The Summer Schools have been one of the centre-pieces of the AEGIS calendar for some years now. The 2014 event, organized by Affrica-Centre of African Studies in Sardinia, was the first such school to be held outside of Cortona. In the end, it was everything one could have hoped for and more. The School brought 20 students and 8 staff to Cagliari, with participants from AEGIS Centres in Bayreuth, Birmingham, Bologna, Bordeaux, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London, Mainz, Naples and Roskilde; as well as participants from non-AEGIS institutes in Berlin, Zurich, Maseno University, Nairobi, Dar es Salaam and the Free State. Africa was represented by participants from Kenya, Ghana Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe were drawn from both AEGIS and non-AEGIS Centres.
The theme of the Summer School was “Mobilisation and the State in Africa: Multiple Spaces for Political Action”. Given the association of Antonio Gramsci with Cagliari, and the location of his former school at a stone’s throw from the venue, the setting could not have been more appropriate. The range of disciplinary interests that was reflected in this group, spanning Political Science, History, Geography, Linguistics and Development Studies, was part of what made the exchange especially fruitful. For veterans of these Summer Schools what was striking was the excellent quality of the presentations. The format of combining staff and student discussants worked very well, striking the right balance between intellectual critique and supportive encouragement. At this event, staff made their own contributions through participation on thematic roundtables. A special roundtable on “Human Rights and Homophobia“, and the screening of “God Loves Uganda” was organized in association with an LGTB association in Cagliari and brought in a wider audience.
Cagliari provided the perfect setting for the Summer School. It was small enough to feel intimate, but also large enough for participants to find interesting things to do in the leisure hours. The summer sun, spectacular views, chilled vermentino and bottarga somehow fused with civil service reform, urban planning and agrarian conflicts in a manner of which Flann O’Brien would have been proud. Of course, there was ample time for fun and games: who can forget the entombment of William at Poetto beach, Barbara’s abs, the dirty dancing of Jamilla with the local Carabinieri or the spirited rendition of Bella Ciao by the Italian contingent? And then there was all the other stuff: Amanda still couldn’t hear, hybridity was banned, fresh variations of the Gramsci tee-shirt kept appearing and Van Schmee’s concept of ‘localography‘ was repeatedly invoked. It made for the perfect week, and all of it was faithfully captured by the AEGIS artist-in-residence, Manuel. Thanks again to the Cagliari team – Isabella, Michele, Filippo, Marisa and Bianca – for organizing such a memorable event – and the Fondazione Banco di Sardegna.