This panel explores the link between culture and development in Africa, in a world that is marked by increasing but unsustainable consumerism. We invite papers that address policies linking culture and development in Africa and the dynamics of decision-making between different actors involved.
The importance of linking culture and development has been recognised with increasing emphasis in the past few years. This acknowledgement derives essentially from the fact that the cultural and creative sectors represent 3.4% of global GDP, while receiving only 1.7% of international development aid. UNESCO is actively deploying an agenda of mainstreaming culture into development and pursuing the goal of introducing culture as a priority in a post-2015 UN Development Agenda. There are different interpretations as to how this link can be operationalized, bearing different implications. Essential cleavages reside in the broad or restricted conception of culture, and in the instrumental or intrinsic values of culture. Artists are likely to value the restricted conception that highlights the intrinsic value of culture, associated with art as an end in itself, while policy-makers may be more concerned with a broad notion of culture and how it can be a means to achieve an end, i.e., in this case the objective of contributing to development. The panel welcomes contributions that address these hypotheses as well as the dilemmas surrounding these various interpretations of culture and how different actors, including policy-makers, donors, civil society, citizens in Africa espouse these or other positions regarding the link between culture and development. We would also welcome papers that include, for example, the perspective of African migrant artists: how they see this link and to what extent they are keen on and able to contribute to the policy debate in their countries of origin.