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Simon Gush, “Worker Leaving the Factory, Maseru 2014”, 2014, slideshow.  Courtesy of the artist and Stevenson, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

International Conference Circulations: the (un)making of Southern Africa beyond and across borders

Johannesburg, 3-4 November 2016

Venue: French Institute of South Africa (IFAS), 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

In 2015, international migration attracted a great deal of attention in academia and public spheres alike, prompted as it was by the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. In South Africa, too, violent attacks targeting immigrants in Kwazulu-Natal not only raised serious concerns about the effects of social inequalities in the country but also exposed a profound fracture in the post-apartheid project of commitment to human rights and non-discrimination (including based on nationality). They were a clear reminder that some of the promises that the dream of the “rainbow nation” entertained still remain dangerously unfulfilled. In neighboring countries where migration to South Africa has been a historical constant, these events provoked strong reactions and public criticism. In Mozambique, the long history of labor migration to the mines and past solidarity against apartheid were often mobilized to stress the powerful connections between these countries and their peoples, and advance a view of Mozambicans in South Africa as active members of that society, and not just “outsiders”. The public debate triggered by the attacks is telling of how central human mobilities have been in the history of the region, and how critical these histories remain in our present moment, where long-standing tensions and deep-rooted inequalities are still being worked out.

The International Conference “Circulations: the (un)making of Southern Africa beyond and across borders”, to be held in Johannesburg, 3-4 November 2016, will address some of these critical issues, in their historical depth and contemporary resonance. We intend to offer a critical space for historians, social scientists, critics, artists, and the public at large to re-think and re-consider the shared historical trajectories and social experiences in the region, from settler colonialism to national liberation, beyond and across borders. By focusing on the porosity of borders (of a nation, a territory, a community) and on the centrality of border-making processes, we intend to unsettled some authorized and familiar distinctions, e.g. the centre and the margins, the insider and the outsider. Instead, we hope to encourage debate on the various forms of conversation and circulation taking place, in the past and present, beyond and across political and national borders.

For more information please visit our Call for Papers.