IMC 2018 CfP: What ‘forgotten’ period? Reclaiming the Middle Ages for Africa

Call for Papers

International Medieval Congress
University of Leeds, UK, 2-5 July 2018

Africa has always been a nexus of trade routes, its history entangled with the continents that surround it: Europe, Asia, and America. These connections and interactions, whether productive or brutal, have been reasonably well documented for the classical period as well as from the onset of modern colonialism, but a chronological blank spot lingers on our historical memory. Why is it so difficult to remember the Middle Ages – their beginning, middle, and end – in and for Africa?

The International Medieval Congress in 2018 between 2-5th July 2018 will focus on the theme of ‘Memories’ – and will be an ideal occasion for scholars working on sources and historiography relating to sub-Saharan Africa in the pre-modern period to exchange ideas. We specifically invite scholars working on a wide range of sources relating to Africa to help us re-shape the impression of a purportedly ‘forgotten’ period within the larger historiographical field that focuses on Africa and its interactions with other continents.

We welcome proposals for papers of 20 minutes’ length across four sessions from historical, literary, archaeological, philological, art historical and interdisciplinary angles.

We endeavor to group papers into the following geographical sessions:

  • The Nubia and the Red Sea Region
  • Ethiopia and the Horn
  • From Mogadishu to Sofala: the Swahili Coast, the Indian Ocean and Zimbabwe
  • Empires of the Sahara and Sahel
  • Beyond the Desert Sea: From Ile-Ife to the Kingdom of Kongo

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The beginning of the Middle Ages: the interface and influence of Greek, Christian, and Arabic cultures with local communities, Trans-Saharan, Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean Trade;
  • The middle of the Middle Ages: topics in Aksumite, Zagwe and early Solomonic history, Nubian Christian kingdoms, Islamic Sultanates of the Horn of Africa, the Swahili city states and Great Zimbabwe, the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Kanem, etc.
  • The end of the Middle Ages: the onset of colonialism, shifting paradigms in trade and power relations
  • Foreign sources on the continent, from China to Latin Europe, and from itineraries to maps

Abstracts of up to 200 words should be sent to the dedicated email account AfricanMiddleAges@gmail.com by Monday, 25th of September 2017 (extended deadline!). Please include personal and contact details (including academic affiliation), paper title, abstract, and A-V requirements.

Organizers / Contacts

  • Dr. Verena Krebs, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel / Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany • Verena.Krebs@mail.huji.ac.il
  • Dr. Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei, independent scholar • vincent@vangervenoei.com
  • Prof. Dr. Christof Rolker, Bamberg University, Germany • christof.rolker@unibamberg.de
  • Meseret Oldjira, Princeton University • moldjira@princeton.edu
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