MIASA Conference

Regional governance as experience: New perspectives on politics and sustainability (with Antonia Witt)


Regio­nalism has long been an integral part of African gover­nance. Upon gaining inde­pendence in the era of decolo­nization, African states imme­diately set about creating numerous regional and sub-regional insti­tutions to realize their interests. These regional insti­tutions have since expanded their portfolios to provide gover­nance in areas such as peace and security, eco­nomic development, the environment, health, and huma­nitarian affairs. Examples range from well-known orga­nizations such as the African Union (AU) or the Eco­nomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to lesser known ones such as the Lake Tanga­nyika Authority (LTA) or the Inter­national Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). Scholars and policy-makers are paying greater attention to African regional insti­tutions and have high expec­tations of them.

However, aca­demic engagement with these developments has so far been dominated by an insti­tutionalist perspective that rarely looks beyond formal insti­tutions, state leaders, and their often grand policy agendas. Little knowledge exists about how African communities ‘on the ground’ experience the governance of these insti­tutions, that is, scholars have rarely explored the sites and actors most impacted by regional norms and policies. The MIASA conference aims at filling this lacuna by scrutinizing regional governance as experience, that is, as seen through the lived realities, narratives, practices, perceptions, and cosmo­logies of a variety of actors ‘on the ground’. Such actors may be indi­viduals and (organized) groups that interact with regional norms and policies, local officers of regional orga­nizations, civil society groups, religious and spiritual orders, national government officials, local leaders, ‘ordinary’ citizens, etc. And their experiences may be contem­porary or past, direct or indirect, cognitive, affective, visual, bodily, or otherwise. In centering the experiences of African commu­nities, the conference deliberately takes a micro-perspective, i.e. through lived and every-day realities, on an allegedly macro phenomenon, i.e. (regional) institutions and ‘grand’ policy programs. Such a shift in perspective generates new conceptual and empirical knowledge about the everyday politics and sustain­ability of African regional governance.

Due to its explo­rative character, the conference is intended to cut across several disciplines and methodo­logical approaches by bringing together socio­logists, anthro­pologists, political scientists, historians, legal experts, economists, scholars of the environment, as well as socio­linguists, scholars of peace and conflict and African studies. We invite contri­butions that explore regional governance as experience in a broad range of policy fields, including for instance trade, health, gender, migration, social welfare, human rights, sustain­ability etc.

We specifically, but not exclusively, invite contri­butions on the following topics/themes:
● Citizens as practitioners, implementers and partners in regional trade agreements
● Citizens and regional democratic governance
● Women and LGBTQI+ civil society as partners in regional governance
● Sports regionalism
● Religious and spiritual orders in regional governance
● Regional health governance and local health priorities
● Experiencing AfCFTA and its inclusivity/adaptability
● The role of symbols and arts for experiencing regional governance
● The role of ‘translators’ and ‘brokers’ of regional governance (e.g. journalists, chiefs,
artists, idols, public intellectuals, community leaders, local NGOs etc.)
● Border areas as spaces of experiencing regional governance
● Informal practices, rules, norms, processes and forums in African regional governance
● The role of local structures/office of regional institutions
● Diplomats and their construction of regional integration

The conference will be organized around different thematic panels, based on presentations of papers or short think pieces (5-7 pages). It will also include a keynote lecture as well as several interactive formats (e.g. world cafés, roundtables with civil society groups, etc.). Working languages during the conference are English and French. A simul­taneous translation will be provided throughout.

Funding: All travel expenses for selected participants will be covered by MIASA.

Submission Details:
● Paper title and abstract of maximum 250 - 300 words (formatted to a template
including: research question, summary of project/findings, key primary or secondary
● Short biographical note (max. 500 words) indicating your current academic position,
ongoing and past research, publications, etc. OR a CV of not more than 3 pages
● Deadline: 24 March 2024

Please send your submission as pdf-documents in English or French to Ahmed Al Maqtari (ahmedaalmaqtari@gmail.com) and Dr Marko Scholze (scholze@em.uni-frankfurt.de). Please always send your application to both addresses. Successful applicants will be notified in April.

Conveners and Organizers (in alphabetical order):
Dr André Adjo, National Center for Scientific and Technological Research (CENAREST),
Libreville, Gabon
Dr Juliana Appiah, University of Ghana, Legon, Accra, Ghana
Prof Mamadou Diawara, Director (Germany) MIASA, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Dr Fortuné M Mboula, University Omar Bongo, Libreville, Gabon
Dr Densua Mumford, University of Leiden, Netherlands
Dr Fabert Mensah Ngoma, University Omar Bongo, Libreville, Gabon
Dr Marko Scholze, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany
Dr Antonia Witt, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF), Germany

When: 4-6 July 2024

Where: University Omar Bongo, Libreville, Gabon

Download the Call for Papers as a PDF here.