Recently the African Studies Association put out a call for papers for its 58th Annual Conference in San Diego on the State and Study of Africa. I wish to assemble a panel of three that addresses how digital history has disrupted power dynamics in the regulation and flow of information initially installed to silence the colonized. I would propose that my co-panelists consider the following:
The colonial state with its legislation and attendant bureaucratic infrastructures promulgated hegemonic laws that generate data and regulate its dispersal. Conversely, historians utilize this bureaucratic data to construct and deconstruct past regimes. To locate agency in colonial sources requires a careful reading of data. Reading against the grain, against the state’s intention for which the data was generated, historians locate agency lurking within colonial sources, cultural property and digital flows to pinpoint the moment of resistance. While the official records may detail the price paid by the colonizer in the creation of statehood, these same records evince the price paid by the people. A price, a sacrifice, which provides a usable past in the service of the invention of a new nation allowing an Independent Africa to rise from the ashes of its colonial past.
This panel aims to examine how agency was revealed and unleashed through new uses and interpretations of information as it moves more freely through digital media. How has the re-purposing of content altered the scholarly and lay relationships with knowledge production? How have these changes altered the terms of intellectual discourse and how then do scholars participate or influence the discussion? To that end, it makes it possible to probe how historical methods and even the discipline itself have changed in recent years.
If you are interested, please send a 200-word abstract along with your contact information (e-mail address, phone number and institutional affiliation) to Veronica Ehrenreich-Risner ([email protected]) by February 26, 2015.