28.06.2017 | 09:00 to 17:30

Workshop: (Post)colonial presents in African Studies

Workshop at the Basel Graduate School of History and Centre for African Studies Basel in the framework of the Basel Academy of African Studies 2017

Joining postcolonial and critical scholars of African history, our group critiques the concepts of linear time and the ordering of the past into discrete epochs. As Derek Gregory in The Colonial Present writes, the convention of assuming sharp breaks between historical periods is simplistic. History “is always more complicated than that: always plural, always contested, and shot through with multiple temporalities and spatialities”(D. Gregory, The Colonial Present, 2004, p. 3). This workshop grapples centrally with these historical complications, to argue that colonial constellations of power, knowledge and geography are powerfully at work in the present. These contested histories, and their multiple temporal and spatial dynamics, actively shape the structures in which people make and narrate history, represent and read different bodies, and reproduce racialised spaces. The workshop aims to bring together researchers who in their individual work analyse various aspects of plural temporalities and spatialities and together want to reflect on current debates and challenges in African Studies.

The workshop will apply the innovative method of “poaching” as a way to present and discuss participants’ papers. The Matsutake Worlds Research Group initially developed this method; (L. Faier, “Thoughts for a World of Poaching”, 2010) researchers interested in alternatives to conventional conference formats have applied it. Eben Kirksey, Craig Schuetze and Nick Shapiro describe the practice of poaching as following: “Rather than conventional 15-minute papers about their own work, authors [double] as discussants, coming to the event with texts that they purloined from other participants. Panelists ‘[poach]’ the writing of others” (E. Kirksey, C. Schuetze and N. Shapiro, “Poaching at the Multispecies Salon: Introduction”, 2011, p. 129). Thus, each participant is requested to write a paper for the workshop, but instead of presenting their own paper will present another participant’s paper. The poaching method not only deepens discussion about individual papers but also facilitates more collaborative scholarship. Kirksey, Schuetze and Shapiro describe poaching as “an exercise in scholarly generosity” (E. Kirksey, C. Schuetze and N. Shapiro, p. 130).

Workshop convenors: Melanie Boehi (University of Basel), Julia Büchele (University of Basel), Dr. Sarah Godsell (University of Johannesburg), Alicia Lazzarini (University of Minnesota), Dr. Danai Mupotsa (University of the Witwatersrand), Dr. Napandulwe Shiweda (University of Namibia) and Anna Voegeli (University of Basel)

The workshop is supported by the Basel Graduate School of History, Centre for African Studies, Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft (FAG) and Ressort Nachwuchsförderung of the University of Basel.

Venue: Department of History, University of Basel, Hirschgässlein 21, 4051 Basel

Download: Programme (pdf)

Synergy with the 7th European Conference on African Studies
The workshop takes place on the day immediately prior to the 7th European Conference on African Studies (ECAS), which will be organised and hosted by the University of Basel from 29 June – 1 July 2017. Funding is available to assist with accommodation costs during the workshop for participants based on the African continent.


University of Basel
Centre for African Studies
Rheinsprung 21
CH-4051 Basel
Tel.: +41 (0)61 207 34 82