A symposium organized by Lindiwe Dovey and Carli Coetzee at the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) conference, 9-11 September 2014, Brighton UK
We are living in what can be called the ‘age of festivalization’, an era of unprecedented proliferation of festivals of all kinds, celebrating everything from music to movement, from food to film. In this global context in which new festivals are appearing daily, this panel will seek to explore the place of Africa, Africans, and/or African cultural production within this festival forcefield. Surprisingly little research has been undertaken on festivals in and featuring Africa in any disciplinary field. Panelists from and/or working across varied disciplines (Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Development Studies, Film Studies, History, Literary Studies, Postcolonial Studies etc.) are thus encouraged to submit abstracts, and to use varied methodologies and broad, creative conceptions of ‘festivals’ to engage with the following (or other) questions:
- What are ‘festivals’? What do they share with related entities, such as revolutions, trade fairs, and/or major sporting events?
- What kinds of festivals (are known to) exist in Africa today, and what form(s) and values do they assume? How have festivals been defined in African terms?
- How are Africa, Africans and/or African cultural production represented at festivals on and beyond the continent, and what are possible historical precedents to this representation?
- Is the current increase in festivals a positive development within and beyond Africa, a sign of ordinary people’s insistence on the need for face-to-face communication in response to feelings of alienation in a digital era? Or is it, in a more sinister sense, related to the rise of economic neoliberalism in the era of late capitalism?
- Is the increase in festivals a sign of the centralization or the marginalization of a certain kind of culture?
- Do festivals have purely democratic value or are they also shop-fronts tailored by politicians and organizations eager to create an image of unity and hide or quell dissent?
We hope to publish a special issue of the Journal of African Cultural Studies from a selection of the papers presented.
Please submit 250-word abstracts and short bios by 1 February 2014 to Lindiwe Dovey.
For further information on the conference please consult the ASAUK website.