Call for papers: Cultures, Identities, Nationalities, and Modernities in Africa and the African Diaspora, Toyin Falola Annual Conference, Lagos, Nigeria

13 December 2011

Call for papers: Cultures, Identities, Nationalities, and Modernities in Africa and the African Diaspora
Submission of Abstract Due: March 30th, 2012

The Toyin Falola Annual Conference (TOFAC) welcomes submissions of abstracts and outlines of papers for the 2012 conference, which is scheduled to hold in Lagos, Nigeria from July 2 to July 4, 2012 (arrival on July 1st, departure on July 5th).

We welcome papers that explore empirical and theoretical aspects of any or all of our four conceptual grids: cultures, identities, nationalities, and modernities. Papers may investigate and analyze the manifestation of cultural politics, identity contests, nationalist ferment, and competing modernities in specific geographic and trans-national contexts where Africans and peoples of African descent fight out their existential and ameliorative struggles. We also encourage papers that interrogate and question the very categories of cultures, nationalities, identities, and modernities as they relate to the experiences of African and Africa-descended peoples and institutions instead of taking them as binding, fixed and self-evident frames of analysis. The definitional and semiotic latitude for interpreting these categories belongs to authors, as we have no bounded, restrictive definitions in mind.

There is a sense of urgency to the thematic of the conference based on the uneven and unpredictable effects of globalization, development, technology, new modes of communication, wars, and migration among others. Sometimes the effects of these factors can be utterly tragic and destructive without relief or redress. Fortunately, people and communities are not always passive victims. The categories of culture, identity, nationalism and modernity allow people to make visible the multiple, overlapping and intricate forms that people’s agency and creativity take in response to local, national and global forces. We expect that papers will respond to the need to capture and illuminate the emerging texts, narratives, claims, and actions of Africans and Africa-descended peoples and communities at the interstices of simultaneously unfolding local and global events and forces.

As a cross-disciplinary meeting, the unique questions advanced by each paper?s empirical and theoretical materials should lead to engagements with aspects of the theme in ways that the author finds suitable. We hope to generate complementary, intersecting, and even contradictory insights on the meanings and functions of these terms. We anticipate lively, robust debates resulting from different critical engagements with the supposed given-ness of identities, modernities, cultures, and nationalities. Although the four organizing concepts form a coherent cluster, we recognize that they can also generate their own disparate discursive momentums and lead authors to radically divergent trajectories of inquiry. Authors are free to follow their analytical instincts and to pursue discursive paths that their materials impose on them in relation to our concepts.

In formulating the theme, we recognize the intertwining of historical, anthropological, sociological, literary, scientific, and philosophical questions that touch on some or all four of our sub-themes. These questions often require the deployment of multiple methodologies and processes of knowledge generation derived from disparate fields. Our formulation also takes into account the fact that these categories are crucial for exploring not just abstract questions about being and recognition but also debates about starkly economic, materialist, environmental, and scientific concerns. We therefore welcome, in addition to discipline-specific papers, presentations informed by multi-disciplinary methods of inquiry and theories. Approaches to the sub-themes and their various dimensions may be situated in the humanities, social sciences, and the applied natural sciences.

We solicit papers that analyze how our four concepts are implicated in or integral to political, social, economic, and environmental struggles. Debates about cultural propriety, nationalism, identity, and modernity often contain as many materialist claims as they do symbolic ones. Authors should feel free to explore the materialist dimensions of these concepts and not feel bound by their more obvious symbolic connotations. Authors are also free to approach any of the categories of our theme from any scholarly perspective and from empirical materials dealing with past or present events, people, and institutions in Africa and its Diaspora.

Seemingly divergent questions about identities, nationality, culture, and modernity seep into one another. They often interact productively and combustively to shape polemics, intellection, and lived experiences. Identity is often animated by cultural concerns, and problems and claims founded on nationality and nationalism sometimes begin from foundational assumptions and claims about identification, belonging, and personhood. Because of these symbiotic connections, we advance these categories only as guides and not as hard boundaries of knowledge, experience, or analysis. A further conceptual caveat here is that we understand these sub-themes broadly as individual fields of inquiry and analysis and as interrelated, shifty phenomena. Authors are at liberty to approach them in the same broad, elastic template rather than as fixed, essentialist notions.

Culture and notions of identity, nationalism, and modernity are subjective, malleable, and dynamic concepts, contested in both their theoretical and programmatic forms. We broach these concepts, then, to elicit lively conversations about how they are constituted, emptied, reconstituted, and put to instrumental use by Africans and Africa-descended and influenced peoples all over the world. The only advisory constant in our conceptualization is a belief that the four categories pivot, in the final analysis, on the lived experiences of the peoples and communities that are the subjects of our study, and that our inquiries into them should reflect the dynamism, indeterminacy, fluidity, and contestations of lived experience rather than the rigidity and fixity of academic descriptions and definitions. But culture, nationalist consciousness, identification, and modernity are also significant for their realness to those who use them to make sense of their lives. For these people, the
fluidity of these concepts is immaterial, since they foreground concrete, life-altering political and economic aspirations. For this reason, presentations that consider these categories as foundational concepts in analyzing African and African Diasporic communities and phenomena and refuse to question their quotidian deterministic power are also welcome.

Participants will be drawn from different parts of the world. Graduate students are encouraged to attend and present papers. The conference will provide time for scholars from various disciplines and geographical locations to interact, exchange ideas, and receive feedback. Submitted papers will be assigned to particular panels according to similarities in theme, topic, discipline, or geographical location. Additionally, selected papers will be published in book form.

The deadline for submitting abstracts/proposals of not more than 250 words, is March 30, 2012. It should include the title, as well as the author’s name, address, telephone number, email address, and institutional affiliation. Please submit all abstracts to:


Professor Ademola Dasylva & and Lady Jane Acquah

A mandatory non-refundable registration fee (ICSG/TOFAC administrative charges):

Participants from Nigeria and other African countries: Eight thousand Naira (N8,000)

Participants from other USA, Europe and Asia: $100 must be paid immediately an abstract is accepted.

Hotel Accommodation & Lunch. There will be provision for free hotel room accommodation and free lunch for the first 70 registered participants for the entire period of the conference, on first-come-first-served basis.

Africa World Press and the Carolina Academic Press will publish the best papers selected from the conference.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.