Call for Book Chapters: Africa’s Old and New Diasporas


Prof Krista Johnson, Director, Center for African Studies, Howard University

Dr Bob Wekesa, Director, African Centre for the Study of the US, University of the Witwatersrand


The concept of the African Diaspora has acquired renewed interest and use in recent decades, notably with the launch of the African Union in 2002 and the designation of the diaspora as the sixth region.  Following the AU’s lead, international and inter-governmental organizations have increasingly incorporated the diaspora within development and migration policy strategies and agendas, often in exploitative ways that further the neo-liberal agenda. African governments have embraced the diaspora as a key foreign policy and source of foreign income, particularly through remittances. More recently, the  Biden administration's explicit embrace of the African diaspora as a tool of soft power during the 2022 US-Africa leaders Summit, elevated the functional and instrumental potential of the diaspora.  Such trends, particularly in the United States, cannot be divorced from brazen articulations of white supremacy, extremism and racism emboldened by the MAGA (Make America Great Again) movement.

On a practical level, physical, and ideational mobility will continue to animate popular, policy and academic discussions drawing in African Americans, continental Africans, and the African diaspora in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. These trends highlight varied and complex interpretations of the idea of the African diaspora and expose tensions as well as synergies between the old and new diaspora. These dynamics are not only new but also evolving rapidly in the digital age. As such, research and conceptualization have lagged behind lived realities on the cultural, economic, and political fronts. This calls for new knowledge production to inform academia, policy, and practice.   

The “old” African diaspora is estimated to be about 140 million people with the largest diasporas residing in Brazil, the United States, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Colombia, France, Venezuela, Jamaica, United Kingdom, and Mexico. The “new” diaspora refers to more recent emigrations from post-independence Africa that have included both voluntary and involuntary migrations because of a complex mix of push-pull factors. In the United States, for example, new African immigrants constitute the fastest-growing demographic within the African American population and now constitute over 10% of the African diaspora. 

Such contemporary demographic and migratory trends are having far-reaching political, social-cultural, and economic implications on Africa-Diaspora solidarities, intra-diaspora alliances, and notions of “Africans in the diaspora” and “global Africa”. These and many other terms and phrases have not been properly defined, thus motivating the current proposal.

This book call builds on various research, teaching, and public engagements about the concept and practice of the African diaspora over the past couple of years. Specifically, we look to build on a series of virtual seminars entitled “African Diaspora: Before and After Covid-19” held in 2020, the publication of thought leadership with the same title in 2021 by the Africa in Fact Journal ( and the hosting of a conference at Howard University on the topic during the sixtieth anniversary of the African Union in May 2023 ( We invite contributors who are academic researchers from any humanity or social science discipline, policy analysts, and practitioners who will help furnish a more nuanced picture of the African diaspora.

Goals and Objectives

This edited volume will engage with and build on earlier intellectual works on the African diaspora by prominent scholars such as Paul Zeleza and Robin Kelley.  It adopts an expansive definition of African diasporas to include all those who hail from anywhere on the continent, whether centuries ago or more recently. That said, the volume aims to explore the temporal (and spatial) dimensions of African diasporas, the implications of multiple waves of dispersal and diasporization over time, and its effect on intra-diaspora and Africa-diaspora engagement.

The idea of “African Diaspora” is a complex one, precisely because many interpretations can be ascribed by a variety of interested constituencies. This volume seeks to expand the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological boundaries of African diaspora and area studies by exploring how African diasporas are constituted and re-constituted, the consequences thereof, and how the boundaries of the concept have changed.

Examining the intersections of academic and public debates, the goal of this volume is to provide new empirical and theoretical content for teaching, public engagement, policy development, and further research. Within academia, the concept of the African diaspora has been a prominent research frame through which to study the dispersal of people of African descent around the globe and its aftermath.  Historically, the construction of the African diaspora has mirrored older usages of the concept of diaspora that is traced back to the historical experiences of groups, namely Jews and Armenians, and identifies diasporas with several defining traits. Such older notions of African diaspora emphasize the forced nature of migration and dispersal during the era of slavery; shared memory or myths of/to an (imagined) homeland/origin; and a pattern of alienation from or lack of integration into the country of settlement, often because of discrimination by a dominant majority. This older usage of African diaspora contrasts and at times conflicts with newer usages that, for example, include multiple forms of dispersal and migration from Africa, both voluntary and involuntary. Newer constructs of the African diaspora also have a more fluid interpretation of homeland, emphasizing the multiple and ongoing linkages between countries of origin and destination. Finally, newer notions of diaspora retain an appreciation of cultural distinctiveness vis-à-vis other groups but emphasize cultural hybridity over alienation or explicit separation of the diaspora from dominant, majority groups, keeping open the possibility of fuller integration into the country of settlement. 


As part of the book project, potential contributors are encouraged to participate in upcoming conferences, forums, and panels including, the “Global Africa in the Twenty-first Century” conference (Howard University, March 12-13, 2024), the “Africa Day Open Forum” (Howard University, May 2024), and the 67th African Studies Association (ASA) Annual Meeting (Chicago, December 12-14, 2024), among others. Separate information for these events is available.

Contributions may be guided by the following questions/frames:

  • What is the utility in delineating the African diaspora into Old and New? 
  • How are such delineations made and who gets to make them?
  • What are the forces working to reinforce the distinction between Old and New African diasporas, and what are the forces drawing together the Old and New African diasporas?
  • How can we understand the history of the African diaspora in the world of the 21st century?
  • Are the political and cultural ties between old and new diaspora including matters of identity waning or strengthening?
  • What roles do the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 have in African diaspora matters? How are global, regional, national, and local diaspora policies being formulated and executed?
  • What is the corporate, trade, and investment dimension of African diasporic issues?   
  • Which are the African diaspora organisations and associations and what are their objectives and approaches?  
  • Which knowledge – policy, academic, practice – is emerging from African diasporic countries and from the continent?
  • What are the trends in intellectual flows or “brain circulation” in the African diaspora and the African continent?
  • How does the African diaspora compare with other diaspora such as Chinese, Israeli/Jews, Indian, etc.?
  • What are the attitudes of old and new African diaspora towards each other and towards Africa and African countries?

Organization of the volume

Chapters will be grouped into three sections:

  • Theoretical & Conceptual.
  • Methodological.
  • Practice/Practical/Policy.

Submission procedure and review process

Contributors should submit proposals of between 800 and 1000 words stating the questions and dimensions they will be focusing on by April 15, 2024. The proposals should have the name(s) of the proposer, title, and institutional affiliation at the top. The submission be emailed to and copied to and copy with the words “Old and New Diaspora” in the email subject. Successful authors will be notified by May 30, 2024, about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Authors will be expected to submit full-length chapters of between 8,000 and 10,000 words by August 10, 2024. The peer review will be done in August and September 2024. Authors are expected to complete revisions based on the review comments by the end of December 2024. The publication is expected in the spring/summer of 2025.