Racialisation and Publicness in Africa and the African Diaspora

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From the fatal shooting of the 17-year old Trayvon Martin in Florida, United States, and the recent deportation threats faced by the Windrush generation in Britain to the continued practices of dehumanisation experienced by black Africans in Mauritania and contemporary resistance to Empire and its devastating consequences as symbolised by the #RhodesMustFall movement in South Africa and Oxford, racialisation of black people in Africa and in the Diaspora and the attendant (counter-) hegemonic reactions and/or resistance to racialisation have transplanted the DuBoisian twentieth-century problem into that of the twenty-first century.

Against this backdrop, this conference will address the contemporary problem of racialisation in Africa and the African Diaspora (old and new). The conference organisers are particularly interested in how to approach and analyse racial phenomena in terms of the processes by which ideas about race are constructed, given meaning, and acted upon (Murji and Solomons 2005) in public life and how people of African descent are racialised as the Other, and so become, ‘objects of knowledge, power, and cultural criticism’ (Gilroy 1993: 5). This conference will explore why and how racial identities and categories are constructed, imagined and inscribed (in)to the social, political and economic processes, practices and relationships in Africa and the African Diaspora—with significant consequences and implications for human life as well as for what Achille Mbembe describes in Critique of Black Reason (2017) as the global ‘in-common.’

The conference is partly informed by Fanonian insight on the interlacing of the body and race, given that, by ‘marking population groups’ (Mbembe 2017), ‘racialization [largely] relies on bodily attributes’ (Fassin 2011). How do different modes of racialising people provoke what Paul Gilroy (1987) describes as ‘vernacular cosmopolitan conversation and synchronized action among the victimized’? How do reactions to racialisation enable the processes of re-humanising the dehumanised?

The call for papers closes on 30 November 2018, for more details please click here.

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor Achille Mbembe, WISER, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, author of Critique of Black Reason;
  • Professor Faye V. Harrison, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA, author of Decolonizing Anthropology.

Conference is supported by: The Rhodes Chair in Race Relations, African Studies Centre, St Antony’s College, Africa Oxford Initiative (AfOx), and The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH). Convenor: Wale Adebanwi, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations, African Studies Centre, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford, UK. The event will also include the participation of TORCH Global South Visiting Professor Joy Owen.


International Engagement

TORCH Global South Visiting Professors and Fellows

Humanities & Identities

Race and Resistance across Borders in the Long Twentieth Century

Contact email: events@africa.ox.ac.uk

Audience: Open to all