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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



Humanities Institute: The essence(s), diversity and economies of the (Pan)-African arts – (Re)making and confronting memories and futures

Date: February 25- March 1, 2019;
Venue: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Application deadline: September 30, 2018

Established in 1973, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) promotes research by African and Diaspora scholars in the Social Sciences and Humanities that can contribute to a better understanding of Africa and its place in the world. One of the goals of CODESRIA is to foster work in the Humanities and engender conversations between scholars in the Humanities and the Social Sciences on themes of interest to the Council. The goal is to produce insights that often escape lenses peculiar to any one of these two fields of knowledge. The organization of an event on the sidelines of the bi-annual Pan-Africa Film and Television Festival, FESPACO has for years served as an opportunity for CODESRIA to assemble scholars, artists and practitioners to critically engage key debates in the arts and Humanities in Africa.

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of FESPACO and the festival will be organized under the theme ‘Confronting our memory and forging the future of Pan-African cinema in its essence, economy and diversity.’ To mark this important anniversary of FESPACO and to contribute to the soul-searching exercise appropriate at such an occasion, CODESRIA will organize the Humanities Institute in Ouagadougou on February 25- March 1, 2019. The institute will be organized on the theme ‘The essence(s), diversity and economies of the (Pan)-African arts: (Re)making and confronting memories and futures.’ This theme draws in not-so subtle ways on the theme of FESPACO but it seeks to extend discussion beyond the realm of cinema to the African arts more broadly. Further, it problematizes the possible and proper attitudes toward the past and the future of the African arts by going beyond the frequently deployed pairings that sees the memory and history as phenomena that we (can only) ‘confront’ as opposed to the future which we can build. The institute will actively encourage consideration of the possibilities and implications of our (re)making the memory and history of the (Pan)African arts, exercises that are particularly important with respect to the creative fields that the arts constitute. By invoking the possibility that we may be reduced to just confronting futures of the African arts, it urges contemplation of the structural conditions that hinder and facilitate our involvement in shaping the future of the African arts.

The institute will grapple with the following questions:

  • Can we confront past(s) of the (Pan)African arts without (re)making it/them?
  • What are the structures that hinder or facilitate our engagement shaping the futures of African arts?
  • What does it mean to speak of the essence(s) of the (Pan)African arts?
  • Does the generation of economies make the safeguarding of a stable essence impossible or is the construction of an essence the very basis for the elaboration of economies of (Pan)African arts?
  • To what extent and in what ways can the idea of diversity understood in both its spatial and temporal dimensions intersect with the notion of essence(s) and elaboration of economies of (Pan)African arts?

CODESRIA’s Humanities Institute at FESPACO 2019 will mix morning presentations, performances, art exhibitions and discussions with attendance of FESPACO screenings in the afternoons and evenings. The Council seeks to bring together a mixed group of scholars and artists drawn from the many spheres that constitute the African arts scene.

All researchers interested in participating in the institute are invited to submit original papers of between 5000 and 6,000 words with a CV and full contact details to CODESRIA no later than September 30, 2018. Artists seeking to participate in the institute should submit a 1000-word description of the work they seek to present as well as their CV/portfolio. All submissions should engage in overt ways with the theme of the institute.

Applicants are requested to use the following link https://codesria.org/submission/ to submit their application materials.

For specific questions, please contact:


Tel.: (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23

Email: research.codesria@codesria.org
Website: https://codesria.org

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