Transcultural Modernities: Narrating Africa in Europ

Transcultural Modernities: Narrating Africa in Europ

European Network for Euro-African Studies Project 2006 Convenors: Elisabeth Bekers (University of Antwerp, Belgium) Sissy Helff (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany) Daniela Merolla (University of Leiden, the Netherlands)
Frankfurt University, Germany
Frankfurt am Main
From - Until
01.06.2006 - 03.06.2006
Bekers, Elisabeth

The creative output of Africans living in Europe has in recent years received increasing interest from the media and in academia. No doubt, the recent riots in France point once more to the need to reflect critically on Euro-African social realities at the beginning of the new millennium. In the literary and cultural sphere, voices of protest resound in a less violent but no less provocative manner, though they not necessarily have received the same public attention as the best-selling life narratives Slave by the Sudanese author Mende Nazer and Desert Flower by the Somali Waris Dirie. Also in academia, journals, workshops and conferences have been dedicated to related issues, such as the historical dimensions of Euro-African encounters and their present-day socio-political repercussions, intercultural communication in Europe today, and perspectives and problems of Euro-African cultural productions.

Although these events illustrate the topicality of (artistic explorations of) Euro-African transculturalities, little critical attention has been paid to the manner in which the narrative modes in Euro-African works give expression to or are an expression of their creators’ transcultural realities. Our conference TRANSCULTURAL MODERNITIES: NARRATING AFRICA IN EUROPE seeks to respond to this lack of reflection on the modes of narration and aims to scrutinize how Africans in Europe in their creative work explores issues such as home, migration, and diaspora, and how these creative explorations in turn contribute to the emergence of specific modern realities which are always strongly influenced by gender, class and ethnicity. The notion of transculturality draws attention to cultural performances in the wake of globalisation and the diffusion of traditional identities. The conference therefore examines how issues of gender, class and ethnicity as well as the respective social practices affect the self-perception and description of Euro-African cultural and social identities. In order to challenge the commonly accepted understanding of a Eurocentric description of identity formations, we have deliberately chosen to switch around the more commonly used term “Afro-European” and use the term “Euro-African” instead.

As we stipulate in our Call for Papers, our conference aims to bring together researchers from different areas such as cultural and literary studies, anthropology and narratology, for an extensive interdisciplinary and translinguistic exchange. This scholarly border-crossing is particularly relevant in the field of African studies, which too often remains divided not only in terms of disciplines (anthropology, literature, etc…) but also linguistically (anglophone, francophone, etc…) as well as regionally (Nigerian, Sub-Saharan, East-African).


provisional programme

Thursday, June 1st

14.00- 14.30 Welcome Address and General Presentation of the Conference Themes

Session 1: Narrating Transcultural Modernities

14.30-15.30 Keynote

15.30-16.00 Tea & coffee break

16.00-18.00 Round Table I: Summary Presentation of Papers and Discussion

18.00-20.30 Wine Reception and Reading


Friday, June 2nd:

09.30-10.00 Visit Installation

Session 2: Postcolonialism in Transition

10.00-11.00 Keynote

11.00-11.15 Tea & coffee break

11.15-13.15 Round Table II: Summary Presentation of Papers and Discussion

13.15-14.00 Lunch break

14.00-15.00 Short Cuts: Euro-African Cinema

Session 3: Words, Sounds and Images: Modes of Narrating Africa in Europe

15.00-16.00 Keynote

16.00-16.30 Tea & coffee break

16.30-18.30 Round Table III: Summary Presentation of Papers and Discussion

Conference Dinner


Saturday, June 3rd:

Session 4: Transcultural Challenges in/of Euro-African Lifewriting

09.00-10.00 Creative Keynote

10.00-10.30 Tea & coffee break

10.30-12.30 Round Table IV: Summary Presentation of Papers and Discussion

12.30-13.45 Lunch break

Session 5: Politics of Representing Euro-African Identity

13.45-14.45 Keynote

14.45-15.00 Tea & coffee break

15.00-17.00 Round Table V: Summary Presentation of Papers and Discussion

17.00-18.00 Closing Discussion

Contact (announcement)

For further information please contact the conference convenors:

Elisabeth Bekers (University of Antwerp, Belgium) -

Sissy Helff (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany) -

Daniela Merolla (University of Leiden, the Netherlands) -

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