CfP: African Language, Literature, Music & Prayer Repertoires

Nagel Legon International Conference 2019

African Language, Literature, Music and Prayer Repertoires:Exploring Indigenous Epistemologies and Spiritualities

Date: JULY 24th–26th, 2019


Christianity in Africa offers an abundance of linguistic resources that serve as a wellspring for African spirituality and values. However, while current scholarship that engages African Christianity often focuses on the rapid growth and diverse expressions of the faith on the continent and in the African diaspora, the role of language, music, film, and literature as significant articulations of African spirituality and values remains largely unexplored.
The language that is appropriated to convey experiences of faith and spirituality, including names, attributes and the language used to describe supernatural entities and deities may be seen to represent the embodiment of the contemporary experiences of people’s perceptions. African literature, proverbs, songs, prayers, and appellations are not only repositories of these names and attributes but also fuller expressions of African experiences and perceptions of supersensible entities and their interactions with humans, but also important expressions of indigenous spirituality and values. Similarly, in praise genres we find what has variously been called grassroots, oral, spontaneous, or implicit theology, and represents a type of “reflective theology” in its own right. Film, home videos and African literary works are yet other mediums in which aspects of African religious values and Christian spirituality are regularly featured.

By engaging religious studies, theology, social sciences, and the arts, this conference seeks to explore indigenous epistemologies and spiritualities through the prism of African language, literature, music, and prayer repertoires. We solicit contributions that explore, engage and analyze African literary works, music, prayers, oral histories, appellations, film, or praises in Africa and the African diaspora, in order to discern ways in which African spirituality and values are perceived and expressed by individuals and religious institutions and local communities. Contributions that raise issues of gender, ethnicity, identity, and colonialism/post-colonialism would be welcome. The conference seeks to demonstrate the importance of inter- and cross-disciplinary scholarship between the arts, humanities, and social sciences for more well-rounded, holistic engagement with African religions and spirituality.

This conference is hosted by the University of Ghana’s Department for the Study of Religions in partnership with the Nagel Institute’s African Theological Advance Initiative, which is generously supported with funding from the Templeton Religion Trust. For further details, check here:

Please note: for all of the sub-themes below, references to Africa or African refer equally to the African diaspora. Papers engaging issues of gender and marginalized voices are particularly welcome. Sub-themes and potential topics around which the conference is organized include but are not limited to the following:

• African spirituality and values from African theological and/or indigenous epistemological lenses
• African religions and spirituality as portrayed in African literature (colonial/post-colonial novels, dramas, poetry,
biography/autobiography, etc.)
• African values and spiritualities in historical context
• Contemporary expressions of African religions, spirituality and values in film and media
• African indigenous agents and the promotion of African values and spirituality within African Christian mission history
• Oral expressions of African religions, spirituality, and values (prayer, proverbs, parables, storytelling, idioms, etc.)
• African spirituality and values expressed within African music (gospel music; reggae; worship music; popular cultural music etc.)
• African spirituality, gender and sexuality explored within language, literature and worship contexts

***Abstracts/Panel proposals: Each prospective presenter should submit an abstract of not more than 250 words by email to by January 31st, 2019. Abstracts must be prepared as Microsoft Word documents and should include the presenter’s name, title of paper, institutional affiliation, and contact information (mailing address, phone number, and email address). Panel proposals should be sent as one document with an overall abstract, and should also include the abstract and personal information for each panel member/presenter. Participants will be notified about the status of their proposals by February 20th, 2019.

***Conference Registration and Rates: (*including selected refreshments, lunches, and the conference banquet)

Early Bird Rates (March 1st–30th):
• Participants from the Global North: $100USD
• Participants from the Global South: $80
• Students/unwaged: $50USD

Late Registration Rate (April 1st–May 10th):
• Participants from the Global North: $150USD
• Participants from the Global South: $110USD
• Students/unwaged: $50USD

Accommodations: bookings will be available at African Studies Yiri Lodge (Legon Campus):
• Single room @$70USD
• Standard Room $50–$80USD
• Deluxe room @ $100USD
• Suite @ $120USD

Participants may also choose to make their own bookings at the nearby  Erata hotel. Prices are subject to change depending on conference discounts:
• Single Room @$100USD
• Double Room @$120USD

**Delegates should be aware that traffic within the city to/from the University can be very heavy and time-consuming; therefore we encourage you to stay on campus!

Additional Extras:
We are planning excursions before/after the conference to Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, as well as within Accra. We are also in discussions with the hosts of “Panafest 2019” to see how our participants might join in some of their events. Panafest is an event dedicated to African dance, music, and other performing arts to be held in Cape Coast, 25th July to 2nd August. Further details and costs for these extras will be posted as they become available.

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