Welcome to MAAAS!


     The Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS) is an organization for the promotion of African Studies in mid-America, including in particular the region between the Mississippi River and the frontal range of the Rocky Mountains. Founded at the University of Kansas in 1995, MAAAS seeks to encourage scholarship and teaching in African Studies regionally and sub-regionally through conferences, seminars, workshops, consortia, faculty and student exchanges, cooperative relations between libraries, and promotion of African language teaching, among other endeavors. MAAAS is open to all with an interest in scholarship and teaching within an African Studies focus, and it seeks especially to provide a forum for far-flung Africanists in the middle of the U.S., where great distances exist between relatively small pockets of African Studies enthusiasts.



20th Annual Meeting
Mid-America Alliance for African Studies

October 3-4, 2014
University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

African Studies: Concepts and Practices for Decolonizing Knowledge

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the 2014 conference of the Mid-America Alliance for African Studies (MAAAS). This year’s conference will be the 20th annual meeting of MAAAS.  To mark this important milestone, MAAAS will return to the site of its inaugural meeting at the University of Kansas. The dates of for the event are 3-4 OCT 2014.

The occasion of the 20th annual meeting provides an opportunity for reflection not only on past achievements, but also on a sense of future directions. What is the relevance of African Studies scholarship for the Mid-America region? What does African Studies contribute to the university education mission?  One answer to this question is a version of what Jean and John Comaroff (2011) recently articulated as “Theory from the South”. From this perspective, the point of scholarship in African Studies is not only (or even primarily) to teach people about African settings, but instead to draw on African experience as an epistemological foundation from which to re-think standard knowledge forms. Although standard forms of disciplinary knowledge often masquerade as positionless reflections on objective reality, an enduring contribution of work in African Studies has been to decolonize disciplinary knowledge: not only to illuminate how standard forms of knowledge bear the imprint of colonial power, but also to develop concepts and scholarly practices, rooted in everyday experience of life in African settings, that provide the foundations for broader human liberation. 

Reflecting both the theme of decolonizing knowledge and the occasion of the 20th annual meeting, we are pleased to welcome back as keynote speaker a former president and founding member of MAAAS, Garth Myers, Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of Urban International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Prof. Myers has a long history of work that exemplifies the theme of decolonizing knowledge, most recently drawing on understandings and experience of African urbanism as a foundation for re-thinking conventional perspectives of urban studies in general. Moreover, Prof. Myers was a long-time member of MAAAS, was present at the inaugural meeting of MAAAS, and was a signatory to the original MAAAS charter. In short, he is particularly well positioned to comment on the work of MAAAS in relation to the conference theme, and we are excited that he will join us for the event.

In addition to the keynote address, we invite papers that address the theme of decolonizing knowledge from across the spectrum of disciplinary and theoretical orientations to work in African Studies. Of course, we enthusiastically welcome proposals that address topics beyond this organizing theme, too. To propose a paper or panel, please send your abstract of 250 words or less (including your name, title, and institution information) to Glenn Adams at adamsg@ku.edu. The deadline for receipt of proposal submissions is August 15, 2014.

***Attention Graduate Students***

We also encourage graduate students to consider submitting their work for the Ken Lohrentz Graduate Paper Award. Please refer to the Ken Lohrentz Graduate Awards page for information


All conference presenters and participants must pay both MAAAS membership dues and conference registration fees.

Early conference registration (by August 31) is $30 for faculty or $10 for students and independent scholars. Membership dues are $20 for faculty or $10 for students and independent scholars.

Please download and fill out this registration form and send it, along with a check, to Glenn Adams (address is on the form) by August 31.

On-site registration is $40 for faculty or $20 for students and independent scholars.


Useful links for Africanists in the Midwest: