“Future Africa – Visions in Time” –
Outline for Working Group D (Winter 2014‐15)
Halfway through its current funding period, the Bayreuth Academy convenes its 4th Working Group on its overarching project “Future Africa – Visions in Time” to review its achievements in research and debate towards this theme so far and subject them to an interim conclusion that will also materialize in relevant joint publications. This will take place at two levels: On the one hand, two workshops (in December and February 2014/15) will bring together mainly the Postdoc researchers working at the Bayreuth Academy for presenting, discussing and linking up their researches on different facets of the Project theme. On the other hand, a lecture series with distinguished guest fellows and staff of the Bayreuth Academy will present a wider audience of Bayreuth University and beyond with reflections on the overarching Project theme itself. Based on manuscripts for these lectures, also including papers contributed by earlier Working Group Fellows, a jointly edited volume will be produced that presents a broad range of answers to the question from which this Project started off:
What do visions of the future as generated in specific contexts of Africa and the African diasporas contribute to wider debates about this topic ?
How do they entangle with, complement or scrutinize other regional, transregional or global perspectives on the future ?
This basic question, which the lectures are expected to answer in one way or another, raises a number of different further questions or possible directions to be explored.:
1. Making Future:
How are (and were) visions of the future produced, represented and communicated ?
2. Many Futures:
In what particular contexts do visions of the future flourish, and in when do they remain rather silent/silenced? How do they change through time? How do diverse visions of the future coexist, relating to different subjectivities and agencies ? To what extent do they enrich and/or contest, empower and/or silence, complement and/or contradict each other ?
3. Future in time:
How is (was) the future envisioned in relation to the present and to the past: as critique or intervention ? As departure, accomplishment, or return ?
4. Future and place:
Can particular visions of the future be associated with, or even be compared between, particular areas (e.g. Africa or parts of it) , socio‐cultural spheres or communities (e.g. African diasporas)? What is the implication of the Academy’s theme for African studies, area studies in general, and for theory and methodology in general ?
5. Future and the disciplines:
How are visions of the future conceptualized, researched and debated in different humanities and social sciences ? To what extent can perspectives from Africa and its diasporas, or – more generally speaking – from the “Global South” and the “People of Colour”, help to build bridges between such diverse disciplinary approaches ?
The exact tailoring of these fields, and how they will be addressed by which particular lecture(s), remains a matter of discussion. In doing so, a dialogic process will be followed, not glossing over tensions that may arise between diverse perspectives and approaches, but trying to make them explicit and fruitful – as it is the principle of the Bayreuth Academy as a whole. These discussion processes will be echoed by the joint publication intended to result from the lecture series and to be realised with a distinguished international publisher. Instead of a mere collection of individual perspectives and case studies, the volume will be organised along a continuous line of debate, roughly marked by the sequence of fields and questions above. Each speaker in this lecture series is therefore requested not only to contribute his or her manuscript, but also to take part in the subsequent process of joint discussion and review towards publication.