Workshop: Power, Silence and the Production of History in Africa

The production of history is a process of power. This is particularly relevant in Africa, where during both the colonial and the post-colonial era history has been written by hegemonic regimes. This historiography has in turn (re-)produced structures of domination, social exclusion and division. Moreover, it has obscured the diversity of histories, narratives, spatial geographies that are at play. This in turn raises questions about how we can understand enduring and recurring cycles of conflict on the African continent not only as a result of historic contingency, but also as an outcome of the politics of writing African histories. The African continent is therefore a particular rich context in which to examine the production of history and its relation to power.

In this workshop we aim to explore the interface between power and the production of history in Africa. We invite participants to track power and silencing in the production of history in Africa and the workings thereof in social and political processes in contemporary Africa – e.g. social and political exclusion and marginalisation, the creation of divisions, conflict dynamics, practices of resistance, creation of alternative (discursive) spaces and communities, etc. What does history mean for people, how do they engage with their (silenced) histories to give meaning to their present and future? And are there alternative histories possible, in the form of for example minority histories, subaltern histories or even micro histories that may offer a deeper and more inclusive understanding of current practices of power and domination in the region? In what ways can such insights enable (community level) peace building, aimed at societal trust and social cohesion?

Workshop programme.

This workshop is organized by Dr. Meike de Goede, in the framework of her LeidenASA research leave.


Date, time and location

24 May 2018
Lipsius, Cleveringaplaats 1, Leiden
Room 1.48