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The Renaissance in Africa

Posted By Janie Cole, Thursday, May 11, 2017

While the Renaissance has been regarded as a purely European phenomenon centered on a largely homogeneous ethnicity, recent scholarship has deconstructed this one-sided historical narrative and acknowledged the important role played by Africans from the mid-fifteenth century onwards in reshaping the Mediterranean into a cross-cultural and multi-ethnic space rich in African-European cultural exchanges and intellectual collaborations. Together with the rediscovery of ancient classical culture, the Renaissance also reflected the development of new techniques, theories, and cultural innovations brought by Africans from all over the continent following intercontinental navigation through new trade routes opened by the Portuguese between Mediterranean Europe and the west coast of sub-Saharan Africa. With contributions grounded in music, literature, history, architecture, and visual media, this panel explores how African-European cultural exchanges shaped Africa in the early modern period with a focus on cultural production, performance and ethnic encounters.

Interdisciplinary papers might consider how and why composers, artists, patrons, musical and art works, and cultural practices crossed African borders and cultures, and with what effects, whether aesthetic, generic, dramatic, political, or social. Possible themes are the circulation, mobility, and displacement of musical culture; intercontinental encounters across borders; the significance of African-European artistic traditions and differing types of influences; intertextualities; intercultural dialogues and transcultural performance practices; links between music and art and African-European politics; reception history, conceptions of Africa and intellectual attitudes to black culture in relation to constructions of European whiteness.

Please send by June 1, 2017 to

  • Individual paper title, not to exceed 15 words
  • A 150-word maximum paper abstract
  • A 300-word max 1 page CV in paragraph form
  • Keywords (general, not specific)
  • AV requirements


Dr. Janie Cole (University of Cape Town, South African College of Music)
Discipline Rep for Music at RSA

Tags:  Africa  music  trade  transcultural aesthetics 

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