Shifting Epistemologies: Movements, Institutions and Ideas in Africa

The African Cultural Studies Students Association (ACSSA) hosts its annual conference.

This year’s conference theme, Shifting Epistemologies: Movements, Institutions and Ideas in Africa, invites participants to reflect on election, migration, resistance and innovation trends that have taken shape on the continent and in the African diaspora. In recent years, the continent and world at large has experienced a wave of migration and African local and national boarders shoulder the responsibility of accepting most of those who flee their homes and communities. Concurrently, student movements in South Africa, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, and the continent more broadly are challenging institutional hegemony, adumbrating a larger discontent with power and militancy, and more immediately Zimbabweans are questioning the early celebration of a bloodless coup said to be completely within the limits of the constitution. New frameworks of knowing emerge in these spaces where over time Western epistemology has become insufficient in addressing shifts in African political, cultural, technological, linguistic, race, and ethnic relations This year’s conference is, therefore, geared towards profoundly contemplating the ramifications of these manifestations.

Schedule of Events

8.45 a.m. – 9.15 a.m.

Arrival and registration


9.15 a.m. – 9.25 a.m.

ACSSA President’s Address


9.25 a.m. – 9.35 a.m.

ACS Chair’s Welcome Speech


9.40 a.m. – 10.45 a.m.

Panel I: Contesting Ideas and Ideals of Race and Nationalism in Africa

Chair: Astou Fall Gueye                                          Discussant: Dr. Damon Sajnani Burchell


Upenyu S. Majee

(Im)Possibilities for De-nationalizing and De-racializing #FeesMustFall

Adeola Agoke


Contesting linguistic practices in the “wild”: A critical study of multilingualism in southwest Nigeria.

Carly Lucas


Debating Belonging: Race, Nationalism, and Anti-Exploitation Rhetoric at the Sixth Pan-African Congress


10.50 a.m. – 12 noon

Panel II: Narrating Gender and Power

Chair: Tolu Akinwole                                                           Discussant: Dr. Samuel England


Vincent Ogoti


A Bom(b) Nation: Soundscape, Narrative Dynamics, and Sexuality in Chinelo Okparanta’s Under the Udala Trees

Angeline Peterson

Dystopian Fiction in the Age of Information: Decoding the Divine Network of The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

Kimathi wa Muthee

“Men Under Siege?: Contesting notions of Masculinity in Kenya


12 noon – 12.50 p.m.



12.50 p.m. – 1.50 p.m.

Keynote Address: Professor Michael Schatzberg

What does an Epistemological Shift Actually Mean?: The Banality of Sorcery

This talk explores different epistemological perspectives through an examination of the role of sorcery in the politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It shows how our understanding and explanation of this phenomenon is affected by the epistemological perspectives that we bring to bear and suggests that we should recognize that a plurality of useful epistemologies exist simultaneously.  Epistemological shifts, therefore, are more likely to entail a recognition of multiple options rather than a dichotomous choice with a “right” or “wrong” answer.      

1.50 p.m. – 2.00 p.m.

Short Break


2.05 – 3.00 p.m.

Panel III: Politics of Exclusion in Contemporary Africa

Chair: Tarek Ziadna                                               


Samuel Allen

Evaluating Repatriation as a Durable Solution to East African Protracted Refugee Situations

Olusegun Soetan

Shifting Paradigm: Language and Culture in the Films of Tunde Kelani

David Lukhachi

Borderlands in the City: Urban Everyday Life in Nairobi