Call for Papers: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa

The Arts Council of the African Studies Association (ACASA) 17th Triennial Symposium on African Art, hosted by the University of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies (IAS) Triennial Symposium August 8 – 13, 2017 will be held on the University of Ghana, Legon campus.

Open panel: New Narratives of Art and Technology in Africa
From Arnold Rubin’s comparison of art to a “system of tools and techniques by means of which people relate to their environment” (1991) to Alfred Gell’s idea of art as “a technology of enchantment” (1998), the study of African and non-Western art has proven fertile ground for art historical approaches using technology as metaphor for art as a mode of action in the world. The ideas of technology at play, however, most closely resemble techné, a term deriving from Ancient Greece to refer to the value-laden craft practice of pre-industrial societies, in which specialists serve functional needs while also conforming to society’s broader ethical and aesthetic values. Currently prevailing concepts of technology, however, in Africa as elsewhere, differ sharply. Technology as controlling, alienating, and disruptive coexists with notions of technology as liberator, economic salve, or ‘start-up innovation’; digital sound, 3D printing, cheap electronics and the Internet have opened up new semantic and aesthetic possibilities; while pioneering African technologies, such as M-Pesa and Frontline SMS, have transformed the terms of ordinary, everyday commercial and community engagement. What are the politics and poetics of new technological appropriations in African art (and art history)? How are artists responding to, or shaping, new socio-technical imaginaries? How do the discourses of Afrofuturism, speculative design, and ‘critical making’ (among others) inform artistic practice relating to Africa? Can technology be decolonized? How might we theorize anew relations among art, technology, and cultures of creativity? We invite submissions probing these and all related questions.

To submit a paper proposal, please send the following to Gemma Rodrigues (gemma.rodrigues at by February 7, 2017:

– Paper Title
– An abstract of 250 words describing the theme and scope of your paper
– A short abstract of 100 words for online dissemination
– Contact name, affiliation, address, phone, e-mail

For further information, please email the panel co-chairs:

Gemma Rodrigues
Research Fellow
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
E-mail: gemma.rodrigues at

Michelle Kasprzak
Doctoral student
Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute
Email: michelle.kasprzak at