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Transcending Boundaries: Biographical Research in Colonial and Postcolonial African History

7-8 May 2010

Venue: German Historical Institute London
Convenors: Silke Strickrodt (GHIL) and Achim von Oppen (Universität Bayreuth)

In this workshop, we examine the opportunities offered by biographical research to produce a new approach to Africa’s colonial and postcolonial history. Careers and life stories of individuals and generations show particularly clearly the disruptions and constraints that were caused by colonial and postcolonial rule and the boundaries imposed by it. At the same time, life stories show how in everyday life these boundaries became porous or fluid, even producing new mobilities and continuities that transcended them, and how in this field new individual and collective identities were formed. This applies to politico-spatial boundaries of all kinds, which particularly in Africa conflict with deeply rooted mobilities that have always transcended even the boundaries of the continent in all directions. However, it also applies to borderlines between social and cultural spaces and, not least, to the delineations of historical periods, which in colonial and postcolonial contexts were often given a mythologising absoluteness (pre-colonial/colonial/postcolonial, traditional/modern, etc).

Call for Papers (PDF file)
Workshop programme (PDF file)
Workshop programme overview (PDF file)