Please find below the Call for Papers for African Association for the Study of Religions
at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting Boston, November 2020.
AASR CFP AAR 2020 (PDF)
LETS DIALOGUE: REIMAGINING THE AFRICAN ACADEMY:
TOWARDS A HUMANITIES-SCIENCE NEXUS
Dr Damaris Parsitau (Egerton University)
Professor Njoki Wane (University of Toronto)
Professor Anne Kubai (University of Uppsala)
Ms Hellen Taabu (University of Toronto)
Dr Evelyn Kipkosgei
Africa’s higher education and research is currently undergoing tremendous shifts and challenges. The relationship between the Social Sciences and Humanities and STEM disciplines continue to draw serious debates and discourses about their roles in Africa’s development. In the recent past for example, there have been provocative debates and discourses about the role of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHs) not just in the academy but also in Africa’s development. Such debates assert that higher education in Africa would serve the needs of a rapidly growing continent better were universities to provide more Scientists, Mathematicians, Engineers, Physicists, Doctors, Agriculturalists and many other Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) allied disciplines. It is further argued that the STEM disciplines would help transform the African continent from a poor one to a more developed one. For these reasons, studies in history, languages, literature, culture, religion, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, gender and women studies, the arts and other humanities subjects have not only been deprioritized but have also been ridiculed by politicians, policy makers and even some university officials who have looked down on the humanities broadly conceptualized.
In Kenya for example, the debates have been spearheaded by senior government officials who have publicly mocked history and argued that ‘the country could not develop as a nation when we continue to teach the history of Vasco da Gama in Universities’. Such disdain for the social sciences and humanities by senior government officials goes a long way to show a complete lack of appreciation for the role of the humanities and social sciences in Africa’s development. It is such mockery and disdain for the humanities that informs not just policy but also how the humanities are perceived in Africa’s higher education. For these and many other reasons, the Social Science and Humanities disciplines appear at the bottom of any list of national goals and development. This deprioritization and marginalization of the SSHs have seen many departments in many public universities merged for ‘rationalization’ purposes, a measure that not only affects faculty teaching in these departments but also takes a way focus on specific disciplines.
In many Kenyan Universities for example, the so called ‘hard’ or Natural Sciences’ receive more attention than the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHs). Agriculture, Engineering, Science and Technology, Mathematics, Computer Science and other allied disciplines receive greater attention from university management including higher budgets than the Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines. The privileging of one set of disciplines over the other is not helpful and is problematic in many ways. We urge for pragmatic conversations and dialogue between the two broad areas of disciplinary divides as well as their cooperation and mutual engagement. This sad situation needs to be remedied because no knowledge-led development strategy can succeed without a solid core of human values that are etched in the humanities and social sciences.
There is also need to bridge the gap between SSH and STEM as well as develop partnerships and engage and generate conversations between the two disciplinary divides so as to contribute to the emergence of broad-based skills required for African development. Mutual engagement between STEM and SSHs would also contribute immensely not just to the bridging of disciplinary divides but also provide holistic strategies through which universities would contribute to the emergence of broad based skills and all rounded graduates who would drive Africa’s development in the 21st Century. There is also a huge disconnect between the role of Social Science research in informing evidence based policy that would be impactful to communities and countries. Yet humanities and social sciences are best placed to inform about trends and shifts in society in a bid not just to inform and impact public policy but also bring in the kind of data that shapes public discourse and leads to social transformation.
At the same time, African countries are currently facing tremendous social, cultural, economic, political, digital and even leadership tensions and complexities that can only be understood and explained by the social sciences and humanities. The shear leadership crisis facing so many African countries today has caused untold sufferings to citizens particularly the most vulnerable populations, such as women, children, the old and Persons with Disabilities
The continued undermining, deprioritization, and marginalization of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) as opposed to natural sciences in the African academy should be interrogated in view of the prevailing leadership crisis as well as the crisis facing the academy in Africa today. There is also critical need to increase contemporary intellectual discourse on the viability and sustainability of the SSH in the African leadership and academy.
Also, there is need to determine the roles that SSHs could play in the African socio-economic and political arena such as the enhancement of order and stability and paving a way forward for humanity. Therefore, as the devaluing and deprioritization of SSH in many universities in Africa persists and as conversations of “science policy” continue to focus on STEM backgrounds, the value of what SSHs bring to the policy making process needs further exploration. Further, the Nairobi Report of 2009 states that the humanities and social sciences are critical for development: “the perspective and knowledge which they offer on history, culture, social interactions, political systems, economics, and much more are vital to development and wellbeing … it is only by engaging with history and its expressions through literature and performance that communities and nations are able to understand and reflect on their origins, to understand their past and define their place in the world” (Nairobi Report, 2009:6).
It can be argued that it is foolhardy for policy makers to prioritize STEM over SSH since SSH blends that which is molded, invented or developed by the technologists to make it humane, friendly and valuable for human consumption. There is a consensus that a development that is not in tune with human needs, feelings, culture and tastes has no value. There is therefore a need for integrated development that is people centered and that has a human face.
Further, there is need to critically assess the instrumental role of SSHs in promoting a holistic development that encompasses the welfare of the people in all realms of their lives. At the same time, we think that poorly informed policy decisions can have significant and lasting ramifications for citizens. Ill-informed critics often assume that negative policy decisions can be averted if decision makers are guided by data and scientific evidence. However, this can be contested since most issues and decisions are influenced by cultural and political considerations that correspond to the beliefs, principles, and values of a people. We therefore argue that without the proper context and understanding, decisions that are based purely on data and scientific evidence can be incomplete, unpopular or lead to unintended consequences.
This call for papers allows us to interrogate these and many other themes on the nexus and intersections between the natural sciences and SSH as well as the role of education in contemporary Africa’s development. We attempt to ask a number of questions in respect of the role of education in Africa: Is it purely to create employment or should it also be mandated to mold well rounded citizens equipped with skills to work, crucial knowledge for navigating life embedded with values that are instrumental for the sustenance of society? With advancement in technology, it is critical to investigate the role of SSHs in understanding its impact on human and social interaction.
This anthology therefore needs minimal justification and calls on all stakeholders and policy makers to seek informed ways of responding to complex and multifaceted challenges that incorporate perspectives of individuals from a variety of backgrounds including SSHs and STEM. To deal with pressing policy challenges in contemporary Africa, we need critical voices and new ideas from across various disciplines to try and unpack the following questions: What is the future of the Social Sciences and Humanities (SSHs) in the Academy and Africa’s Leadership and Development? How do we envision the role of the Social Sciences and Humanities in the future of Africa even as the debate rages on, on the superiority of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) over SSHs in Africa’s future development and prosperity? Can there be a fine balance/co-existence between STEM and SSH in such a way that we envision Science that is Creative and the SSH that are Scientific? Is it possible to re-imagine a world where both the SSH and Natural Sciences are deemed as vital in the development of a healthy, vibrant economy and society?
Using the recent provocative debates and discourses that undermine the role of SSHs and privilege STEM, this call for chapters for the anthology: Let’s Dialogue: Reimagining The African Academy: Towards A Humanities-Science Nexus is an entry point that will enable us to get new insights and facilitate critical discussions. The Anthology hopes the contributors will address one or more of the following questions in their chapters:
• Is there a crisis of humanities or is it that humanity is in crisis?
• What is ailing the African academy?
• How can we design interdisciplinary courses within existing departments in the SSHs and
• How can we provide new and innovative tools and perspective for thinking about SSH
research in Africa?
• How can the humanities make use of digital media platforms to transform and enhance
research and teaching SSHs in African universities?
• How can we bridge the gender divide in the SSHs and STEM? This is important given the
fact that there exists glaring gender divides in higher education and research in
• How does SSH fit into the relationship between the science and policy communities?
• What are the strengths that researchers from SSH have in influencing policy? What are the
• How can policy-making processes be efficient and responsive while considering multiple
• What is the development nexus between the humanities and natural sciences?
The tentative deadlines are:
i) Circulation of call for papers: Sept & October
ii) Abstract submission for chapters – October 30th, 2019.
iii) Submission of chapters: Jan 30, 2019.
iv) Feedback to contributors: – Mar 28, 2020.
v) Chapters from contributors: April 30, 2020.
vi) Submission to CODESRIA: May 30, 2020.
vii) Feedback from CODESRIA – July 30th, 2020.
viii) Submission of final papers from contributors to CODESRIA: November 30th 2020.
ix) Publication of Manuscript: December 30th 2020
Call for Papers
Circle of Concerned African Women Theologian 5th Pan-African Conference
The Department of Theology and Religious Studies
University of Botswana
July 2-5, 2019
Mother Earth and Mother Africa in Theological/Religious/Cultural/Philosophical Imagination
As the Circle of Concerned African Women Theologians celebrates thirty years of existence and impressive productivity, the fifth continent wide conference shall be held in Gaborone, Botswana in July 2-5, 2019. Given that the land is often constructed as female gendered and the oppression of women is interlinked with the oppression of the Earth; and given that it is widely acknowledged that we live in the era of global warming – which is humanly induced and of which many have also linked with anthropocentric religious/cultural/theological perspectives — the conference theme calls for research papers that interrogate the link between gender, land, race, class, ethnicity, colonialism, globalization and environmental sustainability. It solicits for papers that reimagine human relationships with the Earth from paradigms of liberation.
Research papers that are using various methods and theories; drawn from diverse religious, cultural, philosophical and theological traditions, are solicited to investigate the intersection of gender, religion and the environment, while analyzing the relationships between women and the land of the past, present and future. Papers that re-read religious/philosophical/cultural texts in the light of Sustainable Development Goals are invited. Researchers may seek to describe, expose, interpret, reinterpret, theorize, reimagine the link between social categories, religion and Earth oppression as well as propose liberating perspectives from traditions and sources of their choice such as African oral cultures, Quran, Bible, African creative works, World Religions, amongst others. Several volumes will be published, following the conference, as it is expected that contributors will receive and integrate constructive feedback from conference participants and through the process of peer reviewing.
Interested researchers are invited to submit abstracts from any one of the following sub-themes:
African Religion/Cultural/Philosophy/Oral Literature and the Earth
• Environmental Imagination in African rituals and taboos
• Oral Literature: Proverbs, folktales, sayings, myths and songs
• African Cosmology and Environmental Sustainability
• African Imagination of Community and Environmental Sustainability
• Botho/Ubuntu, Gender and Environmental Sustainably
• Gender, Religion and Access to Land Ownership
• African Colonial History and the Environment
• Globalization, Global Warming and Gender in Africa
• Sustainable Development Goals, Mother Earth and African Oratures
Biblical Literature and the Earth
• Creation Stories, Gender and Ecological Justice
• Environmental Imagination in the Pentateuch
• Earth constructions in prophetic literature
• Ecological Imagination in Wisdom Literature
• Markan/Lukan/Matthean/Johannine Green Christologies
• Ecological Imagination in Pauline and Deutro -Pauline Literature
• Ecological Imagination in Apocalyptic Literature (Revelation)
• Jesus//Paul, Gender and the Environmental Imagination
• Earth-friendly African Biblical Hermeneutics
• Sustainable Development Goals, Mother Earth and Biblical Texts
Earth and Theological Imaginations
• Salvation Reimagined
• Mission Reimagined
• Incarnation and ecological Justice
• Earth-centered Worship
• Creation-centered Eschatology
• Earth-centered Trinitarian models
• Earth Construction in Christian Hymns
• Creation-centered Theology
• Sustainable Development Goals, Mother Earth & Theological Imagination
World Religions and Environmental Imagination
• Islam, Gender and Construction of the Earth
• Christianity, Gender and Ecology
• Hinduism, Gender and Ecology
• Confucianism, Gender and Ecology
• Colonialism, Globalization, Gender and Earth Care
• Sustainable Development Goals, Mother Earth & World Religions
African Novels and Creative Non-Fiction Writers
• Environmental Imagination among African Women Writers
• Environment Imagination African Male Writers
• Colonialism, Land and Gender in African Creative Writers
• Globalization, Land and Gender in African Creative Writers
• Global Warming, Land and Gender in Creative Non-Fiction
• Sustainable Development Goals, Mother Earth & Creative Writers
Schedule of Production
1. Call for Papers: November 10, 2018
2. Deadline for Submission of Abstracts: March 1, 2019
3. Deadline for Financial Registration June 1, 2019
4. Arrival and Conference Registration Date: July 1, 2019
5. Conference Dates: July 2-4, 2019, University of Botswana
6. Submission of Reviewed Papers: September 1, 2019
Conference Fees and Registration
• Normal Registration: P800.00 ($80usd)
• UB staff member Registration: P600.00 ($60usd)
• Student Registration: P400.00 ($40 usd)
Dear colleagues and friends,
Please find below the call for papers for an African Studies conference taking place at Leeds in April 2019, on the theme “Creative Africas, Contemporary Africas: Methodological and Conceptual Advances in African Studies”. Please do consider submitting paper or panel proposals, and distribute the CfP in your networks!
LUCAS Conference 2019
4 – 5 April 2019
Call for Papers
Building on its long history of a multidisciplinary and critical study of African societies, cultures and politics, the Leeds University Centre for African Studies invites proposals for panels and papers with cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research into Africa’s multiple realities, dynamics and meanings. We specifically welcome contributions that probe new methods and concepts from across the social sciences and humanities in order to advance our understanding of Africa as a place and an idea, and the state of African Studies as a field.
How to Apply
Either by submitting an individual proposal (200 words max.), or a proposal for a full panel of four papers (with a panel abstract of 200 words max., and abstracts of the individual papers of 200 words max.).
The deadline for proposals is Friday 30 November 2018
Call for Papers – PhD Course and Research Workshop
Magic, Spirits and Power: Transgressing the Religious / Secular Divide
Centre of African Studies and the PhD school at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen
Since the early pioneering studies by Evans-Pritchard in the 1930s, the study of witchcraft has been
a prominent theme in anthropological and African studies. The classical legacy has been challenged
and developed by later generations of scholars such as Peter Geschiere, Harry West, Isaak Niehaus,
Adam Ashforth. Others, such as Florence Bernault have discussed witchcraft and the fetish from a
historical perspective, looking particularly into the how witchcraft was part of the colonial lexicon.
From a different context, Nils Bubandt has argued against perceiving witchcraft as a system of
belief that people draw on in order to explain the world. On the contrary, in the context of an
Indonesian island, Bubandt argues that witchcraft is more about doubt and confusions than about
In this Ph.D. course / workshop, we will address the question of how to approach and understand
magic and spirits and their relationship to power. It is widely recognised (in anthropology, religious
studies and African studies) that in African societies for instance there is a strong linkage between
the political and the spiritual spheres. Spirits are part of the world people inhabit and they have
agency. This course addresses both methodological and theoretical questions of how to understand
magic and spirits. How do we on the one hand avoid using pejorative and exotisising terms
(implying that we are studying something irrational) and on the other hand move beyond a
particular culturally informed analysis? The analysis of magic and spirits has for long been closely
related to analytical categories of belief and specific religious ideas. In this course, we wish to open
up such debates and examine other ways of analysing and understanding spirits. Moreover, we seek
to question the underlying oppositional categories of the religious and the secular by indicating that
magic and spirits in a broad sense is part of how people perceive and act in the world.
The course will be organized as a one-day course (lunch-to-lunch), with presentations from invited
key notes speakers and workshops with paper presentation from Ph.D. students and other interested
The themes of the course include (but are not limited to):
witchcraft and the categories of religion and secularity
witchcraft and rationality
withcraft, belief and doubt
witchcraft, insecurity and uncertainty
witchcraft as practice and discourse
social science on and as witchcraft
Date and time: 15 November (Lunch) – 16 November (Lunch) 2018
Keynote speakers: Florence Bernault, Professor of African history, Sciences Po, Paris.
Nils Bubandt, Professor of Anthropology, University of Aarhus.
ECTS: 2.25 ECTS
Registration: You apply by sending an e-mail to Niels Kastfelt (email@example.com) AND
Karen Lauterbach (firstname.lastname@example.org). The registration deadline is 20
September 2018. The e-mail should include: Name, position,
institutional affiliation, paper title and a paper abstract of maximum 200
Course preparation: Participants must submit a paper of maximum 6,000 words by 1
November 2018. It is expected that all participants read all papers.
Moreover, there will be required reading as preparation for the course.
Course capacity: Maximum 15 participants
Format:The course will consist of a combination of keynote lectures and
workshops with paper presentations.
Venue: Faculty of Theology, South Campus, University of Copenhagen, Karen
Blixens Plads 16, Room 6B.1.62
Organizers: Associate Professor Niels Kastfelt (Department of Church History,
Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen)
Associate Professor Karen Lauterbach (Centre of African Studies,
University of Copenhagen)