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The Power(s) of Love. New insights on intimacy in Africa

Call for papers

The international workshop will take place over three days, 10-12 December 2019, in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

Love in Africa (Chicago 2009), co-edited by Jennifer Cole and Lynn M. Thomas, was the first book to offer an anthropological and historical analysis of love on the continent and its islands. The eight chapters, which covered both the colonial and postcolonial periods and drew on a variety of case studies (South Africa, Zanzibar, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria and Niger) examined the various ways in which Africans imagine, experience, and express love, defined as "the sentiments of attachment and affiliation that bind people to one another" (p. 2). The book was particularly important in a context where representations of intimacy tended to foreground sexuality at the expense of emotions. By restoring the emotional dimension of intimate relationships, the book helped to deconstruct racist representations of Africans’ hyper-sexuality, and to reorient the study of intimacy in Africa, which had hitherto focused largely on reproductive health and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Love in Africa also served as a powerful reminder that the social practices through which people create and express love are neither universal nor timeless. Ideals of romantic love have been transformed as the continent has undergone political, economic and social changes over time, and Africans have deployed love to craft new definitions of conjugality, to redefine kinship and gender relations, and to build new forms of power and respectability.

Organization :

The workshop will include the presentation and discussion of academic work, round tables, the screening of films and artistic performances, and a visit of Stone Town.
Participants will be expected to make their own travel arrangements (although some assistance with travel costs may be available), but the workshop will provide accommodation in Stone Town (from 09 to 13 December 2019), half-board catering (breakfast and lunch), and participation in the cultural activities scheduled during the workshop.
It is expected that the workshop will result in a publication and participants should bear this in mind when preparing their contributions. Please note that the working language of the conference will be English and all papers should be in English.

Abstracts are due by 20 June 2019 at the latest. They should be written in English and should not exceed 500 words. They must clearly present the research question, methodology (fieldwork, methods and/or sources), and arguments. They should also include a short biography of the author, their institutional affiliation and complete contact information.
Proposals should be sent to the following address :

We would expect to advise of acceptance or otherwise by July 15, 2019.
Papers are expected no later than December 1, 2019.

For further information, if required, please contact the organizers :

 Altaïr Despres (IMAF, CNRS/University of Chicago) – USA/France
Postdoc researcher (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow)

 Marta Amico (Rennes 2 University)
Associate Professor in Ethnomusicology

Partnerships :

  European Commission - Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
  The State University of Zanzibar (SUZA)
  The Dhow Countries Music Academy (DCMA).
  French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA-Nairobi)