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CALL FOR PAPERS
The conference is open to individual and group paper presentations. Those willing to present their papers are invited to submit their proposals between November 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019. The selected proposals will be communicated to their authors between December 2018 and February 2019.
At a time of resurgent populist nationalism, a global approach to the History of the World, and the History of Asia-Africa relations in particular, might help provide a sense of shared global humanity and encourage a sense of belonging to the world, and ultimately produce more tolerant and cosmopolitan world citizens.
Over the last two decades, the growing interest and engagement of Asian powers in and with Africa have led to the intensification of research on Asia-Africa relations. Apparently surprised by the “new” Asian presence in Africa, a flood of studies analyzing the evolving Asia-Africa relationships from a variety of angles, have appeared, putting a particular emphasis on China and Chinese economic and political strategies in Africa (India coming second, followed closely by other competing Asian emerging powers like South Korea, Turkey, Malaysia and others). The launching of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative further stimulated this craze.
However, these studies in their majority, particularly those issued from a nationalistic or Eurocentric perspective, lack historical consciousness and are often characterized by a sense of alarmism.
A global historical perspective is particularly important for showing that Africa-Asia relations are not a new phenomenon. Indeed, current relationships are often built upon and are expansions of ancient economic, political and cultural ties and social/human networks. The timeless Afro-Asian links across the Indian Ocean and between Mediterranean Africa, the Middle East and South East Asia through the long-lasting continental “silk road”, have been central and at the source of Afro-Asian connectedness. These enduring links have made it possible for the people of these two continents to transcend the boundaries of religion, culture and civilization and the making of cross-cultural encounters in the shape of long distance trade, transfer of technology, mass immigration, exchange of plants, animals, diseases… all forming the regular features of world history, long before the “Rise of the West”.
A simple look at the crops that are now staple foods in much of Africa and Asia points to the extensive and intensive nature of Asia-Africa links. Asian domestics, such as rice and banana, are basic foods in Africa and African domesticates, including sorghum and millet, are widely consumed by contemporary Asians as staples. Indeed, “Global Commodity Chain” approach to writing global history (following a commodity from the country of production through mediation to the country where it is finally consumed) is one way of verification of the thesis of the pre-modern origin of a world economic system. The history of coffee — a local crop from Ethiopia, traded at Mocha, which becomes a sublime beverage at Sufi gatherings throughout the Muslim world, gives birth to Ottoman coffee houses then becomes a globalized commodity — illustrates at the same time the durability and complexity of Africa-Asia links and demonstrates that the ‘coffeetization’ of the world preceded its “Mcdonalization”.
We welcome contributions at the Asia-Africa section of this conference that account for the intensive and extensive nature of the Asia-Africa relations and research which explores African agency in the building of these relations. Papers on interactions between African and Asian actors in specific settings (market places, schools, but also more intimate settings like the family) are also welcome, for they add social and human substance to otherwise dry economic and political investigations. Past and current migration flows between Asia and Africa for such diverse reasons and how these population movements co-shape Africa-Asia relationships, are also important research themes.
(Fatima Harrak, Emeritus Professor of History and Political Sciences, Centre of African Studies, University Mohammed V, Rabat, Morocco)
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Darwis KHUDORI, Faculty of International Affairs, Université Le Havre Normandie, France.