Crossing borders: Travelling practices and knowledge in Africa

Donnerstag, 4. Februar
15:30 bis 18:00 Uhr
Raum 116

This panel examines the issue of travelling in Africa as a social and cultural practice which creates translocal relationships between different places and spaces by human agency. Travellers have played a crucial role in African history, whether as traders, explorers, missionaries, diplomats or rulers. They have influenced and created social, cultural and/or political relationships. Often, they have changed social realities; sometimes, their travelling experience has contributed to the production of imaginary worlds. Travellers have not only crossed geographical, territorial and/or political borders, but have also dealt with social and cultural boundaries. This panel analyses different examples of travelling in African history. It examines how people travelled in a very concrete sense, which infrastructure and knowledge they used, and which travelling experiences they had. Moreover, this panel considers how travellers dealt with the social encounters during their travels, how they celebrated their own knowledge and contributed to the knowledge of their societies about other places, but also how they often very much depended on local knowledge and expertise. The papers in this panel describe different examples of travelling from West-, South- and East Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries. They analyse European perceptions of “Africa” as the “Other”, and question how local realities determined the travelling practices and experiences of travellers. Furthermore, they examine how European travellers aimed at spreading specific “scientific knowledge”, but also which challenges these travellers encountered. Finally, they explore how African politicians utilised the practice of travelling as an arena to promote social and political change.