Call for Papers
UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
In collaboration with the University of Muenster, Germany,
19-22 November, 2018
WHERE IS HOME?
NIGERIAN DIASPORA / DIASPORA IN NIGERIA
With global migratory movement, transcontinental transport and worldwide instant communication, the set-up, constellations and dynamics of societies is changing rapidly. Whereas the organization in nation states is still widely perceived as the primary ordering principle, incisive change has long set in. New patterns of individual as well as group identity formation and social and cultural belonging have emerged as powerful, often transnational force fields competing with more traditional patterns of identity politics and cultural belonging.
Of these, diaspora has evolved as a particularly vibrant and pliable concept which, although not a new phenomenon, has the power to focus important aspects characterizing today’s societies and cultures on the move, besides the negative traits like racism, xenophobic attacks, political and economic marginalization, genocide, terrorism and so on. With its origins in the migratory patterns of races and ethnic nationalities going back to Biblical times in Judaism and Greek antiquity, diaspora formations developed with the growing need for labour in plantations in Europe and the West Indies, which forced Black Africans and some other races to become ‘migrants’ in the New Worlds and the West Indies, creating identity labels with racism as the basis for social and political inclusion or exclusion.
In the nineteenth century, indigene-settler crises characterized the contact between European colonizers and the colonized races the world over. In Eastern African countries of Kenya and Tanzania, as indeed with all settler colonies of the world, Central and South Africa inclusive, alienated land was always the key to crises. The white settlers came early in the century and immediately controlled the heart of the economy by appropriating the best part of land to themselves. It cost Kenya the Mau
Mau War, Tanzania the Maji Maji War, then Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia, Namibia and South Africa, guerrilla war fares, to gain independence and to reclaim their lands.
In the multiethnic and multicultural Nigeria, with Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba as the majority and over 371 other ethnic groups as minority, constant crises erupt as a result of unresolved problems of nationhood such as citizenship and indigeneship questions. The North Central region alone, called Middle Belt, more than any other region records more than one third of the numerous conflicts over issues of citizenship, grazing space, identity and politics of inclusion or exclusion. Thus, the diasporic experience in Nigeria is multiple and complex, involving settlers who have historically come from outside, but also indigene settler communities finding their special identities within such (often dislocated) groups. At the same time, Nigerians have migrated and spread around the world where they form diasporas with their own identities and allegiances, but also with an impact on the home country in Nigeria itself.
These indigene-settler issues and diaspora experiences raise fundamental questions of Where is home? Who is a citizen/settler? What are his/her rights and entitlements? Do these rights and entitlements vary from one location in the country/world to another? What is the impact of indigene-settler and diaspora formations on nation building and global peace? Can diaspora formations which have proved extremely resilient and evolved into highly influential patterns of transnational belonging not be harnessed for re-shaping the concept of nation states and the world community at large? This international conference searches for answers and solutions to the above questions, explores aspects of diaspora in cultural, historical, political or economic life within Nigeria and abroad, investigates possible inter-linkages between these disparate formations and other diasporas worldwide.
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