14 March 2018

Africa: The 15th General Assembly - Africa and the Crisis of Globalisation

press release

Call for Abstracts and Panel Proposals

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) is pleased to announce its 15th General Assembly that will be held in Dakar, Senegal from the 17th to 21st December 2018. The theme chosen for the General Assembly is ‘Africa and the Crisis of Globalization.

The CODESRIA General Assembly is a triennial gathering of scholars and academics drawn from the Social Sciences and Humanities in Africa and its Diaspora. On the back of the scientific sessions of the Assembly, a meeting of members who are in good standing will be held to review the functioning of the Council in the period since the 14th Assembly and decide the broad agenda to be pursued for the subsequent three years.

The coming session of the Assembly will be an opportune moment for scholars in Africa and its diaspora to revisit the issue of globalization which has been a subject of intellectual engagements in the last two decades or more. This is mainly because of the continued contradictions that the process of globalization has engendered especially with regard to the question of Africa’s development.

From the outset, globalisation promised a greater opening up of the world to the movement of people, goods, services and ideas. This was captured in the image of the transformation of the world into a ‘global village’; marked by greater prosperity for all, more vibrant economies, greater democratization and respect for rights.

However, the current versions of globalization have had a distinctly neoliberal inflection, representing a significant change in the historical process of globalization in which Africa played a key role even if with devastating implications on the continent.

The free market that globalization continues to promote as the pathway to the ‘global village’ has facilitated the shrinking of the state and its regulatory capacities with adverse consequences worldwide. Deregulation and privatization sought to reduce the state to its barest minimum, and transformed state welfare institutions into narrow ‘market-enhancing institutions’ in the name of efficiency.

The zest with which various compulsions have been deployed to pave the path for the free market suggests the presence of political and social goals that go beyond the purely economic and utilitarian objectives that are often voiced and illustrates the ‘choicelessness’ embedded in the promises of globalization. The political and sociological fields that inspire the idea of globalization and the pathways that are portrayed as leading toward it are, for the reasons above, worthy of further intellectual engagement.

Given the persisting trends in poverty and escalation of economic inequalities, occasioned by the economic and socio-political thrusts of globalization, the push back against the core tenets of the globalization process being witnessed worldwide, even from constituencies that initially promoted the process is not surprising.

Efforts at re-territorializing identities are widespread, including from the heartlands of the push for globalization. Obscurantist and iconoclastic movements that promise a return to mythical states of purity and plenty, be they driven by ethnic or racial motivations, thrive with devastating consequences on lives and societies and on basic principles of human dignity.

Some of the central locations from which the ideas of globalization projected itself are leading the pushback against globalization as is seen most visibly in the building of walls, both physical, institutional and ideological but often camouflaged as attempts to restore lost glory and greatness.

Ironically, the state, which was targeted by free market advocates in pursuit of globalization is often the object of attacks by the victims of globalization who blame it for not shielding them against the worst excesses of the market. While some portray these problems as pathologies that are inherent to the process of globalization, others venture that they are the results of globalization not being pursued to its ultimate end.

The causal nature of the relations between some of these phenomena and the process of globalization, which they have coincided with, deserve greater attention. Africa has been at the centre of globalization both in its historical and current manifestations; significantly influencing and being influenced by the process.

Without doubt, Africa, along with other locations in the global South, have often been roped into processes that have not always been to their benefit. But the heterogeneity of the continent requires a focus on the varied ways in which diverse constituencies in Africa have connected to, participate in, resisted and are influenced by globalization processes.

Class, sectoral, sub-regional and linguistic difference and the rural-urban divide all come to the fore in efforts to understand how Africa is located in globalization. The question of generations and gender are critical to understanding how Africa shapes, and is in turn shaped, by globalization processes. The historically informed interrogation of the location of Africa in globalization is one that is deserving of continued scholarly focus.

The variegated ways in which diverse segments of the continent are located in and impacted by globalization processes influence longstanding efforts to define and shape the future of the continent in an evolving world.

The African Union’s Agenda 2063 and global plans, including the Sustainable Development Goals, are only the latest examples of these efforts. These official visions and agendas co-exist with unofficial plans and grassroots efforts to bring the world together that suggest existence of multiple visions of ‘globalization’.

The investigation of the myriad ways in which globalization is thought of, and the politics through which certain visions get valorised at the expense of others that are consequently marginalized. More importantly, the upsurges to resist the adverse aspects of globalization in Africa calls for greater intellectual and policy analysis.

The meetings of the CODESRIA General Assembly have over the years been spaces for rich discussions of the socio-economic and political trends affecting development on the continent. The 15th General Assembly will continue with this trend and provide participants the space to interrogate the history, crisis and opportunities of globalization to Africa.

Scholars are encouraged to examine the current conjuncture, account for the challenges of globalisation and to critically discuss alternatives to dominant narratives of globalisation that are in significant states of crisis today. Below are sub-themes that should pre-occupy scholars wishing to participate in debates at the Assembly:

i. Globalisation, its itinerary and iterations
ii. Africa in the iterations of globalisation
iii. Pan-Africanism and African regional integration
iv. The African nation-state and globalization
v. Peace, security and Africa’s geopolitics
vi. Planning, policy processes and Africa’s globalization
vii. Globalisation and Africa’s economic transformation
viii. Globalization and Africa’s changing ecology
ix. African women and experiences of globalization
x. African youth and experiences of globalisation
xi. Globalization and trafficking in and around Africa
xii. Religion, fundamentalisms and globalization
xiii. Africa in the global production of knowledge
xiv. The Humanities in rethinking globalization
xv. Science and innovation under globalization

Scholars wishing to be considered for participation in the 15th Assembly as paper presenters or convenors of panels are invited to send abstracts or panel proposals for consideration by the CODESRIA Scientific Committee by 15th April 2018. Successful applicants will be expected to submit full papers for a second round of review by 1st July 2018.

The selected participants in the GA will be informed in August 2018. Abstracts for paper presentation should not exceed 600 words while panel proposals should not exceed 1,200 words. Each should clearly indicate the sub-theme in which the paper or panel is located.

The Council has created a portal on the website through which all abstracts and panel proposals will be submitted. Applicants are requested to use the following link http://codesria.org/generalassembly15 to submit their proposals. The portal will be open for submission effective 16th March 2018.

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