CfP: (Re)thinking Africa’s image for the development of the continent

Call for Papers, deadline 30 September 2023

Young African Scholars Symposium  
Call for Papers  
Saint-Louis (Senegal)  
From 3 to 7 June 2024

(Re)thinking Africa’s image for the development of the continent

Africa has the youngest population in the world. It is estimated that there are more than 400 million young people between the ages of 15 and 35. According to projections of the United Nations, the number of Africans is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2050 and 4.5 billion by 2100. Better still, "one out of every two humans expected to come into existence on Earth by 2050 will be born in Africa". This reality does not, however, allow us to speak of a demographic dividend. The same can be said about natural resources as a significant proportion of minerals used in industrial production is extracted from Africa’s subsoil. In official discourse, that many assets make Africa the continent of the future. However, why should Africa be framed as the continent of the future and not of the present? After more than six decades of independence, what could be the explanation for Africa’s staggering socio-economic lag when compared to other continents? There are numerous answers: from enslavement, to present-day neo-colonialism by way of a century of colonialism. If outcomes of this long period of domination are mainly economic, it remains that they were solidified by prejudices and clichés that branded Africa as a continent with religious beliefs and customs "incapable of raising their followers to a higher level of civilization and morality" (Dakar, ANS, O516 (31)). This ideology, which served to legitimize the so-called “civilizing mission” of western colonialism, was developed, and disseminated by reluctant authors. From their writings stemmed racist discourses which have fuelled a subjective debate, validated La pensée blanche (L. Thuram, 2020) and underpinned discriminatory policies against the African diaspora, as well as painted a falsified image of an Africa “badly off” (see R. Dumont, 1962) and incapable of development (see A. Kabou, 1991). The impression that Africa is a "cursed" continent however contrasts largely with the realities it has undergone and experienced. Both sides of the above paradox strongly explains the Afroscepticism/Afro-pessimism that has reached the less informed and popular masses. The need to change this overall dynamic is acute and requires more than a redefinition of priorities, public policies, and development programs. It is necessary to adopt a posture based on an Afro-optimism that could reposition Africa as "a hopeful continent". While it is true that Africa has a strong need to rethink its own development models and systematically correct the tendentious and racist falsifications of its history, it is no less true that the imperative to rethink and reinvent its development is becoming categorical. It is important to learn from history by taking ownership of the new challenges and issues facing the African continent.

This symposium, conceived and led by young African scholars, is part of an agenda for a revisionist perspective on Africa. It aims to engage debates in Africanist intellectual circles around the revision of the image of the African continent in a planet marked by the race for development where the great powers are engaged in an asymmetrical promotion of their culture, which they implicitly bait the rest of the world with.
Prospective participants wishing to present papers at the symposium are requested to organize their contributions, as far as feasible, within the following advisory conceptual and research guidelines:

  • Women and development in Africa
  • Culture and Development in Africa
  • Religion, Spirituality and Development in Africa
  • Africa through the African lens
  • Education and training in the Africa of the future
  • Entrepreneurship and ICT
  • Languages and African integration
  • African Diaspora and development
  • Africa and the world: what new relationships?
  • African sports and athletes: Showcase of Africa

Submission instructions

Researchers are encouraged to submit papers that address 1 or more of the 4 key issues specified. Based on the format adopted, presentations will last 20 minutes and will be followed by a discussion with the audience.  
To participate, please send a proposal including a title, a short presentation of the envisaged contribution (350 words maximum), 5 keywords and a short biobibliographical note.

Please submit here

For all questions email:


  • Launching call: June 30, 2023
  • Deadline for abstracts: September 30, 2023
  • Selection of contributions by the scientific committee: October 15, 2023
  • Deadline for submission of final papers: 30 March, 2024
  • Symposium: June 3-7, 2024

Full text of the call for papers (in English and in French), see PDF files attached below