[Skip to Content]

Global Africa

67th ASA Annual Meeting Call for Proposals
Program Chairs: 
Alice Kang (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) and Olajumoke Yacob-Haliso (Brandeis University)

What does it mean to read Africa from the global and the global from Africa? What are the geographies, ontologies, methodologies, epistemologies, and imaginaries of such a centering of Africa that reinstates the continent, its peoples, and its knowledges, as the axis upon which global processes revolve, the locale for the apprehension of critical global discourses, and the fulcrum for the resolution of key questions of global remit? We invite papers that reflect on these questions. Contemporary anxieties relating to global development, decolonization, peace and security, racism, knowledge production, gender equality, human rights, climate change and more compel African Studies and studies of Africa to seriously (re)consider how it approaches, positions, and interprets Africa.

Three key arguments emerge from the questions posed above. First, Africa embodies the global. However Africa is defined—geographically, culturally, ideologically, imaginatively—its peoples are global, its cultures are global, its histories are global. To invoke global Africa is to reject an essentialist perspective of what it means to be African; to be Africa and African is to be unbounded by space, place, and positions. Indeed, there are many Africas and not one, when we take Global Africa seriously as a basic definition of Africa. Second, Africa is central to the understanding, analysis, and interpretation of the major global issues of today, including peace, security, development, migration, climate change, globalization, racism, education, science and technology, creativity, and innovation. Local, national, and global conversations that seek to understand these issues are incomplete without accounting for the African dimensions and experiences of these mega-topics. Third, Africa’s voice, participation, agency, and leadership is critical to the resolution of these and other major global problems. In other words, the world needs Africa and Africa holds the key to unlocking global solutions to contemporary challenges.

How do we execute such an approach to knowledge making about Africa, and how do local, national, and global actors and institutions implement this conception of Africa? Global Africa invites us as scholars to reexamine the notions of Africa that underpin our scholarship, pedagogy, activism, and policy work. Our disciplinary conditioning, institutional contexts, personal experiences, resources, privileges or lack of it, all propel us in specific directions that cause us to restrict Africa into categories and silos that isolate and minimize the power of the study of Africa for local and global relevance. Global Africa invites African states and institutions to harness the power of a continent whose very plurality, complexity, multilocality, transnationality, and multifaceted identity foreshadows its influence. Global Africa speaks to African and African-identifying peoples to cultivate the bonds that bind and the many locales and pathways to belonging, coexistence, and harmony. Global Africa invites artistic, creative, scientific, and technological expressions of the variegated existences, needs, and knowledges of the peoples and cultures of Africa. Global Africa invites the world to reconsider its relegation of Africa to the margins of political, economic, and sociocultural influence and to acknowledge and harness its centrality to global development, creative and scientific progress, and our collective human security. Global Africa implies retheorizing and reconstituting multipolar global relations to take Africa as a polar power by every definition of the concept.

Global Africa means that Africa is the continent not only of the future, but of now. The current signals are unmissable. Africa’s global youth are shaping and participating in global conversations about social justice, democracy, development, decolonization, technology, migration, popular cultures, scientific innovation, and local and international policies about these. Challenges to electoralism and liberal democracy on the continent have shaken the assumed hegemony that major Western powers held in African locations and led to the rethinking of democracy. When COVID-19 devastated the world, continental Africa provided an exception to theories of the causes and mechanisms of the virus’s spread and impact, spurring scientific research and inspiring solutions to be applied globally. In every corner of the globe, Africa and its diaspora dominate popular cultures—music, fashion, the arts, performance, food and cookery, and so on. Sighing under the growing crush of climate change’s effects, the world is turning to African ecosystems, indigenous knowledges, and African communities and governments for solutions to bolster global efforts at climate change mitigation. Africa’s vast natural resources have and continue to be vital for global wealth creation, scientific progress, and the technological advancement of the world. The Russia-Ukraine war forced international organizations to recognize and critique the mechanisms and channels by which the European conflict created acute food insecurity in Africa more than anywhere else. South-South cooperation at platforms such as BRICS have had to contend with the question of how to meaningfully include and balance the sheer power and potential of African nations in the organization’s efforts to expand. As the Israel-Gaza war began to rage, the world began to (re)interrogate extant notions of freedom, colonialism, racism, apartheid, decolonization, genocide, and war crimes, mirroring Africa’s own longstanding and constant grappling with these issues in light of its history and international relations. In sum, past and present global trajectories, problems, and even the existence of humanity, require us to contemplate Global Africa.

Eschewing essentialist narratives and narrow disciplinary interrogations, Global Africa demands transdisciplinary, ontologically plural, and multimethod investigations of Africa’s past, present, and future. We invite participants to reflect on these themes and beyond.

2024 Subthemes:

Africa’s Diasporas
African Feminisms, Gender, & Sexuality
African Philosophy and Thought
African Politics and Policy
Anthropology, Society, & Material Culture
Development, Political Economy, & Human Security
Education and Pedagogy
Environment and Climate Change
Health, Healing, & Disability
History and Archaeology
Literature and Language
Mobility, Migration, & Borders
Music, Performance, & Visual Culture
Peace, Law, & Security
Popular Culture and Media
Religion and Spirituality
Science and Technology
Social Movements, Activism, & Resistance
Urban Africa
Special Topics