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24 July 2020
Struggles for the African Commons: Building an Agenda for Engaged Scholarship

(Published - 22 July 2020)

Friday, 24 July 2020 at 15:00 (GMT)

Governing the commons is profoundly a question of political economy. We want to start the conversation and build momentum around an agenda towards engaged scholarship within and across African universities that addresses struggles not only over natural resources but over political authority and competing notions of development.

We will have a conversation with African academics on the prospects for the African commons in the midst of the current conjuncture of converging capitalist crises: precipitous global economic decline; climate crisis; a crisis of legitimacy in inequality; and a Covid-19 pandemic. These interrelated and intertwined crises underscore the role of the commons in providing livelihoods and resilience, yet also the re-valuation of common property and its commodification. Among the issues that we wish to highlight is a politics of extractivism, in mining, forestry, water, energy and agribusiness, as central to the fortunes of national governments, state-society alliances and transnational elite interests. Beyond the ‘land grab’ and ‘resource grab’ issue we wish to seed a more visionary conversation about alternatives: about reclaiming, expanding and democratising the commons, as a way to reframe and re-politicise the ‘governance’ agenda.

Such an agenda requires us also to reflect on and reinvigorate engaged scholarship. The demise of the intellectual left in many parts of the continent over the past 40 years has proceeded alongside market liberalisation, the detachment of universities from political struggle, and the rise of authoritarian governments. At this time, an urgent intervention is needed to provide a common platform for progressive and engaged scholarship.

Hosts: Moenieba Isaacs, PLAAS, and Ruth Hall, PLAAS
Panelists: Issa Shivji, Kojo Amanor, University of Ghana, Dzodzi Tsikata, University of Ghana, and Moenieba Isaacs, PLAAS


Tune in on Friday, 24 July 2020 at:
  • 15:00 Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
  • 16:00 West Africa Time (WAT)
  • 17:00 Central Africa Time (CAT)
  • 18:00 East Africa Time (EAT)

Learn more and watch the webinar on the IASC 2020 Web Conference on African Commons website here.