SORAC 2002: “Internalist vs. Externalist Interpretations of African History and Culture”

SORAC 2002 International Conference
“Internalist vs. Externalist Interpretations of African History and Culture”
Call for Paper

Date: November 7, 8 and 9, 2002

Deadline: Abstracts must be submitted by August 30, 2002.
Place: Montclair State University, New Jersey

Keynote Speakers, Friday, November 8, Ballroom AA/AB, Student Center, 6:00pm

  • “Africa Between Westernization and Islamization: Penetration and Response,” Professor Ali Mazrui, Binghamton University
  • “Biting Their Own Tails: African Leaders and the Internalist Intricacies of the Rape of a Continent,” Professor George Ayittey, American University.

DESCRIPTION: In the past twenty years or so since the 1980’s, two schools of Africanist scholarship have slowly developed that, today, are dividing scholars and intellectuals of African descent all over the world.

The first school, that of the externalists, has continually blamed the general debacle of Africa and the people of African descent on the West. In Africa, this group has argued that Africa’s socio-cultural, economic and political-institutional problems can be directly linked and attributed to the past and current actions–some overt, others hidden–of the West, actions that have had long-lasting and debilitating effects on the continent. In the diaspora, this group has seen the White man and his explicit and/or insidious racism as the root cause not only of African people’s enslavement, but also of their dehumanization and exclusion at the cultural, economic and political levels.

However, due to a general disillusionment that has left many disappointed at African leadership and its corrupt ways, a new school, that of the Internalists, has gradually voiced its opposition to a view that sees only external forces behind all the problematic issues facing African people around the world today. In Africa, this school has argued that the causes of Africa’s challenges at the cultural, economic and political levels are to be found in Africa itself, not in the West. Their argument is that the historically-negative role that the West played in Africa is not sufficient to explain the corruption, civil wars and power struggles that are going on in Africa today because of African peoples’ own actions and greed. In the diaspora, this group argues that Africans alone must be held responsible for the slave trade because they freely sold their own into slavery. The group also opposes Reparations claims and Affirmative Action policies in the US, and suggests that African people should start to acknowledge their own historical and contemporary failures and wake up to the multifarious challenges of the third millennium.

SORAC calls for papers in all fields of African and related studies (history, anthropology, literature, language, culture, sociology, politics, gender, black studies, religion, etc. Cross-cultural and comparative approaches are also welcome) that would critically look at the history of Africa and its diaspora with a view to shedding light on either one of these positions. All periods of African and diasporic histories and their interactions with the outside world (ancient, precolonial, colonial, post-independence, etc.) may be explored. It will also be good for speakers to offer possible solutions to the various issues raised.

Deadline for Receipt of Abstracts:

If you propose to give a paper, we must receive your abstract by August 30, 2002.

Abstract Requirements:

Submit a 300-500 words abstract summarizing the content of your presentation. Acceptance notices will be sent out to submitters as abstracts are received. Speakers will be given 30 minutes, including question time, for their talks.

– Include your contact information and affiliation (address, title, university or institution, phone, fax, email, etc.)

– Acceptance notices will be sent out to submitters as abstracts are received.

Note: We usually seek to publish papers presented at our conferences either in our own SORAC Journal of African Studies, or in a collective, edited book. If your paper is ready at the time of the conference, please bring it with you on a computer disk. Provide three (3) copies of your paper alongside your disk. Follow the MLA guidelines for your paper. Notes must be endnotes, and paper must include a section of Works Cited.

Abstracts May Be Submitted By:

E-mail: Daniel Mengara – Post mail: in the form of both a computer disk and a hard copy (Microsoft word or WordPerfect). If sending abstract by email, do not send email attachments as we will not open these (danger of viruses). Simply cut and paste your text in your email. Mail your abstract to: Dr. Daniel Mengara, Executive Director SORAC, French Department, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043 (USA). Check our Web site for updates: If mailing your abstract, please be sure to include a self-addressed envelope with appropriate postage. Abstracts submitted without a self-addressed (stamped) envelope will not be considered (except when mailed from outside the US.)

Registration Fee & Procedure:

For planning purposes we ask that you (accepted speakers or attendants) pre-register (early) for the conference (and banquet) by returning the form on the reverse of this flyer, along with the registration fee, by September 30, 2002. Mail both to: The Institute for the Humanities, Montclair State University, Room 101 Dickson Hall, Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043. The registration fee for this conference is US$75.00 for Non-SORAC members and US$65.00 for current SORAC members. The fee includes the banquet dinner with the guest speakers and attendance at all of the conference sessions. The registration fee for students, which does NOT include the banquet is US$35.00. Make checks or money orders (U.S. or Canadian) payable to SORAC/MSU. If you are coming from abroad, please pay by check drawn on a U.S. bank or by international money order.
See the registration form.

Directions & Accommodations

The conference will be held on the campus of Montclair State University, New Jersey, located 30 minutes west of midtown Manhattan and easily accessible by ground transportation from there, or from Newark and JFK airports. Relatively inexpensive hotel accommodations will be made available close to campus. For further information, visit our Directions & Accommodations page for updates


You may contact the following people for more information on the conference:

  • Mrs. Sally Garson, Administrative Assistant, 973-655-7516
  • Dr. Rabia Redouane, 973-655-7421
  • Dr. Daniel Mengara, 973-655-5143


Please be sure to complete all information


Mailing Address: 

(zip code)

Institution Affiliation: 

E-mail Address: 

Telephone No.:  Fax No.: 

Are you also planning to present a paper? (circle one) YES NO

Title of Proposed Paper: 

Will you require any special audio/visual equipment in conjunction with your presentation?

(slide projector, overhead, video or VCR, other) Please list: 

Are you planning to attend the banquet with our keynote speakers on November 8th?

(circle one) YES NO

If your register BY September 30, 2002:

Registration Fee Enclosed: Non-SORAC Member (US$75.00):

SORAC Member (US$65.00):

Student (US$35.00- does not include banquet):

If your register AFTER September 30, 2002:

Registration Fee Enclosed: Non-SORAC Member (US$95.00):

SORAC Member (US$80.00):

Student (US$40.00- does not include banquet):

Make checks payable to: SORAC/MSU. Return this form along with your registration fee,
by September 30, 2002, to:
The Institute for the Humanities, Montclair State University,
Room 101 Dickson Hall, Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043.

NOTE: For those who are abroad, we may accept payment via Western Union.
Simply make sure all fees are paid by yourself and that the final amount
to reach us is equal to the exact registration fee. Contact us for details.


Global Education, Montclair State University
Institute for the Humanities, Montclair State University
College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Montclair State University

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