International Conference on Decolonising the Humanities in the African Academy

Oyeniyi Okunoye's picture
August 31, 2022
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Humanities, Literature, Black History / Studies

CFP: International Conference on Decolonising the

Humanities in the African Academy


Call for Paper, Panel and Roundtable Proposals

(On-site and Virtual)

New Date: October 23-26, 2022

Faculty of Arts

Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria


Confirmed Speakers

Prof. Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni

University of Bayreuth, Germany


Prof. Kwesi Prah

Centre for Advanced Study of African Societies, Cape Town/

University of Zululand, South Africa


Prof. Oyeronke Oyewumi

Stony Brook University, New York, USA


The theme of ‘decolonisation’ has returned with renewed vigour since Biodun Jeyifo pronounced “arrested decolonization” from the exhaustion and implosion of nationalism, buoyed, until the mid-1980s, by radical independence struggles across Africa. Decolonisation in Africa was political liberation followed by economic liberalisation and, consequently, dependency. Whereas the humanistic disciplines were established to decolonise the mind, à la Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the focus on transnationalism and the globalisation of knowledge continues to relegate and disqualify indigenous thought and methods.

Ironically, the present state of affairs strongly indicates the complicity of the humanities with colonisation. The global designs of knowledge production that Walter Mignolo argues constitute the basis of coloniality alongside the repressive regimes of power in Latin America have resonance in the African context. More recently, Achille Mbembe has regenerated excitement around the discourse of decolonisation through his latest book, Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization. Central to his project is the unrelenting questioning of the Eurocentric academic models that have remained dominant despite regular curriculum review in many African academic institutions. This condition necessitates painstaking and self-conscious e‑orts to imagine a new mission and identity for African academes that transcend reactionary monadism. It is not surprising that Mbembe echoes the Senghorian concept of the civilisation of the universal in which African humanism, yet again, is to provide “the message of joy in a great universal future equitably open to all peoples.” The political project of decolonisation is thus inseparable from the freedom to be, think, and act based on basic human convictions in Africa.

 By decolonisation, we are not advocating an uncritical return to indigeneity but epistemic sovereignty defined by what Chen Kuan-hsing in Asia as Method calls deimperialisation of production, culture, and thought—a pluriversal epistemic practice. Along these lines, we seek comprehensive engagement with the history of the humanities in Africa, the history of ideas, and the history of the university. We view the humanities as a primary site for thinking about the institutions of knowledge, the practice of thought and its social impact, the development of culture, and the techniques of research and rigorous reflections about human life and relations in Africa. This conference will explore multiple pathways to decolonising the humanities in African academy. We welcome comparative decoloniality that brings humanistic decolonisation in Latin America and Asia in conversation with Africa. The sub-themes for the conference include but are not limited to the following.

The sub-themes for the conference include but are not limited to the following:

- Histories of the Humanities Disciplines in Africa

 - The Place of the Humanities in the University and the Society

 - The Humanities and the African Idea of History

 - Deprovincialising Epistemic Traditions

 - Exploring Alternatives to Eurocentric Academic Models

 - Rethinking Tradition and Modernity

 - Decolonising Colonial and National Archives

 - Decolonising African Literature

 - Decolonising Theories in the Humanities

 - Decolonising Gender Studies in Africa

 - Afrofuturism and African Futures

 - African Humanism

 - African Feminism

 - The Impact of African Philosophical Thought

 - Language and Human Development in Africa

 - Language and Identity in Africa

 - Language Ideology and Glocalisation

 - Education and Knowledge Systems

 - Popular Art Forms

 - Indigenous Knowledge, Technologies and Production Capacity

 - Judicial Practices and Justice Systems

 - Liberation Humanities

 - From Liberation Struggles to the Arab Spring

 - Neoliberalism and Neocolonialism

 - The Limits of Postcolonial Theory in Africa

 - The Economy of Literary Awards and Prizes

 - Failed States, Infrastructural Crisis, and Knowledge Capital

 - Social Instability, Institutional Constraints, and Knowledge Production

 - Public Protests and Discursive Contestations

 - Youth Movements and Culture

 - Technological Transformations and the Humanities

 - The Human as Category and Status

 - Music, Circulation, and Identity

 - Climate Change and the Environment

 - What is Africa, Today?

 - Migration and Displacement

 - The New Imperialism in Africa

 - Decolonising the Study of Religions in Africa: Promise and Pitfalls

 - Religious Discourse and Practice and the Legitimation of Empire

 - Privileging African Lives: Religious Studies as Political Theology/Political Philosophy

We invite scholars and graduate students to submit abstracts for individual paper presentations, panels or round tables. Panel and round table abstracts are not to exceed 350 words, while individual paper abstracts are not to exceed 250 words. Send all proposals to: by August 31, 2022. The covering letter should state the institutional affiliation and contact email of the scholar making the proposal.

The conference organisers plan to publish selected papers from the conference as a book.

Conference Registration Fees:

Participants from Nigeria – N20,000.00 (Early bird) / N25,000.00 (On-site)

Graduate students from Nigeria – N10,000.00 (Early bird) / N15,000.00 (On-site)

Participants from Africa – $75.00 (Early bird) / $80.00 (On-site)

International participants - $100.00 (Early bird) / $120.00 (On-site)

For enquiries, contact:

Contact Info: 

Oyeniyi Okunoye