ASAUK14

Read below a report from the conference. The pre-conference information such as the programme and keynote details can still be accessed here: asauk.net/conferences/asauk14_legacy.shtml

The University of Sussex hosted a huge and successful ASAUK biennial conference, 9–11th September 2014. With 600 participants, many from African countries as well as from around the world (including Japan, India, Pakistan, the Americas and Australia), and 500 papers on a truly diverse range of topics, this was ASAUK’s largest ever gathering. A great many personal/academic friendships were renewed and started.  The undoubted value of such networking cannot be underestimated.

ASAUK is grateful to the individuals, journals, centres and networks who gave papers and panels and in particular for the streams (linked panels on a theme) which ran throughout the conference. The streams included: Congo Research Network (organised by Katrien Pype and Reuben Loffman); culture (Carli Coetzee/Journal of African Cultural Studies); African utopias/dystopias (Critical African Studies); Publishing (Stephanie Kitchen/International African Institute); literature (Ranka Primorac); from global crisis to Africa rising? (Review of African Political Economy); labour, insecurity and violence in South Africa (Maxim Bolt and Dina Rajak/Journal of South African Studies); Lusophone Africa (Toby Green); and Sudan (Ahmed Al-Shahi).

A reception was held on the first evening, at which the new Sussex Africa Centre was launched. Four back-to-back book launches added to the evening’s positive atmosphere. With significant displays by Africanist publishers throughout the conference, and special discounts to participants, it was observed that a great deal of business took place, with many of the conference’s distinctive ‘dirt’ bags loaded with books and journals. Many offers of future publications by prospective authors were also secured.

At the end of a full programme of panels on the second day, Walter Bgoya, the noted Tanzanian-born publisher, children's author and human rights activist, gave a provocative and entertaining keynote address.

Participants then enjoyed themselves at the ASAUK conference dinner, held at the nearby Brighton and Hove Albion Football Stadium. Preceding the dinner, announcements were made of the Distinguished Africanist Award to Gavin Williams and the Audrey Richards Prize winner and runners-up. Recipients came forward to collect their awards to great applause. Gavin was clearly very moved by the award. This newsletter includes more details below.

ASAUK held its AGM, and, amongst many items, Council officers and members were elected, and the ‘baton’ of the Presidency passed from Professor Steph Newell to Professor David Maxwell. The outgoing President thanked everyone for their contributions to making such an energetic period around ASAUK 50th anniversary and rounded off matters with a short talk on ‘African Studies Across Disciplines’.

At various points in the conference, the tremendous hard work and always calm demeanour of conference organiser David Kerr was recognised; ASAUK wishes David every success in the future, and indeed welcomes him onto the ASAUK Council.

Though there will be many opportunities at ASAUK events for members to participate in the coming period, ASAUK 2016 in September of the year at the University of Cambridge is one for your diary!