CFP: African Diaspora beyond the Black Atlantic: Dynamics and Significance in the Latin American World and Elsewhere (Badagry, 22-23 August 2017)

For readers interested in the global history of the African diaspora, see this call for papers for a conference to be held at the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, Lagos State, Nigeria from 22-23 August, 2017:

More often than not, the imagination of African Diaspora especially as it relates to Black Africa, resonates with theoretical and practical reflexes of the Anglo-American world. In the process, there is the tendency to consider the privileged experiences from the different parts of Europe and the Americas as homogenous and representative of the diverse realities of Black African Diaspora across the various regions of the world. According to Ben III Vinson, the question of the phrase “African Diaspora” came into prominence first in the 1950s and 60s when there was a strong need to find a suitable terminology for the advancement of Pan-Africanism which had evolved and continued to gather momentum from the turn of the 20th century. By prioritizing the concept of “double consciousness” from Du Bois to Fanon and Gilroy, the question of the African Diaspora incarnates with some sort of predictability that mostly reduces the concept to the dialectic of Black and White races. By homogenizing the struggle for survival and development of the African Diaspora from a mostly transatlantic slavery perspective in the Anglo-American world, this otherwise popular perspective excludes the peculiar yet constitutive paradigms of the Latin American world, and all that we stand to learn about the experiences that affirm difference in hemispheric realities. What is more, there is also the tendency to neglect the pre-transatlantic migrations and how they offer a strong claim for the foundational study of the African Diaspora.

Indeed, the Latin American world offers an interesting paradigm of African Diaspora and contrasts radically with the Anglo-American model precisely because rather than reducing relations to the canon of “double consciousness”, it provides a far more complex alternative in which the very essence of blackness itself is threatened. For the Latin American world therefore, questions around race relations provoke far more rigorous engagements because of the reality of “multivalent blackness”, which provokes quotidian epistemic discourses around multiple identities and what it means to negotiate relations and agency among natives, mestizos, whites and black. Related to the complex social relations is the perception that the history of racism in the Latin American world appears not to have been as extreme and hostile as found in the Anglo-American axis. The apparent political inclusion of the Black Diaspora in Latin America–constable as that is– is again another issue when compared to Anglo-American historical and contemporary dynamics. These realities in themselves inform the strong basis for the invention, sustenance and celebration of mestizaje in the Latin American world, which apparently threaten and discourage connection to Africa as primordial homeland, while thriving on the cultural logic of the space in-between.

Yet, the Latin American Diaspora remains strongly connected to African in ways far stronger than are ordinarily admitted. The connection is best described in Gilroy’s notion of “tradition” as that in which the Diaspora harks back to African just as Africa draws upon Diaspora cultural recourses. The question then may be asked, how does the central agency of culture facilitate an enduring interconnection between the Latin American Diaspora and the African homeland? Of course, the question generates other derivative ones around, say, the invention of musical traditions– from tango in Argentina samba and maxize in Brazil, danza in Porto Rico , ranchera in Mexico, son rumba and guaracha in Cuba (Peter Wade) — in the Latin American world. It also speaks to the question of religion, history, performance, anthropology, archaeology, visual art, linguistics, and dynamics of interdisciplinarity in the study of the Latin American Diaspora. In what ways, for instance, does the enthusiastic reception of Nollywood in Brazil challenge the reductionist stasis in the calibration of relations between Africa and Latin America Diaspora? From mainland Latin America to the Andes, how may we then engage the issues around relations between African and the Latin American Diaspora in historical and contemporary terms?

As is the practice, the Badagry Diaspora Festival singles out an icon of the African Diaspora for celebration. This year, the festival has selected a Latin American figure in person of Deoscóredes Maximiliano dos Santos, Mestre Didi Alapinni (1917-2013). The outstanding artist and scholar is remembered for his contribution to the affirmation of Africa and the African presence in Brazil and Latin American world in general. From seminal works like História de um terreiro nagô: crônica histórica; Yoruba tal qual se fala; and the Contos de nagô series, Mestre Didi extended the frontiers of knowledge on the heritage of African worldview as the bedrock of Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Latin cultural identity. His centenary thus offers a unique opportunity to privilege the Latin American Diaspora in the consolidation of the academic content of the festival.

Beyond the special focus on the Latin American Diaspora in the narrative, the conference welcomes submissions on the otherwise privileged Anglo-American Africa Diaspora as well as other African Diasporas: from the French canon in Europe and America, to the Pacific basin, to the Indian Ocean, and Asia. It is equally interested in the historical and contemporary dynamics of intra-African Diaspora, especially with respect to the frontier zones that evolved out of the dislocating consequences of the centuries-long aggression of transatlantic slavery. The conference welcomes engagement with the radical review and connotation of Africa and its Diaspora relations when the African Union (AU) declared the Diaspora as the continent’s “Sixth Region”. How has this problematized our understanding of Diaspora and the necessary intersections of transnationality with contemporary African Diaspora? How is the agency of the AU in the declaration symbolic of homeland agency? How again does the understanding trouble the normative conceptualization of nostalgia as an experience that strips homeland of agency? In what ways do questions of diaspora and transnationalism intersect and invite us to ponder the dynamics of return? These questions and more are proposed to frame discussion at the 17th edition of the Annual Badagry Diaspora Festival. Panel proposals and abstracts are welcome on issues around, but not limited to:

Latin American African Diaspora: history, culture, and tradition

Mestizaje and (dis)connectivity in relation to Africa

The biography, art and scholarship of Mestre Didi Dos Santos

The Black Atlantic and the enduring question of double consciousness

Minor(ity) African Diaspora and emerging perspectives

Intra-African Diaspora and frontier zones

Diaspora and the question of African development

Transnationalism and African development

Contemporary African and culture in Diaspora

Hemispheric interrelations among Diaspora groups

Cadences of return and mutual development in Africa and Diaspora

Pre-Atlantic African Diaspora and the question of mainstreaming

The languages of the conference and paper presentations are: English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

Abstracts and panel proposals should be sent to Dr Senayon Olaoluwa at samsenayon@gmail.com, Dr Sola Olorunyomi at whereissola@yahoo.com, and Dr Felix Ayoh Omidire at feliomidire@gmail.com, no later than May 31, 2017.

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