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Social power and (post)colonial racial boundaries

Social power and (post)colonial racial boundaries: Indian, Arabian, and Western communities in Africa

Coordinated by Hélène Quashie (LARTES-IFAN, IMAF, ICM)

This special issue examines the past and current presence of communities in Africa, originating from the Indian, Arabian, European and North American subcontinents. Their historicity and specificity offer a new angle for analysing the organization of African societies. This special issue focuses on the way class, race and gender structure, transform or push back the differentiations between Self and Other beyond the various configurations of these social networks. Since colonisation, they have been intertwined in several aspects of the economic and political dynamics of African societies. Rather than defining the social groups involved, this issue analyses how their boundaries shape them and their systems of relations (Poutignat, Streiff-Fenart, 1995) to explore permanence and transformation.

Social sciences have principally studied mobility and migration related to Africa through population flows from Africa to Europe and North America (Quiminal, 1991; Ebin, 1993; Timera, 1996; Gueye, 2001; Tandian, 2007; Mary, 2010; Dia, 2015) or through the circulations of Africans within Africa (Goldschmidt, 2002; Bredeloup, Pliez, 2005; Daum, Dougnon, 2009; Timera, 2011). African countries are then understood from the standpoint of economic, intellectual and political emigration. Since the early 2000s, because of Africa’s attractiveness in South-South circulations, scholars have studied the settlement of new incomers, in particular from China (Bredeloup, Bertoncello, 2006; Marfaing, Thiel, 2013; Rajaoson, 2013). Although this academic shift presents Africa as a land of immigration, it only focuses on recent population flows from specific regions of the Global South.

For centuries, however, Africa has been a continent of immigration for populations originating from other countries and regions of the world who have contributed to informing the organization of its societies. Paradoxically, their presence remains under-studied, despite the fact that it casts a different light on the productions and negotiations of otherness, on the modes of socialization and on the local structure of economic and political systems. The aim of this special issue is therefore to explore the ways in which the presence of communities from the Indian, Arabian, European and North American subcontinents has intervened in African policies and social dynamics. These groups have interacted with each other for centuries, as they distinguish themselves from each other. This calls into question several aspects of postcoloniality in Africa in a number of different ways.

Axes

There are several axes that enable us to question the social production of otherness in (post)colonial Africa through the social dynamics of these communities, and through the economic and political issues they put at stake. At the crossroads of class, race and gender analysis, the contributions to this special issue will revisit notions such as “minority”, “foreigner”, “diaspora” through the circulations, residency, representations and relations with nation-states that structure these communities. All but exhaustive, the following list suggests a number of essential research axes that highlight specific spheres of socialisation – sometimes determined historically – in which communities interact with each other, (re)delineate the boundaries that separate them and build their relations with local societies.

  • Contributions may deal with the types ofresidency that the communities under study opt for in African cities and rural areas.
  • Contributors will focus on analysing occupations andprofessional activities.
  • Contributions will question private and/or community education systems.
  • Contributions will address the issue of the religious practices of all denominations.
  • Contributions will study leisure sites and activities.
  • Last but not least, this special issue welcomes contributions on political participation.

This special issue is open to all disciplines and welcomes contributions in French and in English built on empirical and original data. Its topic highlights the diverse questions pertaining to epistemology in social sciences. In order to address these questions, the researchers’ reflexivity and positionality appear to be of the utmost importance for (re)thinking the production of this knowledge about Africa.

Calendar 

6/12/2021: Deadline for submission of paper proposals (in French or English) to helenemv.quashie (at) gmail.com

17/12/2021: Notification to authors of acceptance or rejection of their proposal.