Category: Connections and Disconnections


Connections and Disconnections in the History and Cultures of Eastern Africa

30-31 March 2015, British Institute in Eastern Africa, Laikipia Road, Nairobi

This conference will explore the place of Eastern Africa within global approaches to the study of the region’s past and present.   The fields of history, archaeology, anthropology and literature have all witnessed a global turn in recent years.  The global paradigm is fast became a common point of entry to study of the region, particularly among European and North American scholars.  This conference will include discussion of such research, but also consider the methodological and intellectual challenges presented by this approach to the study of Eastern African societies in the past and present.

The conference will be organised around four key and overlapping themes in the existing global studies literature: exchange; power and politics; communication; and mobility.  Exchange will consider the subjects of commodities, trade and currency. Power and politics will look at the ways in which global networks of power in its various forms have shaped the ordinary lives of the peoples of Eastern Africa.  Communication will explore the forms by which language, media and cultural performance have been inflected with a global discourse.  Mobility will consider the implications for Eastern Africa of the global movement of peoples, ideas and objects.  The papers will discuss connections and disconnections under these headings.

30 March

Registration 9.00am-10.00am

Panel 1: Exchange 10.00am-12.00pm

Mirjam Tutzer (Goethe University, Frankfurt au Main), ‘The “Global” in the Transregional Concept of Microfinance in Tanzania and Bangladesh.’

Monica Udvardy (University of Kentucky), ‘The Global Traffic in Mijikenda Memorial Statues and the Dialectics of their Meanings.’

Chapurukha Kusimba (American University, Washington D.C.), title t.b.c.

Lunch 12.00-1.30pm

Panel 2: Communication 1.30-3.30pm

Salvatory Stephen Nyanto (University of Iowa & University of Dar es Salaam), ‘Between Global and Local: Transnational Islamic Beliefs and the making of Dar al-Islam in Western Tanzania, 1840s-1990s.’

Pamila Gupta (University of the Witwatersrand), ‘Goans in Mozambique and Zanzibar: Case Studies from Littoral East Africa.’

Gerard McCann (University of York), ‘Could magazines culture? Transition Magazine, universalism, locality and the future in decolonising East Africa, 1961-68.’

Tom Odhiambo (University of Nairobi), title t.b.c.

Break 3.30-4.00pm

Panel 3: Researching the Global from Eastern Africa 4.00-5.00pm

Carla Bocchetti (IFRA, Nairobi), ‘Globafrica Project’, to be followed by discussion of common themes and methodologies.

31 March

Panel 4: Mobility 10.00am-12.30pm

Thomas Häkansson (University of Kentucky), ‘Caravans, Currencies, and Cattle: Wealth, Production, and Politics in East Africa During The Indian Ocean Trade.’
Kathryn de Luna (Georgetown University), “Down-the-Line” in Deep Time: Worldliness, Mobility, and Sedentism on the Central Frontier, 1000 BCE – 1900 CE.’

Thomas McDow (Ohio State University), title t.b.c.

Stephen Rockel (University of Toronto), ‘The East African Slave Trade: The Global and the Local.’

Panel 5: Power and Politics 2.00-4.00pm

George Roberts (University of Warwick), ‘The Cold War Comes to the Swahili Coast: International Affairs in postcolonial Dar es Salaam.’

Sarah Longair (British Museum), ‘Staging Imperial Performance: Political Ceremonies and Spectacle in early British colonial Zanzibar, 1890-1910.’

Emma Hunter (University of Edinburgh), ‘Democracy in Translation: global ideas and local politics in Tanzania’s mid-twentieth-century public sphere.’

Daniel Branch (University of Warwick), ‘Political Traffic: Kenya’s Students and the Global Cold War.’

Closing remarks 4.00-4.30pm

Connections and Disconnections

This section includes research that addresses the place of Eastern Africa in global history, and develops our understanding of old and new technologies and practices of movement and connection across Eastern Africa.



Sealinks Project: Exploring Ancient Indian Ocean Connections in East Africa – Dr Boivin, Dr Alison Crowther, Professor Mark Horton and Dr Richard Helm

The first phases of Africa’s contacts with the wider Indian Ocean world remain stubbornly enigmatic.  Attempting to shed light on the continued puzzle of east Africa’s earliest Indian Ocean connections is one of the key activities of the Oxford based Sealinks Project.  To this end, the project is undertaking archaeological, botanical, and genetic studies in the region in collaboration with a variety of African and other international institutions.  More…