7th European Conference on African Studies

[Translate to English:] logo ecas

From 29 June to 1 July 2017, more than 1500 scholars came together at the University of Basel for the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS). ECAS is convened on a biennial basis by the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS) and hosted by an AEGIS member institution. It is the largest convention in the field of African Studies in Europe, the largest world-wide being the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in the United States. The ZASB together with the Swiss Society for African Studies had the mandate to host the 7th edition of ECAS.


The convention attracted over 1500 participants (f: 49.7%; m: 50.3%); more than 1000 had an active part in the conference. The majority came from Europe but contrary to earlier editions of ECAS, scholars from the African continent (and not from North America) constituted the second largest group. More than 300 scholars, staff members and students ofAfrican institutions took part in the conference.

Support from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and various foundations enabled us to cover the costs for travel and accommodation of 50 young and established scholars based at institutions on the African continent. A further 70 participants benefitted from free accommodation and/or a fee waiver. In addition a contribuation by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) allowed us invite selected representatives of African institutions and organisations.



Participants in total (including staff)
Participants from Africa
Participants from Europe


1015 scholars presented their research in one of the 204 thematic panels. Many of the presentations explicitly addressed the conference theme Urban Africa – Urban Africans. New encounters of the urban and the rural. On the day preceding the conference and on each of the three conference days a keynote lecture was presented. 10 round table discussions further allowed the conference conveners to set topics and themes. Participants also exchanged in the framework of 13 film sessions, 14 meetings and 21 book launches or special sessions. Parallel to and preceding the conference a rich arts and culture programme focused on urban Africa with films, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, readings and other events.


Architecture, Modernization, and the City in Africa

Manuel Herz (University of Basel), [Dominique Malaquais (EHESS, Paris)], Prita Meier (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Ola Uduku (University of Edinburgh), Birbeck António Tomás (University of Stellenbosch)

Chair: Kenny Cupers (University of Basel)


Scholarly Journals in African Studies: Meet the Editors

Keith Breckenridge and Gregory Mann (Journal of African History), Deborah James (Africa), Michel Doortmont (Journal of History in Africa), Max Bolt (Journal of Southern African Studies), Sandrine Perrot and Didier Péclard (Politique Africaine)


Open City – a Conversation on In- and Exclusion in African Cities (sponsored by the Heinrich Böll Foundation)

Victoria Okoye (journalist, Lagos), Jenny Fatou Mbaye (City University of London), Edgar Pieterse (African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town)

Chair: Claudia Simons (Böll Foundation)


Researching Urban Africa: a Roundtable Discussion on Methodology and Epistemology

Tom Goodfellow (University of Sheffield), Ato Quayson (University of Toronto), Jennifer Robinson (University College London)

Chair: Matteo Rizzo (SOAS)

Discussant: Claire Mercer (London School of Economics)


Research in Africa – on Whose Terms? (sponsored by the Swiss Society for African Studies and CODESRIA)

Godwin Murunga (CODESRIA), Daniel Künzler (SSAS), Joyce Nyairo (Eldoret), Mamadou Diawara (Goethe University of Frankfurt)

Discussant: Divine Fuh (CODESRIA) and Anne Mayor (SSAS)


Strategic Essentialism? The Patrick Chabal Debate

Andreas Mehler (Arnold Bergstraesser-Institut and University of Freiburg i. Brsg.), Lotje de Vries (Wageningen University), Lucy Koechlin (University of Basel), Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Marseille)

Chair: Till Förster (University of Basel)


Challenges in African Studies Worldwide

Paul Nugent (University of Edinburgh, AEGIS), Lívio Sansone (Universidade Federal do Bahia, CEAO), Anne Pitcher (University of Michigan, ASA), Motoji Matsuda (University of Kyoto, ASA Japan), Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town, ASAA), Narnia Bohler (HSRC, Africa Institute in South Africa)

Chair: Clara Carvalho (ISCTE)


New Paradigms for Researching Africa's Past: Round table in Honour of Patrick Harries (1950-2016)

Participants: Melanie Boehi (University of Basel), Sarah Godsell (University of Johannesburg), Didier Péclard (Université de Genève), Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape), Napandulwe Shiweda (University of Namibia), Henri-Michel Yéré (École polytéchnique de Lausanne)

Chair: Giorgio Miescher (University of Basel)


Africa versus the West: The Challenge of Reciprocal Comparisons in the Study of Africa

Ralph Weber (University of Basel), [Suren Pillay (University of the Western Cape)], Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien), Lorena Rizzo (Harvard University)

Chair: Morten Jerven (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)


Cosmopolitan Biographies

Cynthia Kros (University of the Witwatersrand), Sekibakiba Lekgoathi (University of the Witwatersrand), Petunia Mabokela (University of the Witwatersrand), Noor Nieftagodien (University of the Witwatersrand)

Chair: Sheila Meintjes (University of the Witwatersrand)

Opening plenary

Till Förster (founding director, ZASB/AEGIS board member), Andrea Schenker-Wicki (Vice-Chancellor, University of Basel), Anne Mayor (co-president, Swiss Society for African Studies), Clara Carvalho (president, AEGIS-board), Veit Arlt (executive director, ZASB)

Keynote: Mirjam de Bruijn

Mirjam de Bruijn, Professor of Contemporary History and Anthropology of Africa at the African Studies Centre Leiden: "Digitalisation and the Field of African Studies" (Carl Schlettwein Lecture)

Keynote: Elísio Macamo

Elísio Macamo, Professor of African Studies at the University of Basel and director of the Centre for African Studies Basel: "Urban Scholarship: Studying Africa, Understanding the World" (Lugard Lecture)

Keynote: Joyce Nyairo

Joyce Nyairo, independent researcher, Eldoret: "Urban Africa, Urban Africans: Binds, Boundaries and Belonging"

Keynote: Edgar Pieterse

Edgar Pieterse, NRF South African Research Chair in Urban Policy and founding director of the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town: "The Politics of Governing African Urban Spaces"

AEGIS Roundtable

"Challenges in African Studies Worldwide"; with Paul Nugent (University of Edinburgh, AEGIS), Lívio Sansone (Universidade Federal do Bahia, CEAO), Anne Pitcher (University of Michigan, ASA), Motoji Matsuda (University of Kyoto, ASA Japan), Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town, ASAA), Narnia Bohler (HSRC, Africa Institute in South Africa); chair: Clara Carvalho (ISCTE)

Panels und Papers

347 propositions were made in response to the Call for Panels published in June 2016. The interdisciplinary Review Committee composed of scholars at universities in Switzerland, Europe and Africa selected 225 panels.

The Call for Papers was published in November 2016. The panel convenors accepted 1280 of the 1623 propositions submitted


Panels according to the thematic streams