Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Re-Reading the History and Historiography of Domination and Resistance in Africa

27-29 October 2008, Kampala, Uganda

Number of visits: 2942

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research
in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce its
initiative aimed at achieving the triple objective of promoting
the study of the history of Africa, mobilising support
for the discipline of History in African higher education,
and networking African historians both for these
purposes and as a worthy cause in its own right. Packaged
under the label of SOS African History, the initiative
is underpinned by the strongly held view of the
CODESRIA membership that the current conjuncture in
the development of Africa marks a moment when the
continent is more than ever before in need of History
and historians. Given the fact that across Africa, engagement
with the history of the continent, the financing
of historical research, and the teaching of History are
severely endangered, the CODESRIA SOS African History
initiative is designed to galvanise local and continental
responses that could add up to stem and reverse
the tide of decline that has been underway for at least
two decades. As part of the initiative, the Council has,
within its Strategic Plan 2007 – 2011, committed itself
to, among other things, convening an annual thematic
conference on critical themes in the history of Africa.
(For more information about CODESRIA, its Strategic
Plan 2007 – 2011, and its activities, see the Council’s

The inaugural conference within the CODESRIA initiative
on African History is planned to hold in Nairobi, Kenya,
from 13 – 15 August, 2008. The theme around which it
is proposed to organise the conference is: Re-Reading
the History and Historiography of Domination and
Resistance in Africa. The choice of this theme for the
inaugural conference has been informed by a number
of considerations, five of which are outlined in this conference
announcement. The first of them is the centrality
of the theme itself to the historical experiences of the
peoples of Africa. Secondly, precisely because of the
important place occupied by domination and resistance
in the history of Africa, successive generations of African
historians have engaged the issues in their work,
producing a rich corpus of empirical and theoretical
work that merits being re-read. Thirdly, there has for
sometime now, emerged a revisionist historiography
that has devoted itself to a re-interpretation of various
aspects of the history of Africa’s relations with Europe
with a view to casting old relations of domination and
subordination in new, better light. That revisionist historiography
begs for well-considered African responses
which African historians are best placed to offer.
Fourthly, the revisionist historiography has, in a direct
affront to the colonised, also fed into political discourses
and decisions in parts of Europe aimed at recognising
and celebrating an imperial past. Finally, in terms of the
balance of power in the contemporary global order
that is itself suffused with expressions of new hegemonies,
the peoples of Africa are exposed to various
sources of pressure that both threaten to unleash a new
scramble for their continent and abridge their independence.

In the face of the various challenges faced by Africa to
its history, its present and its future as captured by the
twin themes of domination and resistance, African historians
are invited to engage in a critical re-reading of
these important elements of the experiences of the peoples
of the continent. In doing so, participants in the conference
will be encouraged to explore historical and
contemporary dimensions and experiences of domination
for the questions they raise and the lessons they
teach. Attention will be focused at the conference as
much on the political, economic and military dimensions
of domination and resistance as on the social, cultural
and aesthetic aspects. Furthermore, revisionist historiographies
on experiences of domination will be evaluated
through a re-visiting of various histories of domination
as experienced across Africa. Similarly, the organisation
of resistance to domination will be assessed
both in its historical expressions and with regard to the
historiography developed around it. Perspectives aimed
at historicizing contemporary experiences and threats
of domination and resistance will be encouraged at the
conference. Researchers working on the gendered dimensions
of experiences of domination and resistance, a
highly neglected aspect of the history and historiography
of the topic, are strongly encouraged to submit
presentations to the conference. The mobilisation and
use of memories of domination and resistance both in
history and in the contemporary period will also be examined.

In choosing
areas of focus and developing abstracts, potential conference
participants are encouraged to focus on any
aspects of the past and recent history of Africa that
may be of interest to them.

December 30 2009