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Workshop ‘Law, Rights, and Governance in Africa. A look to the Future’

On 28 and 29 January 2020 the workshop ‘Law, Rights, and Governance in Africa. A look to the Future’ was held at Leiden Law School.

This two-day workshop was organised by Annelien Bouland (Van Vollenhoven Institute) together with Danse de Bondt (Tilburg University), Tanja Hendriks (Edinburgh University) and Thandiwe Matthews (International Institute for Social Studies). The workshop was funded through LeidenASA as part of the Africa 2020 year. Invited early career researchers came together to present and discuss their individual research projects. Keynotes were given by Professor Thomas Bierschenk and Professor Elisio Macamo. Professor Janine Ubink (Van Vollenhoven Institute) hosted a seminar on 'Custom, Capitalism, and Electoral Politics'.

Successful Panels

Participants came from various European universities, as well as from Benin and China. The participants and organisers look back on a great two days that allowed them to receive feedback on their work, as well as discuss shared themes of interest in an intimate setting. The presentations were clustered in panels on ‘Rights, Law and Development’, Law, Economics and Business Networks’ and ‘Governance and Mobility’. The last panel was chaired by Carolien Jacobs (Van Vollenhoven Institute).

The workshop preceded the conference ‘
Africa, 60 years of independence’ where, amongst others, Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza, known for his work on land rights, democratisation and traditional authorities, delivered a lecture on African Studies in Africa in the aftermath of the 'Fallist' Moment.

Future Research Agendas
The workshop invited the participating early career researchers to reflect on the future agendas of studying law, rights and governance in Africa (see forthcoming statement on African Studies Centre Leiden Africanist Blog). Yet, the keynote speech by Professor Elisio Macamo, ‘The World by Fiat: How time made Africa stagnant’, also questioned such a focus on the future and on themes and concepts of law, rights and governance. In his speech he analysed the idea of law and its articulation with the - fundamentally future-oriented -  Enlightenment project. In doing so, he invited the workshop participants to reflect on how, during colonialism and after, law and ideas about the state have been instrumental in turning the future of Africa into a site for European intervention.

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