Deep Pasts, Deep Cultures: Mande, Yoruba and Kongo – Today!

9.15 a.m. – 6 p.m.

No registration required. All welcome.

Location: Grand Challenges Common Ground space: Room G11, South Wing, Wilkins Building

Symposium Convenor: Kevin MacDonald (UCL African Studies/ Institute of Archaeology)

Discussants: Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz (Capetown), Michael Rowlands (UCL)

Speakers: Akin Ogundiran (North Carolina), Karin Barber (Birmingham), John Picton (SOAS), Jan Jansen (Leiden), Ramon Sarro (Oxford), Wyatt MacGaffey (Haverford), Koen Bostoen (Ghent), Cecile Fromont (Chicago)

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Over the past two millennia African civilizations, with unique political traditions, artistic corpora, musical styles and oral literatures have grown and flourished along the valleys of the Niger, the Congo River basin and elsewhere in the Sub-Sahara. Often placed to one side by Afrocentrists in favour of Egypt/Kemet, or dismissed as insignificant by the criteria of Eurocentrists, these Deep Cultures have played a profound role in forming the basis of long-lived and enduring African civilizations. A challenge for African Studies today is both to capture the uniqueness of these civilizations and to disentangle the multiple traditions, ideas and histories which have shaped them. Ultimately, a plurality of understandings must come together to comprehend their idealised worlds and their continuing work in making the continent a better place. In this symposium we invite scholars to explore the historical depth configuring the Mande, Yoruba and Kongo civilizations: in the past and the present.

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