Call for panelists : "Studying international interventions in contemporary Africa: decolonizing projects, historical and ethnographic approaches" ASA 2020

Monica Fagioli's picture

We are looking for panelists for the following panel for the 63rd Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA)-November 19 – 21, 2020, Washington DC, USA.

Title of panel: “Studying international interventions in contemporary Africa: decolonizing projects, historical and ethnographic approaches”

Debora V. Malito and Monica Fagioli

As humanitarian and military interventions have become closely intertwined in the post-Cold War era, overlapping modalities of intervention across Africa have generated multiple contradictions, resistances, and logical inconsistencies. Yet, hegemonic conceptual frameworks still define international intervention as necessary, legitimate, and inevitable. At the same time, critiques of interventionism have also become ineffective, as they have reiterated simplified narratives of empowerment through essentialist categories such as ‘local’, ‘international,’ ‘hybrid,’ and ‘liberal’ versus ‘illiberal’ orders. How can contributions from African studies provide more poignant critiques and alternatives to existing hegemonic conceptual frameworks of international interventions? What are the historical conditions that have enabled specific forms of intervention to emerge in Africa?


With a focus on the African continent, recent scholarship has put out a call for decolonizing intervention (Sabaratnam 2017), while others have rewritten the complicated relationship between Africa and the ‘power-knowledge regimes of international relations’ (Wai 2018). Inspired by this scholarship, this panel invites papers that make visible the ongoing persistence of asymmetrical relations of domination emerged during colonial times, and structural racial hierarchies of dependency and inferiority between African states and international interveners.   

We welcome contributions that question interventionist conceptual frameworks, such as  ‘failed states,’ ‘war on terrorism,’ ‘capacity gap’, ‘instability’, and ‘security threat’;  bring to the fore the multiplicity, complexity, and incongruences of contemporary interventions; and offer alternatives and possibilities for the enactment of the ‘hour of decision’ on the continent. What are the ways in which those under interventions have responded, reengineered, opposed, repurposed, and adapted to interventions? 


Please send proposals to Monica Fagioli at by March 3rd, 2020.