“African Potentials 2011-2015” Five-Volume Series

African Potentials series

Itaru Ohta
Project Representative and Chief Editor
Professor, The center for African Area Studies,

Kyoto University

African Studies in Japan has generated a unique and interdisciplinary body of conflict research bridging macro-level historical and political structures and micro-level social and cultural dimensions of everyday life. This research is also characterized by its basis in intensive fieldwork conducted over long periods. We have endeavored to uphold these traditions in the course of a project exploring the issues of conflict and coexistence in Africa from the standpoint of area studies. The project ran for five years from 2011 to 2015.1 The fruits of this project are contained in this five-volume African Potentials series.

A total of more than fifty Japanese researchers and more than twenty African and other non-Japanese researchers participated in the project and pursued ongoing dialogue around the question of what African potentials could lead to conflict resolution and coexistence. This process produced a shared awareness that in order to explicate and theorize about African potentials, we would need to explore not only issues directly related to conflict and violence, but also a broader spectrum of problems, such as economic and political allocation of various resources, social order to avert and settle conflict, and ecological and cultural mechanisms for the achievement of coexistence. This series advances wide-ranging discussion of these diverse themes.

In this project, we undertook empirical research carefully documenting knowledge, techniques, and systems for resolving conflict and achieving coexistence, and at the same time endeavored to comprehend the “potentials” nurtured by the people of Africa as a fundamental philosophy of coexistence. Our work has only just begun, but we are confident that this philosophy of coexistence will surely furnish a wealth of guiding principles for human society into the future.

(1) Comprehensive Area Studies on Achieving Coexistence and Conflict Resolution Tapping into the African Potentials, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research [S]; Principal Investigator Itaru Ohta, Kyoto University; Grant Number 23221012.