BUILDING SOVEREIGNTY, PREVENTING HEGEMONY:
The Challenges for Emerging Forces in the Globalised World
International and Multidisciplinary Conference in the framework of a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference
Indonesia, October 27-31, 2015
The 1955 Bandung Asian-African Conference was a turning point in world history. For the first time representatives of the former colonised nations united their forces and proposed alternatives to the world order dominated by the superpowers. It is the birthday of the so-called Third World countries, a term that indicates the willingness of those nations to take position outside the two blocks of superpowers. The conference triggered solidarity movements among peoples, countries, states and nations of Africa and Asia. It made possible the representation of African and Asian countries in the UN and the recognition of the voice of colonised peoples in the world order. It accelerated the complete reconquest of independence of Africa and Asia. It led to the Non-Aligned Movement between the two blocks of superpowers. It allowed the newly independent countries to lead a development based on their national, popular and sovereign interests. It contributed enormously to the prevention of a possible third World War and to the evolution of humanity towards a more just and peaceful world.
The Bandung Conference gave birth to an idiom: Bandung Spirit. Yet, the exact meaning of the Bandung Spirit has not yet been defined. It is often associated with anti-colonialism, liberation, solidarity… Some claimed it as non-alignment to the two blocs of superpowers. Others summarised it as a call 1) for a peaceful coexistence among the nations, 2) for liberation of the world from the hegemony of any superpower, from colonialism, from imperialism, from any kind of domination of one country by another, 3) for the equality of races and nations, 4) for building solidarity towards the poor, the colonised, the exploited, the weak and those being weakened by the world order of the day, and 5) for their development.
Following the Bandung Conference, the participating countries led their respective national development and at the same time struggled for securing their independence and sovereignty between the two blocs of superpowers. It was the period when Soekarno spoke at the UN “TO BUILD THE WORLD ANEW” and put forward the concept of NEFO (New Emerging Forces) and TRISAKTI (political, economical and cultural sovereignties) as the antithesis of OLDEFO (Old Established Forces),…. He proposed concrete actions through CONEFO (Conference of the New Emerging Forces) and GANEFO (Games of the New Emerging Forces). However, the period of development generated by the Bandung Conference started to end tragically sometime between 1965-1970 by the overthrow or assassination of the leaders inspired by the Bandung Spirit (Patrice Lumumba, Soekarno, Modibo Keita, Kwame Nkrumah, Ben Barka, Che Guevara, Amilcar Cabral…), the abortion of their development projects, the entry of their country into the Western Block circle. This period was called later the Bandung Era. The exact ending year of the Bandung Era has not yet been established unanimously. Some proposed 1970 as the ending year of the Bandung Era marked by the passing away of the two main leaders of the Bandung Conference: the African Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Asian Soekarno, and the following radical change of the political orientation of the two countries towards the Western Block (Indonesia under Soeharto’s Orde Baru and Egypt under Anwar Sadat’s Infitah). Certain suggested 1980 with the rise of Thatcher and Reagan in power leading the world under the neoliberalism and taking back the control over the Third World after their lost during the Bandung Era. Others put forward 1990 due to the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of Soviet Union, which means the end of bipolarism and non-alignment.
Like a big bang, the Bandung Conference generated stars, planets, comets, meteors… forming a constellation of conferences, cultural festivals, social and solidarity movements, associations/organisations/institutions, business fora, research institutes, study centres, academic periodicals, news magazines… based on, inspired or provoked by the Bandung Conference. In term of conferences, they are, for example, the Asian-African Student Conference, the Asian-African Writer Conference, the Asian-African Journalist Conference, the Conferences of Cairo, of Conakry, of Belgrade (Non-Alignment), of Moshi, of Havana (Tricontinentale), etc. In terms of organisation, they are, for example, AAPSO (Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organisation), JAALA (Japan Asia Africa Latin America) Solidarity Committee, the Soviet Afro-Asian Solidarity Committee, Afro-Asian-Latin American Peoples’ Solidarity, AFRASEC (Afro-Asian Organisation for Economic Cooperation), Association of Asian Studies in Africa (Zambia), AARDO (African-Asian Rural Development Organization), AALCO (Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization), AASGON (Africa Asia Scholars Global Network), etc. In academic world, the Bandung Conference gave birth to area studies dedicated to Africa and Asia, such as Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (Kyoto University, Japan), Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa (Tokyo University, Japan), Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies (USA), Institute of Asian and African Studies (Moscow, Russia), Centre for African and Asian Studies (Great Zimbabwe University), Asian and African Cultural Studies Certificate (St. John University, USA), Institute of Asian and African Studies (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Department of Asian and North African Studies (Ca' Foscari University of Venice), Asien-Afrika-Institut (Universität Hamburg, Germany), Department of African and Asian Studies (Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, Nigeria), Department of African and Asian Studies (University of Khartoum, Sudan), Faculty of Asian and African Studies (Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia), etc. This is accompanied by publications of academic periodicals as well as news magazines, such as African and Asian Studies (Brill, the Netherlands), Asian and African Studies (Slovak Academy of Sciences in Bratislava, Slovakia). Journal of Asian and African Studies (SAGE, UK), Journal of Asian and African Studies (Tokyo University), Afro-Asian Journal of Finance and Accounting (UK), Asia and Africa today (Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia), Journal of Identity, Culture & Politics: An Afro-Asian Dialogue (CODESRIA, Senegal), Solidarity and Peace Journal of AAPSO Nepal (Nepal), news magazine Afrique Asie (France), etc.
Now, 60 years after the Bandung Conference, how is our state of knowledge of the Bandung Conference and its constellation? How was Bandung Spirit translated into actions in Asia and Africa? What did happen in Asia and Africa during the Bandung Era in term of development? What were the conferences, organisations, studies and publications generated by the Bandung Conference? What were the origin, development and impacts of every conference, organisation, study and publication generated by the Bandung Conference?
It is to answer those questions that we organise a seminar on “BANDUNG CONFERENCE, BANDUNG SPIRIT, BANDUNG ERA, BANDUNG CONSTELLATION: A Historiographical Attempt”. Researches on local, national or diplomatic primary archives from divers countries are recommended in order to write or rectify true histories around the Bandung Conference. In addition to or in absence of the primary archives, printed press and audio-visual archives may be exploited.
The seminar will be focused on four dimensions of the Bandung Conference namely Bandung Conference, Bandung Spirit, Bandung Era and Bandung Constellation.
1. Bandung Conference in local and national history.
The Bandung Conference has been written in several books. However, none has revealed how was the Bandung Conference perceived by the people (communities, associations, organisations) and the government at local and national levels in diverse countries of Africa and Asia. It is time now to look at national archives, especially of the countries participating in the conference, but also the archives of the press and the oral stories of the remaining living witnesses.
2. Bandung Spirit as a framework of analysis of the state of the world.
The Bandung Spirit can be summarised through five keywords: peaceful coexistence, liberation, equality, solidarity and development. How is the state of the world today seen from those five keywords? The analyses are to be applied at local, national, regional as well as international level. The peaceful coexistence today may include the question of ethnic and religious conflicts inside and among the nations in addition to the wars for the control of the access to natural resources. The liberation is facing today the persistent structures of domination in world order, especially in the field of technology, finance, media, armament and access to natural resources. The equality is challenged by social disparity and segregation based on gender, religion, territorial occupation. The solidarity today deals not only with charitable actions towards the victims of natural disasters, but also with the sharing of the resources and the wealth of the world. The development is confronted with the obstacles for the people to access to their basic needs: food, clothing, housing, but also freedom for association and expression.
3. Bandung Era as a historical period in international order.
The Bandung Era, between 1945 and 1990, is the first wave of the rise of the peoples of the South dominated by the North. During the Bandung Era, the North was forced to adjust itself to the request of the South. After the Bandung Era, the North has taken back its control over the world through neo-liberal globalisation. It is necessary to write what exactly happened in every Asian and African country in term of development during the Bandung Era. It will also help to define the exact year of the end of the Bandung Era, as it is not yet clear whether it is 1970, 1980, 1990, or other year.
4. Bandung Constellation: origin, development and impacts.
The contours and the content of the Bandung Constellation have not yet been known completely. It is time to define them through tracing back their origin, development and impacts. It is necessary to focus our work on the most important manifestations following the Bandung Conference. They are at least four: Conferences, Organisations, Studies and Publications. It will be interesting to write the history of every manifestation from the perspective of every participating country based on the following questions: what was the origin, how did it develop and what were its impacts? Compiled in a book, it will form at the same time a history and a directory of the Bandung Constellation.
The seminar may include topics such as the followings. Other relevant topics may be proposed.
- From Bandung to Belgrade: key steps and key persons
- The reactions of the West/North to the Bandung Conference and its constellation
- The Cold War: advantages and disadvantages for the Third World
- The Bandung Conference and communist movements
- The evolution of Chinese engagement in Africa
- The emerging economies: rupture or continuity of the Bandung Era?
- The contemporary world seen from the Bandung Conference perspective
- The G77: creation, development, achievement
Mr. Darwis Khudori, Indonesia/France (Assoc. Prof. Dr., Architecture/History, Asian/Arabic/Islamic Studies, University of Le Havre)
Mr. Agus Suwignyo, Indonesia
Ms Ama Biney, Ghana/UK
Mr. Amzat Boukari-Yabara, Benin/Martinique/France
Mr. Asvi Adam, Indonesia
Mr. Aziz Salmone Fall, Senegal/Egypt/Canada
Mr. Bambang Purwanto, Indonesia
Mr. Baskara T. Wardaya, Indonesia
Mr. Daniel Baric, France
Mr. Imam Gunarto, Indonesia
Mr. Manoranjan Mohanty, India
Mr. Mustari Irawan, Indonesia
Mr. N. Bossoondyal, Mauritius
Mr. Tyson Tirta, Indonesia