Sunday, May 19, 2019

USA Africa Dialogue Series - 20th Annual Africa Conference at The University of Texas at Austin: Call for Papers

Dear All,

Before starting off another busy and demanding week tomorrow, why not seize the peace which this weekend offers to reflect on your proposal for the 20th Annual Africa Conference at The University of Texas at Austin and write your abstract. Do please see the details below.

Kindly note that the conference date is now April 3-5, 2020. I look forward to receiving your proposals and welcoming you to UT Austin next spring.


Chukwuemeka Agbo

20th Annual Africa Conference at The University of Texas at Austin

April 3-5, 2020

Department of History, UT Austin




Africa's histories and politics reveal trends of nationalism in response to colonial conquest, anti-colonial resistance, movements of liberation, neo-colonialism, and post-colonial developments, as well as the emergence of African nationalist theories. Used in social, political, and economic spheres, nationalism and its effect augment dimensions of heightened complexity. The 2020 Africa Conference intends to critically examine the highly intricate and contested processes of nationalism and its significance for African societies and for African diaspora across the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Indian Ocean.


The primary aim of the conference is to reflect on the varying and varied forms of nationalism and the manner in which they have developed. Simultaneously, the conference intends to create an intellectual space for examining the politics and economics of nationalism that marginalize, exclude, disempower, and denude certain groups, while giving privilege, authority, and power to others. Beyond the specific emphasis on Africa, the overarching focus of the conference is to engage with different theoretical inflections that have emerged in the existing scholarship on nationalism as well as to probe the ways in which they have been challenged and reformulated within the circles of academic and policy discourses.


Scholars are invited to examine diverse aspects of nationalism in Africa, at the level of the state and communities, as well as within the African diaspora. The conference intends to address core questions of how nationalism and its theories developed, their postcolonial and global significance, and their connection to other movements, with attention to the specific practices of diverse social, linguistic, religious, and ethnic nationalisms that can be observed in the African continent and diaspora today. Participants are invited to critically analyzed the hidden texts of nationalist narratives, analyzing the role of women and other minorities and intersectional identities in nationalist formations. The conference will address the impacts of nationalism on economics and foreign policy, as well as its influence on social relations and interactions within the African context. Contemporary issues such as those citizenship, identity politics, refugees and conflicts caused by movements of nationalism will also be foregrounded. Furthermore, the conference will engage with how emergent and resurgent nationalisms in other world regions such as Europe and the Americas shape the discourses and movements of contemporary African nationalism. The objective of such dialogues is to pluralize the narratives on certain assumed and ambiguous positionalities in African societies.


Following the tradition of past years, the conference will provide a platform for scholars from various disciplines and geographical locations to interact, exchange ideas, and receive feedback. Submitted papers will be assigned to various panels according to the similarities in theme, topic, discipline, or geographical focus. Thematically focused panel proposals (with 3-5 participants) are highly encouraged. Graduate students are encouraged to attend and present paper. The broader goal of the conference is to publish selected papers in a series of book volumes.


We invite submissions on the following sub-themes, in addition to other ideas that the participants may have:

Ø Ethnic nationalist politics in Africa

Ø Precolonial nationalist formations

Ø Nineteenth century state formations (e.g., the jihads, Mfecane, Yoruba wars, etc.)

Ø Race and Nationalism

Ø Citizenship, nationality, and migrant workers in Africa

Ø Minoritarian nationalism in Africa

Ø Migration, xenophobia, and nationalism in Africa

Ø Conflicts, refugees, and national identities in Africa

Ø Borderland, migration, and citizenship in Africa

Ø Linguistic identities and nation-state in Africa

Ø Interactions of nationalist movements

Ø Histories of nationalist movements in Africa

Ø Movements of African nationalism

Ø Cosmopolitanism, hybridity, and African pluriversalism

Ø Globalization, Afropolitanism, African futures

Ø Religious expressions of nationalism in Africa

Ø Post-colonial and liberation nationalism in Africa

Ø Movements of Pan-Africanism

Ø Women in African nationalism

Ø Nationalism, Gender, and Power in Africa

Ø LGBTQ+ Identities and Movements

Ø Intersectionality and National Identity

Ø Nationalist movements by countries

Ø African theories of nationalism

Ø Contemporary understandings of liberalism and nationalism

Ø Economic nationalism and processes of development

Ø Africa and European nationalisms

Ø Africa and American nationalisms

Ø Africa and the global resurgence of populist-nationalist movements

Ø Nationalism and its intersections with Sports, Entertainment, and Leisure

Ø Cyber-nationalisms

Ø Artistic expressions of nationalism

Ø Theorists (e.g., Frantz Fanon)


Each individual proposal must include: (1) title of the work, and an abstract of 200 words (2) name of the presenter (with surname underlined) (3)mailing address (4) phone number (5) email (6) institutional affiliation (7) three to five keywords that best characterize the themes and topics relevant to your submission. Participants are expected to follow these guidelines.


         Proposals for panels (3-5 presenters) must include: (1) title of the panel and a collective summary of 250 words on the panel's theme, including the title of each individual work (2) a 200 word abstract of each individual speaker (3) mailing address (4) phone number (5) email (6) institutional affiliation of each presenter.


         Proposals will be accepted by email:, the conference email:, and on the official conference website from mid-June to 15th December 2019 ( Participants who require visa to enter the United States must submit abstracts and register early as it may take six months to book visa appointments.


         A mandatory non-refundable registration fee of $150 for scholars and $100 for graduate students must be paid immediately upon acceptance of abstract. This conference fee includes conference t-shirt and bag, admission to the panels, workshops, and special events, as well as transportation to and from the hotel and conference events. Registration also includes breakfast for all three days, dinner on Friday night, lunch on Saturday, a banquet with DJ and open bar Saturday evening, and a closing celebration at Dr. Falola's house including dinner and DJ. All participants must raise the funding to attend the conference, including registration fee, transportation, and accommodation.


         The conference and the University of Texas at Austin do not provide any form of sponsorship or financial support. However, the Holiday Inn Austin Town Lake will have a special rate for conference participants, and transportation between the hotel and the university is included.


         If you have questions, contact Toyin Falola or the Conference Coordinator: Chukwuemeka Agbo. All correspondence including submission of abstracts, panel proposals, completed papers, and all kinds of inquiries must go through designated emails as listed below:

Ø Submission of Abstracts and Panel Proposals:,, and on the conference website

Ø For all inquiries:

Ø Submission of completed papers:


Chukwuemeka Agbo, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate in African History
Department of History
The University of Texas at Austin
128 Inner Campus Drive
B7000 Austin, Tx, 78712-0220

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USA Africa Dialogue Series - Today's Quote

Most of us have been programmed to think in a certain direction, so, any thinking outside the direction we have been programmed to think, is to be opposed!

(c)Chidi Anthony Opara


Chidi Anthony Opara is a "Life Time Achievement" Awardee, Registered Freight Forwarder, Professional Fellow Of Institute Of Information Managerment, Africa, Poet and Publisher of PublicInformationProjects

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Re: USA Africa Dialogue Series - There are No Progressives in Nigeria

 A very good and revealing piece. There was a time in Nigeria when those with heavy beards were referred to as radicals or progressives, while the pot-bellied ones were  assumed to be conservatives.The various ideological concepts, as rightly pointed out by Farooq, are generally misunderstood and misapplied. However, this is not to agree with his seemingly general conclusion that there are no Nigerians who may be truly progressive in their thoughts and deeds.
Anthony Akinola

On Sat, May 18, 2019 at 2:52 PM Farooq A. Kperogi <> wrote:

Saturday, May 18, 2019

There are No Progressives in Nigeria

By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.

Nigerian political lexicon is filled with glib and facile labels such as "liberal," "progressive," "conservative," etc. It's obvious, nevertheless, that neither the political class nor, in fact, the cultural elites have any informed understanding of the conceptual limits of these terms.

In Nigeria, for the most part, "progressive" has become the all-purpose term of esteem to deodorize filthy, crooked, and loud-mouthed politicians who nonetheless have untrammeled access to the news media. "Conservative" has also emerged as the choicest term of disesteem to slur politicians who are as reactionary, filthy, and corrupt as self-described "progressives" but who have no access to the media—or capacity for, or interest in, shaping media narratives in their favor.

Let's start by conceptualizing who a progressive or a liberal is. French philosopher Voltaire once said, "If you must converse with me, first define your terms"—or something to that effect.

Although there is no ironclad definitional unanimity in the conception of what constitutes a liberal or a progressive, no one disagrees that it refers to someone who is not limited to or by established, conventional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; who is free from, or at least self-consciously recognizes the unacceptability of, bigotry.

The term is also used to denote a person who is amenable to proposals for reform, new ideas for progress, and is tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others. Generally speaking, it means one who is broad-minded, who is not invidiously wedded to his or her primordial identity to the detriment of others, and who is not held in check by the tyranny of received, often outmoded, wisdom.

Very few politicians in Nigeria come even remotely close to these ideals. Take, for instance, the corrupt, conscienceless clowns in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who are a study in narrow-mindedness, ethnic insularity, religious bigotry, retrograde politics—and worse—but who fancy themselves as "progressives" and who tag others like them but who happen to be outside their fold as "conservatives."

For instance, Bola Tinubu, Tunde Fashola, Yemi Osinbajo, and others, whose easy access to the media causes them to be seen as the poster boys of progressivism in contemporary Nigeria, are just as reactionary as any politician in the country. In several media interviews, they have made no pretenses about being ethnic bigots and about why they are self-interested enablers of Buhari's fascist monocracy.

In October 2018, for example, Fasholatold Yoruba voters to ignore Buhari's incompetence and the corruption he enables and protects because, "A vote for Buhari in 2019 means a return of power to the South-West in 2023. I am sure you will vote wisely." That's backward, Stone-Age ethnic politics often associated with "conservatives." Fashola did not even attempt to make the slightest pretense to cosmopolitanism and broadmindedness, which are central to notions of progressive politics.

In the United States, too, it's traditional to draw a distinction between liberals and conservatives in every national debate. But unlike in Nigeria where everybody avoids the label "conservative" like a plague, here people who think they are conservative not only accept the label but flaunt it.

A conservative is generally understood to be a person who is impervious to change, who conforms to the standards and conventions of the power structure, who finds joy only in his or her ethnic, religious, and racial comfort zone, who is resistant to accepting others who are different from him or her,  and who is exclusivist and inward-looking.

In policy terms, the conceptions of progressivism and conservatism will most definitely differ from country to country. In the US, progressives champion universal health care, racial tolerance, renewable energy, acceptance of cultural, religious, and sexual minorities, etc. That explains why the liberal camp is the natural attraction for racial and religious minorities in the country.

In Nigeria, a progressive is someone who is able to transcend his or her ethnic and religious particularities and embrace others who are different from him or her, who defends and protects weak and vulnerable populations from the terror of the state, and who promotes justice, fairness, and equity for all.

In America, cultural conservatives resist racial equality, are in favor of excluding religious, cultural, and sexual minorities from mainstream society, are religious fundamentalists, want to control the choices women make with their bodies, and are generally ruthless, vulturistic capitalists who can suck the blood of a dead person if they are convinced that his blood has profit value.

I know of no politician in today's Nigeria who isn't a conservative by any definition of the term. Even so-called human rights activists, with a few exceptions, are ideologically indistinguishable from conservative politicians.

Conservatism is the easiest ideological disposition to gravitate to because it requires no effort. It comes from the human tendency to be at peace with the familiar and the predicable— and to be discomfited by the unknown and by the repudiation of settled certainties.

That is why although progressives are usually the drivers of innovation and of human progress, they are usually a minority who are never popular with mainstream society.  That was what Martin Luther King Jr meant when he once said, "The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority."

In other words, conservatives are the "conforming majority" who defend tyranny when they are not personally affected by it, who do not want to jolt the habitual order of things. Progressives are the "nonconforming minority" whose "creative maladjustment" requires confronting and working to extirpate the established order and entrenched but ruinous attitudes, which is often done at the cost of social and cultural ostracism— and sometimes death.

In Nigeria's First and Second republics, there were politicians and political parties that were truly progressive. Take the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU), for instance. At great personal risks, Aminu Kano led a disciplined rebellion against a ruthlessly backward feudal order in the North. NEPU also formed an alliance with the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) at a time regional insularity was the norm, particularly in the North. That was creative maladjustment.

In the Second Republic, the People's Redemption Party (PRP), particularly in its first incarnation, was clearly Nigeria's most progressive party of the time, not because it proclaimed itself so but because of its philosophy, politics, and governance style. For instance, Kano's Abubakar Rimi instituted cosmopolitanism and ethnic inclusion as a deliberate governing philosophy.

Although he was governor of a predominantly Muslim and Hausa state, he appointed many non-Kano indigenes, including Christians from the South, into his government. He also intentionally weakened and demystified the traditional institutions that have historically oppressed and held the North back. No such radical reordering of society is taking place anywhere in Nigeria now.

All the major political players in today's Nigeria are decidedly conservative. APC and PDP, in particular, are two peas in a pod. That is why politicians move in and out of both parties with painless ease— and with not a jot of compunction.
Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Journalism & Emerging Media
School of Communication & Media
Social Science Building 
Room 5092 MD 2207
402 Bartow Avenue
Kennesaw State University
Kennesaw, Georgia, USA 30144
Cell: (+1) 404-573-9697
Personal website:
Twitter: @farooqkperogi
Author of Glocal English: The Changing Face and Forms of Nigerian English in a Global World

"The nice thing about pessimism is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised." G. F. Will

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