Call #1 - Africa

America and Africa: ‘No permanent friends but permanent interests’?

The YSI Africa Working Group is pleased to announce a Call for Papers for the North America Convening, 22-24 February 2019. We especially encourage the papers that examine the contemporary challenges facing U.S.- Africa relationship in the context of de-coloniality, de-racialisation of economic processes. Some proposed research areas to include but not limited to the following:

  • The impact of the relationship of America and Africa in the wave of decolonization and de racialization of the African economies
  •  America and Africa: Mutual relationship or exploitation?
  • America on sanctions and embargoes on Africa like in Libya, Zimbabwe among others; Impact of livelihoods and the economies
  • Impact of the relations in the politics of knowledge production: none Africans have more to say about Africa than Africans themselves.

American presence has been increasing in Africa over the years, in issues to do with aid, human rights, embargoes, sanctions, and democracy. There is a long historical relationship between America and Africa, from slavery; when America first came into contact with Africans America viewed Africa and Africans, purely as a source of labor. In the mid-1800s America created a place for freed American slaves to go back to Africa in Liberia. Liberia, with its flag similar to the American flag and with its capital, Monrovia, named after U.S. President James Monroe, maintained their independence through colonialism as one of the only two African nations who maintained their independence along with Ethiopia. 

The relationship evolved from slavery to the Cold War during which America was interested in safeguarding capitalism and create a buffer against communism, Africa became one of the battlefields of this ideological war as the great powers fought for spheres of influence. This period was followed by the pronounced presence of America in post-colonial African states especially in those countries who experienced civil wars. After 1990, the relationship between America and Africa changed after the tragedy of the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia in 1993 where 18 U.S. soldiers were killed. This led to America being hesitant of any intervention in Africa, including the failure to actively take any measures to stop the Rwandan genocide less than one year later.

Currently, America sees incentives of engaging with several African nations for the oil due to its desire to become less reliant on Middle Eastern reserves. This has brought America into close strategic relationships with Angola and Nigeria, for example, over the last decade. For some, however, the relationship that America has with Africa can historically be summed up in the quote by Rwandan human rights activist Monique Mujawamariya that ‘The United States has no friends, only interests.’ America has donated millions of dollars in aid and has helped out greatly in famine relief and in combating HIV/AIDS throughout the continent, but this has been done with strings attached in many instances. The relationship is very complex and has changed over time. There is a lot of distrust of Africans about Americans, and their motives, America and the African continent have a complicated history full of contradictions.


Apply here 
Deadline: 18 December 2018