Call for papers: African Studies Group (ASG) Inaugural Conference

Borders, Identities and Belonging in a Cosmopolitan Society: Perspectives from African Migrants in the Diaspora

12–14 March 2020
University of Melbourne


Borders, Identities and Belonging have been at the centre of debates on the profound transformations wrought by globalisation. But perhaps the movement of people across geographical borders, and the transformative impact of the digital revolution that has ushered in the information age are the most illustrative examples.

Extant literature and discourse have primarily analysed issues of borders in isolation, thus overlooking the intersection of these two issues. Where this intersection has been examined, it has been in the analogue sense,
especially physical geographical borders. There is, therefore, a lacuna, in literature and discourse, on the intersection of borders and identity, in both the analogue and digital realms.

Moreover, debates on these issues have been largely confined to either academic platforms or public policy and community forums, while rarely mutually engaging. The increasing salience of migration and identity
issues in politics world over has brought to the fore debates on the unprecedented rise of migration especially in the context of Australian politics. These debates call for creating innovative platforms in which to foster these conversations, guided by key insights from scholars, practitioners and community members.

It is in this context that the African Studies Group( ASG) would like to invite you to submit a paper proposal to our inaugural conference titled Borders, Identities and Belonging in a Cosmopolitan Society: Perspectives from African Migrants in the Diaspora to be held on 12–14 March 2020. The ASG is an association of researchers with interests in African studies, which is hosted by the University of Melbourne. ASG provides an enabling platform for informative and supportive collegial discussions among researchers with a focus on Africa and African Diaspora. This conference is part of our ongoing effort of fostering a better understanding of, and connections with, African communities in the Diaspora.


The Borders, Identities and Belonging conference will be organised around the following thematic questions:

  • The Concept of Home: What and where is home? Where, when and how do we feel a sense of ‘belonging’?
  • Relevance of Borders: How do borders permeate our social lives?
  • Digital Transformation: How have digital communication platforms transformed the concepts and experiences of borders, identity and belonging?
  • Multiculturalism and Integration: What are the experiences and prospects of multiculturalism in increasing our sense of belonging and social integration?

Structure of the Conference

The Borders, Identities and Belonging conference will comprise three key elements: (i) a masterclass; (ii) academic presentations; (iii) sharing of experiences by practitioners and community. These three elements are distinct but interrelated, and will comprise the first, second and third days of the conference, respectively.

  1. Masterclass: A two-hour masterclass will be delivered by the keynote speaker. Staff predominantly drawn from the School of Social and Political Sciences will complement the keynote speaker. The aim of the masterclass is to focus on building specific skillsets for effective communication of research to a wider audience and the art of constructive engagement on key policy issues. Given that the keynote speaker is a distinguished scholar, the masterclass will focus on debating the key theoretical concepts of borders and identity. The masterclass will be organised around the following question: Should we make our research borderless, and if so, how? In reflecting the integrated nature of the conference, the masterclass will comprise postgraduate students, practitioners, community members and government officials. Beyond equipping the participants with rigorous analytical and communication skills, the masterclass will also facilitate learning and engagement amongst the participants.
  2. Practitioners panels: An innovative part of the conference will be to foster mutual engagement amongst practitioners, community members, policymakers and academics. In these panels, presenters will share and
    engage with their experiences in dealing with issues of borders and identity in their work. It is anticipated that this mutual engagement will be a hallmark of the conference, in that these groups will speak with each other, rather than past each other.
  3. Academic panels: These panels will feature presentations from academic community- postgraduate students, researchers and faculty — who will engage with the themes of the workshop based on their academic
    papers. This session will comprise both conceptual/theoretical and empirical papers and will help to broadly shape the academic contours of the debate. Even though the focus will be on presentations from academic
    research, the involvement of non-academic participants will allow for an enriching and robust discussion on the
    emergent issues.

We, therefore, welcome paper proposals related to the main themes of the conference. The deadline for submission is 06 January 2020, at 11:59 AEST. Decisions on the proposals will be communicated by 13 January 2020.

Submit Paper Proposal

To submit your paper proposal, please do so on this online form here or copy & paste the following link to your browser:

Registration Fee

If your paper proposal is accepted, you will be required to pay the conference registration fee to confirm your participation, latest by 27 January 2020.

  • Students: AU$ 80 (Early bird $60, if paid by 24 January 2020)
  • Faculty: AU$ 200 (Early bird $150, if paid by 24 January 2020)
  • Practitioners: AU$ 200 (Early bird $150, if paid by 24 January 2020)

Travel Bursary

A few travel bursaries are available for student applicants from within Australia. If interested, please indicate so, and include a short motivation, on the Submission form.

Best student paper prize

A prize of $300 will be awarded to the best student paper presented at the conference. Please submit by 20 February 2020 to with the subject heading ‘Submission for best paper prize ASG 2020’.
Please send all enquiries to




ASG is an association of researchers with interests in African studies hosted by the University of Melbourne.

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African Studies Group

African Studies Group

ASG is an association of researchers with interests in African studies hosted by the University of Melbourne.

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