REMINDER: CFP Deadline for Re-imagining Ends of Empires Study Half Day

Deadline for paper submissions: Friday 11th December 2015 The study of the ends of empires and decolonisation has generally focused on the passage from empire to nation-states. Whether this process was violent or relatively peaceful, it has generally been presented as historically inevitable. This is particularly the case with France’s African empire which is often studied in terms of its attempt and failure to hold on at all costs before ultimately giving up (Algeria) or its ‘successful’ negotiation of a smooth transfer of power to a Westernised African elite (West Africa). As Todd Shepard underlined in 2006 in The Invention of Decolonisation, by 1959-60, decolonisation in France was presented as part of the “tide of history” with little explanation or discussion of what this actually meant. He underlines that this historical determinism has largely been reproduced in academic literature. At the same time, an emerging trend has been to re-examine established accounts of the passage of empires to nation-states (Cooper, 2014; Hansen and Jonsson, 2014; Deighton, 2006). With an increase in studies of global and transnational history, scholars are increasingly questioning the inevitability of how (post) empire was reimagined by the late colonial state. This study day at the University […]

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REVIEW. “West Africa: word, symbol, song” at the British Library

Thanks to its focus on West Africans telling the stories of West Africa and its well-thought out multi-dimensional delivery, the ‘West Africa: word, symbol, song’ exhibition at the British Library is powerfully insightful and approachable to all, from academic specialists to children and reluctant museum-goers. Camille Jacob took part in the curator-led tour with Dr Janet Topp Fargion and explains more about the event.   The exhibition “West Africa: word, symbol, song” at the British Library explores 1000 years of West African history(ies) through over 200 objects, including books, manuscripts, songs, videos, musical instruments, artworks, masks and textiles. This event aims to question the stereotype of an African continent made of a clash between oral traditions and imposed Western values by showcasing the long intellectual tradition of the region through the breadth and wealth of literature and graphic/symbolic systems as well as the complexity of oral literature. The organisation of the exhibition (five loose spaces, generally chronological) is closer in style to the Musée du Quai Branly’s thematic approach than other traditional institutions’ focus on colonial boundaries. Even though it is very immersive (with music through speakers, headphones, in “pods”), this is not a systematic overview of West African history […]

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