France-Botswana international conference held at UB

On Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd February 2019, an international conference was jointly organized by the University of Botswana, l’Université Paris VII- Paris Diderot and l’Université Paris-Nanterre, under the theme “Race, identity and globalization in southern Africa and beyond”. The conference took place at the University of Botswana.

The participants were then invited at the Residence of France on Friday 22nd in the evening for a cocktail which provided an opportunity to continue the discussions in an informal environment, and to ensure the organizers of the full support of the Embassy.

Below is the speech delivered by the Ambassador of France to Botswana on the occasion of the opening session of the conference:

" I have received with great pleasure and honor your invitation to say a few words before your assembly on the occasion of the opening session of this French-Botswana international conference on identity and race in Southern Africa. I commend this very innovative initiative, which, I hope, will be followed by many more. In my opinion, academic exchanges as well as relations between researchers and scientists are key to the progress of knowledge.

The satisfaction that I feel comes first and foremost from the fact that it is, as far as I know, the first international conference jointly organized by Botswana and French Academic Institutions, being University of Botswana, l’Université Paris VII-Paris Diderot, l’Université de Nanterre, with the further involvement of guests and participants from many research centres in Southern Africa and also in France, such as Creteil, la Sorbonne, l’Université d’Artois, l’Université de la Réunion, Nouvelle Calédonie, Paris Science-lettre, and Aix Marseille.

The satisfaction also lies in the high numbers and the diversity of origins of the French researchers present here in Gaborone for these two days of exchanges. It is a wonderful evidence that there is a significant interest in the studies and knowledge of Botswana and the region. This interest was already highlighted by some archaeological missions in Botswana led by the French Institute of South Africa based in Pretoria. The variety of the specializations and research themes that you represent is just another great proof to me.

The beautiful name of your conference: “Race, identity and globalization in southern Africa and beyond” : “race, identité et mondialisation en Afrique austral et au-delà” reminds me of my own studies of History, which I completed first at l’Université Paris VII, and then at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.

I remember being taught, and it was a singular honour for me, by some prestigious academic researchers like Emmanuel LEROY LADURIE, Pierre VIDAL NAQUET, Jean Claude SCHMITT, who didn’t fear to teach 1st and 2nd year students. It was at this time that I discovered more in depth the great subjects that anthropology, sociology, and ethnology are. It was also at this time that I familiarized myself with some renowned specialists such as the founding father Jean DE LERY and Claude LEVY STRAUSS.

I also remember that when I was doing my PHD research, dedicated to the Cristian populations in the Balkans during the Ottoman era, I discovered a small extraordinary book with a very simple title, which deeply marked my reflection on this subject. I refer to” Identité: séminaire interdisciplinaire”, led by the very same Claude LEVY STRAUSS at the Collège de France. Later, another book by the same author marked me significantly too, because it represented a breakthrough and a commitment towards mutual tolerance. It was called “Race et histoire” (“Race and history”).

For all these reasons, I am very proud of your presence here today and I will follow the outcomes of your exchanges with a very special interest.

To conclude, I would like to wish you all a very successful and fruitful conference; and I genuinely hope this first edition will be followed by many more. "

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Last updated on: 25 February 2019