This panel invites participants to examine material and metaphorical practices of care and repair that gesture towards the possibility for alternative futures amidst what Achille Mbembe has recently called the brutality of liberalism (2020). In the last decade, the African continent has not only been described as a ‘laboratory of neoliberalism’ (Nubukpo 2019) where imperial legacies and capitalist futurities cohabit, but also as one from which new, manifold ways to inhabit the world arise (Mbembe and Sarr 2019). Attending to this tension, whilst grounded in the reality of people’s daily lives and hopes, this panel seeks to home in on concrete and creative practices of care, reparation, rehabilitation and reconstruction as acts that seek to comfort, connect and heal, ultimately resisting representations of the continent as one of precarity and insecurity.

Drawing on the nexus between feminist theory and the anthropology of care and repair (Chalfin 2019; Collins 2000; Haraway 2007; Puig de la Bellacasa 2017; Tronto 1993), as well as Edouard Glissant’s geopoetical thinking (1990, 1997), we seek a wider and relational understanding of care and repair turned towards the world, environment and matter. A geopoetical sensitivity to world-making practices that highlights connections across spatial, temporal and poetic scales, enables us to link those imaginaries and practices – where memories and traces of the past are often mobilised to rehabilitate the present and imagine a different future – to the social and material spaces in which these take place. The utopian resonance of geopoetics and care should nonetheless be read with ‘doubt’ and ‘ambivalence’ (Redfield 2016) to avoid silencing the asymmetrical power relations and structural inequalities inherent in practices of care and the neoliberal cooptation thereof. The papers will explore the multiple faces of caring and repairing through ethnography, and reflect on the analytical potential of those categories in a postcolonial world marked by inequalities but also a flourishing body of decolonial scholarship.

The deadline for paper abstract submissions is 12th March 2020. Paper abstracts of up to 300 words with a title and the author’s name and affiliation should be send to: charline.kopf[at]sai.uio.no

Participants are expected to pre-register for the African Studies Association Annual Meeting by March 15, 2020.