By: Cate Lewis
Many scholars from around Australia and abroad attended the “31st annual conference of the African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific” (AFSAAP) hosted by Monash University. It was held in the centre of Melbourne at the State Library of Victoria’s conference centre 26-28 December 2008, and entitled Building a common future, Africa and Australasia, see http://www.meetings.com.au/africa/
The Australia Western Sahara Association held an information stall about Western Sahara and had the opportunity to talk with many conference-goers from Australia and overseas.
It was useful to raise the profile of Western Sahara in a few cases where people confessed ignorance of the conflict. However, most congratulated us on our presence. Many greeted the stall warmly, being familiar with the issue over many years. A man from Somalia said it was high time Western Sahara achieved its independence.
The conference recognises that Australia-Pacific region’s growing economic, political, social and cultural ties with Africa provide an opportunity not only to explore our communalities further but also to work together on shared issues, such as climate change, education, health and security, to develop sustainable, mutually beneficial solutions.
Since 1978, the annual African Studies Association of Australasia and the Pacific (AFSAAP) conference has been bringing together Africa-focused scholars, students, government and diplomatic staff, business, industry and individuals to discuss Africa and the issues, challenges and opportunities which the continent faces.