I am happy to announce I have an academic conference to attend!
As I am well familiar with the Uppsala bound Nordic Africa Institute ( at a point in time they were even my physical neighbors!) I was well informed about the yearly Nordic Africa Days, this year taking place in Turku, Finland. The Nordic Africa Days is a annual conference each year taking place in a Nordic country. For these conferences, young scholars and PhD candidates are especially encouraged to partake, so I was keeping an eye open… When I realized the theme for the conference was Time Space Africa: Reconnecting the Continent, and participants were to focus on “the changing conditions, positions and possibilities of the continent” I knew I had to submit an abstract. I wrote one based on my research so far and it was accepted with a panel called “Mobility and relocation as strategies of youthful resistance”. I am to present my paper (which will be a reworked version of my PhD proposal with maybe a little empiry from a focus group I’d like to follow up on) and actively take part of discussions within my panel.
I have been to conferences before (even crashed a few), but not as an active participant, presenting a paper of my own. I am excited about the opportunity and look forward to critique and input from other participants to make my research more profound.
Out of the key speakers I am especially looking forward to Professor Mahmood Mamdani‘s speech. Ugandan by birth, he is currently the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Department of Anthropology and Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and an academic writer I admire and often quote.
I also saw that Professor Paul Nugent will be a speaker. That could be interesting since he launched the web publication Critical African Studies last year (do read the pdf paper that defends the concept of Critical African Studies ) and was more than critical when he wrote this on conferences:
Let us be honest. Most modern academics are caught on a treadmill that prevents them
from thinking in a sustained way about what they are doing. Typically, a researcher presents a
paper at a conference at which (s)he is given all of ten minutes to outline the findings. A cursory
discussion then follows, and minds then turn to converting the paper into a publication before it is overtaken by other commitments. By their very nature, conference papers are often half-cooked, but the pressure to produce finished results means that while they might receive some light seasoning, they are often sent off with minimal changes.
I hope that Nugent’s presence will have an effect on this conference making the results more sustainable.
So, end of September I am off. Wish me luck!