December 8, 2022

Thinking the Archipelago: Africa’s Indian Ocean Islands

The Africa Institute

Naiza Khan, Building Terrain II, 2012. Digital C-type print.

The Africa Institute announces the Indian Ocean region to be the third edition of its "country-focused season"—an annual initiative exploring one African country or African diaspora community through a range of scholarly and public programs—that will kick off in Sharjah at The Africa Institute on December 15–17, 2022, followed by a series of conferences to explore core themes of mobility, race and slavery, ecological change, and cultural production through the lens of Africa’s Islands hosted in 2023 and 2024 in select island locations of the Indian Ocean and in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.

The four-part conference season titled “Thinking the Archipelago: Africa’s Indian Ocean Islands” is organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Jeremy Prestholdt, Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego; Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University in Qatar; and Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government, Georgetown University in Qatar.

Following two successful seasons focused on Ethiopia and Ghana in 2019 and 2022, respectively, The Africa Institute chose the Indian Ocean region due to the islands’ role as integral spaces of exchange and as crucial points of contact with societies within and beyond Africa. The region has been the primary conduits through which people, goods, and ideas move especially in the context of the monsoon and maritime worlds.

This season invites scholars, activists, and others to center Africa within studies of global relations and aims to raise the profile of Indian Ocean societies, bringing the complex history and rich cultural heritage of the Indian Ocean to an international audience. The dynamic program will explore core themes that will examine and reimagine circulation, mobility, race and slavery, ecological change, and cultural production through the lens of Africa’s Islands by organising panel discussions, film screenings, music performances, theatre, and more.

The Africa Institute created this annual series to highlight the complex history of the African world while also providing a forum for creatively engaging its present and imagining new futures. The country-focused seasons are an integral part of The Africa Institute’s year-round work to develop and support original scholarship and programming that expands understanding of African and African diaspora studies among the academic community and the broader public.

About The Africa Institute
Established in 2018, The Africa Institute in Sharjah, UAE, is an interdisciplinary academic research institute dedicated to the study, research, and documentation of Africa and the African diaspora. As the only institution of its kind located in the Gulf—the historical nexus of African-Arab cultural exchange—The Africa Institute is uniquely positioned to expand understanding of African and African diaspora studies as a global enterprise. The Africa Institute’s curriculum of postgraduate studies is designed to train the next generation of critical thinkers in African and African diaspora studies, through its program of international symposia and conferences, visual art exhibitions and artist commissions, film and performance series, and community classes and outreach events. The Institute is expanding public understanding of Arab and African exchange within not only the scholarly community but also the local Sharjah community, the region, and around the globe. The Institute is led by Dr. Salah M. Hassan and Hoor Al-Qasimi. Visit here.

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