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African Studies

Every year the Institute of African Studies (IAS) of the University of Bayreuth organises courses on African Studies as part of the Bayreuth International Summer School. This year's Bayreuth International Summer School features courses on Africa-Asia relations.

China’s recent engagement on the African continent has attracted much attention and is controversially discussed. However, are Africa-Asia relations really new? Is China the only actor? And are the connections only about economy? This year’s African studies courses will approach Africa-Asia relations from two different angels to show the depth and complexity of the relationship but also its global implications and political as well as social and economic effects. 

Part 1 - China-Africa Engagements: Narratives, Myths and Realities

China is Africa’s biggest trading partner and source of financing for infrastructure development. More African students are studying at Chinese universities than at French, UK and US universities. Political parties, militaries and bureaucrats in Africa are engaging with their counterparts in China – exchanging ideas and building networks. Those are the official narratives but how are these political, economic and social engagements between China and Africa perceived, beyond the state, in China, Africa and the West? Is China colonising Africa, debt-trapping the continent? Are Chinese products and university degrees inferior? Are Chinese racists, and are Africans xenophobic? Making use of various academic and non-academic sources on China-Africa engagements, this course will explore the representations of Africa-China political and social relations in China, the United States, and select countries in Africa and the European Union. Through a combination of interactive lectures, discussions and group projects, participants will examine the different framings and representations of political and social engagements between China and Africa, and explore strategies of reframing the complex relationship between the two. The objective of the course is to build the capacity of participants to decipher the myths, realities and facts in the framings and representations of Africa-China engagements and develop practical strategies to foster evidence-based portrayals of the engagements.

Part 2 - Asian Presence in Africa: Examples from East and Southern Africa

This course will begin with a general overview of the historical forces that coalesced create the Indian diaspora in Eastern and Southern Africa. It will then discuss the Indian paradoxical presence in Eastern Africa, especially in their initial aspirations as sub imperialists. It will the proceed to discuss their role in the decolonisation and nationalist politics and conclude with the crisis of independence that culminated in their exodus Eastern Africa. Using Asian diaspora literatures in East and Southern Africa this course will provide an overview of Asian presence in Africa. It will demonstrate how these literatures have framed conversations between peoples, cultures, ideas and regions. The course will address the ambivalent and diasporic histories of Asians in imperial and postcolonial East and South Africa and analyse how Asian cultures consciously construct ambivalent diasporic subjectivities as the basis of new forms of African Asian identities. We will demonstrate how such ambivalence reveals itself in the way Asian diaspora writing disavow dominant, nationalistic, even binaristic accounts of colonial relationships and create, instead, a narrative that skirts the borderlines of both colonial and nationalist discourses. In a sense this constitutes a strategy of contesting both colonial history and the hi/stories of the postcolonial nation-state especially in East Africa. The consequence of this strategy though, is that while histories of the Indian people in Africa are uncovered as “scraps” of imperial history their narration tends, on the other hand, to silence those aspects of Asian experiences that align them to African anti-colonial resistance. The course will show how Asian writings resolves this contradiction by recasting Indian histories in Africa in diasporic terms even as it indicates their uncertain affiliations to, and identifications with nationalist narratives of resistance which are themselves already in competition.

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