University of Cape Town, South Africa © MoHA
Call for Papers: International Symposium on the Modern Heritage of Africa
Deadline: 23rd July, 2021

Docomomo International would like to share the call for papers for the International Symposium on the Modern Heritage of Africa. 

“The 20th anniversary of the Modern Heritage Programme, jointly initiated by UNESCO, ICOMOS, and DOCOMOMO, in 2021 presents a timely and important opportunity to reflect on the transformative cultural experiences and global consequences of the recent past that heralded the dawn of the anthropocene and its many impacts on climate, society, and the planet. Despite these impacts, the ‘modern’ era and its legacies are comparatively undervalued and overlooked, and disproportionately concentrated and interpreted in ‘the west’. MoHoA contends that Africa’s experiences of plural modernities include the positive and negative, colonial and post-colonial, tangible and intangible, urban and rural, culture and nature. This will need greater scholarly attention and can be instructive and transformative in framing modernities and modern heritage globally, as well as addressing the challenges of sustainability continentally. On the one hand, Africa’s contemporary cities, many of which are products of modern encounters, face the highest rates of urbanisation in the world over the next half a century, straining populations and resources, urban landscapes and rural hinterlands, and placing modern heritage at serious risk of alteration or destruction. On the other hand, the unique human settlement patterns in Africa, provides a new dimension, reflected in the cultural landscapes, ‘combining works of nature and humankind, they express a long and intimate relationship between peoples and their natural environment’.

The African World Heritage Fund has identified modern heritage as amongst the most marginalised heritage categories on the continent, demanding investment in research and documentation to better protect, increase resilience and subsequently Africa’s representation on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Through improved methods of understanding and assessing significance, raising public awareness and promoting inscription on local or global registers, Africa’s modern heritage has a vital role in contributing to rural and urban sustainability in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda (NUA), the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the Historic Urban Landscapes (HUL) Approach.

MoHoA plans two symposia over two years and a series of supporting thematic workshops. The first symposium, focusing on Africa, will be hosted by the University of Cape Town in September 2021 and titled ‘Modern Heritage of Africa’. The second will be global in scope and hosted by The Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) in 2022 and titled ‘Modern Heritage in the Anthropocene’. The outcome UCT symposium will lead to proposing a ‘The Cape Town Document on Modern Heritage’ supporting efforts to modify international policy and guidance on modern heritage in line with present and future planetary challenges of ecological, social and economic equity. This will be presented to the World Heritage Committee as part of the reporting exercise and as a side event at the relevant Committee Session. The UCL symposium will discuss the wider implications of the MoHoA globally.

We invite submissions to the International Symposium on the Modern Heritage of Africa and welcome papers and other forms of communication including video, music, performance and literature accompanied with a commentary and interpretation focusing on any of the following themes evolving from the brain storming isivivana last August, highlighting both cultural and natural heritage, the tangible and intangible and their symbiotic relationships:

  • Considerations of modernities in Africa
  • Modern Heritage and Sustainable Development in Africa (SDGs)
  • Infrastructure development, particularly industrialization and transportation systems, as activators of modernism in Africa
  • Natural heritage and its role in society, linking culture and nature
  • Public spaces, memorialization and commemoration in postcolonial Africa
  • Modern Heritage of Africa and the World Heritage Convention
  • Any other theme not covered by the above

Abstracts: Contributions with African experiences of modernities and the sharing of heritage knowledge and we welcome abstracts of up to 300 words or equivalent format (e.g. film shorts, blog, Instagram story) for other types of digital submissions. For general reference in terms of format – see below. To submit an abstract, emailmodernheritageofafrica@gmail.com

The abstracts: 23 July 2021

Forming results: 20 August 2021

Publication: Selected papers or presentations will be published as part of the Modern Heritage of Africa Book Series to be published after the conference.

Audience: academia, heritage fields, professionals and practitioners from diverse disciplines addressing the tangible and intangible, culture and nature, documentation, archives and collections. We encourage participation from colleagues and institutions from Africa, particularly from youth and women.

Networking: Institutions of African Studies, Schools of Cultural Studies, Architecture and Planning – African Union and professional bodies.

Languages: Français and English

Dates: 22 and 23 September and 24 September, South Africa Heritage Day 2021

Venue: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Participation: online registration will be required and is free; a $50 donation will be welcome.

Format: The MoHoA symposium will be a virtual, hybid, academic event, a dialogical field capable of moving beyond disciplinary boundaries with social and cultural exchanges. To ground its activities and foster dialogue, we invite proposals, ranging from operational practices to speculative and theoretical questionings. These can be presented in written, built, coded, drawn, figured, imagined, filmed, modelled or in any other format (do not hesitate to consult with us for any exotic format or idea!).

Contributions may take the following forms:

  • Paper presentations that will be shared and discussed through joint working sessions and panel discussions. These might include theoretical work, but also case studies and project reports. To submit your paper proposal, you must submit an abstract of up to 300 words.
  • Projects, models, images, devices, pieces of coding, hardware and all other kinds of contributions. These must be submitted by sending a 300-word optionally illustrated abstract in the form of a single PDF including text and images (max 5mb).
  • Contributions can be signed individually or collectively.

Contributors are welcome to submit more than one proposal in one or more formats. If selected, all contributors are responsible for covering the costs of sending their work in time for presentation. The conference is led by the University of Cape Town and planned virtually with a possible physical component on campus; please state if you would able to attend in person.

If selected, contributors might be assigned to a 15-min paper/project presentation session or a debate session to discuss their work. Or both. These might be done in person, by possibly attending one of the conference’s sites, or remotely. The final format and topics of the sessions will be configured once all submissions have been received, so it is possible and desirable that participants will be grouped in thematically coherent yet interdisciplinary sessions.”

All submissions are to be sent to: modernheritageofafrica@gmail.com

To know more, please go to MoHA website.