“EU-Africa Migration Conundrum in a Changing Global Order”, 3-5 September 2018

At the beginning of September, from the 3rd to the 5th, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation hosted a two day workshop and one day conference that focused on migration and human mobility with Africa and the European Union, and between the two regions. The event was hosted by GovInn Director, Dr Chris Nshimbi, and enjoyed input from a number of academics, practitioners and students, focused on the trends, impacts and future of migration in and between these regions.

Below are some pictures from the three days of engagement and dialogue.

Call for papers ‘African Mobilities – reshaping narratives and practices of circulation and exchange.’

Nordic Africa Days 2018

19 – 21 September in Uppsala, Sweden

Theme: African Mobilities – reshaping narratives and practices of circulation and exchange. (Panel 12)

This panel seeks to enhance the understanding, application and progress of regional integration as a strategy for socio-economic transformation and development in Africa; with a particular focus on borders and human mobility. Undeterred by the temporary backlash against mega-regional trade agreements in Europe, Asia-Pacific and America, Africa is proceeding with plans to establish a continental free trade area (CFTA) and an African Economic Community (AEC) by 2028. It has firmed up this commitment through rounds of CFTA negotiations since 2015. A well-designed and implemented African FTA promises great gains. To set African countries on a path of transformation from exporters of commodities to producers of manufactured goods. However, two issues seem to hamper progress towards a fully-fledged and functional AEC. First, nation-state borders founded on the principles of delimitation drawn at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference and the Westphalian state model. Despite efforts to integrate, the respective members of the African Union (AU) are simultaneously determined to strengthen the same colonial boundaries that separate them, as they consolidate their rule and assert the sovereignty of their states. Second, in enforcing the borders, African countries maintain more restrictive migration regimes against one another but more open to the outside world. This seriously challenges and frustrates integration and intracontinental mobilities; ignoring the fact that migration and cross-border movements have historically characterized African populations, especially in contiguous border areas of African nation-states.

Can Africa learn from other world regions which have negotiated FTAs to ensure inclusive processes of integration? What is the purpose of (post)colonial borders, when Africa seeks integration? Does the removal of obstacles to free movement of persons (besides capital, goods and services) provide a viable approach to the transformation of socioeconomic structures and establishment of a sustainable economic base in Africa? What promise do circulations and exchanges of knowledge and ideas hold for Africa? Can the understanding, application and progress of integration as an approach to Africa’s development live up to expectation?


Submit Abstracts no later than 20 May 2018. The conference language is English. 

Contact :

Dr Chris Nshimbi (University of Pretoria)


For more information on the conference visit the website here.




Cori Wielenga at Building Bridges in a Complex World conference, 06-08.07.2017

Govinn researcher, Cori Wielenga, had the opportunity to present her work at the Building Bridges in a Complex World conference was very innovative in its approach and the way in which it was framed. It challenged mainstream academia both in terms of substance and process. As stated in their framing documents, academic events tend to stress certain hierarchies and power relations that turn academic discourse into ‘pretentious competitive performances’. Instead, this conference was set up to create safe spaces for genuine dialogue and the creative exploring of ideas together.  A thread running through the conference was that the ‘neoliberal’ paradigm has affected both our teaching and research such that we have reduced these to products that need to be churned out and consumed. Conversations centred around how we can revive a research and teaching culture of inquiry and critical open-mindedness.

The research Cori Wielenga presented at the conference was on rethinking justice through listening to communities. It drew on fieldwork undertaken in Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Burundi and emphasised the centrality of engaging with the lived experiences of communities on their own terms in order to understand what justice means in these contexts, and how justice is practiced in these contexts, in the absence of the state, or alongside existing state institutions which are often alienating and ineffective. The discussion emerging from the paper revealed a shared interest in undertaking research in a way that reflects a sensitivity to the context and allows findings to emerge that might challenge preconceived ideas and theories.

The recommendations the paper made included exploring ways in which policy might be developed from below. What would policies look like that were developed by communities, and reflected their lived experiences?

Call for Papers: Global Food Security Conference, 8-11 October 2017, Cape Town


The 3rd International Conference on Global Food Security will take place in Cape Town between the 8th and 11th October 2017. This conference is organised in association with the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security, the University of Pretoria, and the University of Western Cape.

Abstract submission deadline is 5 May 2017, on the following themes:
Theme 1: Culture and politics in food security
Theme 2: Social protection for food security
Theme 3: Sustainable intensification of food production systems
Theme 4: Transitions, urbanization and food security
Theme 5: The food-water-energy nexus
Theme 6: Plant, animal and bio-engineering science for food security
Theme 7: Reducing food losses and waste
Theme 8: Reducing risks to food production and distribution from climate change
Theme 9: Nutritional security
Theme 10: Business-science-community cooperation to advance food security
Theme 11: Public policy for food security
Theme 12: Food sovereignty and democratization of food systems

More information can be found at

Conference Report: “Comparative Regionalism: State of the Art and Future Directions”

Conference Participants

Participants of the Comparative Regionalism Conference

During the first week of November, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) had the honour to host a conference on comparative regionalism in partnership with the Research College (KFG) “The Transformative Power of Europe” at the Free University Berlin.

KFG-directors Prof. Tanja Börzel and Prof. Thomas Risse together with GovInn director Prof. Lorenzo Fioramonti and senior research fellow Dr. Frank Mattheis combined forces to bring together authors of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Comparative Regionalism with experts in Africa. After two similar events of the KFG in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro, Pretoria constituted to third and last stop for the authors to engage in a global dialogue.

GovInn invited colleagues from various South African universities with a track record in studying regionalism but also African experts with practical experience in supporting regional integration. The different panels addressed regionalism from a variety of angles by looking at specific governance issues (e.g. the politics of regional migration), geographic specificities (e.g. what makes regionalism in Africa distinct?) and the broader connections between regionalism across the globe (e.g. how do interregional diffusion processes work?). The debates touched on a broad variety of issues of central relevance to Africa, including the gap between formal regional organisations and regionalising actors on the ground.

The debates were also informed by the current higher education crisis in South Africa. The roundtables witnessed debates about ways to address Eurocentrism in the study of regionalism, not by provincialising regionalisms but by combining the production of regional knowledge with a dialogue between sub-disciplines and theories.

Prof. Risse in action

Prof. Risse in action

GovInn and the KFG turned out to be well placed to congregate scholars from the wider field of comparative regionalism so as to collectively engage with crossing the boundaries of their disciplines and regions. Yet, as discussed in the closing roundtable, the eclecticism produces new challenges for methodological rigour, funding schemes and selection criteria of academic journals. The momentum generated by the growing number of scholars interested in the study of comparative regionalism generates many new questions and challenges for the field to take into account as it further institutionalises in research programmes and state of the art.

Conference Programme “Comparative Regionalism”

Call for papers ‘The African Union and African Economic Community: Territorial and economic arrangements for peace in Africa’

Geographies for Peace

2017 IGU-UGI Thematic Conference

23-25 April 2017

La Paz, Bolivia

The African Union and African Economic Community: Territorial and economic arrangements for peace in Africa

Concerned with the plight of especially women and children as major victims of wars, civil conflicts, human rights violations, humanitarian disasters, gender-based violence and violent conflicts, and genocide, the African Union (AU) has committed to speeding-up actions that will “silence the guns by 2020” in its Agenda 2063, in order to make peace a reality for all people in Africa. This resonates with sustainable development goals (SDGs) 5 and 16 to achieve gender equality and promote peace, justice and strong institutions for development. These attempts conform with the AU’s plans to establish a continental free trade area (CFTA) in 2017. The CFTA should lead to the establishment of the African Economic Community (AEC) in 2028, according to the Abuja Treaty for the Establishment of the AEC. Besides low intra-regional trade, persistent war and conflict are commonly cited as a major reason and evidence of the failure of regional integration, in Africa at least. In this regard, a connection exists between conflict on the one hand and regional integration and peace on the other, based on the understanding that peace is essential to unimpeded trade, development and inter-state cooperation. Against this background and in this CFP, we invite papers that interrogate these themes as well as topics including, but not limited to:

How does obsessive regard for territorial sovereignty impact on the readiness and the extent to which the supranational AU, the AU Commission (AUC) and respective member states can and intervene in domestic conflicts occurring in African states?

Does the absence of war guarantee a peace that ensures distribution, location and spatial organization of economic activities leading to successful regional integration?

Practically, how can ambitions to establish a single geo- political and economic space from Africa’s tapestry of states, economies, cultures and customs by the AU be translated into a mosaic of grassroots, meso- and macro- level actors committed to peaceful coexistence?


Dr. Christopher Changwe Nshimbi (University of Pretoria, South Africa)

Dr. Inocent Moyo (University of Zululand, South Africa)

An abstract of no more than 250 words in English or Spanish should be sent to and and on or before 1 December 2016.

For more information on the conference visit the website here.

GovInn at EUIA

GovInn conference report: European Union in International Affairs 2016 (#EUIA16) – Brussels, Belgium

This year, the fifth biennial conference on the European Union in International Affairs, took place once again at the Royal Academy of Sciences in Brussels. Close to 400 members of the academic community gathered in the centre of the multi-facetted city from 11 to 13 May.
GovInn was well represented with a delegation comprising senior researchers Camilla Adelle, John Kotsopoulos and Frank Mattheis, as well as communication manager Gaia Manco. For the European Studies Association of Sub-Sahara Africa (ESA-SSA) the three researchers organised two panels on EU-Africa relations, which were well-attended both physically and virtually (with a strong social media presence). In addition, the researchers presented their individual research in panels ranging from climate change to interregionalism. The full programme can be found on the conference website.
The day prior to the conference Frank Mattheis also gave a seminar on Brazil in Africa at the Institute for European Studies of the Université libre de Bruxelles for the GEM PhD school. The three GovInn researchers took further advantage of their trip to Belgium to participate in a workshop at the University of Ghent in preparation of joint projects proposals and activities with Prof. Jan Orbie and his team.

GovInn at EUIA

GovInn at EUIA


Report by Frank Mattheis, attending the conference on behalf of the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation at the University of Pretoria (South Africa), with support from the Institute for European Studies of the Université libre de Bruxelles.

The Legacy of Armed Conflicts: Southern African and Comparative Perspectives, 28-29 July

The Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn), in cooperation with the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), invites submissions for a two-day workshop on the legacy of armed conflicts: Southern African and comparative perspectives.

Achieving stable peace, building accountable state institutions and (re)establishing trust are core challenges in the aftermath of an armed conflict. While violent conflicts are disruptive, they also offer opportunities for political and social change. However, the passage from conflict to sustainable peace is a complicated process. Formal and informal processes taking place during the war and in its immediate aftermath can have profound long-term implications. Even in Southern Africa, which has been heralded as a ‘success story’ of peacebuilding, past wars continue to shape politics and societies in many ways.

More information on this event can be found  here.

Submission of paper abstracts 30 April
Notification of acceptance 15 May
Submission of papers 15 July
Conference 28-29 July

Dr Giulia Piccolino
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
GIGA Institute of African Affairs

Dr John Kotsopoulos
Research fellow
Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn)
University of Pretoria

CIDOB Conference

Reconfiguration of the Global South – Frank Mattheis participates in the annual CIDOB/OCP Policy Centre conference

CIDOB Conference

Panel discussion at the CIDOB/OCP Policy Centre annual conference on reconfigurations of the Global South (photo by CIDOB)

On 28 and 29 January 2016, the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) and the OCP Policy Centre convened their annual conference in the city of Barcelona. This year’s edition was hosted by CIDOB  senior researcher Eckart Woertz. The theme addressed the reconfiguration of the Global South stemming from the economic and political rise of Asian powers. Thirty international researchers focused on how African and Latin America position themselves in this context and discussed questions ranging from food security to new institutions of global governance.

GovInn senior researcher Frank Mattheis and his collaborator Christina Stolte (FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg) presented results from their analysis of Brazil’s development assistance to Africa, in particular its agricultural cooperation with Ghana. The results of the conference will be disseminated in two publications to come out in 2016: a special issue in Spanish with Afers Internacionals, and an edited volume in English with Routledge.

Atlantic Future

The Future of the Atlantic Hemisphere – Frank Mattheis participates in dissemination event in Washington, DC

Atlantic Future

Participants of the Atlantic Future dissemination event at JHU

On 1 December 2015 the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University hosted a one-day event to disseminate the results of the research project ATLANTIC FUTURE among Washington, DC policy makers, academics and think tanks. After three years of collaborative research involving 13 partners from Europe, North America, Africa and Latin America, the project has produced a stock of knowledge on the connections and linkages across the Atlantic.

The panels of this event engaged with the particular characteristics that underpin the construction of an ‘Atlantic Hemisphere’ but also pointed out the junctures that can cause fragmentation. GovInn senior researcher Frank Mattheis presented results from the work package on interregionalism and regionalism, and participated in a panel discussion on evolving human security challenges in the Atlantic space.

The event was part of a series, including a dissemination event in November in Rio de Janeiro and the final event on 10 December in Brussels.