Moscow, May 26-29, 2020






In 2006 the African Union (AU) designated the Diaspora the “Sixth region” of Africa. This region consists of “people of African origins… outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality… willing to contribute to the development of the continent…” This designation within the frame of official politics, as the AU is the Pan-African representative body of African state governments, gives pronounced credentials to a phenomenon with a long and startling history. Though the declaration marked the official incorporation of the Diaspora into Africa, “the ties that bind” (Magubane) the two date in origin to the Atlantic Slave Trade, to transcontinental commerce, to the rise of capitalist economies, seaborne empires and colonies in different parts of the world. Since enslavement in the New World, Africans and Diasporans have felt compelled to forge and strengthen a relationship for mutual uplift. A century ago this imperative birthed the Pan-African movement that advanced the course of decolonization in Africa as well as the struggles for civil, political rights and freedoms in the Diaspora. If there are such “ties that bind” Africa and her Diasporas, it will be equally crucial to look out for what Anthony Appiah recently called “the lies that bind”. How do questions of creed (religion), country (nation and nationalism), color (race and racism), class and culture intersect with Pan-African understandings and practices? Where, when and how do they either enforce or contradict them? Furthermore, despite shared history and challenges, there are distinct and diverse experiences in Africa (with her rich and varied historical experiences, social and cultural traditions, political understandings and economical practices) and among Diasporans which complicate any attempts to superimpose homogeneous cultural and experiential paradigm. Today, the very complexity of the Diaspora itself is evident – and more and more acknowledged as the phenomenon, through increasing mobility and patterns of migration around the globe, expands and multiplies. Given this reality, some now question the utility of maintaining a close relationship between Africans and Diasporans who are becoming much more differentiated from Africa, and challenged to balance between the demands of their new nationalities and hybridized identities and the pull of original homeland loyalties. This panel seeks to bring together scholars of different disciplines to interrogate the historical and contemporary dimensions of this complex and, some would argue, problematic Africa-Diasporas relationships. What are some of the challenges to a strong Africa-Diaspora nexus? How best can Africa continue to help advance Diaspora causes and vice versa? How has the relationship of Africa and her Diasporas addressed shared political, economic and cultural challenges in the modern period? How have Africans and Diasporans responded to each other’s challenges and predicaments in the colonial and post-colonial eras? How best can Diasporans continue to assist Africa in navigating the complex challenges of post-colonialism? How effectively can both mobilize resources (material and intellectual) for developing stronger ties and relationship? What strategies, if any, exist for redefining and reshaping Africa-Diasporas relationship, which while accounting for growing differentiation and complexities, identify areas of productive collaboration? How can the African Union and the Diasporas be truly transformative and effective in advancing each other’s interests today? The panel welcomes proposals on these and other related themes (including policy oriented) that probe the historical and contemporary relationship between Africa and her growing and expanding Diasporas.

Please send abstract of no more than 300 words to either of the conveners (include your name,
institutional affiliation, email).

Deadline: November 15, 2019.

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