CFP : Mobility and Authority in Africa‏

Call For Papers – Spring 2014 workshop on the theme of Mobility and Authority in Africa

Rice University and the Houston Area African Studies Group invite proposals for a Spring 2014 workshop on the theme of Mobility and Authority in Africa. We ask that proposals speak to one of three sub-themes, each of which will be submitted as a panel to the November 2013 ASA, the theme of which is Mobility, Migration and Flows. Select presenters from each ASA panel will be invited to Rice in Spring 2014 for a further workshop on the works in progress from the ASA meetings. We hope to publish a selection of these workshop papers as an edited book volume or special journal.


March 1, 2013: ASA abstracts to be submitted to

March 5, 2013: ASA abstracts selected and composed into panels by in advance of the March 15, 2013: ASA deadline for panel submission

November 21-24, 2013: ASA Mobility, Migration and Flows

Spring 2014: Mobility and Authority in Africa, African Studies Workshop, Rice University

African Studies Association Meetings Panel Themes

Mobility and Authority in Africa Panel I: Settling Mobility, Moving Authority

Foundational concepts in both African societies, such as the ritual significance of first-comers, and in Africanist scholarship, including influential models on the internal African frontier and wealth-in-
people, tie together the actual and potential mobility of Africans with claims to authority. This panel unpacks the relationship between human mobility and leaders¹ authority.

  • By what processes was authority established in specific places in landscapes and in which ways could it be made mobile in early African history?
  • How did such tensions between settlement and mobility impact the nature of authority in the past?
  • What understandings of settlement and mobility did Africans use to identify and contest claims to ritual, political and other forms of authority?

Mobility and Authority in Africa Panel II: Constructing Mobility and Authority

The control over the technology of mobility has been a key source of power and authority in many African societies, past and present. This panel looks at particular forms of mobility such as cars, railway lines and boats, and the expertise that is involved in their construction and use.

  • In what ways was the control over the techniques of construction of mobile technologies part of the processes of power within African societies?
  • How does expertise in the technologies of mobility impact the nature of power and authority, especially in periods with significant and rapid technological change?

Mobility and Authority in Africa Panel III: Illicit Mobility and Subverting Authority

The movements of people, goods, and ideas are often understood as part of the process of building and maintaining hierarchies of power in Africa and beyond. Conversely, this panel explores the relationship between illicit mobility and authority.

  • How is mobility governed?
  • How does the capacity to be illicitly mobile whether the illicit mobility of an idea, a person, or an object shape concepts and relationships of power from state sovereignty in debates over human trafficking to free trade in debates over smuggling?


Jeff Fleisher, Kate de Luna, Kerry Ward

Kathryn M. de Luna
Assistant Professor
Rice University
Department of History
304 Humanities Building
P.O. Box 1892 MS#42
Houston, TX 77251

Categories: AFRICA

Post navigation