Conference Programme 2017

‘East Africa regional integration in historical and contemporary perspective’

29 July 2017, British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi

Supported by the British Academy and Liverpool John Moores University

Registration information: Please note that places to attend the conference are limited. To express interest in registration, please send an e-mail stating the nature of your interest in the conference and your institutional affiliation to Confirmation of registration will be sent within two weeks of expression of interest. All expressions of interest should be given by June 30th 2017. No registration fee is payable; lunch will be provided.

9.00-9.20am Introduction/Welcome from the organisers (Dr Chris Vaughan, Liverpool John Moores University, Dr Emma Hunter, University of Edinburgh, Dr Gerard McCann, University of York)

9.20-10.40 Panel 1: Histories of regional integration

Erasing Borders? Mobility, Territoriality, and Citizenship in the East African Federation – Julie McArthur, University of Toronto

 Federal Futures in the Times of Decolonization – Kevin Donovan, University of Michigan

The Rise and Collapse of East African Airways – Elizabeth Munge and Babere Kerata Chacha, Laikipia University

10.40 – 11.10: Coffee

11.10-12.10 Panel 2: East Africa and the EU/EEC, past and present

Competing Regional Agendas: The European Economic Community and East Africa

(1957-2017), Frank Gerits, University of Amsterdam

The East African Community and the European Union – From Regional Integration to EU-EAC Cooperation, Moses Onyango US International University, Nairobi, Kenya and Jean-Marc Trouille, Bradford University, UK

12.10-1.10 Panel 3: Interactions between ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ regionalisms

Elusive national communities, cross border community relations and regionalism in East Africa, 1961-1980, Peter Wafula Wekesa, Kenyatta University

Language ecologies in emerging East African regional integration, Lutz Marten, SOAS University of London and Nancy C. Kula (University of Essex):

1.10 – 2.10 Lunch

2.10-3.50: Contemporary challenges

Shaped of, but not by the Global Economic Order: Tracing the Economic Rationale of the Contemporary EAC, Peter O’Reilly, University of York

Coalition of the willing as a pathway to East African regional integration? Gordon Onyango Omenya, Pwani University

Foreign policy and regional integration: Assessing the interplay of national versus regional policy preferences in the quest for EAC’s political unification, Sekou Toure Otondi, University of Nairobi

The politics of regional infrastructure plans: Kenya, China and the Standard Gauge Railway, Uwe Wissenbach (tbc)

3.50 – 4.20 – coffee

4.20-5.20 – Round-table discussion: The challenges of regional integration past and present

5.20-5.40 – Concluding remarks


CFP – East African regional integration in historical and contemporary perspective

British Institute in Eastern Africa, Nairobi, 29 July 2017

Regional integration is a central yet under-studied aspect of the politics and history of East Africa over the last half-century. The establishment of effective mechanisms for economic integration and movement to political unity remain the subject of continued attention and discussion among the region’s political elites, media and international agencies, even as regional institutions in other parts of the globe appear to be faltering. Yet regional integration in East Africa has a chequered past. The creation of an East African federation was an idea seized upon with apparent enthusiasm by nationalist leaders in the early 1960s, and in the summer of 1963 preceding Kenyan independence, all observers agreed that federation was a very likely prospect. Yet this possibility rapidly receded in the face of disagreement among leaders over a range of issues concerning the likely distribution of economic benefits and political power among the three territories concerned (Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda) and a reluctance to dilute the newly won fruits of state sovereignty. The subsequent formation of the East African Community (EAC) in 1967, though often described as a brave experiment in regional integration, might be seen as a rear-guard action against processes of regional disintegration. The EAC survived a decade before its collapse into – unusually in Africa – inter-state war between Tanzania and Uganda.  Given the comprehensive failure of regional integration by the mid-1970s, the revival of enthusiasm for the idea during the 1990s, culminating in the re-establishment of the EAC in 2000, is particularly striking. Talk of political federation has been ongoing since 2004, though the timescale for its establishment has been repeatedly pushed back.

This conference aims to bring together academics, policy-makers and practitioners to discuss the political issues surrounding East African regional integration in both historical and contemporary perspectives, with the aim of connecting academic research on these themes with the current concerns of those directly involved and engaged in the politics of integration. Themes for papers might include (but need not be limited to)

  • Continuities and changes between the first and second East African Communities
  • The idea of federation and unity in East Africa
  • The collapse of the first East African Community
  • East African regionalism and Pan-Africanism
  • Political elites and the uses of regional integration
  • Popular opinion and regional integration
  • The politics of language in the East African Community
  • East African regional integration in global context

Submission and funding information

The deadline to submit abstracts of up to 250 words is the 20 January 2017. Please send your abstracts (and all general enquiries) to Notification of acceptance will be given by 3 February 2017.

Funding has been made available from the British Academy to support the attendance of a limited number of academic speakers from within the East African region. The workshop is taking place with the financial support of the British Academy.