2021 Conference

The inaugural edition of the conference was held virtually on March 27, 2021 and brought together over 90 participants from universities across the world.

Conference Summary

The inaugural edition of the conference was held virtually on March 27, 2021, and brought together over 90 participants from universities across the world. We are grateful to the organizing team for all the efforts to bring the conference to life and to the participants who made the inaugural edition of the conference possible and intellectually engaging.

Conference Theme

The theme for the inaugural conference was ‘Looking back, thinking forward’. This theme was selected to reflect the Conference’s goal of creating a platform for participants to investigate the roots of Africa’s challenges as a critical first step towards efforts to emancipate the continent.

Politics & Governance

Topic summary:

Africa’s post-colonial experience has been chiefly marked by the crisis of the African state. Yet, Africa’s governance challenges did not start post-independence. Neither has the modern state always been the dominant state system in Africa, or system of governance for that matter. Indeed, like other civilizations, African communities have throughout the years experimented with different systems of governance.

From feudalism to monarchies to the colonial state and now to the post-colonial state. Understanding the evolution of governance systems in Africa is critical to our understanding of how and why Africa finds itself in the present political moment. How did pre-colonial societies perceive social order and governance?

How did those ideas evolve upon interaction with foreigners? How might pre-colonial governance systems and philosophies help us understand some of Africa’s contemporary governance challenges? This committee will seek to understand Africa’s contemporary governance system and challenges, drawing on a long history of past political systems and philosophies.


Socioeconomic Transformation

Topic summary:

In many ways, Africa’s present struggle is one of socioeconomic transformation. Having attained political independence, Africa remains in the quest for economic freedom. This struggle has been on since time immemorial.

Yet, while contemporary discussions of economic development tend to fossilize the African past, it is important to critically examine Africa’s journey of socioeconomic transformation through the years in order to understand how we got where we are. How were pre-colonial African economies organized? What were African ideas of economics in pre-colonial Africa? How was Africa’s economic landscape shaped by colonialism?

How has it evolved since? This committee will seek to understand Africa’s contemporary economic challenges through a critical examination of her economic relations with the rest of the world from the earliest trade interactions with the world to 21st-century globalization.


Culture & Identity

Topic summary:

Attempting to improve our condition in the world ought to start with understanding of ourselves. Yet, African identity remains highly contested.

But who are we, as Africans? What is essential to being ‘African’ that makes us African? How has being ‘African’ evolved through the years? How did ancient Africans understand themselves? How did these understandings evolve with the advent of colonialism and now post-colonialism?

How has this understanding evolved since? This committee will explore the question of being ‘African’ from both historical and contemporary phenomenological perspectives, recognizing that understanding of who we are, our place in the world and how we relate to it as well as what being ‘African’ means to each of us and to all of us is critical to our efforts of self-emancipation. 




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African Students' Association, University of Notre Dame, 46556, IN