HomeTimes of changes. Ruptures et continuity in the Lake Chad basin

HomeTimes of changes. Ruptures et continuity in the Lake Chad basin

Times of changes. Ruptures et continuity in the Lake Chad basin

Les temps des changements. Ruptures et continuité dans le bassin du lac Tchad

XVIIIe Mega-Tchad Symposium

XVIIIe colloque du réseau Méga-Tchad

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Published on Friday, April 19, 2019


Le XVIIIe colloque du réseau Méga-Tchad se déroulera les 29-30-31 janvier 2020 à N'Djamena (Tchad). Il cherchera à replacer les dynamiques en cours dans le bassin du lac Tchad (Tchad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroun, Centrafrique, périphéries soudanaises, libyennes, algériennes) dans une perspective historique à même d’appréhender les situations de rupture ou de continuité par rapport à des dynamiques anciennes. Les propositions issues de disciplines variées en sciences humaines sont attendues (histoire, archéologie, géographie, anthropologie, économie, linguistique, science politique) avant le 15 juin 2019. 


XVIIIe Mega-Tchad Symposium

29, 30 and 31 January 2020 in N’Djamena (Chad)


The 18th Mega-Chad symposium seeks to replace the current dynamics in the Lake Chad basin (Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Sudanese, Libyan and Algerian peripheries) in a historical perspective, enabling us to understand the situations of rupture or continuity linked to past dynamics.

As we enter the 21st century, the Lake Chad basin is confronted with the entrenchment of long-term and short-term changes, impacting together the territories: climate change is deeply impacting modifying the functioning of ecosystems, the population growth has an increasing pressure on available resources, insecurity is rising and causing major population displacements, disrupting the functions of territories and modalities of access to natural resources. In addition, the economic and financial crisis, linked to fluctuations of commodity prices on international markets and lack of diversification of economies, which weakens the economic and political foundations of States and generates, at the local level, the redefinition of identities and societies. How can we characterize and interpret these contemporary dynamics? Does the current situation mark a profound break in a historical trajectory, determined by recurrent crises? Can we observe adjustments or the emergence of a new equilibrium for resilient regional system? Echoing questions from institutional history or historical sociology on the temporalities of change (Mahoney, 2000; Capoccia, Kelemen, 2009), the Mega-Chad symposium, faithful to its multidisciplinary tradition, will explore the meanings and temporalities of changes through a wide variety of approaches and objects.

Recent studies highlight the intertwining of crisis factors (Magrin and Perouse de Montclos, 2018), some seeing resurgence of past forms of violence (Seignobos, 2017; McEachern, 2018), others stressing the importance of climate change and population growth (Welzer, 2009), others emphasizing political factors (Perouse de Montclos, 2018). During this symposium, we will seek to identify periods of crisis and changes in the past, their temporality regimes at local and regional levels and their effects, to identify those that have marked a breakdown with older systems, as reflected in the present. What are the (r)evolutions perceived by observers and stakeholders? How are the memories of past changes and regimes of historicity (Hartog, 2014) presented and disseminated, both through practices and discourses? How is the past reflected in the present?

Five closely related types of changes can be analysed.

Social changes

The Lake Chad basin, like the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, is characterized by major social changes, arising challenges such as population growth, urbanization, food and employment. While the causes of the current security crises are often related to the lack of opportunities for younger generations challenging old lifestyles, the new generations also bring innovations that must be analysed to consider the future. What are the current social changes and how can they be characterized? Are they rooted in an ancient history? Can we identify in the past similar moments of changes or crisis? What have been their consequences and what lessons can we learn from them for the current period?

Papers are expected on changes in demography (population growth, migration and mobility), social relations (gender, generations, languages, identities, forms of education, networks), religions (territorial anchors, pluralisms, radicalisms), health (organization of health services in rural and urban areas) and urban societies (role of youth in the definition of urbanity, urban networks, etc.). Social ties, forms of solidarity and community belonging are undergoing major reconfigurations. Old cleavages between rich and poor have been displaced by the capture of new sources of profit by some and the marginalization of others. At what times and in what contexts have these social reconfigurations become more pronounced? Have they acquired a stable character or have they only been ephemeral?

Changes in production systems

Agriculture, livestock farming and fishery are important activities for societies in the Lake Chad Basin and past innovations have been extensively studied. What are the key periods of changes and the major stages in the evolution of agricultural techniques and models? What are the main stages in the diversification of activities that have led to the evolution of production systems by mobilizing labour on other functions (transport, marketing, construction, etc.) and activities (mining in particular)? What are the factors behind past and present changes and crises (climate, land, insecurities, but also agricultural models or livestock increase for example)? How have rural societies adapted and recomposed their practices, means of production (including livestock) and territories (including their links to the city)?

The discussions will address, among other things, pastoralism, whose place in the territories is repeatedly questioned (livestock distribution, mobility, insecurity, intensification, integration of agriculture and livestock, development model), the impacts of armed groups on production systems (abandonment/restoration of river/lake areas, for example), the intensification and the use of new technologies (including mobile phones), the emergence of mining activities (mines, gold fever, extraction techniques) and the intervention of new transnational actors.

Economic changes

From the two major trade axes of the pre-colonial period (The trans-Saharan North/South axis and the East/West trade axis towards The Mecca) were added many axes polarized by regional metropolises (Maiduguri, N'Djamena) and secondary cities, and by ports outside the area for long-distance trades. How have markets evolved in this region? What are their locations, specialties and their importance? How are the new channels of products circulation recomposed in a the current context of security crisis and of closure of various international borders? What are the consequences in short and medium terms?

This theme could be addressed by historians, geographers, anthropologists and economists alike.

Environmental and landscape changes

Landscape changes are often seen in sub-Saharan Africa in their regressive dynamics: deforestation, soil degradation, biodiversity erosion, desertification. They are also linked to degrading human actions and climate deterioration or issues of pressure and conflicts on access to scarce resources. The positive actions of societies in the landscape construction (tree parks, agroforestry), or climate-related regenerative dynamics (return of water to lakes and floodplains), forms of cooperation and joint ownership are less taken into account, although they exist and allow ecosystems to support a larger population. How have landscapes evolved in the past and what are the current dynamics? Can models of climate prediction anticipate major trends and their differentiated impacts on ecosystems in the Lake Chad Basin?

To better understand past evolutions and refine projections of resources and territories evolution, several themes can be addressed (without being exhaustive): evolution of wetlands, invasive plants, constructed landscapes (pastures, wooded parks, terraces in particular), sampling rates (grass and woody collection, water), common property management rules. Particular attention will be paid to proposals that address the perceptions of changes by diverse actors, and the narratives used to describe them. Contributions from the life sciences (ecology, botany, paleo-environment) are also welcome.

Political and territorial changes

The history of the populations in the Lake Chad basin is deeply linked to their adaptation to local climatic conditions. It is also shaped by diverse social organizations, the particular political history of the region and the multiple relationships with cities. Population growth, urbanization, increased local food demand and decentralization policies are changing urban hierarchies, recomposing powers and territories. Conflicts over access to natural resources are increasing, between indigenous and non-indigenous, sedentary and transhumant populations, but also within groups whose needs are becoming more individualized, and whose power relations are evolving. At the regional level, the relationship to resources, migration and trade flows reconfigures the hierarchies between territories and are severely disrupted by crises related to armed groups.

This topic is open to political scientists, but also historians, geographers, sociologists and anthropologists. Among the themes identified are territorial governance, cross-border cooperation, conflicts, the role and trajectory of cities and rural towns (old and new functions, restructuring of hierarchies), decentralisation and spatial planning (role of mapping, participatory approaches, consultation platforms), the roles of local authorities in territorial governance systems, administrative reforms in territorial restructuring, interactions with external, regional or globalised, state or non-state actors (including NGOs and firms), Western or emerging countries.


The symposium will be organized in two phases:

Researchers' time - Academic presentations and research highlights

  • Thematic sessions organised according to the communication proposals (5 or 6 half- days)
  • A session could be devoted to the link between science and the arts, so as to address the role of artists on memory and identity

The time of the passers on memory - The arts and artists open the debates to a wider audience at the French Institute of Chad in N'Djaména

  • Exhibition of Chadian photographers returning from a trip around Lake Chad
  • Dance and spoken word/poetry performances by artists from Chad and North Cameroon on the themes covered by the conference (1 evening)

Submission guidelines

Contributions from various disciplines (anthropology, archaeology, ecology, geography, history, linguistic, political sciences, etc.) will be examined and selected according to the following schedule:

  • Mid-March 2019: release of the call for papers;
  • June 15: reception of abstracts (1 page, title, 400 words, keywords, authors' discipline)

  • June: selection of abstracts by the scientific committee;
  • 15 July: reply to the authors;
  • 15 November: reception of communications;

Proposals are expected by June 15 at the latest at: colloque.megatchad.changements@gmail.com R

egistration and other practical details will be communicated in a second time.




  • N'Djamena, Chad


  • Saturday, June 15, 2019


  • changement global, crise, environnement, système de production, territoire, bassin du lac Tchad


  • Christine Raimond
    courriel : christine [dot] raimond [at] univ-paris1 [dot] fr
  • Dangbet Zakinet
    courriel : dangbet_zak [at] yahoo [dot] fr

Information source

  • Christine Raimond
    courriel : christine [dot] raimond [at] univ-paris1 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Times of changes. Ruptures et continuity in the Lake Chad basin », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Friday, April 19, 2019, https://doi.org/10.58079/12hb

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