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Digital Trans*formations in Africa

 

Digital Trans*formations in Africa: A Critical Space for Intellectual and Material Capital

 

Conveners


Contact Person

  • Dr. Billian Otundo
    billian.otundo@uni-bayreuth.de

 


Guests 

 

  • Prof Dr Stefan Ouma, Department of Geography, UB 
  • Dr Aïdas Sanogo , Centre Universitaire de Manga (Burkina Faso)
  • Brenda Ayuku Chiteri , Cloud Solutions Architect & Digital Practitioner (Kenya)
  • Dr Drissa Tangara, Université de Bamako (Mali)
  • Dr Faisal Garba, University of Cape Towns (South Africa)
  • Dr Fulera Issaka-Toure, Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth
  • Dr Gilbert Ndi-Shang, Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth 
  • Dr Lamine Doumbia, Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth; Université de Bamako; HU Berlin 
  • Dr Noemi Alfieri, CHAM - Centre for the Humanities, New University of Lisbon (Portugal); Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth
  • Carine Bahanang, Artist (France, Cameroon)
  • Gisela Casimiro, Artist (Portugal, Guinea-Bissau)
  • Luisa Schneider, PhD Candidate, Bayreuth Academy for Advanced African Studies (UB)
  • Nuno Silas, Artist (Mozambique, Portugal)

Summary

 

The working group aims at being a space where to discuss, think and discuss digital transformations, including performative acts and vertents, across time and space in Africa and its Diasporas. We consider digital spaces and the initiatives they host and promote as possibilities that allow no discussions about the ways in which communities learn, understand and make knowledge. This interdisciplinary working group is focused on conversations on questions such as: How do we define spatialities (digital, physical, and imagined) in terms of gender and considering multiple intersections? How is intellectual and material capital being transformed digitally and digital transformation processes conceived across geographical and socio-cultural spaces (Lefebvre 1991) through the lenses of learning, literature, publishing, arts, and land governance in Africa and in its Diasporas? These particular sites of cultural production represent the empirical corpus of this proposal but not exclusively. How are digital technologies transforming Africa in terms of learning, publishing, and land governance, if at all? Furthermore, digital spaces are opportunities to re-thinking, challenging, questioning, and reconfiguring the ideas of belonging in its multiple conceptions and understandings, from the deconstruction of colonial spatialisations inherited by the Berlin conference, to the imagination of social, physical, and imagined (virtual) spaces, considering the ways in which they are created and understood as possibilities of intellectual and material capital.


Activities and events

2024

January 2024 (11th, 19th, 25th), PostDoc Working Group Meetings and Reading Group

February  2024, Reading Groups and Discussions

March  2024

April 12th & 13th, 2024: Workshop: Practices, Possibilities and Problems in Digital African Spaces ( Iwalewahaus, Wölfelstraße 2, 95444 Bayreuth, University of Bayreuth + online)

30.4.2024, 12-13h, Presentation of the Working Group at Academy Lunch, Feedback on the Workshop


Workshop: Practices, Possibilities, and Problems in Digital African Spaces, 12th to 13th April 2024, University of Bayreuth, Iwalewahaus - Wölfelstraße 2, 95444 Bayreuth

Organizers:

  • Billian Otundo – Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth
    billian.otundo@uni-bayreuth.de 
  • Noemi Alfieri – CHAM - Centre for the Humanities, New University of Lisbon; Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth
    Noemi.Alfieri@uni-bayreuth.de
  • Lamine Doumbia – Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth; Université de Bamako; HU Berlin
    Lamine.Doumbia@uni-bayreuth.de
  • Cassandra Mark-Thiesen – Africa Multiple Cluster, University of Bayreuth
    cassandra.mark-thiesen@uni-bayreuth.de

Why should Africa be studied amidst ongoing debates surrounding digitization? For a long time, any discussion linking “Africa” with “the digital” was obligated to centre around the “digital divide” (e.g., Hagen 2007, Ragnedda & Muschert 2013). This affair regularly cast Africa as an inferior player in these global transformations and ignores a reality wherein growing numbers of African people continued to use digital technologies for a variety of purposes: social (Hahn 2021: 30; Scott 1998), economic (Mamdani 1996; Moyo et al. 2014)), political (Burke 2010; Nyabola 2018), artistic, scholarship (Mark-Thiesen 2023) and learning (Loglo & Zawacki-Richter 2023), just to name a few. 

 With that said, the theme of this workshop (and planned special issue), namely Practices, Possibilities, and Problems in Digital African Spaces, aims to go beyond oversimplified “utopian” or dystopian” analysis of the digital. Rather it is meant to draw our attention to the emergence of new digital societies as well as their implications across the African continent. We aim to raise awareness of and pose novel questions about digital practices, possibilities, and problems, including their influence on regional, national, and continental, as well as global collaboration and conflict.

 We ask contributors to consider the evolution of the digital in Africa, whether related to governance, the arts, institutions of learning, etc. How has the study of the digital in Africa challenged long-held “global” generalizations? What potentialities do the digital hold for African futures? What are the particular challenges of digitization in the African context (e.g., infrastructure and waste, linguistic realities and expectations)? How are digital spaces being used in Africa and its diasporas to challenge pre-established global forms of knowledge production? Ultimately, we hope to ponder what the study of the digital African frontier has to offer humanity. 

 We also encourage critical explorations of debates on digitality and digitization through a critical intersectional lens, and with the heuristic concepts of the Africa Multiple Cluster in mind: multiplicity, reflexivity, relationality and spatialities.

Structure: 

The organisers of this workshop represent a variety of disciplines, all with their own methodologies and thematic priorities. Nevertheless, this workshop will present further opportunities to bridge disciplinary divides via an exchange of inputs. Therefore, we ask that all contributors submit a draft paper no later than one month prior to when the conference takes place to be circulated amongst contributors. This kind of generous and deep engagement will allow for greater theoretical and thematic crossfertilization which will make for a more cohesive special issue. 

Publication:

Our preferred publication vehicle, Global Africa is a pan-African, international, multilingual journal, dedicated to the expression, dissemination, and promotion of excellent research in the humanities and social sciences on the African continent and its diaspora. It is distributed in diamond open access and is available in four languages: French, English, Arabic and Swahili. https://www.globalafricasciences.org/revue?lang=en 

References:

Hahn, Kornelia. Social digitalisation: persistent transformations beyond digital technology. Springer Nature, 2021.

Loglo, Frank Senyo, and Olaf Zawacki-Richter. "Learning with Digital Media: A Systematic Review of Students’ Use in African Higher Education." Journal of Learning for Development 10, no. 1 (2023): 1-23.

Mamdani, Mahmood. "Citizen and Subject." Contemporary Africa and the legacy of late colonialism (2006).

Mark-Thiesen, Cassandra. "Neglected Historiography from Africa: The Case for Postindependence Journals." The Journal of African History 64, no. 1 (2023): 5-12.

 

 

 

 


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