IV-2. Cultures of Black Internationalism; Pan-Africanism between Past Aspirations, Current Challenges, and Future Prospects (friendly merged panel)

Conveners: Malik Gaines (New York University, USA); e-mail: mgaines@nyu.edu, Aziz Mostefaoui (Ahmed Draia University, Adrar, Algeria); e-mail: az_mostefaoui@yahoo.fr

Cultures of Black Internationalism (proposed by Malik Gaines)
This panel addresses internationalist and Pan-Africanist cultural efforts that deployed the revolutionary energy of the 1960s and 70s. Paper topics outline a transnational circulation of socialist aesthetics, mapping a political discourse that connected communist states, African independence projects, and black American radical movements. These anti-racist works reimagined the national, regional, and global dimensions of black life, organizing important alliances across state borders, colonial boundaries, and Cold War divisions. Papers expose the creative revisions international black movements made to Marxist and communist premises, while focusing attention on the relationship between racism and capital.

Pan-Africanism between Past Aspirations, Current Challenges, and Future prospects (proposed by Aziz Mostefaoui)
Beginning as a concept during the 1900 London Conference organized by the West Indian Henry Sylvester Williams, Pan-Africanism grew throughout the years in form and in substance to become one of the most noticeable and influential movements among African peoples the world over. The period after the First World War was particularly decisive with regard to Pan-African history as it witnessed the initiation of the Pan-African Congress movement and the organization of a series of congresses. The latter considerably contributed to the spread of Pan-African ideas among people of African descent and continental Africans, mostly through the leadership of the ‘Father of Pan-Africanism’, W. E. B. Du Bois. Continental Africans had been closely following the evolution of Pan-Africanism since its first days; however, by the end of the Second World War some young African nationalist leaders would take over the leadership of this movement from African Americans and West Indians. This remarkable change took place during the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress, mainly through the initiatives of the indefatigable Kwame Nkrumah. It became clear for the young African nationalists who attended that congress that the battle for the liberation of Africa from the colonial yoke should be fought on African soil. From then on Pan-Africanism had focused more on continental Africans rather than on the diaspora, thereby aspiring to the ending of European colonization all over the continent and the promotion of African unity that would eventually lead to the establishment of the “United States of Africa”. Such was the ultimate ideal of Kwame Nkrumah who believed that the independence of Ghana would remain meaningless as long as there were African countries under European colonization. By the 1960s and the acquisition of independence by most African countries, Pan-Africanism seems to have lost momentum, giving the impression that its raison d’être was European colonization. Despite the various efforts to bring the emerging African states together through regional groupings, most of which disintegrated in a matter of a few years, the Pan-African ideal of full continental unity has remained a utopia. Many reasons have been advanced to account for such a situation, most important of which are the political and economic factors. Nevertheless, what made it difficult for the newly independent African states to achieve unity through close cooperation and partial surrender of sovereignty to an all-African body remains a complex and debatable subject. Today, the African continent faces tremendous challenges (such as poverty, corruption, mismanagement, diseases, ethnic conflicts, and terrorism) that require a revival and redefinition of Pan-Africanism so as to devise strategies and mechanisms that are likely cope with the current state of affairs and pave the way for a better future. Therefore, this panel invites papers that are related (but not limited) to the following themes:
- Historical Background to Pan-Africanism.
- Pan-Africanism or Pan-Africanisms?
- Pan-Africanism and Communism.
- National Sovereignty vs Pan-African Unity.
- Obstacles to Pan-African Ideals.
- Pan-Africanism and Globalization.
- Pan-Africanism between Idealism and Pragmatism.
- Pan-Africanism and Future Prospects.