Performing Pan-Africanism: The Pan-African Circle of Artists' Overcoming Maps, 2001-Present

Posted: 22 Mar 2013

See all articles by Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi

Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi

The Hood Museum, Dartmouth College; The Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of African Art

Date Written: 2013


The Pan-African Circle of Artists (PACA), an artists’ association based in Enugu eastern Nigeria, was founded in 1991 at the Department of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Nigeria, Nsukka by art students and teachers led by C. Krydz Ikwuemesi. The association was created as a broad forum for artists, art professionals and cultural producers living and working in Africa who are interested in the promotion and dissemination of arts and culture in Africa on Africa’s terms. Through its activities and programs, PACA opens a channel of communication and inter-action among African artists, between artists and the general public, and explores the potentials of art to shape an African collective consciousness. In 2001 PACA initiated the Overcoming Maps study tour of Africa series which involves members of PACA and their associates travelling through the continent to network with artists and cultural practitioners, and to stage exhibitions and roundtable conversations on the role of art in contemporary society and its values as a tool for socio-cultural integration. Overcoming Maps also engages the rhetoric of political integration mouthed by various African governments through institutions such as the African Union but with little or no tangible achievement, as well as the outcome of the infamous Berlin conference of 1885 which formalized the partitioning of Africa along imaginary lines. Through Overcoming Maps, PACA also highlights the difficulties of movement across national boundaries in Africa and the limitations placed on the forging of intra-continental relationships. I explore Overcoming Maps as a process of performing “critical pan-Africanism,” that is to say, moving the ideology beyond intellectual rhetoric by mobilizing its values of solidarity and communalism.

Suggested Citation

Nzewi, Ugochukwu-Smooth, Performing Pan-Africanism: The Pan-African Circle of Artists' Overcoming Maps, 2001-Present (2013). ASA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN:

Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi (Contact Author)

The Hood Museum, Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

The Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of African Art

950 Independence Ave. S.W.
Washington, DC 20560
United States

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