Rethinking Politics in Africa: Media, Knowledge Production, Techno- Politics

9:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

The Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School, Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs presents Rethinking Politics in Africa: Media, Knowledge Production, Techno-Politics.

This conference examines how media, knowledge production, and sovereignty are being recast in a post-Cold War Africa marked by new forms of interventions and techno-politics, cultures of legality, and modalities and technologies of representation and circulation.

The continent is frequently depicted as the global exemplar of crisis – ravaged by civil wars, epidemics, and dysfunctional corrupt regimes. In contrast, this conference will explore how Africa, seemingly at the margins of world affairs, is in fact central to understanding new grammars of global governance, novel forms of knowledge production and experimentation, and shifting logic of sovereignty and democratic politics. Via a series of focused conversations on representation, knowledge production, and the techno-politics of sovereignty, this conference provides a forum to theorize global transformations from historically situated, interdisciplinary inquiries and thus to rethink politics not just on the continent, but more broadly in a post-colonial, post-Cold War world.


9:00 a.m.—Registration

9:15 a.m.—Welcome by Michael Cohen, director, Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA)

9:30 a.m.—Keynote: “Beyond Nuremberg: Breaking the Cycle of Violence” by Mahmood Mamdani,
Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University, New York and professor and executive director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Kampala

11:15 a.m.—Media, Representation and Power, chair: Sean Jacobs

  • Neelika Jayawardene (English, SUNY-Oswego), “South Africa’s Cosmetic Surgery Industry and the Performance of Power”
  • Dan Magaziner (History, Yale University), "The Aesthetics of Memory: South African Artists and the Politics of Liberation"
  • Hlonipha Mokoena (Anthropology, Columbia University), “Youth, Or, Living the Postapartheid as a Visual Experience”
    • Riason Naidoo (South African National Gallery), “Representations of the South African ‘Indian’ in DRUM magazine in the 1950s”
    • Discussant: Lily Saint (English, University of Pittsburgh)

      1:15 p.m.—Lunch

      2:30 p.m.—Knowledge Production and the Public Sphere, chair: Manjari Mahajan

      • Sherine Hamdy (Anthropology, Brown University) “Re-thinking the Culture Concept in Medical Anthropology: Poor Patients in Egypt and Their Challenges to Biomedical Universalism”
      • Clapperton Mavhunga (Science, Technology and Society, MIT) “Anti-Colonial Resistance as Technological Innovation: Shifting theAnalytical Ground Underneath Zimbabwe’s Liberation Struggle Narrative”
        • Grace Davie (History, Queens College) "Poverty Knowledge in South Africa"
          • Discussant: Frederick Cooper (History, NYU)

            4:30 p.m.—Sovereignty, Citizenship, Techno-Politics, chair: Antina von Schnitzler

            • Michael Ralph (Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University) “Forensics of Liability”
            • Brian Larkin (Anthropology, Barnard College & Columbia University) “State Aesthetics”
            • Siba Grovogui (Political Science, Johns Hopkins University) “Technopolitics, Colonial Archives, and Political Horizons”

            Discussant: Juan Obarrio (Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University)

            6.00 p.m.—Reception

            Organizers: Sean Jacobs, Manjari Mahajan and Antina von Schnitzler, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School

            Co-sponsored by NSPE, Global Studies, and the Center for Public Scholarship, part of the Network for Science and Technology Studies in Africa (STS-Africa)


            Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 66 Fifth Avenue

            Free; seating is limited; reservations required by emailing


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