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Author: Karel Arnaut

In this paper I look at the Matonge neighbourhood of Brussels as a locus of postcolonial and diasporic imagination and activism by different groups and individuals most notably people who identify as Africans, Belgians with African roots, or ‘Black’ in Belgium. Within a longer historical narrative that starts in the late 19th century, I focus on the period beginning in the late 1980s when new migrational flows from Africa and other southern countries into Brussels make the Matonge quarter increasingly visible in an otherwise hesitantly globalizing Belgian/European metropolis. This issue is taken up by several filmmakers who, over the last thirty years, have situated their critiques of the Belgian postcolonial condition in ‘Matonge’. In this paper I briefly present four of these films in order to illustrate the ways in which ‘Matonge’ features in changing discourses concerning inequality, cultural affirmation, and diasporic activism.

Open Access
In: Afrika Focus
In: Devising Order
Open Access
In: Afrika Focus
Open Access
In: Afrika Focus
Author: Karel Arnaut

This programmatic paper seeks to develop a new perspective on the military-political identity and performance of militias particularly in urban environments. The militia under consideration is the Groupement Patriotique pour la Paix (GPP), one of the oldest and most prominent of the southern militias. The G PP came into being as a civil society initiative in the aftermath of the September 2002 insurgency in Cote d'Ivoire a country which since then has lingered in a no-peace-no-war situation. The new perspective, here called 'ludus pro patria', looks at how the militias' activity, organisation, and discourse is deployed in the urban public sphere and to what effect. Within the scope of this paper, this perspective serves to deconstruct the alleged process of 'milicianisation' as the combined effect of discursive appropriation and concrete insinuation of a subaltern youth initiative by national elites and international actors. In conclusion, this paper argues that the proposed approach is essential for a proper understanding of two main dimensions of the militias' raison d'être and modus operandi: mobility and belonging.

Open Access
In: Afrika Focus
A Journal of Transnational Africa in a Global World
Editor-in-Chief: Karel Arnaut
This scholarly journal seeks to understand how African cultures and societies shape and are shaped by historical and current diasporic and transnational movements. Contrary to assuming 'Africa' as a bounded geographical entity and the African diaspora as a single imagined community, the journal charts uncovered territories and entangled histories of plural diasporas and transnational movements from, to and within Africa. These include, but are not limited to, the Transatlantic, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East as well as Europe and the former socialist countries of the European continent.

By focusing on when and how diasporas are produced and lived, diasporic connections are claimed, and transnational engagements evolve, the journal fosters a view on the ways in which these movements are navigated by people, networks, communities and states in historical, political and socio-cultural terms. This journal pursues placing at the centre of its attention the diasporians' and migrants' own experiences and expressions of these interlocking forms of mobility. Providing an academic context for the interpolation of the ways in which diasporic and transnational movements reinforce, negotiate or negate one another forms the core of the interdisciplinary approach this journal fosters. The ways in which the diversity of these flows subsequently produce mediations of contact, contest or conflict vis-à-vis the social fabric of sending and receiving situations and within transnational networks is elementary to the critical social theory the journal's academic debate is promoting. Issues of boundary making and crossing, belonging and citizenship, kinship and family configurations, religious ritual and symbolism, popular expressions and public culture, economic initiative and political agency form the heart of the diversity of these mediations.

The journal therefore encourages the submission of articles that are groundbreaking in their empirically founded re-conceptualizations of this intellectual terrain. The journal publishes peer reviewed articles based on original research, short notes and communications, and book reviews. Occasionally it will produce thematic issues. It is the journal's policy to encourage publication by junior scholars and to provide a platform for discussion and exchange relevant to policy. The journal is bi-lingual and welcomes contributions both in English and French. All articles will have abstracts in both languages.

From 2012 - 2014 this is a full Open Access journal, which means that all articles are freely available, ensuring maximum, worldwide dissemination of content. For more information please contact the journal: afdi@brill.com.
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In: African Diaspora
In: African Diaspora
In: African Diaspora
In: African Diaspora