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School of Social and Political Science (SPS) hosts European Conference on African Studies

The Centre of African Studies at SPS hosted Europe’s largest conference on African Studies, with 1,500 experts, policymakers, leaders and artists from across the world taking part in academic and cultural events.

ECAS delegates

ECAS 2019 explored the theme ‘Connections and Disruptions’, with more than 200 academic events including discussions, research sharing and book launches. A programme of artistic and cultural events also took place, with concerts, exhibitions, book readings and walking tours.

Academic programme

Academic conversations focused on the moving flows of social activity in Africa, including North-South relations, migration, power disruptions, risks, opportunities and cultural changes.

On Wednesday, Professor Mamadou Diouf (Columbia University) gave the opening keynote with a paper called 'Black Atlantic Horizons and the Practices of History: Histories of “Dismembering” and “Remembering”'. This was followed on Thursday by a keynote roundtable discussing 'Is Africa's Future Capitalist?', with Victoria Uwonkunda from BBC Africa, the social policy specialist Atieno Ndomo, Rehad Desai (director of Everything Must Fall), the entrepreneur Sangu Delle, and CAS's Hazel Gray.


Cultural events

The artistic and cultural programme included three performances and a workshop by The Ha Orchestra – Scotland’s first professional African Symphonic Orchestra – at the University’s St Cecilia’s Hall.

The 15-strong orchestra has musicians from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Gambia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Belgium, Scotland, England, Denmark, and France. It brings together musicians from different cultural heritages to create a sound that differs from the western classical music played in Africa and the African diaspora. The Ha Orchestra performed new pieces composed for these concerts.

Other events included a display of garments created by students at Edinburgh College of Art as a collaboration with National Museums Scotland was on show in Appleton Tower. The students’ creations were inspired by the museum’s collection of African printed commemorative cloth.

Elsewhere, an exhibition at CMB showcased the culmination of UncoverED, a student-led research project looking into the long and under-recognised history of students from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. 

The Ha Orchestra

Thanks from CAS Director

Tom Molony, Director of CAS, thanked everyone involved in making the conference a success, including the  local organising committee (Rama Salla Dieng, Kevin Donovan, Akin Iwilade, Rebecca Moody, Paul Nugent, and Kate Wright - who organised the artistic and cultural programme), which worked closely with the conference organising firm Nomad IT; the entire CAS team; and 82 student volunteers.

Tom said: “Thank you to everyone who made the conference such a tremendous success. Many of the delegates have been expressing to me how good they thought the event was, so everyone has done us proud.”

“I feel that ECAS8 has helped solidify CAS’s position as Europe’s leading centre of African Studies. This title is principally because of colleagues’ excellent research and teaching. But the hard work everyone has put into a successful ECAS has now taken us to a new level on the international stage.”

To catch up on everything that took place at ECAS, check #ECAS2019 and @ECAS2019on Twitter.

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