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Call for Papers: Connectivity, Transcultural Entanglements and the Power of Aesthetic Choices in Africa

Joint Call by the Unversity of Cambridge and the Max-Planck Institute Florence

Following the transcultural and global turn in the humanities and social sciences, studies of issues of connectivity, transcultural interactions, processes of exchange and long-distance entanglements have been key contributions to the fields in the past 15 years. Also the mobility of objects and artistic responses to imported artifacts from the medieval to the contemporary period have gained more and more prominence throughout the disciplines. When it comes to the African continent, however, such questions are often deeply problematic, since the humanities still have to deal with the weight of colonial discourses, racist concepts and rhetoric.

This volume seeks to tease out ways of how to study connectivity, transcultural entanglements, and the role of and artistic responses to imported artefacts from 500 CE to the present day in various regions of the African continent, without seeing Africans as passive beings ‘influenced’ by people and objects from afar. The volume will provide a platform for transdisciplinary dialogue between art history, archaeology, anthropology, heritage and museum studies and related disciplines. It will investigate issues of connectivity and mobility both across and beyond the continent, often evident in complex networks of proximity and distance. It will illuminate the impact of imported objects and the key role of local production. It will also unpack issues such as mimesis, inventiveness, the use of imported artefacts, their adaptations and transformations, creative responses to possibilities and challenges, and the power of aesthetic choices by means of case studies to probe methodologies and conceptual innovations for new studies on Africa’s multiple entanglements with the wider world.

The organizers invite abstracts for the participation in this edited volume and welcome case studies from any time period between 500 CE and today and from any African region. Contributions by authors based at institutions on the African continent are particularly encouraged. Contributions by both junior and senior scholars are welcome. Please submit your abstract (of 300 to max 500 words) and cv by 15 August 2021 via email to: Abidemi Babatunde Babalola, University of Cambridge: ab2577@cluttercam.ac.uk and Vera-Simone Schulz, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz – Max-Planck-Institut: vera-simone.schulz@clutterkhi.fi.it