The University of Botswana is hosting an international conference on ‘race, identity and globalisation in Southern Africa and beyond’ today (February 22nd) and tommorrow at the Library Auditorium. It is a collaboration between the Department of French at the University of Botswana and two French research laboratories GRER-ICT (at the University of Paris – Diderot) and CREA (at the University of Paris – Nanterre).
The theme of the conference has attracted participants from Africa, Europe and beyond given that the issue of identity affects everybody in spite of social, economic or political background, but instead, as stated by head of French department at UB Rodah Nthapelelang, “It calls for introspection of the individual and introspection of the collective in order to define the self”.
Nthapelelang says that as individuals we are called every day to define our identity, be it through subtle means or in administrations. The individual has to know their identity. A nation has to know its identity. Identity therefore, is not stagnant; it evolves over time, it changes on the basis of contexts and at any given point in time, identity can be problematised, she said.
The main question is how one defines their identity in a globalised world. How does the individual define their identity within a collective? How do states manage to keep their particularity and avoid being engulfed in this “monster” which is globalisation?
The conference is bilingual- with some presentations in French and others in English. Prof Kwesi Prah, an author of several books including Beyond The Color Line (1997), public speaker, and Sociology professor will provide a keynote address on “Nurture and Nature: Race and Culture, Myth and Reality”.
In the context of Botswana, presentations will revolve around Ethnicity in Botswana; Racial and National Identity in Botswana; Cultural Supremacy and Politics; Linguistic and Cultural Diversities of Botswana; Botswana amidst hostile settler regimes of Southern Africa; Marginalised communities and identity politics; Race, gender, class and ethnicity in Botswana; Dual and complex identities of Batswana in Botswana and the Diaspora; Cultural Fluency and the politics of Belonging or not Belonging; and Performing the Botswana Identity.
The research outputs are aimed at informing policy locally and even beyond. Nthapelelang said that as a Centre of Excellence, the University of Botswana has got numerous partnerships with Universities over the world and that this confertence is an example of the networking that forms the basis of a solid academic foundation.