CfP: Masculinities in West Africa – Moving Beyond Crisis Tropes

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11th International Mande Studies Association Conference
10-14 June 2020 at Uppsala University, Sweden
Theme: Beyond Crisis and Insecurity: Cultural Creativity, Popular Struggle, and Social Change in West Africa

Panel Proposal
Masculinities in West Africa – Moving Beyond Crisis Tropes
Carole Ammann, University of Bern,
Kristen McLean, College of Charleston,

Within recent decades, research on men and masculinities in Africa has increased substantially. However, the majority of this work has been situated in Eastern and Southern African contexts. This panel aims to address the gap in knowledge and understanding regarding men and masculinities in West Africa. Generally, stereotypical images of African men have focused on the disruptive side of masculinities, depicting men as irresponsible, uncaring, and prone to violence.The examples are many; in places such as Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and beyond, men have been blamed for inciting wars, engaging in gender-based violence, and exacerbating infectious disease epidemics.

In brief, representations of (West) African men and related diaspora communities still tend to be too embedded in popular gender stereotypes. Studies of masculinities that go beyond tropes of youth and violence are relatively scarce. One aspect of masculinities that has received extensive attention is the role of men as providers (e.g. Cornwall 2002, Hunter 2006). Because providing in recent times has become increasingly difficult, scholars have argued that African men are experiencing a ‘crisis of masculinities’ (Morrell 2001). This ‘crisis of masculinities’ discourse, however, fails to properly attend to the complexities and intersectional aspects of masculinities.

The goal of this panel is thus to critically engage with the trope of ‘masculinities in crisis’ by demonstrating that violence and rupture are not the only means by which West African men cope with the insecurities and hardships they face. We invite contributions that analyse the multiple and nuanced ways different forms of (responsible) masculinities emerge and manifest in men’s lives, both in West Africa and among diaspora communities on the continent and beyond. We are looking for empirical and theoretical papers which explore (from an interdisciplinary perspective) how men creatively respond to current situations of insecurity and unpredictability and how they make and remakemasculinities in their everyday lives. We welcome contributions that address one or several of the following issues in relation to men and masculinities:

·      Past, present, and future aspirations as well as changes over the life course
·      Intersectional aspects
·      Migration, mobility, and transnational spaces
·      Heteronormativity, sexual minorities, and queer identities
·       Fathers, grandfathers, husbands, and widowers
·      Health, care, and bodily experiences
·      Religious practices
·      Labour, work, and livelihoods in rural and urban settings
·      The state, politics, and activism
·      Conflict, violence, and peacebuilding
·      (New) media and online spaces
·      Arts and popular culture
·      Sports and leisure activities
·      Performances of youth

Please send your paper abstract (500 words max.) together with your name, organizational affiliation, and email address by November 20, 2019, to Carole Ammann and Kristen McLean.

Cornwall, Andrea. 2002. “Spending Power: Love, Money, and the Reconfiguration of Gender Relations in Ado Odo, Southwestern Nigeria.”  American Ethnologist29 (4):963-980.

Hunter, Mark. 2006. “Fathers without amandla: Zulu-speaking men and fatherhood.” In Baba: men and fatherhood in South Africa, edited by Linda Richter and Robert Morrell, 99-107. Cape Town: HSRC Press.

Morrell, Robert, ed. 2001. Changing men in southern Africa. London/New York: Zed Books.

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