The Performance of Pan-Africanism: from Colonial Exhibitions to Black and African Cultural Festivals
Keynote speakers: Andrew Apter (UCLA), Cheryl Finley (Cornell University), Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia University)
Co-organizers: Tsitsi Jaji (University of Pennsylvania), Martin Munro (FSU), David Murphy (University of Stirling)
In April 1966, thousands of artists, musicians, performers and writers from across Africa and its diaspora gathered in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to take part in the First World Festival of Black and African Culture (Premier Festival Mondial des arts nègres). The festival constituted a highly symbolic moment both in the era of decolonization and the push for civil rights for African Americans in the United States. In essence, the festival sought to perform an emerging pan-African culture, to give concrete cultural expression to the ties that would bind the African ‘homeland’ to black people in the diaspora. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Dakar ’66, this conference seeks to examine the festival and its multiple legacies, in order to help us better to understand both the utopianism of the 1960s and the ‘festivalization’ of Africa that has occurred in recent decades. The conference is also interested in exploring the role of colonial exhibitions and world’s fairs in establishing a set of representational frameworks that would later be contested but also sometimes (unwittingly) adopted by black/African groups in the aftermath of the Second World War.