I-5. Regional, National and Global Dimensions of Festivals in Africa (20th – 21st C.): How to Provide New Insights into the Global Impacts of Local Identity Building Processes

Convener: Jean-Luc Martineau (Université Paris Diderot, France); e-mail: paris18jlm@gmail.com

Festivals or major cultural gatherings have been and still are very important milestones and tools in various identity building processes at city, regional or nation level. By organising such events, Africans (political leaders, ordinary citizens, civil society actors, intellectuals...) involved in theses processes, mainly in cities, target various audience locally, nationally and internationally. These cultural practices yield to popular mass meetings as well as elite groups rallies or commercial events; many different places in towns are committed to mobilizing citizens, commercial, cultural and religious actors. Festivals creating or strengthening identities are a way to invent self-consciousness at a local level, to increase the visibility of a group, a city or a region at a state level or to promote a state or a region at the global level. UNESCO interferences into local cultural affairs or national patrimonial laws are good examples of such policies. Studying festivals shed the light on new actors – individuals, groups, institutions – involved in public life in Africa; it has an impact on the understanding of new social and cultural phenomenon but also on their way to modify urban planning, ancient building uses and urban practices. When they meet their audience significantly on the long term, these cultural gatherings contribute to raising awareness of local, national but also global issues. The panel will be an opportunity to pay attention to the origins of models of self-celebration and to the circulation of cultural forms and objects being part of these more and more global events even though locally rooted and organised. It will allow the meeting of several researchers who could support the hypothesis that such cultural events have not only regional or national dimensions but also global consequences. Searched impacts and indirect consequences should be factored likewise into analysis. The panel will open up a debate on the degree of efficiency and relevance of these events in the stabilisation of post-decolonisation African states and more recently democratised societies.