AFRICA PLAYS: LEISURE IN AFRICA
Tom Michael Mboya, Moi University, Eldoret
Florian Stoll, University of Bayreuth
The panel examines leisure in Africa from multi-disciplinary perspectives. It has for its
foundation the idea that leisure is more than just a footnote to social life, it is a dimension in its own right. The focus is on understanding African practices of meaning-making and
African societies through the ways in which Africans engage in recreation.
Africans of all walks of life engage in recreation activities. Even the poorest and most
powerless of them do so in the midst of, and virtually in spite of, the challenges they struggle with every day. How do Africans play? What do they play? How are these games related to the social environments in which they are played? Do local ideas of play interact with notions of play from other contexts? If yes, how? Do the games tell us things about African societies? What meanings can be read in this playing? More than just a footnote of larger social changes, leisure is a dimension in its own quality.
With the rise of global entanglements and a multi-polar world order, everyday life and types of consumption in Africa change. Rising incomes, urbanization and digitalization modify the continent. But how are those changes reflected in the lives of Africans? Does the evidence from these lives challenge or confirm the concepts of consumption and recreation from Northern societies?
The panel asks for contributions that will highlight the significance of leisure in African settings. It addresses the challenge how we can study the multi-faceted character of the continent by contrasting different contexts. From drinking to gambling to family routines, it is telling how people spend their free time. The study of leisure shows differences with regards to inequality (economic class, race, gender, space …) and allows to identify specific ways of lives. We propose a panel that will explore leisure in Africa from different disciplinary perspectives, especially those with a strong empirical foundation. In particular, the conveners ask for contributions that are not limited to local case studies but combine field research with a theoretical argument. With regards to the different backgrounds of the convenors (Literary Studies and Sociology), we welcome interdisciplinary work.