On 3-4 December 2018, the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) and the School for Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (École des hautes études en sciences sociales, or EHESS) held a joint symposium, "Contribution of Area Studies to Global Challenges in Africa", in Paris, France.
The conference was organized in accordance with the KyotoU-EHESS academic Memorandum of Understanding, signed 28 May 2015, and aimed at building on the highly successful first CAAS-EHESS symposium, "France-Japan Area Studies Forum", held 1-3 December 2017. The latest symposium set out to determine the future direction of the research collaboration and exchange taking place in Africa between the two organizations.
Participating from Kyoto were nine researchers, including CAAS Director Masayoshi Shigeta, who is also a professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), and Professor Kaoru Kitajima of the Graduate School of Agriculture (GSA). EHESS was represented by Professor Sébastien Lechevalier, who heads the school's Fondation France-Japon (FFJ), Associate Professor Eloi Ficquet, and five others. There were also participants from Paris Diderot University (Paris 7), Strasbourg University, the French Red Cross, along with other local organizations, and overseas research institutes including the University of Antananarivo, Madagascar, and World Agroforestry (International Centre for Research in Agroforestry, or ICRAF), Kenya.
The two-day event explored the potential of African-based interdisciplinary research, with frontline researchers presenting in six sessions spanning geology, geoinformatics, tropical ecology, political economy, primatology, anthropology, agriculture, linguistics, and archaeology. With the participation of Mr Daisuke Mizoguchi, resident director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science's Nairobi Research Station, the conference also provided an invaluable networking opportunity for researchers working in Africa.
The symposium facilitated the sharing of Kyoto's world-leading African-studies expertise with EHESS, and led the two institutions to agree on the importance of further strengthening their bilateral academic exchanges. Kyoto University and EHESS intend to undertake further research collaborations, possibly making use of the Campus Condorcet, scheduled to open in 2019 in the north of Paris.
From left: CAAS Director Shigeta, GSA Professor Kitajima, EHESS Professor and FFJ President Lechevalier, and EHESS Associate Professor Ficquet