Contact Information

Concept Africa
Department of World Cultures
P.O. Box 59
00014 University of Helsinki

The History of the Project


The project began in 2008 at Helsinki University initiated by Bo Stråth in the framework of his Finish Academy Distinguished Chair in Nordic, European and World History. The intellectual ground had been prepared at his final conference at the European University Institute in May, 2007: ‘Towards a Global History. A New History Beyond the Cultural Turn: With a Master Narrative without a Cause and without a Centre?’ In October 2008 the first conference of the project was organised in Helsinki benevolently sponsored by the KONE Foundation. At the outset the focus was on the translations of the social and the economic between European and Asian languages with the long-term aim to extend the comparison to African languages. The theme was explored in ever richer detail at conferences in Bangkok, Berlin and Damascus financed by the KONE Foundation, the Max Planck Institut für Bildungsforschung, and Århus University in March 2009, October 2009, and March 2010. As a result of these meetings a collected volume "Concepts in Global History – the social and the economic in Asia 1860-1940” was produced which is now being published.

Concepts in Global History – the social and the economic in Asia 1860-1940 (pdf)

In 2010 Axel Fleisch joined the project as a co-director and as an expert in African linguistics on his new chair in African studies at the Helsinki University. The ‘African phase’ of the project began with a small preparatory meeting in February 2010 at Stellenbosch University in cooperation with the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies.The meeting was sponsored by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Fund. At the second meeting in Helsinki in May 2011 the contours of the research agenda became sharper. At this meeting Valentin Mudimbe joined the team with an impressive public key note. The meeting was sponsored by the Department of World Culture at the Helsinki University.