VAD Conference 2024: Call for Papers

The Institute of African Studies at the University of Bayreuth will be hosting the biannual conference of the Association for African Studies in Germany e.V. (VAD) from 30 September – 02 October.

Archives Reconfigured – African Digital Epistemologies 


Duane Jethro (University of Cape Town) 
Julia Binter (University of Bonn) 

Location: University of Bayreuth

The VAD2024 Call for Papers is now open and will close on Wednesday 31 January 2024.

Short Abstract:

Calls for the return of African artifacts in European museums emphasize urgency in digitizing archives for provenance research. This panel profiles digital archival projects by African institutions, NGOs and art collectives that intervene in knowledge connected with object collections.

Long Abstract:

As calls for the restitution of African artefacts held in German and European museums mount, the need for opening and digitising archives to enable provenance research into the histories and colonial entanglements of objects and collections has grown. In turn, the nature of colonial archives, their omissions, silences and fallacies have come under greater scrutiny. From hacking the archive to reconfiguring them into new archival assemblages, a host of new attempts to Intervene in and plurify the knowledge connected with historical objects via digital means has arisen. Despite these efforts, a majority of European institutions have yet to speed up and diversify their digitization practices. On the other hand, African institutions, NGOs and art collectives have made great leaps in the field of archives and digitization. They are increasingly generating new frameworks for presenting what traceability and accessibility of knowledge about the past can look like online. This panel presents examples of digital archival projects from the African continent and about African collections held in European institutions that advance such archival innovation. Shedding light on the rich and diverse digital epistemologies emerging on and from the African continent, it explores the possibilities they present for shifting key debates in African Studies in areas such as heritage, cultural restitution and digital archival practice today.