From the Venice Biennale to Wakanda: Cultural Production and Reconfigurations of Africa
Sub-theme: Global Africa

The past several years have seen a notable spike in the visibility of cultural production from Africa across global cultural centers. From the record number of African artists featured at the 2015 Venice Biennale — which was, for the first time in its history, curated by an African — to the extensive window displays of wax cloth fashions in luxury department stores in Paris during the city’s so-called “Printemps Africain” in 2016, to Sotheby’s first ever auction dedicated to modern African art in 2017, to the setting of Marvel’s Black Panther in a futuristic Africa-as-Wakanda in 2018, Africa seems to be having its moment in the limelight for global artistic and cultural production.

How are we to understand Africa’s current prominence in the global market for art and other cultural products? How are cultural producers, curators, critics, and other market actors participating in the reconfiguration of Africa and artifacts of African origin in the contemporary art and cultural market? What forms are encounters between artistic and cultural production from the African continent and from its diasporas taking in this moment? How are the formal qualities of art and other cultural products from the continent being reworked in this moment? How does this new focus of attention on Africa compare to other recent discourses about Africa’s changing place in the world such as “Africa Rising,” “The New Africa,” and “Africa as the future of the planet”?

For this panel, we welcome submissions addressing these and related questions from anthropologists, sociologists, art historians, literary scholars, and other scholars of cultural production in, on, and from the African continent.

Please email your paper title, abstract (250 words), current affiliation and contact info to Amah Edoh (medoh@mit.edu) and Sakhile Matlhare (sakhilematlhare2017@u.northwestern.edu) by March 12.