ECAS 2015: AAB panels

Ethics/aesthetics of mobilisation for health in Africa

The act of forgetting: the (affective) politics of amnesia and abandonment

Building promise – past and emerging architectures of anticipation in Africa

Ethics/aesthetics of mobilisation for health in Africa

Convenor
Manton, John / University of Cambridge
Health care in Africa is entangled with developmental ideas and practices addressing global spatial inequalities, encoding ethical expectations, and embodying past and future hopes. Though often technocratic and instrumental, its projections are deeply affective, intimate and ephemeral: while consonant with nostalgia, community mobilization, and the persistence of structural inequality, the style, content, experiential dimensions and political-aesthetic exigencies of these projections remain underinvestigated. The panel aims to capture the sublime, grandiose, and quotidian nature of the medical enterprise, its undercurrents of anxiety and desire, and the uneasy ethics and aesthetics of mobilisation it fosters.
This panel invites submissions which interrogate the pasts, present, and futures of health care, medical research, governance and regulation as mobilising enterprises in Africa. It queries medical politics, science, promises, and fantasies in view of their conjoined ethical and aesthetic resonances, as compound artefacts conjoining statist or liberatory politics with temporalities and spatialities of order, harmony and design. Whether resuscitating and reanimating the forlorn hopes of grandiose colonial development projects, counterpointing the arts of medical dreaming with unfolding public health catastrophe, or foregrounding remains of disrupted enterprises in care, a wide range of contributions is sought and methodological diversity welcomed.

The act of forgetting: the (affective) politics of amnesia and abandonment

Convenors
Geissler P. Wenzel / U Oslo/ U Cambridge
Lachenal Guillaume / U Paris Diderot

Experiences of rupture and aftermath, of conquest, coups, colonialism, development and welfare, epidemics, war, apartheid, liberation, have made memory a salient theme in African studies. If the selectivity of memory is widely recognized as political, moral and affective in its formation and effects, the act of forgetting is often relegated to the blank spaces left in-between. This panel calls for an equivalent exploration of forgetting as an engagement with the past and its potential legacies. Omissions and obliterations are as much political tools of commemoration, archiving and monumentalisation as their bold inscriptions. We also invite studies of more intimate and banal forms of giving up, letting go, bypassing, disowning, or leaving untended the traces and remains of the past; of ruins ignored, absences unmentioned, biographies truncated, events untold, faces unrecognised. How does forgetting produce effects in built landscapes, bureaucratic forms, intergenerational relations, solidarity and care, moral and political imagination, or experiences of chronology, change and possibility? What are the methodological challenges of studying the social and material productivity of forgetting in texts, performance, bodies, architecture, etc. ? This panel will explore how forgetting can be woven into a rich scholarship on memory to illuminate the stakes of continuity and rupture in contemporary Africa.

Building promise – past and emerging architectures of anticipation in Africa

Convenors
Tousignant Noémi / U Cambridge/U Montréal
Lagae Johan / U Gent

The bold lines of modernist architecture and urban planning endure in contemporary African landscapes. From the 1940s to the 1970s, the material and aesthetic forms of colonial and national development were laid down in a proliferation of boxy but well-aired schools, universities, laboratories, hospitals, public housing and government buildings; and in new urban designs, along the roads, pipes, drains and ditches of expanded transport and sanitary infrastructures. Traces of the modernist dream have in many places been erased or worn down by decay, in others restored or renewed. They stand as ambivalent temporal signals, pointing forward but also to promises of progress that appear blocked, utopic or obsolete, or which must instead be preserved and reactivated. In the past decade, this older strata of the landscape has, across Africa, been modulated by a renewed wave of construction and design and its aesthetic of promise that is seductive but also illusory even obscene. Luxury housing developments and shopping malls, but also new roads and buildings for favored ministries and government programs, and hotels sustained by seminars announce the (speculative) growth of a new middle class, the influx of remittances, and state promises of an entrepreneur-driven “African renaissance.” Our panel invites papers on the anticipations – of forms of power, prosperity, provisioning and the public – built into the African landscape in the mid-20th and early 21st century.