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Call for Papers: Hans Werner Debrunner Symposium. Revisiting Histories and Cultures of African Diasporas, Religion and Belief

June 9 @ 08:00 - June 10 @ 17:00

Centre for African Studies, University of Basel (Switzerland)

9 – 10 June 2023

In cooperation with the Basler Afrika Bibliographien


The Centre for African Studies (CAS) of the University of Basel and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) invite to a symposium on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the Swiss historian and theologian Hans Werner Debrunner (1923-1998).


Debrunner published initially on spirituality and belief systems in Ghana as well as on Christian mission histories for both Ghana and Togo. Apart from numerous essays, his monographs Witchcraft in Ghana: as study on the belief in destructive witches and its effect on the Akan tribes (1959) and A history of Christianity in Ghana (1967) laid foundations for later scholarship.


Debrunner’s voluminous book Presence and Prestige: Africans in Europe. A history of Africans in Europe before 1918 (1979) remains a classic in African Diaspora history studies. He also contributed to the history of Swiss colonial entanglements in Africa.


The symposium provides an opportunity to revisit themes and topics in Debrunner’s writings and assess some of the influences which his scholarship and also his research archives and library, housed at the BAB, generate(d).


We encourage emerging scholars and scholars from African countries, in particular, to respond to the Call for Papers with a brief abstract and bio, due the latest by 3 March 2023.


Limited travel funding is available. The symposium will be held at the Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Klosterberg 23, Basel, Switzerland, with the option to join online.


We aim at publishing the contributions.



Veit Arlt (CAS)



Dag Henrichsen (BAB)



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June 9 @ 08:00
June 10 @ 17:00
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Basler Afrika Bibliographien
Klosterberg 23
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