European Conference on African Studies (ECAS): African Futures



European Conference on African Studies (ECAS)

The 9th European Conference of African Studies will be held in Cologne (Germany) from 31 May - 3 June 2023. ECAS9 will be organized by the Global South Studies Center (University of Cologne) and the IARA, Institute for Anthropological Research on Africa, University of Leuven, under the theme of “African Futures”. ECAS10 will be held in Prague in 2025.


“African Futures” aims to explore the continent’s critical engagements with the past, present, and future of Africa’s global entanglements. The continent has been characterized as a laboratory of the future, as the last frontier of capitalism, with living realities based on concepts and practices of multiplicity, circulation, and flexibility. While the West appears to be self-provincializing, Africa is expanding. Africa is on the move – it always has been.

Grand narratives about Africa have always been characterized by controversial visions of its future. The current optimistic outlook that celebrates “Africa rising,” and the emergence of new African middle-classes, is countered by warnings of a new scramble for Africa. Local modernist visions are presented as expressions of renewed African self-confidence, but also denounced as utopian dreamscapes that tend to ignore complex contemporary realities. Increasingly, the continent is perceived as an experimental field for global tomorrows.

Future-making projects impact contemporary Africa’s ecologies, economies, and societies, capturing the imaginations across multiple social positionalities. A key conceptual question in need of empirically grounded answers is: What constitutes the future? While Africa is intimately bound up with central narratives about the future, critical new questions have arisen about whose future is being referred to and how these visions are to be put into practice.

The conference theme thus invites reflections on the role of contingency in the world, including current and past notions of imagination, emergence, projection, vision, and speculation. 

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