“On the Swahili Coast: Africans, Europeans, and the Co-Production of Knowledge”, December 3, 2019

Sharif Abdallah and German Missionary Ferdinand Würtz, 1887.

Taking place at IFRA on 3rd December 2019 at 4:30pm, this conference will present the works of Dr. Clélia Coret (historian, Sorbonne University, IFRA’s Visiting Research Fellow) and Charles Clément (Sorbonne Univeristy, IFRA) on the co-production of knowledge on and in East Africa throughout history. With Prof. Mohamed Bakari (RAF Univeristy VC) as discussant, it will be an opportunity for researchers and history enthusiasts to learn more about the way in which the European powers produced knowledge about the Swahili world, with or without the collaboration of African populations.

You can find the two abstracts below:

Charles CLÉMENT (Sorbonne University, IFRA): Narrating the First Encounter: The Swahili and The Portuguese in Mozambique (ca. 1500)

At the end of the 15th century, the Portuguese circumnavigation of Africa led to a boom in knowledge production on the East African coast: the first expeditions to the Indian Ocean inspired new conceptions of the continent and the Swahili world. But who went to meet who? How were these encounters depicted by travelers and chroniclers in Portugal? To what extent did this knowledge circulate in Europe? This presentation deals with the way in which the Portuguese travelers recorded their first confrontation with Swahili traders in the Mozambique Channel circa 1500, and how scholars described and spread this knowledge in Europe during the 16th century, building an “uneven history’’ between Africans and Europeans.

Dr. Clélia CORET (Historian, Sorbonne University, IFRA’s Visiting Research Fellow): “Africanizing Linguistics”. Knowledge Production on the Swahili Coast (1887-1939)

This presentation deals with early endeavours in the co-production of linguistic knowledge on the East African coast in a missionary and colonial context. It highlights the essential role of local informants in building knowledge in the world of evangelizing missions. Who were the individuals involved in producing this knowledge? What were their interests in transmitting and teaching languages – notably Kiswahili – to Europeans, and how did they do so? This talk will shed light on the under-studied and too often neglected yet crucial contributions of African discourses and representations in shaping erudite knowledge about Africa.

For more info and to attend this conference, preregister by sending an email to info@ifra-nairobi.net

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