Round Tables

T1/ Ebola. African Studies in Times of Emergency

July 10th, 16:00 – 17:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenors: Guillaume Lachenal (Université Paris Diderot-Paris 7) ; Anita Schroven (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

The epidemic of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa has brought the disciplines studying the region and researching medical emergencies into the spotlight. There was structural demand from intervening humanitarian, research and aid organizations for a social-science engagement in their work. While not new, the scale of social-science engagement with this international intervention is unprecedented and merits a discussion across disciplines and national contexts. This round table brings together scholars who recently took part in the response to the Ebola epidemic, whether directly as fieldworkers or clinicians, or from a distance, as experts of “the local” or of the “cultural context”. Two cross-cutting themes will guide the discussion. 1) Experiencing the crisis: The Ebola epidemic as fieldwork. What can we learn from the involvement of anthropologists in the response to the present epidemic? Beyond the classic figure of the “embedded anthropologist”, what kind of new relationships with medico-humanitarian interventions, and what forms of collective and collaborative work have (not) emerged? 2) Understanding the crisis: Urgent pasts and pathogenic contexts. Beyond the tempos of emergency, what are critical insights and new perspectives developed by the researchers specialized in the region and/or in the study of humanitarian aid and biopolitics?

Speakers: Tara Diener (University of Michigan); Nathanial King (World Bank, Sierra Leone); Emmanuelle Roth (SOUS); Susan Shepler (American University)
Discussant: Vinh-Kim Nguyen (University of Amsterdam & Collège d’études mondiales, Paris)


T2/ Gender, mobilizations and citizenship in Africa

July 9th, 9:00 – 10:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenors: Anne Hugon (IMAF) ; Sara Borrillo (Université de Naples)

Since the 1970s, researches on the role of women in social movements and on the impact of gender dynamics in mobilisations have been multiplied in Western contexts, as well as in non-Western contexts, thanks to postcolonial studies and to the commitment of Southern activists and feminists researchers. By crossing mainly French and English disciplinary boundaries, this round table will analyse the forms and the causes of African women’s commitment and gender relations, and more generally socio-political configurations, within these mobilisations – feminine, mixed, “progressive” as well as “conservative.” By paying attention to the historicity and the entanglement of local and transnational dimensions, this round table will explore the relationship between female subordination, political participation process, and the definition of citizenship, through some case studies dealing with the impact of women’s mobilizations – or their symbolic representation – in national building process and in the recognition of civil, economic and political rights, religious identities or “moral values”.

Speakers: Emmanuelle Bouilly (CESSP, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne); Francesco Correale (CITERES, Université de Tours); Dorothy Hodgson (Rutgers University); Ophélie Rillon (IMAF); Lucia Sorbera (University of Sydney); Charlotte Walker-Said (CUNY).


T3/ (Dis-)connections in Histories of African Studies on the Continent and Beyond

July 10th, 9:00 – 10:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 2B

[ CRG History ]
Convenors: Odile Goerg (Université Paris-Diderot-Paris 7) ; Henri-Michel Yere (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – EPFL)

The round table addresses the engagement between African Studies as an international field of study and the community of researchers, lecturers, academics based on the continent, whose agendas have at times looked very different from the preoccupations of African Studies as such. This gap shows through the marked differences in the research questions and methodological approaches displayed in Africa on the one hand and in the rest of the world (notably in Europe and North America) on the other hand. The different research priorities make the disciplines of African Studies come across as divorced from one another. We welcome papers which look closely at this seeming disconnect and provide an understanding of what interferes with the circulation of ideas within the field. How has this manifested itself in African history in particular? Have the politics of research funding played a role in this? How has this disconnect produced “Centres” and “Peripheries” in African Studies? What is the legacy of the “historic” schools of thinking based on the continent (Ibadan, Dar-es-Salaam, Dakar) in the field of African history today? How much does the field of African Studies take into consideration the research output of academics based in Africa outside of South Africa? What is the responsibility of the academic diaspora in this conundrum? How much of an impact do these tensions bear on the conceptual creativity of historians and social scientists active in the field of African Studies?

Speakers: Jacques Depelchin (University of Salvador do Bahia and Berkeley); Mamadou Diawara (Goethe University, Frankfurt); Andreas Eckert (Humboldt University, Berlin); Ibrahima Thioub (Cheikh Anta Diop University, Dakar)


T4/ Ethics as Ideals of Practice

July 9th, 14:00 – 15:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenor: Michael Lambek (University of Toronto and Mac Gill University)
Sponsored by AFRICA, Journal of the International African Institute

Historical experiences of colonialism, domination and exploitation, as well as postcolonial developments relating to civil wars, corrupt governments and economic inequalities provide painful but nevertheless important grounds for debates about ethics on the African continent. Focusing on debates over ordinary ethics in sub-Saharan Africa, the round table subscribes to Michael Lambek’s observation that the ethical is located “in the conjunction or movement between explicit local pronouncements and implicit local practices and circumstances”. Contributions proceed from the observation that there are marked differences in time and space in what triggers such movements between the implicitness and explicitness of ethics, and in the ways they manifest themselves. More particularly, we argue that what presently can be noticed (or ‘what is perceptible’, or ‘can be observed’) on the African continent is a momentous reconfiguration of civil society that, among other things, finds expression in the emergence of new actors, organizations and forms of agency that position themselves ethically in (and act as intermediaries in the social space between) individuality and wider sociality. We explore the explication and implication of ‘old’ and ‘new’ ethics that these actors and agencies are pursuing in order to gain legitimacy or to foster changing social imaginaries in the wider social context of postcolonial African societies.

Speakers: Astrid Bochow (chair, Georg-August University, Gottingen); Hansjoerg Dilger (Freie Universität Berlin); Thomas Kirsch (Konstanz University); Marie-Nathalie LeBlanc (Université du Québec, Montréal); David Parkin (University of Oxford); Rijk van Dijk (University of Amsterdam)


African Studies Journals Round Tables

Two round tables are organized in ECAS 2015 to allow the public to know more about African studies journals. Editors will introduce their journal before addressing one of two following issues: what these journals do to promote young scholars especially those based in African institutions? What these journals do to promote interdisciplinary approach?

T5/Promoting Young Scholars

July 8th, 16:00 – 17:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Chair: Nic Cheeseman (African Affairs)
Speakers: Nic Cheeseman (African Affairs); Hannah Cross (Review of African Political Economy); Andreas Eckert (Journal of African History); Diana Jeater (Journal of Southern African Studies); Zoe Marks (Critical African Studies); Henning Melber (Africa Spectrum); Didier Péclard (Politique africaine)

T6/ Promoting Interdisciplinary Approach

July 8th, 17:30 – 19:00. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Chair: Hannah Cross (Review of African Political Economy)
Speakers: Nadège Chabloz (Cahier d’études africaines); Raphaël Jozan (Afrique contemporaine); David Pratten (Africa); Annelies Verdoolaege (Afrika Focus); Leonardo Villalón (Journal of Modern African Studies); Mario Zamponi (Afriche e Orienti)


T7/ Journalists and Researchers Facing Crisis Situation

July 8th, 14:00 – 15:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenor: Caroline Roussy (IMAF) ; Chair: Alain Foka (RFI)

Boko Haram; the Chadian intervention in Northern Nigeria; instability in the North of Mali and the Sahel more broadly; yesterday’s war in Rwanda and today’s in the Central African Republic: these crisis situations are a focus for journalists and scholars alike. Both groups in their writings seek to make sense of complex states of affairs; their approaches, however, differ. In this regard, a set of key questions arises: how do these two sets of actors address work in the field? How do they present their findings? What is the weight of words?
Faced with the types of situations alluded to here, scholars must commonly operate at least in part undercover, without making immediately clear the subject of their research. How does this compare with the approaches deployed by journalists? For scholars, establishing a long-term presence within given communities is essential. How about journalists? How do they go about developing networks? Given the danger of certain situations, is it most reasonable for them to be embedded? If so, how does this impact on the collection of data?
The purpose of this round table is to compare experiences, to exchange views on methods employed in danger situations, and to consider jointly how such experiences are rendered in words.

Speakers: Richard Banégas (CERI); Pierre Boilley (IMAF); Christophe Boltanski (L’Obs); Vincent Bonnecase (CNRS/LAM); Alice Corbet (CNRS/LAM); Jean-Karim Fall (France 24); Dominique Laresche (TV5 Monde); Léonie Marin (IMAF); Clémence Pinaud (NYU Shanghai)


T8/ Spatial Readings of Violent Conflict in Africa: Discussion on the Pertinence of the “Spatial Turn” in African Conflict Studies

July 10th, 9:00 – 10:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

(CRG Conflict)
Convenor: Georg Klute (Bayreuth University)

During this round table, a number of conflict researchers working on African violent conflict dynamics will engage in a discussion on the importance and usefulness of spatial perspectives in their analyses. Studying violent conflict from a spatial perspective has steadily entered into critical conflict studies. This round table aims to critically examine this development and the scope of spatial analytical categories to make sense of violent conflict in Africa. In this discussion, we aim at moving beyond the classical spatial perspectives on conflict dynamics, such as that of political geography focusing on issues such as struggles over resources, sovereignty, land, territorial identity, borders, etc. Focusing on the spatialities of violent conflict, we would like to broaden these perspectives and also look into the dialectical relationship between spatial productions (how space is constructed, contested, etc.) and political agency in settings of violent conflict. Participants will be asked, from their own research experience, to comment on the central question: What can a spatial reading of violent conflict dynamics learn us in terms of an academic analysis of practices of governance, political agency and violent struggle over authority and control?

Speakers: Jon Abbink (ASC, Leiden); Till Förster (Basel University); Jana Hoenke (University of Edinburgh); Silke Oldenburg (Basel University); Clionadh Raleigh (University of Sussex); Mareike Schomerus (London School of Economics)


T9/ African Studies and Biographical Methodologies

July 10th, 14:00 – 15:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 2B

Convenors: Héloïse Kiriakou (IMAF) ; Martin Mourre (IMAF) ; Klaas van Walraven (ASC, Leiden)

This panel focuses on the use of biography in African Studies. Many biographical dictionaries on Africa still belong to the “Colonial Library”, or focus only on the leading persons (politicians, writers, etc.). Our panel aims to highlight the relevance of the use of biography for sociological, historical, and prosopographical studies to understand social worlds. With these five interventions, we want to show what biography brings to the general history of Africa while being attentive to the specific problems of the biographical fact in Africa. The use of prosopography, often ignored, allows a social history of institutions from individual, activist and political pathways. The use of statistics, collective biographies and autobiographies to understand social groups, as teachers, African women graduates, academics, politicians, etc., allows to renew the history of a standard issue thanks to the collective biographies and to the news of institutional autobiographies. This panel will be a place of shared reflection on the biographical method. The papers will study various linguistic areas and will focus on characters who made a commitment in one way or other: labour union, political, literary or artistic. It will also be the opportunity to present the ≪ Maitron Afrique ≫, an online biographical dictionary about African mobilizations and protests.

Speakers: Jim Brennan (University of Illinois); Pierre Guidi (IMAF); Elikia M’Bokolo (IMAF); David Murphy (University of Stirling); Klaas Van Walraven (ASC, Leiden)


T10/ Policy Dimensions of African Border Issues

July 10th, 14:00 – 15:30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenor: Aichatou Tamba (GIZ-African Union Office)

While an Africa-wide consensus on the continental integration through border management was manifested on a high-level political dimension at the three Conferences of African Ministers in charge of Border Issues (2007, 2010 and 2012), by means of the resulting Declarations on the AUBP and through the AU Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention adopted by African Head of States and Government in June 2014), the Programme still needs to be further consolidated through effective and stronger cooperation with academia and practitioners who are also stakeholders of the process along with African Union Member States, Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. The Border Program takes the opportunity of the ECAS 2015 to hold a round table with the following objectives. 1) To introduce the academics to the broader/continental view on borders and border management in Africa; 2) Get a scientific screening of the principles and assumptions of the African Union Border Program (e.g. delimitation and demarcation as mean for conflict prevention) as well as the policies it puts forward such as the Niamey convention; 3) Explore ways for a stronger cooperation between, theory/academia, practice/experts and policy makers; 4) Possibly, conciliate the outcome of the other panels on borders with the continental perspective.

Speakers: Bawuro Barkindo (University of Abuja); Amb Aguibou Diarrah (African Union Border Program, Addis Ababa); Abdoul Mohamed (GIZ Advisor, Dakar); Aichatou Tamba (GIZ-African Union Office)


T11/ Within and around Boko Haram in Nigeria

July 9th, 16:00 – 17h30. Panthéon, P_Amphithéâtre 4

Convenor: Laurent Fourchard (LAM, FNSP)

Since 2014 Boko Haram has become one of the most media exposed terrorist groups in the world after the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok and the launching of the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. The genealogy of Boko Haram goes back to about 2003 with the emergence of the “Nigerian Taliban”, but the movement evolved under the leadership of Muhammad Yusuf, from 2007, and Abubakar Shekau, from 2009. Boko Haram now has an accumulated history of radical militancy. However, the paucity of primary data on Boko Haram has been a significant obstacle to understanding the internal dynamics of the movement and the recruitment of its members. This round table proposes at least a partial vision of what is going on within Boko Haram – analysing forced and voluntary recruitment, leadership, and media strategy. It analyses some of the impacts on communities in Northern Nigeria and responses to and from the Nigerian Federal and State governments, Islamic groups, and Christians, and the wider population, in North-East Nigeria, the area most affected by the insurgency, and the country as a whole.

Speakers: Ini-Dele Adedeji (SOAS, University of London); Elodie Apard (IFRA Nigeria); Bawuro Barkindo (University of Abuja); Adam Higazi (University of Cambridge and IFRA Nigeria); Murray Last (University College London)