Is the nation state the best we got?

What lessons can we draw from 1960s and 1970s anticolonialism and pan-Africanism to rethink the nation state today?

With the re-emergence of global right-wing nationalism, predatory racialized capitalism, and the realities of what Kwame Nkrumah termed “neocolonialism,” a strong state is often presented on the left as a remedy. The state is seductive.

In development terms, a weak state makes it vulnerable to foreign influence, structural adjustment, lack of public expenditures, and foreign capture, all of which limit sovereignty and development. A strong state, on the other hand, is thought better able to centralize resources and citizens to protect economic interests yet is often is criticized as monopolizing violence undemocratically and is responsible for repression, elitism, and reproducing what some term coloniality. The state and development are simultaneously necessary and something to be avoided, or at best decentralized and democratized.


Call for panelists ECAS 2019 (Edinburgh): Archives, governance and policy-making on the African continent


Call for Panellists

Archives, governance and policy-making on the African continent

ECAS 2019 (Edinburgh)



Vincent Hiribarren (King’s College) and Fabienne Chamelot (Portsmouth) are convening a panel for the next European Conference of African Studies (ECAS) in Edinburgh (12-14 June 2019). We are looking for papers on the relationship between archives and good governance, the recent digitisation of African archives or the concept of archival decolonisation.

Our panel seeks to reflect on the archival practices in relation to governing and nation-building. Essential to accountability and transparency, archives are also crucial to the support of a national narrative and to connecting people together within a state. With the rise of digital technology and globalisation, their role as governing tools is all the more important, both perpetuating and prompting new approaches to citizenship and state. For instance, while colonial archives often symbolise a disruption in the national history, the wave of archival digitisation that the African continent currently undergoes seems to offer opportunities to revisit access to governmental and historical records and documents. Yet these issues prompt important questions which go from intellectual property to sovereignty, not to mention economic stakes or recent initiatives to decolonise archives.

If you would like to submit an abstract, please use the link below: