The workshop explores the relations between histor(ies), memor(ies) and anthropological research, contexts in which individual and collective memories inform(ed) local and national politics and changing modalities of historical consciousness in globally connected African knowledge societies.
The workshop proposes to shed new light on a classical theme in the anthropology of Africa: the manifold relations between histor(ies), memor(ies) and anthropological research both from 'historicist' and 'presentist' perspectives. We propose to look on the one hand at the ways in which ethnographic sources may contribute to a better understanding of social and political processes of the past (influences of historical memory on processes of nation-building, with regard to memories of the colonial and early post-colonial periods; relations between pre-colonial polities on contemporary states' territories) and discuss related methodological problems, e.g. in the study of oral tradition, narratives, rituals, art and their potentials and limits to enlighten the reconstruction of historical events and structural changes. We also have to take into account the multiple presentations of history and memory in contemporary literary cultures both by professional and amateur writers and historians, productions of the growing field of mass - and new media, and the expanding local film industries. On the other hand papers may deal with problems of interest-related historiography, i.e. contexts in which individual and collective memories inform(ed) local and national politics; e.g. the (ab)use of historical memories by both protagonists of colonialism and national-liberation movements; means of state propaganda by postcolonial regimes; movements of ethnic revival; disputes about "correct" interpretations of "historical traditions" between opposing power groups (e.g. in national election campaigns, or local succession rituals); popular culture etc. Finally, papers may address changing modalities of historical consciousness in globally connected African knowledge societies.