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Call for Proposals



61st Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association 

Energies: Power, Creativity and Afro-Futures

November 29 - December 1, 2018
Atlanta Marriott Marquis

(Submissions are not yet open.)


All proposals must be submitted on or before March 15, 2018.  Proposals will be provisionally accepted or rejected within 6-8 weeks by the Program Committee and notices will be sent out by email, with acceptance contingent on receipt of pre-registration fees. 

Conference pre-registration MUST be paid by the March 15 submission deadline in order to submit a proposal. Please note that pre-registration is refundable if your submission is rejected by the Program Committee. Africa residents and all students are also able to complete a “request for onsite pre-registration payment” if they are unable to process payment at the time of the CFP.  

Accepted proposals will be listed in the Preliminary Program, which will appear on the ASA website,, in mid-July. Notification that the Preliminary Program has been posted to the website will be sent via email.


Program Chairs:

Nana Akua Anyidoho, University of Ghana
Mark Auslander, Michigan State University


For the annual meeting of the ASA in Atlanta (2018), we reflect on ‘energy’—its production, extraction, distribution and exchangeas a heuristic to understand Africas past and to imagine its futures. Energy has rich literal and metaphorical resonances in reference to extractive and entrepreneurial economic activities; the production of knowledge; human mobility and labor; performance, ritual and spirituality; and crime and social unrest. We call on scholars to explore the theme of energy, in both material and symbolic terms, and to reconceptualize dynamic fields of action in the economy, politics, culture, arts, and environmentacross time and space, within the African continent and across its diasporas.

Regional and trans-national energy industries and other extractive undertakings have profoundly refashioned modern African landscapes. Petro-chemical industries, often allied with military and national security formations, have at times deepened economic inequality, posed threats to civil society and democratic institutions, and challenged environmental and human ecologies. At other moments, hydrocarbon-based systems have stimulated sociopolitical movements, catalyzed local entrepreneurship and even artistic creativity.

The notion of energy is also salient to historical explorations of contestations over human energies in African societies. Conference papers can explore attempts in both the colonial and post-independence contexts to contain the power of ordinary people and the ways that local energies--intellectual, entrepreneurial and creative--have broken bounds. How have hierarchical systems along axes of age, gender or social class been reproduced or contested in reference to the management of mobilities and labor? And how should we approach the political and developmental discourses about social and economic energy in varied African contexts? What, for example, is at stake in calls from state and non-state actors to mobilize or “harness” the energies of youth, women, and subaltern communities?

In todays global environment, it is especially important to consider religion and associated restiveness, violence and insurgencies through contributions to the study of faith-based resistance groups and radicals, their support structures, and the ways they affect bodies, lives, economies and polities. We also encourage historical and contemporary perspectives on spiritual energies in African cosmologies. How, for example, might lineage formations, masquerade societies, or sacred kingships be understood as elaborate rituals for transforming or redirecting the generative energies of the invisible worlds or ancestral forces?  How, in turn, might rites of healing, prophecy, divination, or initiation be understood as efforts to restore or reorganize productive flows of energy within human bodies or within the body politic?

Related scholarship on visual arts, poetics, literature, music, dance, and other performance genres might explore ways in which local metaphors of energy and flow are drawn upon. And how is energy literally used as a medium, from bullroarers to neon art?

Proposals are also welcome on the dynamics of intellectual energies within the continent and across continental borders.  In what respects should we conceive of coerced or voluntary migration as draining away intellectual energies, and when should we understand individual or collective translocal movement as productive of new knowledge flows? In what respects have new information technologies, including social media platforms, created alternative sites of intellectual creativity? One might explore, for example, the mediating roles of handheld mobile devices and wireless networks in energizing local entrepreneurship or in configuring young people as active producers of knowledge instead of passive vessels into which knowledge is poured.

We are interested in the idea of youthful energy as a positive force for social change, but also in the attempts to constrain or co-opt the energies of young people. Can we think of crime and social unrest as expressions of the restless or unbounded energies of this and other social groups?

Resilience is an important theme in African lifeworlds. It constitutes the creativity of everyday life, evident in everything from the use of humor to make sense of the world to the development of appro-tech (appropriate technologies) and bricolages as innovative responses to the vagaries of life.

Finally, we welcome explorations of, and reflections upon, energy and its metaphorical elaborations in domains not explicitly articulated in this call for proposals.  What are the strengths and limitations of exploring African histories and fields of cultural production through the heuristic of energy extraction, distribution, and exchange?


 Themes and chairs: 

1. Extractive Industries: Jeroen Cuvelier, Ghent University

2. Civil Society Activism and Social Movements: Claudio Gastrow, University of Johannesburg

3. Communication Technologies and Social Media: Janet Kwami, Furman University

4. Environment and Conservation: Jim Igoe, University of Virginia

5. Economics, Political Economy, and Entrepreneurship: Hannah Appel, UCLA

6. Global Africa: Akosua Darkwah, University of Ghana

7. Development Practice and Discourse:  Renata Serra, University of Florida

8. Human Mobilities: Migration, Transportation and Globalization: Jennifer Hart, Wayne State University

9. Parties, Politics, and Elections: Gretchen Bauer, University of Delaware and Lise Rakner, University of Bergen

10. Afro-Futures: Kevin Sipp, City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs

11. Education: Cati Coe, Rutgers University

12. History and Archaeology: Rebecca Shumway, College of Charleston and Gérard Chouin, College of William and Mary

13. Anthropology:  Hylton White, University of Witwatersrand

14. Literature:  Olakunle George, Brown University

15. African Philosophy and Theorizing Africa: Kamari Clarke, Carleton University

16. Religion and Spirituality:  Karen Lauterbach, University of Copenhagen

17. Health and Healing: Lynn Thomas, University of Washington

18. Film, Television and Radio:  Jesse Shipley, Dartmouth College

19. Performance, Music and Visual Arts: Neelima Jeychandran, Penn State University

20. Women, Gender, and Sexualities: Josephine Beoku-Betts, Florida Atlantic University and Lynda Day, Brooklyn College, CUNY

21. Youth in Africa: Restive and Productive Energies:  Marcy Hessling O'Neil, Michigan State University

22. Special Topics:  Kofi Takyi Asante, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse;  Casey Golomski, University of New Hampshire; and Julie Kleinman, Fordham University


Board Sponsored Sessions
Every year, the ASA Board organizes or selects a few panels or roundtables to be designated “Board-sponsored” sessions. These sessions should address broad issues or important questions from a multi-disciplinary perspective and appeal to multiple constituencies of ASA members. Ideally, a session will reflect the meeting theme, but it can also engage other big ideas and debates. Requests for Board Sponsorship must be made on the submission form, and justification must be provided.

2018 Submission Guidelines


For general questions regarding the meeting and/or registration please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Member Aid For Africa
African Studies Association is a participating member of Aid for Africa, a unique partnership of nonprofit organizations serving families and communities throughout Africa.
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