CFP- AEGIS CRG Politics and International Relations Workshop: Non-Western Actors in Africa

AEGIS CRG African Politics and International Relations
Workshop ‘Non-Western Actors in Africa: Interests, Conflicts and Agency’
Hamburg, 11 June 2020

(Deadline for abstracts: 24 February 2020)

The Collaborative Research Group (CRG) African Politics and International Relations of the AfricaEurope Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS), in collaboration with GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies), is calling for proposals for a one-day workshop on ‘Non-Western Actors in Africa: Interests, Conflicts and Agency’. The workshop will be held on 11 June 2020 at the GIGA premises in Hamburg and is co-sponsored by AEGIS and GIGA.

In the workshop we seek to explore recent cases of non-western actors reviving and/or expanding their engagement in Africa. Some recent examples include: the Russia-Africa summit taking place in Sochi, Turkish companies building railways in Tanzania or Saudi Arabian making land deals in Ethiopia. While China’s activities on the continent received much press and scholarly attention in the last years, analysis of the aims and operations of other non-Western actors in Africa – and the consequences (local, national, regional, global) of their increased presence – is still scarce. Notably, the expansion of these actors takes place in a context of a global shift in the balance of forces (in the global political
economy, state system etc.) and competition of these newly expanding actors with ‘traditional’ Western actors, especially the former colonial powers and the US.

In the workshop, we seek to take stock of these novel engagements. Questions that could be explored include:

  • Who are the crucial external non-western actors in Africa?
  • What are the goals, interests, ideologies, activities, strategies and modes of engagement of these actors?
  • How do they relate with African states and non-state actors?What are areas of joint interest and conflict between these actors and the relevant actor groups in African countries they operate in?
  • How do African governments, business actors, subaltern classes (workers, peasants etc.) and civil society actors perceive and respond to the increasing presence, influence, activities of non-Western actors?
  • What are their strategies in dealing with the heightened diversity of actors?
  • What are similarities and difference (interests, mode of engagement, power etc.) between these ‘new’ and the ‘old’ external actors?
  • What is the impact of their activities on, for instance, political economy, security, business, socioeconomic development?
  • What are implications for conflicts between powerful external actors competing for resources and influence in Africa (e.g. the US-China conflict, EU-china conflict etc)?

Call for abstracts

If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please send a 250 words abstract to the email address by 24 February 2020. We have limited funding available to sponsor the participation of African scholars; if you are interested in applying, please mention this in your email and send us also a copy of your Curriculum Vitae. We also welcome the participation in the workshop of non-presenting members of the CRG African Politics and International Relations and of policy makers involved in foreign policy and development aid in Africa; please send us an email as well at if you are interested in attending.


A conference report will be published in the GIGA Open Access journal Africa Spectrum. Depending on the contributions, we are considering the publication of a special issue in a high quality journal (African studies or otherwise).

CALL FOR PAPERS – A crisis in ‘coming to terms with the past’?

Call for Papers

A crisis in ‘coming to terms with the past’?
At the crossroads of translation and memory

1-2 February 2019

Senate House, London

Over the past decade, a particular notion of ‘coming to terms with the past’, usually associated with an international liberal consensus, has increasingly been challenged. Growing in strength since the 1980s, this consensus has been underpinned by the idea that difficult historical legacies, displaced into the present, and persisting as patterns of thought, speech and behaviour, needed to be addressed through a range of phenomena such as transitional justice, reconciliation, and the forging of shared narratives to ensure social cohesion and shore up democratic norms. Such official and international memory practices tended to privilege top-down cosmopolitan memory in an attempt to counter the bottom-up, still antagonistic memories associated with supposedly excessive effusions of nationalism. In a context of the global rise of populist nationalisms and of uncertainty linked by some politicians to migration, this tendency is increasingly being challenged, capitalizing on populist memory practices evident since the 1980s and creating what might be seen as a crisis in this liberal approach to ‘coming to terms with the past’.

Yet rather than rejecting a politics based on such ‘coming to terms’, new political formations have in fact increasingly embraced it: a growing discourse of white resentment and victimhood embodied in the so-called ‘Irish slave myth’, the wide visibility of the ‘History Wars’ controversy in Australia, legislation such as the Polish ‘Holocaust Bill’, or the withdrawal of African states from the International Criminal Court are evidence of the increasing impact of a new politics underpinning memory practices, and reveal the ways in which diverse populist and nationalist movements are mobilizing previous tropes. Moreover, these new memory practices increasingly have their own alternative internationalisms too, reaching across or beyond regions in new transnational formations, even as they seemed to reverse the earlier ‘cosmopolitan’ functions of memorialization.

Scholars have for a time noted a renaissance of these memory politics in various regions, but an interconnected globally-aware account of this shift remains elusive. Building on an ongoing dialogue between two AHRC themes, Care for the Future and Translating Cultures, we aim to bring together the approaches of both translation and memory scholars to reflect on the transnational linkages which held a liberal coming-to-terms paradigm together, and to ask whether this is now in crisis or undergoing significant challenge. The event will reflect also on the ways in which institutions such as museums, tourist sites or other institutions are responding to the emergence of these new paradigms.

The conference seeks to historicize and chart the translations, networks and circulations which underpin these new memory paradigms of nationalist and/or populist movements across a range of political, cultural and linguistic contexts, welcoming contributions that chart its ideological origins and growth in transnational terms; address the ways it draws on techniques and tropes
of former paradigms; analyse its relationship to new ideological formations based on race, nationalism and gender; and chart its current international or transnational formations.

Scholars might reflect on these themes in terms of:
• Education, museums, memorials and archives;
• Material cultures;
• Legal, economic and political discourse;
• Dark tourism and travel;
• Digital technology;
• Performance, rituals and new heritage practices;
• Actors and agents, e.g. migrants, activists, politicians;
• The growth of transnational networks or the translation of this new challenge, across borders.

We particularly encourage individual case studies focusing on a range of ethnic, cultural and national themes to foster a truly global and transnational discussion.

The conference is jointly organised by two Arts and Humanities Research Council themes: Care for the Future: Thinking Forward through the Past, which affords an opportunity for researchers to explore the dynamic relationship that exists between past, present, and future through a temporally inflected lens, and Translating Cultures, studying the role of translation in the transmission, interpretation, transformation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives.

Proposals of no more than 300 words, and a short CV, should be sent to by 15 November 2018.

Funding opportunities for travel and accommodation are available, but we ask that potential contributors also explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.