I-1. Anthropology’s Contribution to the Study of 21st Century Africa

Conveners: David O’Kane (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle [Saale], Germany); e-mail: okane@eth.mpg.de, Oleg I. Kavykin (Institute for African Studies, Moscow, Russia); e-mail: atrociter@mail.ru (on behalf of the Africanist Network, the European Association of Social Anthropologists)

As we approach the end of the second decade of the 2st century, we can observe that the continent of Africa is experiencing rapid and unpredictable changes. Economic growth continues in many African economies; innovations in education continue to occur; a demographic transition seems to have begun. These changes, and the many others that are taking place in the continent, are the result of both external pressures, and of internal developments specific to Africa’s various societies and cultures. In all cases, they involve the deliberate strategizing and responses of African peoples. And in all cases, they also present real challenges to those who seek to understand African societies and cultures today, especially for anthropology. Born out of the colonial encounter between the west and Africa, the Anthropology of Africa has gone through many forms, and has had to consistently reinvent itself in order to renew its relevance to the continent. Can the discipline reinvent itself for the twenty-first century, and survive the current changes occurring in the African continent? This panel, organized in conjunction with the Africanists’ network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists seeks to answer this question through both empirical and theoretical forms. We therefore invite papers from anthropologists involved in the study of twenty-first century Africa, whatever their regional focus or ethnographic concerns may be, and which can help document the social and cultural changes African is experiencing through increased economic growth, environmental problems, urbanization, the persistence of ethnic and religious conflict, the emergence of new middle classes, et cetera. We also seek synoptic contributions that can give considered opinions on the role of anthropology in the study of Africa today.