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Decolonization and the Production of Power in Africa

Samstag, 11. Juni
13:45 bis 15:15 Uhr
Raum 3068

This panel explores the issue of power and decolonization in Africa. Frederick Cooper (2002) has made clear, that decolonization was neither “a drama with two actors” (i.e. colonizers and colonized), nor a “story with one plot line – the struggle for the nation”. Moreover, decolonization was not a process or period with a clear-cut beginning and end. Power played in this (hi)story a central, but complex role. At the same time, it provides a fruitful frame for asking how a variety of actors (re)shaped, perceived and experienced different notions of power on a local, national and global level and how this interacted with decolonization.

The panel examines both the sites and modes of power as well as different actors and institutions involved in African decolonization. Decolonization raises the issue of how, where and by whom power, power transfers and transformations of power were produced, represented and contested within and beyond the (post)colonial state. This panel, however, wants to go beyond a narrow focus of decolonization as a transfer of power and nation-building, or as an issue of political parties and international accords. Rather, it asks how different scales of power (local, national, global) were negotiated and struggled over in a context in which different options and constraints shaped Africa’s political future?

On the one hand, the panel attempts to provide a more complex mapping of the multiplicity of actors existing in the world of decolonization. The panel inquires how state and non-state actors and institutions alike invested in the making or unsettling of (post)colonial power. In particular, we invite papers looking beyond the often-referred two protagonists, i.e. the colonial state and the liberation movements. Authors are encouraged to consider actors, such as workers, diplomats, journalists, sport and cultural associations, artists, photographers, or actors and institutions that maintained a difficult relation to the (post)colonial state (such as chiefs in some cases). This allows for a more complex understanding of the sites and mechanisms of power production during decolonization and in its aftermath.

On the other hand, the panel understands decolonization as a global historical moment, which involved different places and spaces also beyond national boundaries (and thus outside the realm of state sovereignty, be it colonial or postcolonial). Reflecting on decolonization on a transnational and global scale involves further actors and institutions, but also different modes of production of power on the international stage.




Tagungsorganisation: Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Geschichte und Historische Institute der Universität Lausanne | Kontakt