Transregional histories within and without Africa
Monday, 21 March 2016, 14:00-15:30
Convenor: Geert Castryck (Universität Leipzig / Universiteit Gent)
Panelists: Samuël Coghe (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen), Camille Lefebvre (IMAF Paris), Achim von Oppen (Universität Bayreuth), Iain Walker (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle)
Area studies in general and its historical discipline in particular are commonly defined according to regional attributions. African history, then, is dealing with the history of or on the African continent, if not of Sub-Saharan Africa only. East, West, Central or Southern Africa are widespread subdivisions, as are the Sahel, the Horn of Africa or the Great Lakes region. It is easy to have a vague idea of these containers, but untenable to pinpoint or cling on to them. Many historians cross these artificial or historically specific divides within Africa, and furthermore include connections with for instance Europe, across the Atlantic or within the Indian Ocean world. Nevertheless, the regional demarcations and subdivisions are institutionalized and perpetuated in denominations of chairs or job descriptions, study programmes and courses, national traditions and university specializations, available sources and literature, or journals and associations. This round table focuses on the merits and limitations of regional divisions of knowledge production, on the usefulness of transregional approaches to African history, and on the challenge to preserve African views and voices within transregional histories.