The Africa Regional Group (RG), of the Memory Studies Association (MSA), held its 2021 annual memory in Africa conference online from the 24-25 November, 2021. The theme of the conference was Memory in Africa: state of the field.

Memory in Africa remains a brainchild of the Memory Studies Association. Memory in Africa conferences seek to promote content of memory studies that are mostly Africa centric. This is because within Memory Studies Africa, its peopling, diaspora and global linkages constitute the neglected areas of research. Despite individual engagement of some scholars, and the overall MSA’s mission which is to explore research beyond the Euro/Anglo centrism. However, the 2021 online conference commenced with an opening remark from Gallous Atabongwoung; Hanna Teichler, who was a great support to ensure that the 2021 online conference succeed. Followed by Aline Sierp who gave an opening remark on behalf of the Co-Presidents of Memory Studies Association.

The conference was attended by over 50 participants who were split into two online parallel sessions on zoom. The conference provided a platform for researchers in Africa and international scholars interested in Africa to network and share their research. The two Keynote speakers were Dr Ali Hlongwane of University of Witwatersrand in South Africa who was supposed to speak on the theme: Connected but not Uniform, Dialoguing, Contesting and Defending: Memory and Remembering in Auto/biographical writings on and by PAC Activists. And Tali Nates, the Executive Director of Johannesburg Holocaust; Genocide Centre, who spoke on the theme: Memory Activism in a Museum Space: the case study of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre.

The conference ended with a session that was presented by Mduduzi Ntuli and Catherine Boyd from the Johannesburg Holocaust; Genocide Centre, South Africa. They presented on the theme: Memory and Testimony: How Storytelling is Incorporated in Education programmes at the Johannesburg Holocaust; Genocide Centre. The presentation brought the participants back to our humble humanity. At the end of the presentation Jenny Wuestenberg was invited to give a brief vote of thanks on behalf of MSA.

Report compiled by Gallous Atabongwoung, December 2021

The Africa Chapter of the Memory Studies Association Inaugural Conference
“Memory in Africa: Transcultural Dimensions”
University of Pretoria, South-Africa – October 17-19, 2019

Conference Report
Memory in Africa: Transcultural Dimensions

The memory in Africa inaugural conference was held on the 17-19 October, 2019 at the University of Pretoria Hatfield Campus. The conference was organized by the Africa Chapter of Memory Studies Association. The Africa Chapter of Memory Studies Association is a brainchild of the International Memory Studies Association – MSA. The conference was aimed at promoting content of memory studies that are more African centred because within Memory Studies, the African continent, its people, diaspora and global linkages constitute neglected areas of research despite the effort individual scholars and the MSA’s explicit mission to move beyond the Euro/Anglo centrism. The conference was attended by over 40 delegates from Germany, United Kingdom, United States, Finland, Sweden, South Africa, the Kingdom of Eswatini, the Kingdom of Lesotho, Greece etc. The conference was very interactive and provided a platform for academic researchers in Africa and international scholars interested in Africa to network, to share their research and begin developing an Afrocentric approach to memory studies. The two Keynote speakers were Professor John Sutton from the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University in Sydney – Australia and Professor Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu from the Department of History at the University of South Africa. Professor John Sutton spoke on the topic “Moving minds: emotion, memory, and embodied skill.” He said, activities of remembering are typically personal, cultural, and worldly all at once, distributed across embodied agents in interactive social groups embedded in complex ecologies. In his presentation, Professor Sutton tried to test and refine new ideas in memory studies in dialogue with some indigenous epistemologies. While Professor Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu spoke on the topic “Reclaiming the Ancestral Memory of Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Nelson Mandela.” In his Presentation, Professor Sifiso cited an article titled ‘Liberating Mandela’s Memory’ published in the New African magazine of March 2011, by Ayi Kwei Armah, the Ghanaian intellectual and literary scholar who locates Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela within African epistemologies and highlights epistemicide committed through Euro-centric scholarship which dominates publications on Mandela.

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