International Symposium

24th to 26th September 2003
Centre for Modern Oriental Studies, Berlin, Germany

    Research on transport and communications has so far largely concentrated on economic, technical and political aspects. Their social and cultural impact on wider regional and supra-regional histories, notably with regard to the making and transformation of social spaces, is still under-researched. This lacuna is particularly conspicuous in research on the non-European parts of the world. A striking case in point is the Portuguese-influenced sphere of West Central Africa, despite the enormous and continuing significance of this aspect emerging from the existing historiographical work on the region. For centuries, transport and communication have fundamentally determined African history in general and Angolan history in particular.

    From pre-colonial migrations through the era of Atlantic long-distance trade (notably in slaves) up to the colonial/national "development", wars and global integration of the twentieth century, these processes have shown a remarkable potential to transcend boundaries, but also to create new barriers. The planned symposium, supported by the Volkswagen Foundation, is intended to promote a new and more comprehensive approach to this theme than hitherto, one which will also be of relevance to other regions beyond Angola itself. To this end, about 20 specialists from Angola, North America and Europe and from a range of different disciplines will be invited who pursue differing research interests and methodologies. The dialogue with scholars from Angola, in particular, offers an opportunity to include African perspectives shaped by long experiences of foreign rule as well as by the current need to rebuild communications and communication in a war-torn country.

    Further information on the symposium and a summary of results will be provided when available on the websites of the convenors indicated below. After the symposium, it is also intended to publish an edited volume with the main contributions.


Dr. Beatrix Heintze, Frobenius Institut, D-60323 Frankfurt am Main
Tel. (+49) +69 / 798-33056,
Fax: (+49) +69 / 798-33101

Dr. Achim von Oppen,
Zentrum Moderner Orient,
Kirchweg 33, D-14129 Berlin
Tel. (+49) +30 / 80307-0,
Fax (+49) +30 / 80307-210

York/UNESCO Nigerian Hinterland Project
Department of History, York University,  Toronto, Canada
Fax: (416) 650-8173