European Conference on African Studies (ECAS 7) – Urban Africa, Urban Africans
From June 28th to July 2nd 2017, the European Conference on African Studies (ECAS) took place in Basel, Switzerland, with a specific focus on Urban African, Urban Africans for its 7th edition. Organised by the AEGIS (Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies), ECAS is the major conference in Europe that both gathers and builds upon the resources and research potential available within Africanist institutions of the European Union and beyond.
In the framework of ECAS, the Heinrich Boell Foundation convened a roundtable entitled ‘Open City: A conversation on in- and exclusion in African cities’ to which Jenny was invited to take part, along with Prof. Edgar Pieterse (African Centre for Cities, Cape Town) and blogger Victoria Okoye (African Urbanism, Accra). The roundtable, moderated by Claudia Simons, focused on the necessary conditions for fostering and implementing alternative visions to splintered urbanism, on the trending excahnge of social and policy innovations between cities as well as on the concepts and prctices or urban cultural governance with regard to an open and inclusive city. More information on Heinrich Boell Foundation + Jenny’s previous collaboration: https://blogs.city.ac.uk/cci/2016/03/07/jenny-at-open-city-lagos-events-book-launch-workshop/.
Jenny also convened and moderated an exploratory panel ‘Cultivating African Cities: On the Decolonial Potential of Urban Cultural Elites’, where she presented some reflective notes under the same title. The panel, developed in an interactive format, explored the decolonial potential of distinctive ‘people as infrastructure’ (Simone, 2004) that yet remains mostly absent from the Africanist scholarship: urban cultural elites. Considering elites as ‘powerful intermediaries’ (Savage & Williams, 2008), it focused on these cultural makers in relation to urban cultural governance and welcomed four contributions, providing both historical – with artist/researcher Jose Otero presenting on ‘The “African being” in the Canary Islands: A prospective analysis of the concept of Tricontinentality’ and Dr Tim Mangin on ‘Mbalax: Senegalese Popular Musicians as Cultural Elites’ – and contemporary perspectives – with DJ/lecturer Kobina Ankomah-Graham on ‘Back to Black: New Manifestations of Social Conscience in Accra’s Creative’ and Spaces’ and researcher Hughes Harriet on ‘The trans-local fashion communities of Lagos: crafting urban space, identity and sociality’.
Panel discussion was recorded by idea designer Rachel Jenkins (Genuine Fake), with a podcast, an online database and a teaser video soon to be available.