Colorful Threads: The Interwoven Worlds of Art and Culture in the Western Indian Ocean

Colorful Threads: The Interwoven Worlds of Art and Culture in the Western Indian Ocean

The Africa Institute

Courtesy of The Africa Institute.*

November 29, 2023
Colorful Threads: The Interwoven Worlds of Art and Culture in the Western Indian Ocean
Multi-disciplinary conference of panels and performance
December 14–16, 2023
The Africa Institute
United Arab Emirates

This December, The Africa Institute continues its series of conferences on the subject of the Indian Ocean, the third edition of the Institute’s annual initiative exploring one African country or African diaspora community through a range of scholarly and public programs. From December 14–16, the symposium titled “Colorful Threads: The Interwoven Worlds of Art and Culture in the Western Indian Ocean” will take place in Sharjah and will include performances and four panel discussions led by scholars around the world. The panel topics include Women, Feminism and the Indian Ocean, Material Connections and Rupture, Cinema and Placemaking, and Representations and Imaginaries. Free and open to the public, the conference will also be live streamed on their official YouTube page. The schedule of programs and panelists is available at

Colorful Threads revolves around the Islands of the Western Indian Ocean region, stretching from the Eastern African coasts of Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania to Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Mayotte, and Reunion, each brimming with historical, socio-cultural, and economic significances. These Islands are not only creole entities, but also important sites of creativity and imagination as evidenced in both symbolic and material cultures such as those expressed in the diversity of languages, ethnicities, rites, and performances, among other artistic forms of human expressions. Nowhere have the influences of the Indian Ocean circularities been more powerfully pronounced than in the aesthetic realms of art and cultural production. From the vast array of the rich artistic traditions of music, photography, theatre, dance, ritual life, and spirit possession performances to mention a few, this symposium’s angle on art and cultural production will pivot around key subjects of critical importance to scholars in the humanities and the social sciences.

Colorful Threads is part of a four-part conference season titled Thinking the Archipelago: Africa’s Indian Ocean Islands, organized by The Africa Institute in collaboration with leading scholars Jeremy Prestholdt, Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego; Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, Professor of Anthropology, Georgetown University in Qatar; and Uday Chandra, Assistant Professor of Government, Georgetown University in Qatar. This symposium is co-organized by Prita Meier, Associate Professor of Art History at New York University, and Laura Fair, Professor of African History in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University.

The Africa Institute created this annual series to highlight the complex history of the African world while also providing a forum for creatively engaging its present and imagining new futures. Inaugurated with Ethiopia: Modern Nation/Ancient Roots in 2019–20 followed by Global Ghana in 2021–22, the country-focused seasons are an integral part of The Africa Institute’s year-round work to develop and support original scholarship and programming that expands understanding of African and African diaspora studies among the academic community and the broader public.

*Image above: A performance representing Siddi group, the lost Africans in India during the Africa Institute’s inaugural conference in 2022.

RSVP for Colorful Threads: The Interwoven Worlds of Art and Culture…
The Africa Institute
November 29, 2023

Thank you for your RSVP.

The Africa Institute will be in touch.


e-flux announcements are emailed press releases for art exhibitions from all over the world.

Agenda delivers news from galleries, art spaces, and publications, while Criticism publishes reviews of exhibitions and books.

Architecture announcements cover current architecture and design projects, symposia, exhibitions, and publications from all over the world.

Film announcements are newsletters about screenings, film festivals, and exhibitions of moving image.

Education announces academic employment opportunities, calls for applications, symposia, publications, exhibitions, and educational programs.

Sign up to receive information about events organized by e-flux at e-flux Screening Room, Bar Laika, or elsewhere.

I have read e-flux’s privacy policy and agree that e-flux may send me announcements to the email address entered above and that my data will be processed for this purpose in accordance with e-flux’s privacy policy*

Thank you for your interest in e-flux. Check your inbox to confirm your subscription.