On the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of the explorer David Livingstone, a conference, Imperial Obsessions will be held in the town that stills bears his name, Livingstone in Zambia, to celebrate his life’s work from 19-21 April 2013.
Love him or loathe him, Dr David Livingstone remains an important figure in the study of Africa’s encounter with the wider world. His books, his sensational exploratory travel in Africa, and his African companions, all inspired generations of colonisers, missionaries, humanitarianists and entrepreneurs to open up the continent to “commerce, Christianity and civilisation”. Thus he leads us into a past full of controversy and contradictions, as debates continue about the nature of European imperialism, its impact on post-colonial African states and the scope of African agency.
These issues go far beyond the history of one man, one African region, or one metropolitan centre. However, all over the world today, scholars are returning to Livingstone as they engage with bigger histories of slavery and antislavery; colonial ethnography; mapmaking; science and medical knowledge; exploration; missionary Christianity; racism; white settlers; imperial propaganda; gender; memory and memorialisation; travelogues and tourism; humanitarianism and historiography. But is he really still that relevant today? Or is it time to move beyond the “imperial obsession”?
On the two hundredth anniversary of his birth, it seems fitting that leading experts from all over the world, working on Livingstone and related subjects, gather in central Africa, in a town that still bears his name, located near the Mosi-oa-Tunya, the breathtaking waterfalls he came across in 1855. Scholars are invited to participate in a two day meeting to consider some of the new and old ideas about Livingstone’s life and legacy, plus related and comparative histories. The conference will be opened by Chief Mukuni.
Abstracts of papers for consideration may include:
• Science and information gathering
• Cartography and Exploration
• Livingstone’s African Companions
• Slavery and Anti-Slavery
• African and Missionary Christianity
• Violence and imperialism
• Gender relations, masculinity and the role of women
• Memorialisation and white settler communities
• Museums and Exhibitions
• Scotland in Africa; Africa in Scotland
• Tourism in contemporary Africa
• Livingstone as a source for historians
• Biography and historiography
• Imperial iconography
Please contact Joanna Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to submit a proposal.