Call for Papers: "(Post-)Colonialism between Cameroon and Germany – Knowledge, Science and Justice", on 19-20 September 2011 at Goethe-University in Frankfurt/M.

In Cooperation with the Junior Research Group "Transnational Genealogies" of the excellence cluster „ The Formation of Normative Orders“, the Centre for Inderdisciplinary Africa Research (ZIAF), AGECARH (German-Cameroonian Association for Historical Research) and DEPO (Deutschland Postkolonial) e.V. AfricAvenir International e.V. organises an international conference on the topic "(Post-)Colonialism between Cameroon and Germany – Knowledge, Science and Justice", on 19-20 September 2011 at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt/M.

In the past few years, Germany has witnessed a renewed interest for its own colonial history. This was also marked by methodological-theoretical dialogue between Anglo-American and German research approaches. The importance for Germany of its own colonial past, both in terms of representation and of its invention as a nation has shifted to the centre of discussion. Recent work seeks to approach German colonial history from a global historical perspective, in the attempt of overcoming the legacy of centre-periphery models. Connections and interrelations  between Europe and the rest of the world are emphasised and the two areas are observed in their „shared history“ (Cooper/Stoler) as one analytical field. The objective of these new approaches is the overcoming of eurocentric perspectives on colonial history and thereby the „provincialisation“ of Europe. It should however be noted that in this system of knowledge that is beginning to take shape, scholars from former German colonial territories (i.e. Cameroon) are still disconcertingly underrepresented. This is so despite the longstanding and lively debates about German colonial history that take place in the former colonies, both in the academic and non-academic environment.

The systems of knowledge relating to the issue that are found in these countries consistently fail to gain resonance or recognition in Germany. In the academic sphere, the cultural hegemony of the global North over the global South has made itself remarkable in a way that not even postcolonialist scholars or critics of eurocentrism have dared to question explicitly. Through their award criteria and capacity-building goals, institutional aid mechanisms strengthen the impression that the North should „develop“ university systems in the South.

This perception of academic engagement with colonial history in the South as flawed and thus its lack of recognition prevents dialogue and constructive attitudes towards it in the North. The knowledge produced and circulated in the South is excluded from academic discussion. Knowledge in the North thus remains partial and epistemically flawed. Can „critique of history“ (Soyinka) be achieved as a premise for justice and reconciliation without taking account of former colonies' historiography? And how can dialogue between equal partners truly take place and „fig-leaf-rhetoric“ be avoided?

The conference aims to discuss these questions with scholars of the field who engage with German colonial history in Cameroon. The ultimate goal of the conference is to start a process which will, with regard to Cameroon at first, explore possibilities for bringing different systems of knowledge into the dialogue, for identifying and overcoming structural inequalities and for setting the preconditions for mutual recognition.

Papers may focus on the following topics:

  • Research traditions and perspectives with regard to German-Cameroonian colonial history
  • Methods of colonialism research (oral history, access to archives, picture databases, private archives etc.)
  • Inclusion of German-Cameroonian colonial history in school and university curricula
  • Social relevance and reception of colonialism research, particularly with regard to Cameroon

The conference will address participants from different countries disciplinary backgrounds. We strongly invite both junior researchers as well as more established researchers to take part in the conference. Participants from Cameroon and the global South will be offered support for their travel costs, albeit to a limited extent.

The languages used at the conference will be English (preferred), German and French.

200 word abstracts in one of the above languages should be sent along with a short CV should be sent to Stefanie Michels (stefanie.michels(at)normativeorders.net).

Deadline for abstracts: July 1, 2011

Contact:
Stefanie Michels

Exzellenzcluster "Herausbildung normativer Ordnungen"
Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Juridicum - Raum 505a (Hauspostfach 9)
Senckenberganlage 31
D-60325 Frankfurt am Main
stefanie.michels(at)normativeorders.net

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