Call for Abstracts

“Dealing in Solidarity” Liberation Movements’ Perspectives on International Aid, Annual Conference of the African Studies Association (UK), Oxford. Deadline: 29 March 2024

Call for Abstracts

“Dealing in Solidarity” Liberation Movements’ Perspectives on International Aid

This panel brings the burgeoning historiography on global ‘solidarities’ with African liberation movements into dialogue with novel sources that center the perspectives of the ‘recipients’ of such exchanges. During the Global Cold War, the provision of international aid to liberation movements became a transversal practice, common to a whole range of Eastern, Western and non-aligned state and non-state actors who all “dealt in solidarity.” These efforts resulted in the existence of parallel systems for the circulation of goods, ideas, techniques of government, and people - ‘experts,’ volunteers, workers, activists, film makers, journalists. Drawing on the rich archives of universities, (international) organizations and the state, a large and fast-growing scholarship has by now chronicled in considerable detail what Burton, Harisch and Schenck have called the “moorings and (dis)entanglements” (Schenck et al. 2021) that constituted solidarity relationships, particularly from East to South. Owing to this archival richness, however, much of this scholarship centers on the perspectives of the ‘donors’ without paying equal attention to the processes through which solidarity relationships were negotiated, contested and practiced from the perspectives of the ‘recipients.’ How did liberation movements pursue, approach and strategize those who “dealt in solidarity”? How did different actors within liberation movements position themselves to craft alliances and play at donors expectations? What was the relevance of the practices that resulted from solidarity exchanges within the context of the liberation movements historiographies?

To address these questions, we welcome papers that focus on the perspectives of actors within liberation movements who were responsible for seeking, negotiating, and implementing international aid programs in Africa before and after independence. We intend to bring to the fore the way in which liberation movements understood, negotiated, implemented and used international aid with national, transnational, and international actors. By doing so, we can shed new light onto the ways in which recipients shaped solidarity programs, and solidarity programs shaped national histories of liberation and independence. Moreover, Western humanitarianism and international aid to liberation movements have usually been studied separately from East-South and South-South solidarity initiatives. By centring ‘recipients perspectives’ we can begin to understand how together, they created a complex landscape of solidarity that liberation movements navigated before and after independence. We welcome papers that engage with sources that can give insights into recipients perspectives, i.e. engaging sources beyond the ‘donor archives’, including but not limited to sources from liberation movements’ archives, oral histories, musical archives, memoirs, private or diplomatic archives. We also welcome a (re)reading of ‘donor’ archives in a new light to bring the perspectives of ‘recipients’ to the fore. Archives of international conferences (such as the World Student and Youth festivals for example’) and organizations (such as the OAU) could lend themselves well to an exploration of negotiation processes.

Topic ideas could be:

- Networks of solidarity: within the liberation movements, among liberation movements, and with outsiders, their channels of communications, exchange of ideas and information. How liberation actors negotiated international aid programs internally before engaging in further conversations with the donors? How did donors contact liberation movements?
- Strategies to mobilize international solidarity: from official plans defined by their Departments of Foreign Affairs and Central Committee’ to personal initiatives.
- The fluidity of the rhetorics deployed by liberation actors: For example, how they mobilized humanitarian, solidarity, development, or Human Rights narratives depending on their interlocutors? When did these definitions change?
- Turning points: When were solidarity programs and certain kind of programs initiated or interrupted? And what internal and external (local, national, international) reasons might be behind them?
- Context: ideological affinities, practical conditions, and personal relations behind friendships and alliances.
- Confrontations: how solidarity spurred frictions between recipients and donors, among different liberation actors within the same movement, and among liberation movements struggling for the same source of aid?
- Solidarity intermediaries: How were foreign intermediaries recruited to negotiate solidarity at international forums UN meetings, where liberation actors could not always participate themselves? How much could liberation movements contribute to shaping their discourse and vice versa?
- PR: How did liberation movement’s influenced the public campaigns in support to their movements abroad?
- Legacies: How did solidarities continue, transform, end, in post-colonial times?

Selected papers will be presented during the Annual Conference of the African Studies Association, to be held in Oxford, from 29 to 31 August 2024. We are planning to have a special issue on the same topic. Authors who cannot attend the conference, but would like to be part of the special issue, are invited to send their abstracts as well. We especially encourage early career and scholars from the African continent to submit their abstracts. ASA UK has limited travel funding available.

Please send an abstract of 300-500 words to Johanna Wetzel at or Alba Martín Luque at before March 29th, 2024.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 29 March 2024
Notification of acceptance: 15 May 2024

07 February 2024



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