Bridging Histories of East and Central Africa

Bridging Histories of East and Central Africa

Achim von Oppen (University of Bayreuth, African History - Department of History & Institute for African Studies); Geert Castryck (University of Leipzig, Centre for Area Studies, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research); Katharina Zöller (University of Bayreuth, African History - Department of History & Institute for African Studies)
From - Until
07.06.2013 - 08.06.2013
Castryck, Geert

The conference 'Bridging Histories of East and Central Africa' aims at understanding and getting beyond the historical divides that exist in East Central Africa as well as in its historiography. The seeming divisions have always gone hand in hand with intense connections. The separations and meeting points between ecological and geological zones, the demarcations and transitions between spheres of influence, the borders and borderlands between colonial and post-colonial states, the exchanges and confrontations between manifold actors, as well as imaginations of self and other, have constituted the East Central African region for centuries.

The spatializations derived from and defining these divisions and connections change and move over time. The entire Great Lakes region is scattered with such loci of interaction and separation. The histories of both sides of Lake Tanganyika in particular and of the Rift Valley in general have been marked by distinctions in state formation; political and economic orientations; trajectories of societal conflict and change; repeated military confrontations and entailing security, demographic and economic challenges; religious difference and language divides; and divergent classifications in meta-geographical terms between Eastern, Central and even Southern Africa. At the same time, these distinctions have always been related, in one way or another, to changing, shifting and pervasive connections.

This interplay of division and connection is reflected in how people perceive themselves, in how they act and aspire, in how they shape and are shaped by this environment, and also in how we as researchers represent the region and its history. On the one hand, narratives, research traditions and self identifications have for long built on a frame of reference that takes the separations between areas and states for granted, or at least unconsciously reproduces them. On the other hand, too often the apparent connections are – if not ignored altogether – reduced to problems and conflicts.

This conference, bringing together historians from Europe, Africa and North-America, wants to bridge East and Central Africa in two ways. Firstly, the conference programme contains empirical contributions on historical actors and processes that reach across the divides that are often thought to separate East and Central Africa. Secondly, the conference offers an opportunity to discuss histories of historiography, addressing, comparing and reconnecting the different research traditions, conceptualizations and methodologies associated with these regional constructs.



Friday, 7th June 2013
Venues: University of Bayreuth, Main Campus, S111 (AI Building) & Iwalewa House, Münzgasse 9, Bayreuth

9.00 Opening Session (Chair: Achim von Oppen)
Welcome (Main Campus)
Introduction by Achim von Oppen (University of Bayreuth)
Keynote Address by Helmut Bley (Leibniz Universität Hannover): Central Africa’s changing regional orientations from 17th-20 Century

10.30 Panel 1: Bridging Borders (Chair: Henri Médard - Discussant: Aidan Russell)
Jonathan Shaw (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor): Blood Customs: Sanguinary Kinship, Secret Associations and Illicit Trade on the Uganda-Congo Border: 1885-1928
Kathleen Vongsathorn (MPI History of Science, Berlin): ‘In Spite of Opposition’: Crossing Borders with the Ruanda Mission, 1921-1958
Katharina Zöller (University of Bayreuth): Crossing multiple borders: the ‘Manyema’ in colonial East Central Africa
Aloys Tegera (POLE Institute, Goma): Nature protection and community survival: the case of Virunga National Park in the albertine Graben

13.30 Panel 2a: Shifting Delineations of East / Central Africa (Chair: Ashley Leinweber - Discussant: Marcia Wright)
Matthew Unangst (Temple University, Philadelphia): Bordering between East and Central Africa: German Accounts of the Bushiri Rebellion and the Emin Pascha Expedition of 1888-1890
Julia Verne (Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main): Where does the Indian Ocean end? Tracing coastlines in the Tanzanian hinterland

14.45 Panel 2b: Shifting Orientations towards East / Central Africa (Chair: Abdul Sheriff - Discussant: Geert Castryck)
Maarten Couttenier (RMCA, Tervuren): The Representation of East and Central Africa in the History Rooms of the (Belgian) Congo Museum (Royal Museum for Central Africa)
Aidan Russell (University of Cambridge): Turning Eastwards, Turning Inwards: Transnational Politics and Burundi at Independence

15.45 Transfer to Iwalewa House

16.30 Conference Discussion 1: Research Traditions and Sources in East / Central Africa (Chair: Achim von Oppen)
Round Table:
Maarten Couttenier (RMCA, Tervuren)
Henri Médard (Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Abdul Sheriff (ZIORI, Zanzibar)
Marcia Wright (Columbia University, New York)

Saturday, 8th June 2013
Venue: Iwalewa House, Münzgasse 9, Bayreuth

9.00 Panel 3: Swahili, Islam & Identity (Chair: Stephen Rockel - Discussant: Katharina Zöller)
Sheryl McCurdy (University of Texas, Houston): Storm in a Teacup: Islam and Identity Politics in Western Tanganyika, 1908-1933
Geert Castryck (University of Leipzig): Submission of the Subjugated: Living Islam in Colonial Bujumbura
Ashley Leinweber (Missouri State University, Springfield): A History of the Survival of Islam in the D.R. Congo: From Swahili-Arab Roots to Colonial Repression and Beyond

10.45 Panel 4: Migration and Host Societies (Chair: Sheryl McCurdy - Discussant: Aloys Tegera)
Stephen Rockel (University of Toronto, Scarborough): The Tutsi and the Nyamwezi: Immigrants and Hosts in 19th and 20th Century Western Tanzania
Jill Rosental (Emory University, Atlanta): From Migrants to Refugees: Identity Formation in Ngara District, Tanzania, 1959-1965
Julia Seibert (American University in Cairo): Cultural Brokers, Revolutionaries or Outsiders? The impact of Rwandan migrant workers on Katanga’s working cultures since the 1920s

13.30 Conference Discussion 2: Final Discussion & Conclusions (Chair: Geert Castryck)
Conference Discussants:
Miles Larmer (University of Sheffield)
Helmut Bley (Leibniz Universität Hannover)

15.00 Guided City Tour of Bayreuth (optional): “Making Space in a Small Early Modern German Principality” (Achim von Oppen)

For further information please contact:

Contact (announcement)

Editors Information
Published on
Regional Classification
Additional Informations
Country Event
Language(s) of event
Language of announcement