Seminar on Pan-Africanism


Fall 2016 – Spring 2017

A joint seminar
organized for CIRHUS 
by Jean-Philippe DEDIEU & Pauline GUEDJ
in partnership with NYU Africa-Diaspora Forum 
coordinated by Professor Michael GOMEZ and Alaina MORGAN

Co-sponsors: CIRHUS, NYU History Department, NYU Africa-Diaspora Forum

Dean's Conference Room, CIRHUS, 2nd Floor, 4 Washington Square North
Each session: 12:30 pm - 02:00 pm

The idea of Pan-Africanism was elaborated by intellectuals and activists since the 18th century on all sides of the Atlantic. Spreading across the African continent since the beginning of the 20th century, it has been central to the establishment of relationships of solidarity between Africans and Afro-descendants in the Americas and in Europe. It has acted as a significant political tool in both the struggles for independence on the continent and in the liberation movements that emerged at the heart of the diaspora, such as the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power. In the literature, the golden age of Pan-Africanism is often dated to the 1960s and 1970s. The decade of the 1960s was, for instance, one in which the Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah, after having received his education in universities in the UK and the United States, launched his famous call for union: Africa must unite. The 1970s experienced the great Pan-African cultural festivals that cemented relationships between artists in Africa and the Americas. Since this era however, Pan-Africanism is often considered as having experienced a period of decline, characterized by the difficulties that the African Union has had in acting on the international stage, by the numerous conflicts that have arisen on the continent, and by the emergence in the Americas and Europe of new trends in political struggles that have undermined their historical international connections.

Questioning this process of decline, the participants in this seminar, engaged in contextualized research focused on the African continent and/or the diaspora, share the view that Pan-Africanism remains a force decidedly present in contemporary Black political movements. Moreover, they consider it as having been prevalent in the identification processes set in motion by some of those in Africa and the Americas since the 1970s. Far from believing in the death of Pan-Africanism, they note its presence in discourse and its use in the efforts being carried out by various parties to establish transnational relations between Africa, the Americas and Europe. In doing so, our seminar proposes the use of focused case studies in order to examine the changes in Pan-Africanism since the 1970s and the contemporary realities of this ideology. Which individuals and organizations make reference to Pan-Africanism? How do they define the concept, and what tangible effects do they attribute to it? What forms of solidarity and conflict arise due to the call for Pan-African unity? What is the nature of the relationships that Pan-Africanism, as a political ideology, forms with various social aspects such as the arts, religion and the media?


November 4, 2016 

Université de Tours François-Rabelais & Bennington College 

Black French Matters: 
Afrodiasporic Practices in the Land of Colorblindness

January 27, 2017 

Jean-Philippe DEDIEU 
CIRHUS, New York University 

IMAF, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique 

Révolution Afrique: 
Pan-Africanism from Below in the 1970s in Post-Colonial Paris 

February 27, 2017 

Alaina MORGAN 
New York University 

Memories of Malcolm X: 
Pan-Africanism, Islam and Transnational Black Activism in 20th Century London, 1982-1995

March 20, 2017 

Assistant Professor, Trinity College 

A Motorcycle Journey in Africa: 
Robert F. Williams and the Limits of Pan-Africanism, 1968-1970

April 3, 2017 

Alison OKUDA 
New York University

“Towards a United Black Front”: 
The Cultural Practice of Pan-Africanism in London

April 24, 2017

Geoffrey TRAUGH 
New York University 

A Nation Cannot Be Bought:
Nationhood and Neocolonialism in Decolonization-era Malawi

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