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'Africa's great awakening': Historicising the 'Africa Rising' debate

May 28, 2014

Recent years have witnessed a growing consensus amongst groups of IR scholars, mainstream political commentators and policy makers that Africa is on the rise. Buoyed by relatively high levels of economic growth in parts of the continent combined with the growing regional and even global political power of some of the continent's bigger players, the 'Africa Rising' narrative has started to take hold and broaden out into the non-governmental and cultural sectors. However, the great inequality of wealth which still exists in Africa seems to suggest that claims of Africa's rise are at best problematic. Yet these claims still persist, and in doing so unavoidably portray an image of Africa which requires investigating and problematizing.

This panel invites papers which consider any number of the multifaceted issues associated with the 'Africa Rising' narrative. Questions which paper-givers might want to address include:

  • Is Africa 'rising', and if so, for whom?
  • How are 'Africa rising' narratives generated, where, when and why?
  • What image of Africa is produced through these narratives?
  • Is there a relationship between Afro-optimism and Euro-pessimism?
  • Are there any historical precedents for these narratives?
  • Are these narratives qualitatively different from the more pessimistic and silencing narratives about Africa which have dominated the discipline of IR in previous decades?

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Dr Clive Gabay