European Conference of African Studies
Old Members Trust Travel Grant Report – Michaela Collord
The Old Member’s Trust Travel Grant enabled me to attend the biennial European Conference of African Studies (ECAS), which was held this June-July in Basel, Switzerland. I travelled there June 28th in time for the conference start on June 29th and stayed for the duration of the conference, i.e. until July 2nd.
The conference was an exceptional opportunity to meet colleagues from across Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and North America. ECAS is unique not only in size but also in being a bilingual conference, with presentations in both French and English. This is especially valuable in the interdisciplinary field of African studies where research in French and English—and more generally, work on anglophone versus francophone countries—too often ends up occupying separate silos, with limited cross-regional and bilingual engagement. As such, ECAS provided a valuable opportunity to bridge the gap and to learn about the work of a diverse group of colleagues.
I attended numerous panels that were directly relevant to my research interests, which revolve around the political economy of authoritarian party survival and legislative-executive relations. Highlights included the following panels, among others:
“Elites networks and bargains: Explaining African trajectories at the intersection of agency and institutions”
“Shifting terrain: The dynamics of national land policy in Africa”
“The changing face of electoral manipulation in Africa”
In addition to attending panels, I also delivered a paper of my own, entitled, “Capitalist development and authoritarian party trajectories: Tanzania’s Chama Cha Mapinduzi”. The presentation was well received. It was also an excellent opportunity to get feedback from more senior academics, one of whom has since suggested we co-author an article together. As ever, presenting was also useful practice. I find it easier to communicate clearly and manage time the more I do it.
I am very grateful to the donors who generously fund the OMT Travel Grant and for giving me the opportunity to attend this conference.