Story posted December 05, 2008
Leading Africana studies scholars from the United States and Canada gathered at Bowdoin Friday, December 5, 2008, for a daylong symposium titled "Transnational Africa and Globalization."
The event was organized by Olufemi Vaughan (director, Africana Studies Program, and Geoffrey Canada Professor of Africana Studies and History, Bowdoin College) and Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome (professor of political science and chair, Women's Studies Program, Brooklyn College, CUNY).
Drawing on the research projects of African and Western scholars from various social science disciplines, the symposium explored how African migration to Western countries after the neo-liberal economic reforms of the 1980s transformed African states and their new transnational populations in Western countries.
Symposium participants analyzed how the interplay of a wide range of social, political, economic, and religious forces shaped the nature and form of transnationalization.
The contemporary dispersals of African populations diverge significantly from previous "population flows" from the African continent across the Atlantic.
However, despite its unique qualities, this contemporary wave of African migration, like earlier "population flows" raises important questions for how we analyze politics, economics, culture, identity, and memory in national and transnational contexts.
Analyzed in their appropriate historical context, participants showed how the interconnections among colonialism, decolonization, postcolonial statist regimes, and globalism are essential to critical scholarly explorations of African transnationalism in the global era.
The symposium showed that even as conventional "push and pull" factors of migration continue to shape the dialectical tensions between national and global forces, African immigrants and their dependents in Western countries are remarkably innovative and adaptive to rapidly shifting conditions.
Participants analyzed the implications of these transnational currents and crosscurrents for community, state, and global relations and security, revealing the extent in which transnational experiences are integral to the ongoing processes of globalization.
Participants also showed that, like globalization, Africa's transnational encounters are vibrant, complicated, and dynamic, defining new meaning of homeland and diaspora, tradition and modernity, citizen and subject, gender and generation.
Symposium participants explored African transnationalism within the context of such topics as economics, politics and governance, ethnic identities, religion, refugee populations, and education, among others.