African Transits in the Global World: History and Memories, Heritage and Innovation
African Diasporas are, historically, processes of modernity, cultural innovation and identity reinvention, but also of civic resistance and democratic demand. So, dominant narratives of the past are today challenged by activisms claiming space and challenging social practices and institutional mechanisms of discrimination.
The 11th CIEA will be held in the middle of the International Decade of Afro-descendants, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013. The United Nations, by declaring the International Decade of People of African Descent, has drawn attention to the fact that "millions of human beings throughout the world" continue “to be victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including their contemporary manifestations, some of which take violent forms”. This reality, despite some more recent expressions, plunges its roots into processes, institutions, symbolic forms, and multi-secular social practices, including slavery and the slave trade. This complexity underscores the pivotal and founding role of History – specially in long term perspective - as far as the field of African Studies is concerned.
Recent trends in African Studies value a presentist approach to African societies and Diasporas. Hence, even if crossing different disciplines and methodologies, they seem to devalue the time dimension as a crucial variable to understand social processes.
The dominant temporal register focuses on the short term according to the colonial / postcolonial axis, instituting a radical caesura that disconnects the social facts from chronologies and historical processes inscribed in the long term, contributing to reinforce the evolutionary vision dominated by Eurocentrism.
Only by replacing the diachrony at the center of African Studies will it be possible to lighten the innovation processes that mark the past and present of the African continent.
The challenge proposed by the 11th Iberian Conference on Iberian Studies is to weigh the problematisation of the historical importance of social processes without renouncing to the pluridisciplinary nature of this area of study. Areas which would gain from this perspective are ethnicity and identity creations and reconfigurations, human rights, people trafficking, gender issues, development concepts and policies, economic transformations, multiple forms of the exercise of authority and political power, violence and war, environmental changes and their impact, innovation, constraints and meanings and the nature of migratory flows and cadences, urban dynamics and the appropriation of space, along with the persistence and intensification of racism and xenophobia, among others.