Category Archives: Conference

Future Challenges, Ancient Solutions: What we can learn from the past about managing the future in the Pacific

29th November – 3rd December 2010
University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji Islands

Many challenges face the peoples of the Pacific Islands in the 21st century. Solutions are needed that are both effective and acknowledge the cultural context in which they will be applied. Many solutions that have been applied to the Pacific Islands have failed because they have been neither culturally sensitive nor environmentally appropriate. In this regard, it is possible that earlier generations of Pacific peoples came up with solutions to similar challenges that were successful because they were developed by key stakeholders who knew the context intimately.

This conference examines several areas in which there are challenges confronting Pacific Island peoples and looks to the past to see whether solutions were developed in response to comparable challenges. The aim of this conference is to identify those ancient solutions and evaluate their efficacy. The overarching goal is to inform solutions for contemporary challenges, particularly by enhancing their cultural and environmental sustainability to the Pacific Islands context.

See website.

Parallel Pasts, Convergent Futures? Comparing New Zealand, Iberia and Latin America

A Stout Research Centre/ Victoria Institute for Links with  Latin America (VILLA) conference  
Victoria University of Wellington 
2‐4 September 2010

Keynote speakers:

  • Professor José Colmeiro, University of Auckland
  • Professor Tom Dwyer, University of Campinas, São Paulo
  • Professor Alfredo Martínez Expósito, University of Queensland
  • Professor Lisa Matisoo‐Smith, University of Otago
  • Professor Marco A. Pamplona, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro

Organising Committee: Prof. James Belich, Dr Nicola Gilmour, Prof. Richard Hill, Prof. Warwick Murray, Prof. Rob Rabel, Mrs Patricia Vasconcelos Cavalcanti de Marotta

The Iberian Peninsula and the British Isles are the two leading producers of overseas settler societies in the history of the modern world. Yet the pasts and presents  of  the  two diasporas, which made and  remade Latin America and  ‘neo-Britains’  such as New Zealand, are seldom compared. This conference will explore   comparisons,  connections,  and  convergences,  past  and  present,  between  New  Zealand and the countries of Iberia and Latin America. 

To register visit:‐centre/about/events/conferences.aspx

Dialogue among the Disciplines of Knowledge (Chile 2010)

II Congress on Sciences, Technologies and Cultures: Dialogue among the Disciplines of Knowledge

Looking at the future of Latin America and the Caribbean

October  29 and November 1 ,2010 at the Universidad de Santiago de Chile USACH

The Study Net on Migrations, Nationalism and Citizenship (USACH 2008) invites you to take part in the Symposium.
The Challenges of Globalization. Conceptual, Historical and Present Problematic Prospects regarding Migrations, Citizenship and Nationalisms in Europe and America.


  • Dr Martha Ruffini (Universidad del Comahue, Argentina)
  • Mg Maria Eugenia Cruset (universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina)
  • Dr Hélcio Ribeiro (Universidade Presbiteriana MacKenzie, Brazil)
  • Contact mail

The political, economical, social and cultural transformation of the last thirty years have placed some concepts again in the centre of the discussions about the challenges provoked by the so-called “global era”. Changes in historical configuration which today question the existence of the Nation-State, the interaction and interconnection between  people and organizations through markets and global informatic nets, the questions around cultural diversity, the problematic of migrations and its relationship with the rebirth of nationalisms and the crisis of the concept of citizenship worked out in modern times invite researchers to reflect jointly on these problems, their history, their present and their future.

With the summons we continue with reflections began at the symposium which took place at the I International Congress on Knowledge (Santiago de Chile 2008) and the 53rd Americanist Congress (Mexico 2009) which resulted in the creation of a Net ( and the publication of a recently edited book which takes the most significant ideas of the I International Congress on Knowledge.

We invite colleagues of all disciplines who work on these subjects to participate. Those papers which deal with conceptual, methodological, historical and present problematics of Diasporas, and Migrations will be especially welcomed. Proposals will be received in Spanish, Portuguese and English.

Paper summaries are accepted (200 words) and institutional ascriptions up to June 30 2010. Papers (15 pages max.) up to August 31, 2010. Only approved papers will be accepted at the symposium.

Argentine Culture Symposium

Saturday 29 May, 4.30pm – 8.00pm

To celebrate the bicentenary of the Argentine independence revolution, the School of Music in collaboration with the School of Languages, will host a half-day symposium on Argentine culture showcasing the work of Argentine academics and scholars at the University of Melbourne.

The programme will include papers on tango, rock, and media in contemporary Argentina; censorship, economic crisis, and the ‘cumbia villera’ phenomenon; Argentinean’s attitudes towards their variety of Spanish language; the musical rhetoric of the Argentine national anthem, and an analysis of the Oscar-winning film El secreto de sus ojos (The secret in their eyes). The event will conclude with a recital by Argentine pianist Andrea Katz, featuring works by Ginastera, López Buchardo and Guastavino.

Download the full programme here.
Venue: Tallis Wing, Conservatorium Building,
School of Music, The University of  Melbourne
Gate 12, Royal Parade, Parkville
All Welcome
For more information contact: Dr Melanie Plesch

The Atlantic World in a Pacific Field

Sydney Sawyer Seminar: The Antipodean Laboratory: Humanity, Sovereignty and Environment in Southern Oceans and Lands, 1700-2009
Generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Sydney
The University of Sydney is the proud host of the first Mellon Sawyer Seminar to be held in Australia. The seminar will conclude with a conference on 5-7 August 2010.
The Atlantic World in a Pacific Field: A Conference

5-7 August, 2010, University of Sydney
How does a strange place or people become comparable with those more familiar? What does it take to relate a new plant or animal to those already well known? How does one standardize observations and mobilize things and people and situations so they have meaning elsewhere? That is, how was the Pacific made into the obligatory site for exploring the issues that mattered in the Atlantic world? In particular, this conference will examine the ways in which both oceanic regions were co-produced through a complicated series of intellectual and practical interactions over many centuries. Moreover, it will seek ways in which to make the Pacific visible again in global scholarship.

Speakers include:

  • Alison Bashford, Sydney

‘Karl Haushofer’s Geopolitics of the Pacific Ocean’

  • Janet Browne, Harvard University

‘Corresponding Naturalists’

  • Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Texas

        ‘From Lima to Australia: Biblical Knowledge and the Antipodes in the Viceroyalty of Peru, ca 1600’

  • Joyce Chaplin, Harvard University

‘Atlantic Antislavery and Pacific Navigation’

  • Ann Curthoys, Sydney

        ‘Comparative indigenous politics in Australia’\’

  • Sheila Fitzpatrick, Chicago

        ‘Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay:  In His Own Words’

  • Anita Herle, Cambridge

        ‘Creating the Anthropological Field in the Pacific’

  • Chris Hilliard, Sydney

        ‘The Strange Maori: Ethnographic Knowledge and the Settler Culture Industry’

  • Julia Horne, Sydney

        ‘Atlantic challenges in the antipodes’

  • Michael McDonnell, Sydney

        ‘Facing Empire: Indigenous Histories in Comparative Perspective’

  • Joseph Meisel, Mellon Foundation

        ‘The Representation of Learning in Parliament: Britain, North America, and Australasia’

  • Andrew Moutu, Adelaide

       ‘Value and the problem of symmetry’

  • Damon Salesa, Michigan

        ‘Medical Spaces and Imperial Encounters in Samoa and the Pacific’

  • Katerina Teaiwa, ANU

        ‘Between Oceans: Popular Kinship and the ACP’

  • Simon Schaffer, Cambridge

        ‘In transit: European cosmologies in the Pacific’

For more information, including a full program, abstracts, how to register and information on bursaries available for postgraduates, please visit the Sydney Sawyer website.

The South of International Law

Intensive Workshop
Thursday 8 & Friday 9 July 2010, Melbourne Law School
Call for Participation
Due 22 April

How might a concept of the ‘South’ be understood in terms of a pattern of (international) legal relations? 

‘The South’ is commonly understood as a political rather than a purely geographical  designation, broadly to indicate the ‘have-nots’ in a world riven with material  inequalities. The term is meant to overcome the hierarchical implications of other  designations, and attempts not to accept the epistemological privileges granted by  concepts such as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’.  

Critics of contemporary international legal orders  have pointed out that the grid of  international law has locked in a particular vision and distribution of political and  economic relations that perpetuates the history of  the colonisation of the South. It is  from here that many of the North-South and South-South debates gain their legal  focus. In these accounts the South emerges as a domain in constant need of  recuperation of and by the laws, politics, economies, and cultures of the North. At the  same time South-South relations have emerged in resistance and relation to the  dynamics of North-South relations.

However, if this rendering of accounts of imperial and post-colonial law is let rest a  while, there are other patterns of law that can be  understood to shape the South.  These laws, articulated for example, in terms of indigenous jurisprudences or the  commons, pattern the South according to different cosmologies, laws of relationship,  responsibilities, and protocols of engagement. Respond to these laws – as many  contemporary debates that link the places, peoples, and histories of the South do -  and a different patterning of legal relations emerge.   

The workshop invites consideration of the many ways in which the South is patterned  by indigenous, national, international and other laws – some providing parallel  accounts of law(s) of the South, others that intersect and conflict. The aim of this  workshop is to develop the repertoires of thinking  through the laws that position the  South in the domains of international laws.

Themes might include:

  • The South as a ‘lawful’ rather than lawless place,  engaging questions of plural legalities and intersections of laws
  • The South as a political-legal entity
  • The South as an object of International law and administration
  • Alternative traditions of ‘international’ legality

Specific debates addressed might include:

  • Trade, development
  • Security
  • Environment
  • North-South Justice
  • Transnational (and private) engagements of laws
  • Indigenous jurisprudence and formulations of the international

The Workshop

The symposium is designed to take advantage of the  visit to Melbourne of three
outstanding scholars:

Dr Fleur Johns (University of Sydney), Dr Catriona Drewe (SOAS, London); and Professor Ruth Buchanan (Osgoode Hall, Toronto)
Ruth, Catriona and Fleur research, teach and write  in areas including international law, development, legal theory, human rights, globalisation and self determination.  Each works from a perspective interested in questions of global justice and critical thinking.  The workshop is being organised by four Melbourne scholars with complementary  interests; Luis Eslava, Shaun McVeigh, Sundhya Pahuja and Gerry Simpson.

Applications to participate:

Everyone is welcome to apply to participate, though we particularly encourage  papers from advanced graduate students, young scholars and junior members of  faculty. There are three ways to participate: 

1. Paper Presentation (6)
Three sessions will be held as intensive engagements with each other’s work.  In  each session, there will be a presentation by one of our guests and 2 papers  selected from applicants’ papers.  The chair and our guest scholars will read the  papers in advance. The authors will each present the paper orally for around 20  minutes.  The Chair will offer a short commentary on each before opening the floor to  discussion.  If you are selected to present, you will need to provide a written draft of your paper
two weeks before the workshop.   

2. Reading Group Discussant (3)
We will also include a reading group at the workshop for which the text will be distributed shortly. One of the organisers will lead the discussion.  All workshop participants are strongly  encouraged to do the reading beforehand, but we also seek three discussants to  engage closely with the text and to be key participants in the discussion. 

3. Non-Presenting Participant (15-20)
The whole workshop will be held in plenary.  Places will be limited to 35 participants.

Because we wish to build an ongoing discussion, we  envisage that everyone will attend the whole conference and will come prepared  to participate in the reading group.  

Fees / Conference Support

There is no charge for those selected to participate in the workshop, but you must be  registered to attend.  Dinners are not included. We have no travel funding, but if you  wish to attend but need accommodation, please get in touch with us and we will try to  assist you however we can (such as finding you a place to stay). 

How to Apply

Everyone: send an email with the subject line:  South Of International Law  to by 22 April with your:

  • Name
  • Institutional Affiliation

And if relevant:

  • Position
  • Course and stage of study 
  • Citation of one or two representative publications

Reading Group Discussants

The above, plus… an indication that you would like to be a Reading  Group discussant in your email.

Paper Presentation

The above, plus…

  • a short abstract (max 500 words) of your paper; and
  • some information about whether it is part of a larger project.  

If you would like to be considered to be a reading group discussant in the alternative, please say so.

Deadline for applications:  22 April 2010

Notifications by 3 May whether you have been selected. Papers will be selected by the Melbourne organisers. 

Argentinean conference on ‘multi-versalism’ – call for papers

Conference Mendoza, 3-6 November 2010

Working title:

“Cultural elements in social sciences and in academic labor – Epistemological and educational challenges constructing a scientific multi-versalism”

Workshop rationale

The era of globalization confronts social thought with a twofold paradox: Firstly, in the era of globalization knowledge about foreign societies and policies has gained importance, especially since the anticipated arrival of a “multi-polar” world makes knowledge about different regions indispensable. Due to the effects of globalization on the historically nationally constructed societies also local phenomena increasingly incorporate international dimensions requiring the internationalization of the social sciences knowledge production. However, due to their emergence in the context of nation states namely in Europe, the categories social science uses for interpreting social phenomena, have strong conceptual ties with particular nation states and their societal cultures. While countries and their societies beyond Europe to which the concept of nation state had been exported rarely gained the powerful tradition as nationally constructed societies as they did from where the concept originates, the concepts and categories of the social sciences that emerged in the context of the European national based societies have been spread over the world constituting the international standards of a scientific universalism.

Secondly, while the process of globalisation adjusts the economies of the societies on the globe to the standards of market economies, the very same adjustment of the economic standards raises the attention of those very societies to their particular identities interpreting globalisation through the perspective of the role they play in the globe, constructed via the roots of their individual histories and their distinctive cultural and political traditions. The reconfiguration of space and power through globalization necessitates the understanding of the peculiar social and cultural prerequisites of social thought allowing for divers interpretations of globalization and of the emerging new world order.

However, the need for diverse interpretations of the “Global” is confronted with the need to question the scientific foundations of a former worldwide acknowledged scientific universalism, constitutive of what has been considered as modern scientific knowledge, which, however, as Said has shown for the Asian societies, is often only the interpretation of the world through the eyes and the categories of a European social science perspective.

As a result, the need for multiple interpretations of the global does not only have to encompass the parochial categories of nation-based societies as their analytical framework allowing for internationalized scientific interpretations of the world, but also have to overcome the universalization of the Western parochial interpretation of the global, inevitably questioning the global validity of Western social science concepts, thus also eroding the established universal foundations of social science thinking.

If the SSH are to be global they must become open to a plurality of cultural realities and schemes of interpretation, without falling into cultural relativism. In this process it is very likely that they become reformulated and even transformed through multiple dialogues and interactions among the individuals, groups and institutions that generate and ultimately create a new social science world order. This creation of a new global social science world order will inevitably have to go through a phase of a scientific multi-versalism, encountering all the conflicts incorporated in the epistemological contradiction of a pluralism of universalisms.

The main objective of the workshop is to reflect on how to escape from local parochialism as a theoretical framework for interpreting the global, how to overcome the universalization of Western parochialism, its concepts and categories of social thinking hegemonizing the interpretation of the global, and how to begin to create and establish a bottom up scientific multi-versalism based on the different cultural standards of sciences and of academic labor.

Call for abstracts

  • Please send your abstracts by the 30. April 1010.

  • The abstracts should not exceed 750 words.

Topics for papers


  1. The papers should reflect on cultural elements in social sciences and in social scientists’ academic labour
  1. If possible, they should reflect on the issues in an international comparative perspective,
  1. discuss individual local phenomena from and towards a global perspective
  1. and allow for critical reflections of the concepts and theories dominating the field.

Topics to be addressed are


  1. Review and critical discussion of existing theories and research about issues related to the internationalisation of social sciences and humanities (scientific universalism, academic dependence, indigenous and scientific knowledge, knowledge and culture, etc)
  1. Fundamental reflections about the relation of culture and social sciences
  1. Concepts of culture and their applicability to social sciences
  1. Methodological implications of the diversity of concepts of social knowledge and academic labour


  1. Examples of cultural dimensions of social knowledge and academic labour
  1. Examples from intercultural scientific collaborations
  1. Unknown social science knowledge “behind the northern science and language walls”


  1. Theories, concepts and approaches to Higher Education in the light of global social sciences
  1. Encountering cultural elements in international collaborations: Implication for HE
  1. Scientific competencies for international scientific collaborations

Contact: Michael Kuhn

Web:, blog

Pacific Art in the 21st Century – Museums, New Global Communities And Future Trends



The Xth International Symposium of the Pacific Arts Association is pleased to call for papers on ‘Pacific Art in the 21st Century – Museums, New Global Communities And Future Trends.’

The symposium seeks to highlight issues surrounding the creation, dispersal, possession, repatriation, stewardship and interpretation of Pacific art in the 21st century

Focus of sessions
1. Objects from Central and Eastern Polynesia (the Cook Islands, Society Islands, Austral Islands, Gambier Islands, Marquesas Islands, Rapa Nui) in museums and private collections. Current research on 19th century and earlier works, including scientific testing.
2. Pacific Islanders’ views today on the relationship between objects and atua (spirit beings, deified ancestors, and `gods’).
3. Contemporary work by Pacific Islander artists, including Pasifika work coming out of urban centres; how artists influence changing perceptions and understandings of Pacific culture.
4. The emerging role of museum websites and other web entities dealing with Pacific art. “Virtual repatriation” – what is it? can it work?
5. Representing Pacific art and cultures. The role of libraries, archives, museums and other institutions in the Pacific in furthering the understanding of Pacific art and raising issues concerning the interpretation of Pacific art by institutions world-wide.
6. Artists panel
7. Open session

Key dates:

  • March 1, 2010: Submit Abstracts (250 words maximum)
  • April 15, 2010: Notification of Paper Acceptance
  • Conference – Rarotonga, Cook Islands August 9-11, 2010

To submit proposals, see website at

Oceanic Transformations conference



3rd Conference ‘Oceanic Transformations’ Victoria University Conference Centre, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, 8th – 11th April 2010

Call for abstracts by 8th February 2010

The Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS) holds a biennial conference. The first one, "Australia in the Pacific – the Pacific in Australia" was held in January 2006 at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).  The next, "Oceanic Connections", was held in April 2008 at the Australian National University (ANU).  AAAPS now invites abstracts for presentations to the 3rd AAAPS conference, “Oceanic Transformations” to be held at the Victoria University Conference Centre, 300 Flinders Street, Melbourne, from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th April 2010. For more information about AAAPS please visit the website Membership is free, if you are interested, please register on the website.

In the 21st Century Oceania, including Australia is faced with issues such as climate change, collapse of global financial institutions and unsustainable agriculture and fisheries. While the globalization of markets has been seen as an inevitable process, recent events point to a need for more attention to be paid to local solutions to global problems within the Oceanic region. Australia’s role seems marked by contradiction. Official institutions are attempting to increase their influence in the region, yet Australians learn less and less from their educational institutions and media about Oceania. At the same time, growing diasporas of Pacific Islanders in Australia are making their presence felt in fields of culture, music, sport, education and civil society.

The Conference will be cross-disciplinary, Papers of 20 minutes duration are invited in the following streams, preference will be given to topics which address the Conference theme but all papers in the field of Pacific studies will be considered. Please email abstracts of 200 – 300 words and brief biographical details (including email and mailing address) to one of the convenors below. Publication of books of refereed papers will be discussed at the conference, together with other modes of publication, including e publication.

Historical Approaches – Jon Ritchie;

Helen Gardner;

The study of Pacific History underpins all other approaches to this region: explorations of Pacific economics, health, social and cultural development, foreign relations, and the arts demand an understanding of the trends that have contributed to shaping the contemporary region and its peoples.  And yet paradoxically, the sub-discipline of Pacific History is in decline in Australia.  Why this should be the case, and what can be done to address this trend, are questions that require answers if the study of Pacific History in Australia is to retain its central role in Pacific studies more generally.

Anthropology – Grant McCall;;

Benedicta Rousseau:

Anthropology has an abiding interest in the history, development and current cultural affairs of the Pacific Islands, with important figures (e.g. Malinowski, Firth) in the development of the discipline having done their research there. What is the current state of play of anthropological studies of the Pacific Islands in Australia? Are there “discoveries” yet to be made in social anthropological research? And how might anthropological research on the Pacific Islands contribute to the understanding of “oceanic transformations” today?

Pacific Governments in the 20th Century

Guy Powles;

Governments and political systems across the region present a variety of types, and reflect different approaches and values. All are challenged by external pressures and changing local public expectations. This section seeks insights that will increase our understanding of government and leadership. Such insights might include the following, and more – such as how government is composed, eg. women’s roles; how it is constructed or operates, and how constitutional reform is approached; how government responds to the nation’s needs in crucial areas, ranging from citizen’s rights and justice to social development and protection of resources.

Regional Organizations – Nic Maclellan;

A good deal of Australia’s relations with the Pacific Islands is mediated through regional organizations, yet they are not often subjected to as much study, media attention or focus by civil society as they deserve. Papers are invited in this stream that offer analysis of current or historical approaches to regional organizations and policies, including intergovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, security, environmental or trading organizations.

Teaching and Learning in the Pacific – Irene Paulsen;

Education is one of the major areas of spending by Pacific governments; it is a major component of the Millennium Development Goals and a prime destination of Australian aid. Many innovative strategies are being pursued in the Pacific Islands to address many of the problems education faces in Pacific Islands. This stream invites papers on educational initiatives in the Pacific Islands, and lessons which can be learnt about the educational challenges facing small island states.

Environment – Emeretta Cross;

The Copenhagen conference was a defining moment in Australia’s relations with its Pacific Island neighbours, how do Islanders see the future from the perspective of all environmental issues, including forestry, energy use, fisheries and what are strategies for sustainable development in the islands and in Australia that do not compromise the environment.

Media and Communications – Sean Dorney;

John Wallace; Jane Landman;

The media play a key role in influencing how Australians see the Pacific, yet we have very few journalists in Australia with a deep knowledge of Pacific Island politics, international relations and societies and cultures. Filmmaking on the Pacific has been of considerable importance in how Australians see our island neighbours. Media studies is now an academic field within Australia and the Pacific universities and hopefully papers will be offered in this field on how to make Australian and other international media more responsive to the region.

It will also cover film-making and production of television series related to the Pacific Islands.

Contemporary Exhibitions and Cultural Events – Susan Cochrane;

A new focus on Pacific arts and cultures is highly visible in Australia’s premier cultural institutions, whether acknowledging the aesthetic wealth of Pacific peoples contained in their historic collections, or paying attention to the abundant creative talents of contemporary artists. This stream will concentrate on recent Pacific exhibitions in Australia and cultural events in the contemporary Pacific. The Collections Australia Network is assisting with developing presentations that demonstrate the effective use of new digital tools with collections research, exhibition development and the presentation of cultural knowledge.

Language, literature, linguistics and and Interpreting – Kilisitina Sisifa;

Key components in understanding the diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands region

Workshop on Pacific Islanders in Pacific Studies in Australia – Katerina Teaiwa;

This session addresses the need for Pacific Studies programs to provide outreach for Pacific Islander communities in Australia. Pacific Studies can be used to create access pathways for tertiary education by linking community needs, and cultural values and concepts, with issues and approaches in Pacific Studies disciplines. Outreach programs also allow Pacific Studies scholars to engage with policies and programs for equity and diversity in Australian Higher Education. Several such programs exist across Australian universities but most do not use methods and content from Pacific Studies to connect with Islanders. The session will be run as a discussion forum.

Tourism – Emma Wong;

Tourism is the way most Australians experience the Pacific Islands, it is also a major industry faced with a number of issues of sustainability and now also a major academic field. Papers are invited from those working on issues of tourism from the perspectives of many disciplines, including business, environment, cultural communication, economics and labour relations.

Health – Bev Snell:

Health is another major way in which Australia interacts with the region, investment and aid in the sector is growing. Many Australian academic institutions have links with their counterparts in health institutions in the region. Papers are invited which analyse national and community level initiatives being led by Pacific Island countries in key health areas.

Advocacy, Civil Society and Social Transformation – Helen Hill;

Australia is a major aid donor in the region, yet Australian Development NGOs frequently do not regard the region as poor enough or oppressed enough to make it a focus for their advocacy work. Pacific Island civil society organizations have a much better understand of the Australian system than Australians do of theirs. This stream invites papers on innovative ways of connecting Australian and Pacific Island civil society and advocacy organizations with a focus on social transformation in fields such as economic justice, gender issues, sustainable agriculture and nonformal education.

Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South – Call for papers

South African Visual Arts Historians (SAVAH)
Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA)


Organised by SAVAH under the aegis of CIHA, to take place at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 12 – 15 January 2011


Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South

CIHA has recently been addressing concerns about the unequal distribution of resources around the globe and challenges from post-colonial societies to the older methods and concepts of western art history. At the CIHA congress in Melbourne in January 2008, one of the key issues for discussion was the extent to which we need to re-think the discipline of the history of art “in order to establish cross-cultural dimensions as fundamental to its scope, method and vision”. SAVAH proposes continuing these discussions in the colloquium ‘Other Views: Art History in (South) Africa and the Global South’ to be held at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in January, 2011.

A principal focus of the discussions, with particular reference to South Africa, will be how the study of art from the African continent is often impeded by a totalising notion of an undifferentiated ‘Africa’. This belies the histories, political trajectories and regional differences of its many communities, nations and states. The focus offers opportunities to pose questions such as: What is the counter point to the homogeneous ‘African art’ label? How can art history in an African context challenge traditional western art history with regard to notions of authenticity, individuality, artistic processes, methods and theories? What are the discourses of indigenous people’s art practices, and what is the importance of early indigenous art for a history of art in South Africa and elsewhere? In what ways, and under what circumstances, can objects previously defined as ‘craft’ or ‘utilitarian’ be incorporated into the domain of ‘art’? How is ‘heritage’ understood, collected and displayed? What are the ideologies behind collecting, patronage and restitution, and the use of objects, buildings and spaces? How do we negotiate questions of identity and culture in an increasingly ‘global’ world? What do we choose to study and why? How do we teach that which we choose to study?

These questions have relevance in South Africa, Africa and the Global South. The Global South in this context is a cultural construct rather than a geographic term. It refers to communities and artistic production, throughout history and across nations, which, within the dominant narratives of western art, have been ignored, marginalised, displaced and appropriated. The Global South may include eastern bloc artists largely unknown to the west during the Cold War, items traditionally regarded as women’s work, First Nation peoples in Canada and indigenous people in South Africa, communities whose cultural artefacts were appropriated for the universal museum of the west, and people who have neither the power nor money to write their own art histories. We do not envision covering all aspects and areas of Africa and the Global South, but we shall use the Global South construct as a framework to focus on Africa and in particular South Africa. The aim is to complicate the history of art and the relationship between histories in the Global South and the ‘north’ or ‘west’.

We plan six plenary sessions over three days, with provision for graduate students to participate, possibly in parallel workshop and poster sessions. We invite proposals for papers that address any of the general rubrics outlined above. Proposals should be sent to the Chairperson of SAVAH, Dr Federico Freschi at

SAVAH/CIHA Committee comprising Dr Federico Freschi (SAVAH Chairperson); Karen von Veh (SAVAH Past Chairperson ex officio); Dr Jillian Carman (SAVAH Vice-Chairperson); Judy Ramgolam (SAVAH Secretary)Johannesburg

January 2009