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International Scholars Discuss Africa-India Relationship

Topics included how nations are connected through material, ideas, people and time

International Scholars Discuss Africa-India Relationship
Panelists from Duke, the U.S. and other nations took part in this week's event. Photo by Amanda Frederick

A workshop on the nuances and implications of the India-Africa relationship over time brought scholars from around the world to Duke this week.

“Africa-India: Encounters, Episodes, Entanglements” was organized by the Duke Africa Initiative, the Duke India Initiative and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies.

The event kicked off on Monday evening with “Out of Time: Africa, India, and Possible Histories,” the workshop’s keynote lecture from Dilip Menon of University of the Witwatersrand. Menon set the tone of the conference by discussing the ways in which we can see Africa and India as connected through material, ideas, people and time.

On Tuesday, invited speakers and members of the Duke community gathered for three panels: “India, China, and the New Scramble for Africa,” “Africa-India: Episodes, Encounters, Entanglements,” and “Is India East African? Enmeshments.”

Panelists Omar Ali (UNC-Greensboro), Fatima Bapumia-Sharif (University of Dar es Saaam), Peter Bofin (Martello Research), Chambi Chachage (Harvard University), Gaurav Desai (University of Michigan), Jatin Dua (University of Michigan), Pedro Machado (Indiana University, Bloomington), Rohit Negi (Ambedkar University), and Gidraph Wairire (University of Nairobi) provided overviews of their individual research.

Their research topics ranged from India’s interest in East African natural resources to the role of Bollywood films in maintaining the “Indian-ness” of Indians living in Tanzania, as well as general reflections and brainstorming on the past, present and future of Afro-Indian relations.

The workshop concluded with a wrap-up discussion. Engseng Ho (Duke University), Achille Mbembe (University of the Witwatersrand), Célestin Monga (African Development Bank) and Giovanni Zanalda (Duke University) provided summaries of the broader themes that emerged during the various sessions and discussed future research ideas and collaborations.  

For more information about the conference, visit