Bjorn Bertelsen

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Bergen, U. of

Grant number

Gr. CONF-757

Approve Date

August 22, 2017

Project Title

Bertelsen, Dr. Bjorn, U. of Bergen, Bergen, Norway - To aid workshop on 'Afrotopias: Towards New Anthropologies of Africa,' 2018, Zanzibar, Tanzania, in collaboration with Dr. Ruy Llera Blanes

Preliminary abstract: In a historical moment in which several African countries are celebrating 50 years of independence, a range of African movements and intellectuals are now arguing for a new process of political and epistemological emancipation, and for a gesture towards an ‘afrotopian moment’ (Sarr 2016). We believe this moment is highly significant both for Africa and for anthropology and ask: If anthropology has traditionally observed Africa’s colonial and postcolonial transitions, how can it account for the new political, artistic and philosophical unfoldings taking place today? In this workshop we propose that the answer to this challenge may be found in both voicing autochthon anthropologies of Africa and by critically genealogizing Africanist anthropology. This workshop is therefore devoted to specify potential and actual trajectories of an ‘Afrotopian moment’ through tracing, dicussing and analyzing an anthropology of African utopias, exploring historical genealogies, political (partisan or civil) narratives, religious enactments and contemporary territorializations of African utopian import. We aim for this workshop thereby to establish a new anthropological research agenda that:

a) highlights the philosophical, epistemological, social and historical relevance of African utopias, and
b) specifies its contribution towards a deeper understanding of present-day life in Africa.

We propose to interrogate past, current and expected formations of ‘African Utopias’, which may include: Political activisms; Religious and spiritual formulations; Urban/rural designs and interventions; Philosophies, discourses and epistemologies; Artistic creations; Social mobilities and circulations; Modernities and its African trajectories.