Daniel Mulugeta Gebrie and Julia Gallagher will present papers at the annual Africa Studies Association Conference in November 2019 in Boston.
Gallagher’s paper is entitled ‘Aesthetics of the State in Africa’.
The paper proposes a new way of theorising the state in Africa, exploring how it is described through citizens’ engagement with their state buildings. Building on architectural, aesthetic and political theory it thinks through how aesthetic judgement of state buildings can reveal popular conceptions of political value. The empirical part of the paper draws on fieldwork in South Africa, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, comparing public judgements of state buildings gathered through focus group discussions with a variety of community, church and civic society organisations.
Daniel’s paper is entitled 'The Aesthetics of Architecture and Pan-Africanism: the politics of collective identity formation'
The paper explores the articulation of Pan-African collective identity formation by juxtaposing an analysis of Pan-African nationalism with a reading of the physical architectural structure hosting the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa. It reflects upon the ways in which the AU built space ascribes and is ascribed with a multiplicity of aesthetic meanings and affect, and the way in which these enable at once the emergence, contestation and consolidation of various forms of Pan-African collective subjectivity. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Addis Ababa, the paper conceives of aesthetics as affective response of human interaction with objects. In so doing it illustrates how transnational political imaginations are mediated by concrete, social and sensorial entanglements of different actors with buildings. Bringing ethnographic work on aesthetics and affect into dialogue with literature on Pan-African nationalism, the paper aims to contribute toward a new approach to the study of the links between African trans-national organisations and the production of transnational collective subjectivity.