WAKHVA Annual Conference 2011 – Short Report
The conference on Borders and border crossing – New perspectives on the Horn of Africa, organized by the Wissenschaftlicher Arbeitskreis Horn von Afrika e.V (Academic Research Association Horn of Africa e.V. – WAKHVA) in co-operation with the Zentrum für Moderner Orient (ZMO), took place at the ZMO in Berlin on September 30th – October 1st, 2011.
The two-day multidisciplinary conference dealt with concepts of borders as manifestations of human imagination. Likewise, political, economic and socio-cultural processes are constantly creating borders. Those borders are producing mind-sets and behavioural patterns, consolidate resources and, thus, create self- or alien-perceptions and affiliations, respectively. New and renewed border constructs within and among social groups, as well as the respective processes of inclusion and exclusion, are continuously affecting both individual and collective self-conceptions. Though, the existence of borders may educe transitions out of it or even stipulate border-crossings. These phenomena reveal the multi-facetted scope of action and the opportunities of negotiations of the relevant actors in this specific context, such as in the field of language, culture and religions.
Within the conference’s interdisciplinary research spectrum, about fifteen scholars from eight different countries (Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands and Sudan) presented their work in the topic, which was critically discussed among the participants afterwards. The WAKHVA-organizers explicitly invited junior scholars (graduates and PhD-candidates, postgraduates, research associates and fellows) from Germany and abroad to participate in the interdisciplinary discourse.
The scheduled topics of the conference, grouped into panels, were (1) Law and Politics, (2) History and Religion, (3) Culture and Language.