Sorbonne University, Paris, France


Collective Mobilisations in Africa: Contestation, Resistance, Revolt

The historic turn embodied by the Arab “revolutions”, whose repercussions are felt throughout the Sahel; anger, expressed in a range of ways, at the rising cost of living; mobilisations around issues of citizenship; manifold forms of religious revival: all seem to attest to a profound political reconfiguration underway across Africa. These and associated forms of contestation have pushed new actors to the front of the stage, at the crossroads of local and global dynamics. To fully appreciate the complexity of these developments, we must consider longer-term histories of uprising, stand-taking and engagement on the continent, casting a renewed gaze on jihads, slave uprisings, mass conversions and dynastic conflicts. Too, we must reflect in novel ways on the social trajectories of actors involved in present-day contestations and on the responses that the latter elicit from those in power. This in turn should bring us to pay close attention to repertories of collective action, to modes of transgression and subversion, to takes on activism, and to ways in which all of these intersect with social, generational and gender statuses.

Shannen Hill's paper, 'Wearing War, Silencing Soldiers: Art, the Body and Recovered Histories in South Africa' on the panel 'State Censorship and State Sponsorship in Contemmporary African Arts' convened by Lisa Brittan and Gary Van Wyk, was presented at this conference.


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