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NVAS Africa Day 2024: Humor in Africa

Humor in Africa

How to make light in dark times? This year’s NVAS Africa Day, held on Saturday 19 October (venue TBA), will focus on humor – in theory and in practice. While the humorous and the playful may sometimes seem incongruous with crises, they both find their foundation in absurdity (Martin 2022). Humor functions to address topics that are sensitive, ‘off-limits,’ and to subvert the status quo.

During political upheaval, cartoons and satirical images can be used to visualize discontent and ridicule those in power. Recently, a flurry of memes depicting the French president Macron express anti-colonial sentiments in West African countries, whereas the South African cartoonist Zapiro has famously captured and critiqued politicians in the country for decades. In the context of the development aid industry in Africa, European and American aid workers and volunteers have used satirical campaigns and ads to draw attention to the often-persistent power inequalities and stereotypes of an aid-dependent Africa that remain central logics for many development projects. The Instagram account of ‘Barbie Savior,’ depicting voluntourism and the campaign ‘Africa for Norway,’ positing the idea that Africans should donate radiators to help the freezing population of Norway, make visible and draw attention to the pernicious images of aid in Africa that continue to circulate.

Satire, caricature, cartoons, comedy, joking, teasing, the absurd, laughter, memes, punchlines, play – we invite you to share all the ways that people across the continent and beyond use humor to engage with the world around them. As the examples above show, humor is not merely a frivolity or distraction. It can be political, a means to protest, to articulate critique, or to engage creatively with intractable problems and circumstances. It can function as a coping mechanism, an agentive response when actions are circumscribed. Most of all, it is a social practice, a mode of communicating and a formative phenomenon in the weft of the social fabric.

We invite papers and 15-minute presentations that deal with different aspects of this topic on the African continent. Aside from presentations, we welcome different formats, including performances, stand-up comedy, (short) film screenings or other modalities that engage this topic creatively.

Please submit a title and a 250-word abstract or description of your contribution to before 1 September. You will be informed whether your contribution has been selected by 15 September. For accepted contributions, we request the submission of the presentation material by 15 October.


NVAS Africa Day: Living Environments: African Anthropocenes and Climate Justice


Program NVAS Africa Day 2023 (PDF)

We live in times of unprecedented environmental change. Scholars have therefore begun to refer to our geological time as ‘the Anthropocene’, reflecting that many of these changes can be traced back to human actions and interventions. Our way of life is affecting not just landscapes, lives and livelihoods, but all flora and fauna on the planet, leading David Wallace-Wels to announce in his book The Uninhabitable Earth (2020) that ‘it is worse, much worse, than you think.’ Calling out world leaders’ lack of tangible action on the topic of climate change, activist Greta Thunberg asked at a United Nations meeting in 2019: ‘How dare you?!’ And yet since 2019 the climatic conditions worldwide have worsened further. Where at some stage we thought the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to some sort of global reset towards more sustainable ways of living, this has not been the case. In fact, we seem to be back and already beyond where we left off before COVID-19, taking the plunder of the planet to new heights. Extreme weather events continue to increase in force and countries across the world have seen their reliance on fossil fuels for energy provision deepened by the war in Ukraine. In particular, African countries are bearing the brunt of the impacts and consequences of the climate change crisis, despite the fact that they have contributed least to causing it. At the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2022, a ‘Loss & Damage Fund for Vulnerable Countries’ was created, but which sentient stakeholders in our shared living environments will ultimately come to benefit from this, remains to be seen.

This NVAS Africa-day will focus on African Anthropocenes in relation to climate justice, exploring the broader context of living environments in which African people and other sentient stakeholders carrying the burden of climate change live their daily lives. Paying attention to the interplay of plants, people, animals and other critters, we invite papers that deal with different aspects of this topic on the African continent, including but not limited to the following:

– The causes and consequences of disasters and climate insecurity;
– Climate change in multispecies and transdisciplinary perspectives;
– Climate justice and environmental law;
– Environmental ethics;
– Resource extraction and sustainability.

The NVAS Africa-day will take place at Utrecht University on Saturday 30 September 2023.

Please send your abstracts of max. 250 words to before 10 June 2023. You will be informed whether your abstract has been selected by 1 July.

In Memoriam: Dr. Karin Willemse

We are saddened by the news of the untimely death of our colleague and esteemed NVAS Board member since 2019, Dr Karin Willemse. She helped NVAS enormously through her thoughtful and sharp ideas in organizing its online and in-person events and through her pleasant and inspiring presence.  We will miss Karin’s invaluable contributions. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to her family and all those who are left behind. May she rest in peace!

In Memoriam: Marieke van Winden (1953-2022)

Diep bedroefd heeft het NVAS-bestuur kennis genomen van het overlijden van Marieke van Winden. Vanaf de oprichting van de NVAS in 1997 heeft Marieke méér dan twee decennia, vanuit het Afrika Studiecentrum, het NVAS-ledenbestand opgezet en nauwkeurig bijgehouden. Daarnaast heeft zij opeenvolgende besturen met raad en daad bijgestaan in zaken rondom communicatie. Grote dank is de NVAS haar ook verschuldigd voor de organisatie van de memorabele studiedag van 2019 over het thema Theater en Muziek. Met dit thema, dat Marieke zelf had voorgesteld, nam zij afscheid van de NVAS in verband met haar pensionering bij het ASCL. Wij wensen Marieke’s kinderen, familie en vrienden sterkte met dit grote verlies.

Zie ook:

In Memoriam Marieke van Winden (1953-2022) | African Studies Centre Leiden (

Programme and list of abstracts for NVAS 25th Anniversary Conference

We are looking forward to the NVAS 25th Anniversary Conference titled Conciliation and Conflict: The Role of Language in Bridging Social Differences in Africa

You can find the programme and the list of abstracts through the links below!

FINAL Programme NVAS Conference (pdf)

List of abstracts (pdf)

There is also a web dossier of the ASCL dedicated to this conference. Access it by following this link

For further information or to receive the zoom-link for online participation, please send an email to

Presentations NVAS Africa Day 2021: Entrepreneurial responses to Covid-19 in Africa

(Re-)watch the presentations of NVAS Africa Day 2021 here!

Magnus Ekeland: Longing to break free: Ethnographic reflections on the Basic Income Grant in South Africa’s potential to boost entrepreneurship among young men in rural townships

Lotte Marie Brouwer: Adaptation strategies among successful women agri- entrepreneurs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya

Corneill Spaapen and Lucia Ameli: Supporting entrepreneurs during Covid-19: Insights from African Entrepreneurship Support Organizations

Hanaa Benchrifa and Steven Kator Iorfa: Entrepreneurial intentions among Moroccan University students in times of crisis: A focus on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic

NVAS Africa Day 2021: Entrepreneurial responses to Covid-19 in Africa

Dear members,

Our annual NVAS Africa Day will take place on line on Saturday 16 October. Would you like to attend? Please click on the registration link below. If you leave your postal address you will receive a stay-at-home package prior to the event!


12:00 – 12:45
Annual General Meeting/Algemene Leden Vergadering
(NVAS members only)

12:45 – 13:00
Opening and welcome

13:00 – 13:20
Lucia Ameli; Crosswise works
Corneill Spaapen; Crosswise works
“Supporting entrepreneurs during COVID: insights from African Entrepreneurship Support Organizations”i

13:20 – 13:40
Hanaa Benchrifa; Hassan II University
Steven Kator Iorfa; University of Nigeria Nsukka
“Entrepreneurial intentions among Moroccan University students in times of crisis: A focus on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic”

13:40 – 14:00
Magnus Ekeland; Radboud University
“Longing to break free: Ethnographic reflections on the Basic Income Grant in South Africa’s potential to boost entrepreneurship among young men in rural townships”

14:00 – 14:30
Plenary discussion

14:30 – 14:40
Coffee break

14:40 – 15:00
Lotte-Marie Brouwer; Women’s Entrepreneurship Lead at Bopinc/Utrecht University
“Adaptation strategies among successful women agri entrepreneurs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya”

15:00 – 15:20
Susanne Roeloefsen; MDF Africa
“The importance of knowing your market and formalising your business”

15:20 – 15:50
Plenary discussion

15:50 – 16:00

16:00 – 16:15
Coffee break

16:15 – 17:30
Short film + Q&A with filmmaker Laura Molsbergen

“A-town – Moving towards visibility”
The film provides a glimpse of the lives of three dancers, who are part of the wider ViaVia dance community in Arusha. They all have their own dreams to pursue, their own money to make to survive on a daily basis. As a unity, they share their passion for dance and the willingness to take their dance practices to a higher level. But the Tanzanian government and its people do not value dance for the development of the country. A-TOWN: Moving towards visibility shows how the dancers try to use their talent to escape the shadow and instead search for the spotlight to be seen by their fellow Tanzanians – but are they able to do so without the help from outsiders?

Call for papers NVAS Africa Day 2021: Entrepreneurial responses to Covid-19 in Africa (Extended Deadline!)

The deadline for abstracts for our upcoming NVAS Africa Day: ‘Entrepreneurial Responses to Covid-19 in Africa’ has been extended to 15 July 2021. 

We very much welcome contributions from members of our community from both academia and practice. Feel free to share the extended call for abstracts with your network:

If you have any questions about the upcoming Africa Day please send an e-mail to

Call for papers NVAS Africa Day 2021: Entrepreneurial responses to Covid-19 in Africa

We are happy to announce a call for papers for our annual NVAS Africa Day, which will take place in an online/hybrid format on Saturday 16 October 2021.

Both NVAS members and non-NVAS members can apply, and we encourage submissions from PhD and early career scholars from African institutions.

More information on the program and registration will follow. For questions, please contact

You can download the call for papers below. Feel free to share this with your network.