The African Potentials Series is a co-publication initiative between Langaa and the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) at Kyoto University. The series showcases the research of the African Potentials network of African and Japanese scholars.
CAAS was originally established in 1986 to build on a tradition of African studies at Kyoto University that has steadily expanded since 1958 when the first scientific research team was sent to Africa. In 2011, CAAS created an African studies network with the grand goal of identifying African Potentials from the daily existence of African people, describing this in detail and making such research and scholarship available to contemporaries as well as to future generations. The emphasis was and remains empirical studies based on the fieldwork tradition of Kyoto University, the need to employ inter-disciplinary approaches to contemporary issues, encouraging ecologically-oriented studies, and promoting both national and international research exchanges and research cooperation. The network has organized annually the African Forum in diverse host countries to exchange ideas among various Japanese and African researchers as well as with professionals from various walks of life, with the aim of enriching and propagating its core concept of African Potentials. Since 2016, 7 books have been published in the series, namely:
- Sam Moyo and Yoichi Mine, (eds) (2016), What Colonialism Ignored: ‘African Potentials’ for Resolving Conflicts in Southern Africa’
- Yntiso Gebre, Itaru Ohta and Motoji Matsuda, (eds) (2017), African Virtues in the Pursuit of Conviviality: Exploring Local Solutions in Light of Global Prescriptions
- Yanyin Zi (2017), Iron Sharpens Iron: Social Interactions at China Shops in Botswana
- Itsuhiro Hazama, Kiyoshi Umeya and Francis B. Nyamnjoh (eds) (2019), Citizenship in Motion: South African and Japanese Scholars in Conversation
- Yaw Ofosu-Kusi and Motoji Matsuda (eds) (2020), The Challenge of African Potentials: Conviviality, Informality and Futurity
- Mitsugi Endo, Michael Neocosmos and Ato Kwamena Onoma (eds) (2021), African Politics of Survival: Extraversion and Informality in the Contemporary World
- Takehiko Ochiai, Misa Hirano-Nomoto and Daniel E Agbiboa (eds) (2021), People, Predicaments and Potentials in Africa
CAAS’s collaboration with Langaa is a welcome departure from the usual pattern inspired by the logic of the North-South divide, in which the publisher of choice is usually located in the country, region or continent that is more economically advanced in the partnership. It was the Japanese colleagues in the network who approached Langaa to consider collaborating with them on publication of the series, as evidence that the African Potentials in which the network is interested does not have to exist as a romanticised excavation from a deep past, but that such potentials are dynamic and modern, and could indeed serve as a more participatory and egalitarian model for present and future international research collaboration.