Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien (ZIRS)
der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


History and Politics of Belonging in African Indian Ocean Island Societies

Third international thematic CRG conference on Africa and the Indian Ocean

Ort: Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien
Reichardtstraße 6
06114 Halle/Saale
Organisation: Collaborative Research Group on Africa in the Indian Ocean
Preben Kaarsholm, Roskilde University
Didier Nativel, Université Paris Diderot
Manuel Ramos, Instituto Universitario de Lisboa
Iain Walker, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Conference Programme

The African Indian Ocean islands have histories founded on migrations, be they forced (slavery), semi-forced (indentured labourers) or free (insofar as migrations prompted by social economic or political pressures in the homeland can be described as free). Migrants have come to these islands from the African mainland, South and East Asia, the Arab world and even Europe, where they have either constituted new societies or inserted themselves into older ones. Histories – of the people and of the islands – are deeply intertwined, in official practice, in public texts and in collective memories, and these histories shape social relations and cultural practices in these islands.

This two-day Conference calls for contributions that address the various expressions of historical memories of the past and their impacts upon, for example, social relationships, literary production, cultural practices, heritage issues or political policies. Participants might ask how memories of the past are both produced by and frame relationships between different groups in Madagascar, between people of free and slave ancestry in Mauritius, between islanders in the Comoros or between “Arabs” and “Africans” in Zanzibar. Although we welcome historical papers, “the past” is a relative term and migrations continue today. Participants are therefore encouraged to address the dynamics of contemporary productions of history and of memories of these migrant pasts, and how the narratives thus produced shape contemporary modes of belonging.


Participants will be expected to make their own travel arrangements but accommodation and meals during the conference will be provided.

Please send abstracts of not more than 150 words with the author’s name, email and institutional affiliation to iain.walker@zirs.uni-halle.de before 31 January 2018. We would expect to advise of acceptance or otherwise by 9 February.


German Research Foundation (DFG)
Center for Interdisciplinary Area Studies (Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Regionalstudien), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
AEGIS (Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies)

For further information, if required, please contact Iain Walker at iain.walker@zirs.uni-halle.de