We seek two more panelists or a panelist and discussant for the following panel to be submitted in response to the African Studies Association meetings 2015 CFP:

The Power of Things in African History: Technology and Affect in the Longue Durée

This panel brings together scholars of African history across temporal divides to ask questions about technology, power, and belonging from the deep precolonial past through the 21st century. In African studies, there has been noticeable increase in research drawing on the so-called material turn: a methodology and analytical framework in which things (their production, maintenance, use, and qualities) are used to interrogate social and political processes. This includes conventional definitions of the ‘social’, the ‘political’, and the ‘religious’. Though much of this new scholarship falls within modern periodizations, the sources used by scholars of precolonial Africa mean that they have long written about the power of things for creating, legitimating, or contesting power.

By stretching this conversation across several millennia, we hope to find common ground and productive disagreements over approaches to technology in Africa’s longue durée. To facilitate conversations across familiar chronological divides, we hope that potential participants will either present narratives that cross these divides or will use case studies to explore the value of the central questions and theoretical concepts animating scholarship on one period to the way technology is studied in another period. Because this panel sits at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies (and related approaches) and African history, we hope prospective panelists are inspired to engage with both fields. We are especially interested in the relationship between technology and affect and in the contingencies of continuity in the relationship between technologies and the ties that bind people to each other and to things.

Please send an abstract to either Josh Grace ([email protected]) or Kate de Luna ([email protected]) by Friday March 6, 2015. Participants will be asked to submit short papers (no longer than 1,500 words) to the entire panel a month before the conference.