Event Time and Date
Keynote Speaker: Prof. Laura Murphy – Loyola University, New Orleans.
Over the years since independence, African nations have made tremendous advancements in all social, economic, political and technological facets. They have likewise waded through challenges including apartheid, dictatorships, terrorism, civil wars, genocide, many corruption scandals, and other occurrences hat have threatened the social fabric and put some states on the edge of collapse. Both the positive and negative happenings in Africa form part of the continent’s history upon which its present is predicated. But, are we what we imagined we were or would be in the 21st C? This rather rhetorical question opens a window for thinking about the present and the future of African countries and how past histories impinge on the way Africa grapples with present realities. This year’s graduate conference provides a platform for interrogating how the economic, political, sociocultural futures of Africa are imagined and forged. It also offers scholarly opportunity to investigate how nostalgia, memory, and remembrance are constituted, recreated, and represented in African cultural productions including but not limited to film, music, drama, visual art, rituals, memoirs, fiction, etc. Among other questions, this conference will seek to respond to such questions as: What do we lose or gain with remembering? How do nostalgia and remembrance create or efface, the temporal gap between past and present, and make the past a lived experience today? How do nostalgic memories bear on how Africa imagines and projects, or rather “remembers” its cultural, political and economic future? What are the comforts and pleasures of nostalgia? Does it have pains? Papers will explore these issues in relation to topics such as;
- Democracy and political liberties,
- Africa’s colonial and postcolonial imagination
- Genocide, ethnic violence and electoral processes in Africa
- Public memory and nationalism
- Nostalgia and the pleasure of remembering
- Utopia and dystopia in African literature
- Past, present and the future of democracy in Africa.
KEYNOTE ADDRESS: BY DR. LAURA MURPHY
"The Silence Slavery Keeps: Remembering Transatlantic and Modern Slavery."
William Wells Brown, the famous American slave narrator, once said that slavery can never be represented in its entirety. 150 years later, James Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian anti-slavery activist said almost precisely the same thing about his own experience of enslavement in the 20th century. He suggested that slavery enforces a silence on its victims so powerful that they cannot articulate the depth of the suffering slavery inflicted on them. The testimonies of hundreds of enslaved people from nineteenth century America prove his claim to be true, as do the narratives and novels written by African survivors of the slave trade and its legacy for two hundred years after the slave trade was abolished. Today, as we realize that slavery still exists -- that in fact 45.8 million people are still enslaved -- survivors of slavery are again encountering barriers to articulating the experience of slavery. In this lecture, Dr. Murphy will explore the history of the silence slavery keeps in Africa first-person narratives of slavery and discusses some of the empowering strategies African slave narrators employ to express the seemingly inexpressible.
The Pyle Center, University of Wisconsin-Extension