Call for contributions: “The Sources of Madness”. Special issue of the journal Sources. Materials Fieldwork in African Studies

The call for contributions for a special issue of the journal Sources. Materials Fieldwork in African Studies, might be of interest to h-madness readers. A PDF of the full proposal in English and French can be downloaded below.

General information


The coordinators are members of the “MaDAf” ERC project: “A History of Madness in West Africa: Governing Mental Disorder during Decolonisation (Senegal, Burkina Faso and Ghana – 1940s–1970s).”

See: ;

  • 30 September 2022: Submission of proposals for articles. Submissions need to include an abstract of about twenty lines with a provisional title, the author’s or authors’ name(s), as well as their contact information including email addresses and affiliations. Abstracts need to include a presentation of the nature of the sources/material used, describe them briefly, and provide information that help contextualise them within the research project and within the discipline. Authors should indicate whether their sources may be made accessible online fully or partially.
  • 1st November 2022: Accepted or refused proposals notified to authors
  • 1st March 2023: Articles due
  • 15th July 2023: Peer-review reports sent to authors
  • 1st October 2023: Final versions due
  • Spring 2024: Publication of the special issue

Submission of proposals

The abstracts and articles should be sent to the journal Sources ( and copied to this special issue’s coordination team:

  • Romain Tiquet ( ;
  • Camille Evrard ( ;
  • Paul Marquis ( ;
  • Gina Aït Mehdi (
  • Raphaël Gallien (

Format Texts may be submitted in .doc, .docx, .odt, and .rtf formats. The abstracts should be between 400 and 700 words in length. The articles should have an average of 6,000 words (including bibliography, abstract and keywords), but the journal welcomes shorter or longer articles. Please browse the requirements for selection and publication: https://www.sources-, and the guidelines for authors:


This special issue on the sources of madness in Africa—on the continent and in the diasporas—takes place within the framework of the recent epistemological renewal of studies related to mental disorders on the African continent. Its starting point is that investigations by researchers on the nature and the diversity of sources in this field are scattered and partial. Grounded upon a long-term and interdisciplinary perspective, the aim of this issue is to show the richness of all the materials brought to bear on this subject and to encourage thinking about sources that are often situated at the crossroads of different types of mediation (medical, administrative, (post-)colonial, etc.). Madness in Africa has given rise to a good deal of historiographical research since the 1980s, but the works that have resulted generally emphasise that colonial psychiatry was one tool among others for social and biopolitical control; this tool was put at the service of the rational exploitation of the colonised world based on racial prejudice, in order to assert and legitimise the civilising mission (mission civilisatrice) of the colonial powers (Sadowsky 1999; Jackson 2005; Mahone & Vaughan 2007; Keller 2007; Scarfone 2016). As an offshoot of this first reading of madness, other studies have focused rather on psychiatrists—Frantz Fanon or Henri Collomb for instance. Breaking away from the view that stigmatizes psychiatry as only a carceral and essentialist practice, these doctors began from the 1950s to reflect on the study of local knowledge and models for the treatment of mental disorders (Keller 2007; Khalfa & Young 2015; Collignon 2018; Robcis 2020). Nevertheless, however rich this first generation of research may have been, very little of it has looked into the specificity of the sources in the African context, or into issues related to the conditions of investigation and of empirical analysis.

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