CfP: Technology and Material Culture in African History
Technology and Material Culture inAfrican History: Challenges and Potentials for Research and Teaching
Aninternational conference, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, January 4 – 8, 2023
Call for Papers and Roundtables
The conference seeks to consolidate andfoster the further development of history of technology and material culture inAfrica. By gathering scholars from Tanzania and across Africa, as well ascolleagues from other continents, the conference will demonstrate thediscipline’s high degree of relevance—to the research and teaching of historyand adjacent fields, as well as to contemporary political agendas. Theorganizers wish to use this event to discuss how historians of technology andmaterial culture may contribute to the writing of a “usable past” for furthergenerations.
The organizers invite historians, archaeologists,anthropologists, geographers, sociologists, and urban scholars to discuss thepotentials of interdisciplinary and international collaboration around present intellectual,social, technological, and environmental challenges in Africa and globally. Inthe recent past, African countries have increased citizens’ access to up-to-datemobility and communication technologies—electric household items, mobile phones,and engine-driven vehicles. As the variety of terms indicates—daladala, matatu, tro tros, bodaboda, bajaji, and so on—artifacts are not just simply imported, but constantlymodified to fit local circumstances and needs. By and large, however, ahistorical understanding of these processes of domestication and reinvention isstill lacking. That present-day historians of technology do not limitthemselves to the study of modern, Western machines and systems, but include broaderaspects of (pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial) “material culture,” alsomeans the discipline plays a central role both in research projects and teachingprograms.
There have been growing initiatives tointegrate Africa into the global history of technology and material culture,but such efforts rarely focus on teaching. Considering the ongoing curricularreview at African universities, it is a pressing concern to discuss thepotentials of including the history of technology and material culture inBachelor and Masters programs. The organizers are convinced that the disciplineof history needs to include an African perspective and showcase Africa’s contributionto global history of technology and material culture. Therefore, the conferencefocuses on policies, practices, and use to rethink the historiographic roleplayed by material artifacts and systems. We believe there is a certain urgencyin researching, writing, and teaching the history of technology and materialculture from a truly African perspective. The organizers hope that the workshopwill provide important additions to the nationalist and materialist views whichhave dominated African history research, writing, and teaching sinceindependence.
By giving participants an opportunity todiscuss existing research projects and teaching programs, the organizers aim atlaying the foundation for an international network of historians of technologyand material culture in Africa. We thus ask interested teachers and researchersfrom Africa and beyond to contribute with standard workshop sessions andpapers, roundtable discussions, and further innovative formats. Proposals maybe on any thematic area in history of technology and material culture, forexample:
- The place of technology andmaterial culture in the teaching of African history
- The political “usefulness” oftechnological and material history
- Gender and material culture inAfrican history
- Crafttechnologies (e.g., basketry, carpentry, weaving, pottery, metal working).
- Farming,fishing, and hunting technologies
- The adoption of materialobjects (e.g., cars, bicycles, electronic and domestic appliances)
- Infrastructure histories (e.g.,transportation, water, power, sanitation)
- Repair and maintenance cultures
Please submit 300-word proposals and one-page CVs toEmanuel L. Mchome at email@example.com orFrank Edward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
no later than August 31, 2022.
This unique event will be organized by theHistory Department at University of Dar es Salaam in collaboration with theERC-funded research project “A Global History of Technology, 1850-2000” at the TechnicalUniversity of Darmstadt in Germany, the Society for the History of Technology(SHOT), and the Foundation for the History of Technology in the Netherlands.The event will take place on site in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Lodging and main mealsare provided by the organizers; a one-day excursion is also included. Participantsfrom Africa are invited to apply for travel grants. Selected applicants will benotified Sept. 15, 2022, and they will be requested to submit preliminary conferencepapers (min. 2,500 words) by Nov. 15, 2022. Representatives of leadingscientific journals will be present at the event.
Frank EdwardGoogle Scholar
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