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Decolonizing Africa? The Economic History of Development

2017 YSI Africa Conference, in partnership with the University of the Free State

Jun 8–9, 2017 Download .ics

Bloemfontein, South Africa |

The Young Scholars Initiative and the University of the Free State, SA, invite young scholars to attend the first YSI Africa conference. 

Six decades after the winds of change blew across the African continent, scholars are re-thinking not just the extent to which political liberation brought economic freedom to Africa, but the concept of independence itself. Therefore the Young Scholars Initiative and the University of the Free State, SA would like to invite scholars to interrogate the following crucial questions:

  • What is development or the economy in the African context?

  • How should we evaluate the different strategies that African societies have pursued for economic growth and development? For instance, what was the impact of state-led industrialization? Did programs of economic liberalization or indigenisation succeed?

  • What has been the legacy of the “lost decades” of the 1980s and 1990s?

  • To what extent have or can African economies successfully integrate into global markets? Has diversification succeeded? Is it possible for government’s to craft policies that encourage their economies to produce increasingly value added goods?

  • Is there an  “African Renaissance,”  or was it just a mirage?

While for decades these questions have primarily been the domain of economists and political scientists speculating about the future and trying to define trends in the murky present, this conference provides an opportunity to reflect on the African experience from an historical perspective and to assess the current position of the continent in the global economy. This conference will also discuss new themes in development, such as the role of women, minorities and entrepreneurs. We will focus on how the business community has operated in an Africa that still faces enduring inequalities and unfair terms of trade and lacks a unified political will, an Africa where the decolonisation agenda has often come to authoritarian regimes that capitalized  on the rhetoric of liberation in order to consolidate power even as they remain dependent on world markets.

Call for papers

The conference is calling on researchers and young scholars to submit abstracts for young scholar panels. Each panel will comprise of three presenters one chair and a senior scholar serving as a discussant.  The panels will have the following themes:

  1. Colonial Legacies

  2. Decolonizing Economics

  3. Inequality

  4. Open theme

Abstracts should not exceed 300 words including 5 keywords. Applicants should indicate for which panel theme each abstract is being submitted. In addition, all abstracts should be accompanied by a cover letter stating why the applicant would like to get involved with YSI and any previous relevant experience, the author(s) names, affiliation and five-line biography. If your abstract and paper is accepted, you will receive travel funding and accommodation from YSI.

Deadline is March 1st

Organizing team: 


Tinashe Nyamunda, the University of the Free State
Alden Young, Drexel University
Ryan Johnson, Stellenbosch University
Maria Dyveke Styve, University of Bergen
Jenny Tue Anh Nguyen, University of Greenwich
Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, University of Zimbabwe
Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven, The New School

Event location

University of the Free State

Partners and sponsors