Annual Symposium: Valorizing African Cultural Heritage and Thought in the 21st Century

Deadline: 15 April 2015 - 12:00am

Dates: 3 - 4 July 2015


Where: Dakar

According to a famous saying, “in Africa, when an old person dies, it is a library that burns.” Most of the pioneers of African thought, such as Amadou Hampaté Ba, Leopold Sedar Senghor, Cheikh Anta Diop, Ahmadou Bamba, and Boubou Hama, who claimed the necessity to revalorize our African cultural heritages, are no longer with us, but their legacy lives on. Yet a burning question still confronts us. Have the “old people” died out, leaving us with singed remains of a once vibrant and profound knowledge? In other words, is all access to ageless wisdom forever lost because of the break in transmission or are some vestiges of this knowledge still present in different forms? One can also ask, in the same vein as many other contemporary scholars of the postcolonial tradition, the contemporary relevance of these questions. Can the “oral libraries” be burnt? Is it possible to lose our ancient modes of producing knowledge given that they are—precisely because of their oral and therefore living nature—condemned to transform yet remain the same in a present ceaselessly reborn?  In other words, can the present conditions of Africans be read as nothing but a normal development of the unforgettable traces of ancient relations to the world inscribed in our ambiguous location with the global sphere?

In one way or another, one thing is at least clear, there is such a thing as Africa.  What is it?  And how can we take into consideration its meanings and manifestations in our approaches to teaching, working, and living to reflect its particularities? More specifically, how can we adapt education, the writing and telling of history, the interpretation of literature, the learning and practice of philosophy and religion, or the acquisition of local languages to accurately fathom contemporary African realities and act on them in meaningful ways?

The organizers of the International Symposium on “Valorizing African Cultural Heritage and Thought in the 21st Century”, convened by DIAS, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), and the West African Research Center (WARC), welcome papers, presentations, and performances that examine the extent to which our deep understanding of Africa could provide theoretical and practical models that lead to the development of useful knowledge and viable action. We invite scholars, artists, practitioners, and activists to submit proposals (no more than 500 words) that explore or challenge any perspective on the symposium’s major theme. Presentations in French or English that explore alternative education, history, literature, philosophy, religion, economics, management, and language are particularly welcomed.

Contributions are invited on, but not limited to, the following sub-themes:

  • Religion/Spirituality
  • Indigenous Philosophy
  • Alternative Models of Education
  • Gender, Power, and Differences
  • Heritage expressed in Media and Popular Culture
  • Connection and Disconnect between Urban and Rural Communities
  • Technology and Traditional Wisdom
  • Music/Sound as Language
  • Art not for Art’s Sake
  • Ecology for the Spirit World
  • Oral and Written Expressions of African Heritage
  • The Postmodern meets African Cultural Heritage
  • Reconceptualization of Nationhood
  • Collaboration between Academics and Traditionalists
  • Xooy, Ndepp, and Other Spiritual Practices

Please send your title, abstract, and a short author bio with the subject “conference2015″ to:

[email protected]

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