About Our Conference
Fostering a common understanding and diagnosis of Africa’s challenges
The Pan-African Youth Conference (PAYC) is a conference co-organized by the African Students’ Association (ASA) at the University of Notre Dame and the Pan-African Students’ Union (PASU) at Northwestern University that seeks to foster a common understanding and diagnosis of Africa’s challenges amongst students from across the world who are interested in the development of Africa.
Participants in the Conference engage in critical debate and discussions that seek to answer four critical questions: Who we are as Africans? Where are we as a continent? How did we get here? How do we go from here? The second edition of the Conference will be held virtually between March 26 – 27 , 2022.
A critical mass of united, socially and politically conscious young Africans with a critical understanding of Africa’s challenges and an unwavering commitment to her emancipation.
To connect African students across the world, conscientize them about Africa’s challenges, and organize them for the stewardship of the African continent.
Which Way, Africa?
Theme: Which Way, Africa?
Africa is at a crossroads. Three decades of experimenting with liberalism have had the same fatal end as the dirigiste policy of the decades prior: elusive development. As last year’s keynote speaker, Achille Mbembe, acutely put it, “Old questions remain. They are still with us.”
However, the circumstances of our unique historical context have complicated the dimensions of these questions—questions of Africa’s development. In other words, as the world grapples with unprecedented technological and ecological change, as well as the transformational shift of global centers of power, Africa is at a critical juncture where her future will be determined by her response to these circumstances. Unfamiliar as they may be, the novelty of these circumstances provides us with an opportunity to revisit conceptions of development and strategies for its attainment in Africa. Both a challenge and an opportunity, this gives rise to the question and theme of this year’s conference: Which way, Africa?
Answering this question will require the disarticulation of ‘development’ and the assumptions embedded in it, and its rearticulation in service of Africa’s sociocultural, political, and economic liberation. A mammoth task, the conference will problematize modernity as a paradigm of development through the lens of a nation-state. If we are to rearticulate development in terms that center Africa’s needs, it is paramount that we undertake a concerted analysis of African nation-states as a window into the modernization project in Africa.
Both colonial constructions and the bedrock of independence movements, African nation-states persist into the present as contemporary sites of identity formation, individual geopolitical placement, and socioeconomic development where a “unifying” logic obtains alongside violence.