Call for Papers and Panelists:
Rethinking Voices: Local/Diaspora Identities, Silenced Voices and Minority History in Africa.
Thirteenth Annual Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa Conference
Theme: Understanding the Regions: Politics, Identity, and History of the Middle East and Africa
November 19-21, 2020
Washington Georgetown Marriott Hotel, Washington, D.C.
Panel Convener: Bright Alozie (West Virginia University)
Historians and scholars alike have reflected profoundly on the question of voices. Historical evidence attests to the crucial place that local voices have occupied in African history throughout time. From oral narratives to unspoken words, from colonial protest movements to contemporary social justice and human rights movements, from traditions of orality to petitions and letters, and from petitions and letters to new forms of digital and mass communication, voices have been celebrated and silenced, studied and standardized, as well as regarded as the place of both private and public expression. However, despite their roles in history and a locus of research on Africa, constructions of silent, queer, and minority voices have only infrequently been the focal point of historical study. This panel introduces a new category of minority history in postcolonial African studies: the history of “silenced voices.” Such voices include those of underrepresented minorities which have literally been silenced including women, children, survivors, diaspora groups of minority ethnicity, physically-challenged individuals like the deaf and blind and LGBTQ individuals. These minorities’ voices leave traces behind them that are then transformed into memories that are often fragile and neglected because they have not been recorded or studied. Such memories, while being neglected, speak volumes and tend to convey thoughts, actions, demands, activism, legitimacy and therefore beg for recognition. The aim of this panel is to locate these silenced voices and grant them agency in African historical reconstruction. It reflects upon the ongoing “decolonization” of African intellectual and identity discourses. Significantly, this panel seeks to answer the following questions:
- What does it mean to rethink voices and identities in colonial and postcolonial Africa?
- What and who determines how minorities are presented in history and in the story of African societies?
- How do we decolonize historical thought and integrate minority narratives into continental memory and history?
- Facing the tides of cultural globalization, is it possible for cultural, social and linguistic minorities to maintain themselves as distinct historical actors, not merely a caricature or victims?
This panel invites papers that brings together different perspectives and fields of study to generate a multidisciplinary historical debate that invites scholars to try and rethink minority voices in the making of identities and history in colonial and postcolonial Africa. To participate in this panel, send a 300-word abstract to Bright Alozie at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 25, 2020. This conference also offers two funding opportunities. For more information about the conference, visit https://www.asmeascholars.org/
Department of History
West Virginia University