Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland (VAD) 2024 Conference

Reconfigurations in Africa - and in African Studies

The conference theme is Reconfigurations in Africa - and in African Studies, addressing current and past crises and processes of transformation on the African continent, as well as the need to critically reflect on the means — academic, artistic and otherwise – by which we approach them globally to expand knowledge production. To this point VAD2024 aims to bring Africa-related institutions outside of Africa, including museums, universities and associations, into conversation with parallel institutions in Africa.

VAD2024 will be held in a hybrid format to enable wide participation. Seven unique streams invite academics, activists, politicians, and artists to explore these themes from inter- and transdisciplinary perspectives.

VAD2024 working language is English. If the panel or workshop is held in another language, then we ask the convenors to mediate translations and also let us know the language of the panel, so we can add this to panel description. Conference organisers are not able to arrange simultaneous translation at the conference.


’Crisis’ in the West African Sahel: Global Narratives and Lived Experience (Panel convened by Boubaca Haidara)

The violent Islamist extremism that erupted in northern Mali after the ‘Tuareg rebellion’ in 2012 spread to Niger and Burkina Faso in the following years. It was quickly labelled a “crisis” locally and by international actors. The dominant focus shifted from security to governance with two coups d’états respectively in Mali and Burkina Faso and one in Niger (August 2020-July 2023), that also brought changes in international partners who had become part of the security governance landscape.

Since narratives and discourses shape action, we aim to critically examine “crisis” narratives in global politics and media, and in diasporan networks and social media. How did they translate into interventions and actions over time? How have they intersected with, or differed from, narratives and discourses within the three countries?

To explore facets of the “crisis” which don’t emerge in global narratives, we invite contributions that explore how Sahelian citizens of different generations and social strata experience this continually evolving multi-dimensional “crisis”. What resources do they draw on to meet its challenges, and how do they compare the present with the past? How have perspectives on the state evolved? How have the activities of the Islamist extremist groups influenced notions of governance, especially among the most affected rural and urban populations? How might the current experience facilitate a rethinking of Eurocentric definitions of the state?

To think beyond the logic of “crisis”, we also invite explorations of emergent social and artistic practices and their possibilities for transformations in the three countries.