Theme: African Studies and Africanists: Whence the Gaze?
Date: Dakar, 20 – 24 August 2018
Applications Deadline: 30th June 2018 at 00h 00mn GMT

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and The Centre for African Studies Basel (CASB) call for applications for the 3rd CODESRIA/CASB Summer School in African Studies and Area Studies in Africa. The Summer School is offered with the generous support of the Oumou Dilly Foundation (Switzerland) in cooperation with CODESRIA and aims at strengthening the links between the community of scholars organized in the CODESRIA community and scholars from the African Studies community in Switzerland.

The overall objective of the Summer School is to stimulate and consolidate interdisciplinary approaches to research on Africa, but also on other regions of the world undertaken from within the African continent. It focuses on African Studies as an instance of area studies and seeks to identify themes that are theoretically, conceptually and methodologically relevant to the reflection on the intellectual challenge of Africa as an object of knowledge and its contribution to general scholarship while inquiring into the relevance of the findings to African approaches to other regions. The goals of the Summer School are the following:

  • Give PhD students and emerging scholars the opportunity to engage critically with new theoretical, conceptual and methodological developments in African Studies and enhance the relevance of the methods to their work under the guidance of senior scholars;
  • Encourage PhD students and emerging scholars to reflect on the potential relevance of knowledge on Africa to the task of improving our theoretical, conceptual and methodological tools both in the disciplines as well as in interdisciplinary work;
  • Foster among PhD students and emerging scholars a sense of belonging to a community of scholars in pursuit of knowledge and scholarship;
  • Stimulate emerging scholars to work towards carving a space for African Studies in the broader field of scholarship and, in this way, helping African Studies to claim a place right at the center of knowledge production.
    Conceptual Note

Engaging scientifically with ‘other’ societies enables the researcher to gain new perspectives on his or her own social (and academic) environment and is, amongst others, fruitful for theory building. This requires a reflection on the researcher’s own position and his/her relationship to the society or region he/she studies. Traditionally, this assumption has been mainly based on the experience of, and reflection on a ‘one-way’ perspective from the ‘Global North’ (the researcher and research money) to the ‘Global South’ (the object). African Studies and research on and in Africa are typically conducted by Western students and scholars doing research on ‘the other’ in ‘the field’, or by African scholars and students – whether based in or originating from Africa – working on their ‘home’ societies and regions.

The predominance of a North-to-South gaze in research in and on Africa and in African Studies generates an imbalance that is problematic for the quality and relevance of Africa-related scientific knowledge (or scientific knowledge related to the ‘developing world’ in general). At the same time, there is an assumed value of a gaze on ‘the other’ for the understanding of the ‘self’; and what is more, a value of a gaze from the outside – by the other – for the understanding of the ‘self’.”

The Summer School sets out to promote more reflection on the relationship between the position of the researcher and his or her geographical area of studies. Ultimately, it suggests that researchers seek to identify approaches that allow a ‘reciprocal’ perspective by reflecting methodological and conceptual foundations but also, in practice, by systematically taking these issues into account in the framework of exchange and collaboration. The Summer School will present an opportunity for participants to reflect on the relationship between the position of the researcher and the region of his or her studies by asking several key questions: How does the origin and residence of a researcher frame his/her research on a specific society or region? To what extent does it make a difference whether a researcher is ‘from there’ (e.g. West African studying West Africa) or not (e.g. European studying West Africa)? What is the added value of doing research in a foreign geographical area; and what is the added value of studying one’s own society or region? What would be the influence of funding sources on the perspectives that the researcher deploys to study the ‘other’? And how does the relationship between the location of the researcher and the region of her/his studies change when the typical direction of the gaze changes (i.e. from ‘the South’ to ‘the North’)?

The 3rd edition of the CODESRIA/CASB summer school will offer participants an opportunity to address these questions. The orientation of the Summer School offers a framework that per se deals with such issues. African Studies have a long tradition in Europe. The position of European scholars of Africa – the relation between their location and the area of their studies – has been reflected before, and it is crucial that this reflection continues. Another important question, which has increasingly been addressed in recent years, concerns the position of African scholars in the diaspora, their relation to their ‘home societies’ and the meaning of this relationship to their studies. Of equal importance is that students and scholars based in Africa reflect their relation to the geographical areas they study along similar lines – whether they work on their own societies or regions, on other countries and regions in Africa or on areas outside of the continent. Participants to the Summer School will discuss these questions against the background of inputs from senior scholars and selected literature and will reflect on their own situation.

The discussions at the Summer School will be structured along the following three major themes:

  • Normativity: The motivation of the scholar, the choice of the subject and the role of interests and values;
  • Research design and process: The formulation of research questions, the collection and analysis of data, the choice and use of concepts, methods and theories;
  • Output: The presentation and publication of research results and its perception by the scientific community, by decision makers and by a wider public.

The expected outcome from the Summer School is that participants will develop the competence to reflect on their own position within their present and future academic environment, enhance their awareness of the importance of doing so for the relevance and content of their work and develop approaches that allow for a more reflected and reciprocal perspective in their research.

The Pedagogical team:

• Elísio Macamo (Summer School Director), Professor of African Studies at the University of Basel (Switzerland)
• Ralph Weber, Professor of European Global Studies at the University of Basel (Switzerland)
• N.N
• N.N

Application procedures

The Summer School is open for PhD students and emerging scholars enrolled and working at Higher Education institutions in any country. Applications from PhD students registered in African and Swiss universities and in the following disciplines are highly encouraged: Social Anthropology, Sociology, History, Religion, Philosophy, Gender studies and Political science. Travel, accommodation and meals during the Summer School will be provided for participants enrolled at institutions in Africa.

Those wishing to be considered for participation should submit a five-page concept paper which should highlight: (a) what they are working on (b) how their work relates to the theme of the Summer School;(c) their expectations from the Summer School should they be selected.
In addition, applications must be supported by an application letter, a CV, two letters of recommendation from the candidate’s institution of affiliation and a copy of the applicant’s passport.
Applicants are requested to use the following link http://codesria.org/submission/ to submit their proposals.

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