Interdisciplinarity for critical Africanists of tomorrow!

David-Drengk - CopyWhen I was asked by the ASC to provide the next article for this blog and write about my experiences up to now, I did not need to think twice about what to say. Of course I could be writing about the importance of African Studies as such and what I think we will be doing with it in the future, but I suppose it might be more interesting to hear what makes these studies so attractive to us. For sure, the diverse insights we gain from fellow researchers and professors at the ASC, Leiden, Amsterdam and Wageningen University are incredibly interesting and contribute to our own research endeavours.

Our student-family
Nevertheless, I would like to highlight a few points which I think contribute most to the programme’s assets. When we look at our current student-family, which I believe we have really grown into in our little classroom at the ASC, we can recognize the great variety of our backgrounds. Just to mention a few: our family consists of communication, area and agriculture scientists, historians, anthropologists as well as economists. Now, imagine a small group of ten people in which basically each one has a different educational background; this brings a great diversity of approaches into play, often leading into interesting and intense discussions. I believe that this compilation of different ideas must be the way forward and is one way of stressing the increasing importance of interdisciplinarity, as our different approaches interact with each other in order to come to comprehensive answers to our research questions.

A transdisciplinary academic world
Eventually, this will one day lead to a transdisciplinary academic world in which all of us surrender our own disciplines in order to become part of a bigger picture. Particularly when it comes to researching the various struggles of (African) people and to understanding the complexities of capitalism as a structuring system of people’s lives, it is crucial to use at least interdisciplinary approaches. From our current perspective, one could go as far as to state that the era of single disciplinary approaches has come to an end. It is our generation that will one day determine and take part in the formation of new academic discourses, not only in the field of African Studies but many other interdisciplinary fields. As my comrade Njeri already put it in her previous blog article, we desperately hope for the emergence of critical and activist approaches within our interdisciplinary working environment. In fact, this has already started among our group at the ASC. The seed is sown. But we have only just begun. Let’s all join hands and spread the word: Interdisciplinarity for critical and activist Africanists of tomorrow!

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