vital part.
Paper abstracts not exceeding 300 words may be sent to before June 1, 2009.