College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

MAAAS Conference

Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS) Conference 2019

Call for Papers

24thAnnual Meeting

Mid-America Alliance for African Studies

September 13-14, 2019

Malott and Kansas rooms, Kansas Union Building 

The University of Kansas, Lawrence. 66045


The Narrative of Africa Rising: Real or Fiction

The Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS) hosted by the Kansas African Studies Center (KASC) invites scholars to submit conference papers and full panel proposals for the 2019 conference on the narrative of Africa Rising. The goal of this conference is to provide a forum for debating the increasingly popular media discourse of “Africa Rising” – a reference to the replacement of the deep sense of ‘Afro-pessimism’ that dominated the 1980s–2000s with a more optimistic outlook. For instance, whereas stories of the “coming anarchy” (Kaplan, 1994) or the “hopeless continent” (The Economist, 2000) abounded a little over two decades ago, Africa is increasingly seen by many as fertile grounds for economic opportunity, democratic governance, increased foreign engagement, social change as well as resurgence in music, art, literature, and the sciences among other disciplines.Critics argue that the Africa Rising narrative belies a 21stCentury “Scramble for Africa” where foreign powers are again exploiting the continent’s resource wealth and re-cementing the region’s unequal relationships with external capital. Despite the criticisms, the narrative of Africa Rising is driven by a belief in the power of liberal economic policies, entrepreneurship and free trade to encourage economic growth and social infrastructural development. This trend also claims the spread of democracy to foster improved governance, as well as Afrocentric observations that African cultural, philosophical, and religious ideas are enjoying increased influence facilitated by globalization and social media. MAAAS 2019 provides a venue to discuss the implication of the Narrative of Africa Rising for its people throughout the Diaspora and with the world at large. We invite scholars interested in Africana Studies from all disciplines to participant at this conference.

Please submit a 250-word abstract or panel description by July 15, 2019 and register for the MAAAS 2019 Conference at the MAAAS website:

For additional information, please contact:

Darlingtina Atakere, MAAAS President (2019)

Psychology Department, University of Kansas


About MAAAS:

The Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS) is an organization for the promotion of African Studies in mid-America, including in particular the region between the Mississippi River and the frontal range of the Rocky Mountains. Founded at the University of Kansas in 1995, MAAAS seeks to encourage scholarship and teaching in African Studies regionally and sub-regionally through conferences, seminars, workshops, consortia, faculty and student exchanges, cooperative relations between libraries, and promotion of African language teaching, among other endeavors. MAAAS is open to all with an interest in scholarship and teaching within an African Studies focus, and it seeks especially to provide a forum for far-flung Africanists in the middle of the U.S., where great distances exist between relatively small pockets of African Studies enthusiasts.

Planning your trip to Lawrence, Kansas: 

The conference is open to graduate students, faculty, administrators, staff, activists, and practitioners, and undergraduate students from any discipline. Further details about registration and the conference program will be available soon. A modest registration fee will be charged at a reduced rate for students. 

Getting to Lawrence: Lawrence is approximately 45 minutes west of Kansas City. To consider all the available ways of getting to and from Lawrence, click here

Where to stay: Lawrence offers its visitors a range of different accommodation options, ranging in price and comfort level. For an expansive list of accommodation options, click here. You can find group rates blocked off for MAAAS participants at the Mariott Springhill Suites, available here. MAAAS participants interested in staying on the KU campus during the conference should consider The Oread or The Halcyon House. Both these choices are within walking distance from the conference venue. There is also a Marriott downtown Lawrence, close to restaurants and shops, a short drive to campus or a 30-minute walk to the KU Union.

Conference Venue and Parking: The conference will take place on the KU campus in the KU Union. The Union is connected to a parking garage where guests should expect to pay $1.75 for the first hour or any portion of an hour and $1.50 per hour for all subsequent hours. On Saturday guests can also make use of the parking located along Mississippi St at the bottom of the Union. Click here for a campus map and directions to the Hall Center. 

Please revisit this page soon for information on conferences fees and MAAAS membership du

Past MAAAS meetings:


MAAAS 2017 Conference Theme: “Interpretations of Colonial and Neo-Colonial Africa: Defining / Understanding /  Re-defining Legitimacy” 

The idea of legitimacy suggests a relationship between actors where conflicts can be mitigated through formalized legal institutions, and where everyone respects the rules of the game.  Colonialism had a disruptive effect on these relationships, however, and the impact has resonated well into the post-colonial era.  To better understand Africa’s contemporary challenges and the concept of legitimacy in modern times, we must re-examine the lasting impact that colonialism had on ideas of legitimacy.  Legitimacy is derived from the social, political, cultural, linguistic, and economic institutions that come to define a society and its people, and it is directly related to the development and stability of countries.  To this end, we are seeking papers from all disciplines that address the idea of legitimacy, broadly defined, in historical and contemporary Africa.


Graduate Paper Award:  

Graduate students should consider submitting their work for the Ken Lohrentz Graduate Paper Award. Please refer to the Ken Lohrentz Graduate Awards page on the MAAAS website for guidelines on paper length and content. Alternatively, students interested in submitting their papers for this award can send them directly to Be sure to submit papers before 5:00 pm on October 2nd, 2017. 



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