History Department
History Department

"Africa in World Politics" was 2011 annual Africa Conference theme

Thu, March 31, 2011
Prof. Toyin Falola welcomes attendees

Each year, the conference brings together scholars from across disciplines and around the globe to present papers on and discuss a theme in African Studies.

The 2011 conference was again held at The University of Texas at Austin campus from March 25-27 and coordinated by History Department graduate students Jessica Achberger and Charles Thomas.

Despite the global recession, the conference drew over 170 submissions for presentations from worldwide locales such as Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, India, Brazil, Canada, Puerto Rico, and across the continental United States.

Scholars from history, political science, international relations, economics, law, public affairs, literature, philosophy, and various other disciplines presented papers alongside policy makers from institutions such as the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the Government of the District of Colombia, creating the interdisciplinary dialogue the conference has become known for and is dedicated to continuing to foster.

This dialogue is closely partnered with the conference’s second aim: to provide growth and mentoring opportunities for graduate students and junior scholars. New this year, the Africa Conference sponsored not only panels during the day, but also two workshops, "The Oral and Written Presentation of Your Paper" and "Preparing Conference Papers for Publication."

These workshops, led by Hetty ter Haar and Kristina Maki, both conference veterans and editors of scholarly publications, were very well attended. As a result, the conference intends to expand these workshops into a more comprehensive program in the coming years.

Both Friday and Saturday were filled with a multitude of panels with lively discussions on such topics as the "Politics of Land"; "International Terrorism"; "Emerging Partnerships: India, Brazil, China, and Japan"; "Education and Music as Political Tools"; "The Cold War"; and "African Economic Linkages with the Global Economy." And the evenings were filled with a variety of social events.

On Friday evening, participants gathered in Garrison Hall, home to the History Department, for BBQ from Texas Rib Kings before heading back to the Student Union Theater for the keynote lecture, which was presented by Professor Femi Mimiko, Vice Chancellor of Adekunle Ajasi University in Nigeria. His address was titled “Africa in World Politics: The Dynamics of a Continent’s Shrinking Space in a New Global System: the Laurent Gbagbo Metaphor.”

On Saturday, all-day panels were broken up by a delicious lunch of traditional West Africa cuisine. The day culminated with the annual banquet at the Holiday Inn Town Lake.

Many participants that regularly attend the annual Africa Conference in Austin every year, and the many new people attending for the first time, all deemed the "Africa in World Politics Conference" a great success and a testament to the legacy of both Dr. Toyin Falola and the conference.

The 2011 Africa Conference was supported by the University of Texas History Department, the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, the Francis Higgenbothem Nalle Centennial Professorship in History, and the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professor in English Literature.

Next year, the conference tradition will continue with the theme: "Poverty and Empowerment in Africa." It will be held from March 30-April 1, 2012. Anyone interested in more information about next year’s conference, or would like to view videos from this year’s conference, can check for updates on Toyin Falola’s website: www.toyinfalola.com.

By Jessica Achberger, UT history doctoral candidate

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