WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn37 )

Towards Decolonizing African History and Visions of Development

Organizers

    Geoffrey Nwaka

    Nigeria

    Abia State University, Uturu

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Okechukwu Edward Okeke

    Nigeria

    Federal University, Otuoke

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Anthropology, Public Policy and Development Practice

Keywords:

Africa, Decolonization, History, African Studies, Development

Abstract:

Many Africans now believe that true independence will only begin with the decolonization of the continent’s history and visions of development; that independence goes beyond the removal of colonial administrations, when Africans took over the institutions of government merely as gatekeepers of the colonial heritage. African knowledge systems and institutions have continued to be undervalued and discredited because of the dominance of Eurocentric mindsets and practices. The call for decolonization seeks an alternative model of development rooted in African values, traditions and realities; a model that tries ‘to indigenze the forces of global modernity’, and to integrate the traditional knowledge and institutions of local communities in the continent; a model that re-centers Africa, and tries to reshape power relations, redress past inequalities, and renegotiate new partnerships with the former colonial powers, and with the new global powers, on the basis of mutual respect, and on terms that ensure that Africa regains control over its politics and economy. The panel reviews the trends in African studies and historiography that challenge the unjust traditions, prejudices and exclusion inherent in the colonial legacy. It invites papers that seek to restore the distorted image of Africa, and to consider how best to achieve cultural decolonization and self-determination that reconciles modernity with African ideas, traditions and institutions. The new decolonization movement is now complemented by growing decolonial activism in different parts of the continent, including the Rhodes-Must-Fall campaigns in Southern Africa, and the agitation for the restitution of priceless African artifacts and other items of Africa’s cultural heritage plundered during the colonial period. As might be expected, there is little consensus on how best these decolonial ideals of rethinking the colonial legacy and Western modernity can be attained without throwing out the baby with the bathwater. The panel draws insights from the recent studies published by the EADI: Challenging Global Development: Towards Decoloniality and Justice; and Building Development Studies for the New Millennium; as well as Olufemi Taiwo’s provocative new book Against Decolonization, and other works that advocate a more nuanced and balanced approach that some African thinkers have adopted in responding to the colonial experience. We welcome papers that explore - The rich body of historical accounts by 19th and early 20th century chroniclers and local historian, and the first generation of African academic historians to counter the misrepresentation of Africa as ‘a dark continent’ with no history or civilization worthy of study. New sources and methods for reconstructing the African past and understanding the continent’s contemporary history and development. - Discuss the indigenous knowledge movement which seeks to re-center Africa, and to enlist African ideas and institutions of governance, informal justice system, environmental and natural resources conservation and climate change adaptation; health and healing traditions, and so on - The cultural significance of the Rhodes-Must-Fall campaigns, and the agitation for the restitution of African artifacts, archives, and other items of Africa’s cultural heritage - The debates about how to reshape power relations as they affect Africa; renegotiate new and more equitable international partnerships, and promote inter-cultural dialogue.