Africa Online

(Re)connect, (re)collect and (re)imagine childhoods for pluriversal politics

11-22 October 2021

While European imperial powers that invaded, occupied, divided and colonized Africa during the scramble for Africa have all left, the legacy of colonialism continues through colonial thinking and the on-going influence of global extractive economies and military trade. The interests of imperial capitalist powers fashioned a particular notion of the modern child, mirroring the “human realities” of colonization (Cannella & Viruru, 2004, 4). The child functioned as “an index, a signifier of ‘civilization’ and modernity,” while at the same time remaining “the key arena in which to instill such civilization” (Burman, 2008, 77). Since nations started gaining independence, for the most part, leaders, experts, social workers and educators in Africa accepted modernist knowledge and discourses of development (both economic and human) as universal, subjugating Ubuntu philosophy. More recently, we can increasingly find calls for decolonial thinking in childhood research. This conference seeks to bring together researchers, artists and activists living and working in Africa, to illuminate how coloniality continues to use child as figure, define childhood and shape the experiences of children, youth, and caregiving and how we may work together to build a different future in which all can flourish.

The conference invites participants to engage with decolonial and new materialist theories and in particular the broad spectrum of theorists and activists motivated by what Escobar (2020) calls ‘pluriversal politics’ to promote meshworks of collectives and communities that “fight for lives of joy, meaning and dignity” and can weave together many possibilities for convivial societies (Escobar 2020, xxvi). Pluriversal politics links Ubuntu with Buen Vivir, the social philosophy inspiring movements in South America. It offers a vision of a just world and also includes the more-than-human in the same sociability to enable all to enjoy a good life.

While not a requirement, conference participants can choose to use collective or personal memories to bring the past and past futures (anticipatory visions in the past) into the present. Drawing on Jennifer Wenzel’s (2009) suggestion that unrealised visions of liberated futures might revitalise aspirations in a disillusioned present, the aim is to (re)collect, (re)connect and (re)imagine across time and geography.

Projects can be comparative across time and space, but need not be; rather, we imagine that locally specific observations and theorizations will contribute to our broader, collective project of comparison and inter-articulation.

The African hub is part of the larger conference and research project and the African event will take place online at the same time as similar hybrid onsite and virtual hubs in Finland, Hungary, Germany and the USA. The duration of the African hub will be longer, between 11-22nd of October in a virtual environment to create connections between participants. The events will be connected virtually so that African participants can join some shared sessions of other hubs on 20 and 21 October.

The African hub will be organized in such a way that a maximum of 50 participants can participate virtually.

The aim is to get to know other participants as part of building an inclusive community beyond the conference. The slack platform (slack.com) will be used to start communicating before and during the conference.

References

Burman, E. (2008). Developments: Child, Image, Nation. London Routledge.

Cannella, G. S., and Viruru, R. (2004). Childhood and Postcolonization: Power, Education, And Contemporary Practice. Changing Images of Early Childhood. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/jyvaskyla-ebooks/detail.action?docID=181991

Craps, S., Crownshaw, R., Wenzel, J., Kennedy, R., Colebrook, C., and Nardizzi, V. (2017). Memory studies and the Anthropocene: A roundtable. Memory Studies, 11(4), 498-515.

Escobar, A. (Ed.) (2020). Pluriversal Politics: The Real and The Possible. Duke University Press.

Wenzel, J. (2009) Bulletproof: Afterlives of Anticolonial Prophecy in South Africa and Beyond. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Contact e-mail for Africa Online hub:

Norma Rudolph normarudolph610@gmail.com

Image Copyright Stefan Grage on Unsplash