Africa Week is an annual celebration of research, education and outreach activities on Africa. It brings together academics, researchers and students from across King's – and offers the opportunity to hear from African scholars, leaders and thinkers.
Hosted by the African Leadership Centre and Africa research group, Africa Week is also a showcase of King's collaboration with African universities and partners.
Africa Week 2022 (3-9 March)
Theme: Centring the arts and cultural production: Implications for health, physical and social sciences, and the humanities.
This year’s Africa week will feature talks, seminars and events which interrogate how the arts and cultural production re(shape) the narratives and knowledge creation across disciplines including health, social sciences and the humanities. This is a critical space through which African voice and agency has been platformed on a global scale. Through fashion, music, literature, art, photography and film many Africans have staked a claim on the global stage and have used these tools to engage in pertinent discourses. This theme connects with global ambition for centring creativity in socioeconomic transition and change with the UN declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.
Central question: In what ways does centring cultural production and the arts re(shape) knowledge in relation to other disciplines. What are implications of interdisciplinary ways of knowing, knowledge creation and its impacts?
The African Development Bank introduced Fashionomics to connect African creatives across the continent but also through technology to harness innovation and skill. It estimates the Africa-sited global fashion industry’s market value at $1.3 trillion. Nollywood, the second largest film production industry globally, has wide reaching impacts for the continent not least in economic terms, in Nigeria alone its contributions to the economy are notable in accounting for around 2.3 % of GDP in 2016. These spaces of expression and artistic endeavour offer opportunities for empowerment and sustenance reflecting the interdependencies across cultural, economic and social value.
Music has been a tool for engaging and transforming political discourses through the work of Fela Kuti, Bobi Wine and Takun J. Young people across the continent have negotiated their influence across the critical contexts of the economy, politics, and social contexts through this sphere. Their influence has shifted security situations taking for example: Afrobeats response to the #ENDSARS movement in Nigeria, and Y’en a Marre (Fed Up) in Senegal.
African literature is a platform through which authors have used storytelling to critically engage in discourses around the history of the African continent and key moments. Through their writing they are able to raise social consciousness around these issues. Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Buchi Emecheta, Ama Ata Aidoo, Yaa Gyasi, Maaza Mengista, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor and Wole Soyinka document feminisms, migration, economic, political and social change, liberation, colonisation, war and the transatlantic movements through poetic, compelling, complex and nuanced texts that admonish troubled mainstream narratives (across disciplines including history, mental health, conflict, economics and peace).
In the health sciences, the arts have been vital in shaping contemporary interventions in both clinical and non-clinical approaches including addressing the causes of health challenges and therapies. This site is subverting the hierarchies inherent in clinical vs. non-clinical approaches, practitioners, the concrete vs. the imagined, the collective vs. the individual, the local vs. the global, among other false dichotomies. Creative spaces have also been significant for connecting contemporary and historical health practices on the continent.
Yet, arts and culture remain underacknowledged and un-tapped especially around how they provide a space for understanding and explaining wider disciplinary concerns. Epistemic diversity is significant for meaning making and creating knowledge that is transformative and impactful. The interactions between health sciences, social sciences and the humanities and the arts offer particular appeal and can be translatable to a broad and diverse range of audiences.
Through this week, we will critically interrogate these intersections drawing on research from King’s scholars and research partners across Africa to examine how the arts and cultural production have been shaping other disciplines both within Africa and globally. We highlight innovations and ongoing efforts to integrate the arts in these areas and ask how the politics of knowledge has shaped (or misshaped) global learning and understanding of Africa across time, through this interrogation.