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Call for papers: Sources of Violence, How to document and study violent phenomena in Africa?

Sources of Violence

How to document and study violent phenomena in Africa?

The journal:

Sources. An interdisciplinary journal on materials and their uses in African studies

Sources is a collective peer-reviewed online journal in African studies created by French research institutes located in Nairobi, Ibadan, Johannesburg, Addis Ababa and Khartoum in partnership with the France-based research unit ‘Africas in the World’. The main goal of the journal is to add value to original materials and sources collected on the ground as part of archival search, ethnographic fieldwork, quantitative study, archaeological excavations, and any other field research related to social sciences and the humanities. The journal publishes articles that focus on selected primary data and first-hand documents – this term being understood in the broadest sense of the term as all kinds of texts, images, sounds, and artefacts deemed of interest to the researcher. The articles present the nature and function of these sources, contextualize their production, circulation and uses, and develop theoretical, methodological, ethical or epistemology insights of interest to the author.

Sources is grounded upon two principles: firstly, most academic journals do not provide enough space for the in-depth presentation and analysis of specific research material; secondly, there is a need to make accessible the materials from which researchers draw to produce ideas and theory. The collection and conservation of these sources will constitute an archive of field research in Africa. The materials used in the articles will be stored in a digital platform for archiving scientific data. The journal is committed to meeting the principles of FAIR data and following the principles of transparency and good practice for academic publishing.

Special issue:

Sources of Violence

The study of violence as a social sciences research topic faces serious methodological, practical and ethical challenges. Access to and feasibility of fieldwork is often jeopardized, primary sources are scare and difficult to gather, and data usage is controlled and potentially dangerous for researchers as well as for informants. Beyond accessibility, the ways in which researchers studying violence relate to their sources also require being exploration. How do researchers deal with propaganda? Upon what ethical considerations should they ground the use of interviews with, for instance, refugees or prisoners? How can they balance and confront the voices of perpetrators and those of victims? Are the ordinary tools of research investigation apt to face these situations of violence and produce adequate knowledge? How do researchers protect themselves from the violence they are studying and their potential physical and psychological impact? Why and how can informed consent and informants’ anonymity be guaranteed in violent settings?

This special issue invites contributions exploring sources gathered by researchers – in the sense of field and archival materials – in order to study violence in African contexts. So far, theoretical work that do no rely on any first-hand sources has constituted the major part of academic production on violence in Africa in social science and the humanities. However, empirical study is possible and fieldwork-based research is necessary to adequately analyze violent phenomena. This issue specifically intends to address political and electoral violence, conflicts and clashes but also social and economic violence, as well as symbolic forms of violence, in a broad and multi-scale perspective. For instance, domestic violence, the disruption and breakages due to migration and exile, modern forms of slavery, massive killings and genocide, everyday discrimination in multicultural contexts, and witchcraft and occult practices, among others, can also be considered as phenomena and situations in which individuals and groups undergo physical and psychological hardships of various types that can dramatically impact upon their lives and worldviews.

Researchers who have collected fresh and original materials are invited to present and contextualize them in detail, explaining how and why they collected them and how they are using them to answer specific research questions. Doing so, the contributors to this issue can give full visibility to iteration, that is, the ways in which researchers move back and forth in a dynamic way between a research problem and the field, or between interpretation and data, in view of producing ground-breaking theoretical insight.



Article proposals can be submitted in French, Portuguese or English. The word count for paper abstracts is 800 words; a short biography of about 200 words per author should be joined.

  • 1st October 2019: submission of proposals/abstracts by the author
  • 1st November 2019: answers to the authors
  • 1st February 2020: submission of the articles
  • 1st March 2020: sending of peer-review reports
  • 1st June 2020: sending of the revised articles
  • 1st August 2021: finalisation of the edited articles
  • 1st October: publication of the special issue

Send your proposal before October 1st, 2019 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Download the PDF version of this call here

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