About us/A propos

ISOLA is an inter­na­tion­al, mul­ti­cul­tur­al, mul­ti­lin­gual schol­ar­ly orga­ni­za­tion, ded­i­cat­ed to the study, pro­mo­tion, con­ser­va­tion and dif­fu­sion of the rich oral tra­di­tions of Glob­al Africa, com­pris­ing the con­ti­nent and its Dias­po­ras all over the world.

The Soci­ety began in 1991 dur­ing a con­fer­ence held at the School of Ori­en­tal and African Stud­ies (SOAS) at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don focus­ing on African oral arts. It was lat­er for­mal­ly estab­lished dur­ing its Cape Town con­fer­ence in 1998. Since its incep­tion, ISOLA has grown tremen­dous­ly, pro­vid­ing an insti­tu­tion­al home for the scores of schol­ars who meet at its bien­ni­al con­fer­ences in venues in Africa, Europe and, more recent­ly, the Caribbean.

The Soci­ety draws its inter­na­tion­al mem­ber­ship from experts and stu­dents involved in the explo­ration of the rich and vibrant oral tra­di­tions of Africa and of the African Dias­po­ra. Its mem­bers engage in a wide spec­trum of research with respect to African oral tra­di­tions, past and con­tem­po­rary, in areas such as per­for­mance, the lit­er­ary arts, lin­guis­tics, his­to­ry and social dynam­ics, as well as com­par­a­tive the­o­ret­i­cal or metathe­o­ret­i­cal stud­ies. Mem­bers are encour­aged to report on their restora­tive, archival, and field research while estab­lish­ing mul­ti-dis­ci­pli­nary net­works. To this end, the Society’s pri­ma­ry activ­i­ty is its bien­ni­al schol­ar­ly con­fer­ence, cul­mi­nat­ing in pub­lished proceedings.

The inter­na­tion­al char­ac­ter of ISOLA is demon­strat­ed by the diver­si­ty of its mem­ber­ship and the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the sites of our con­fer­ences. The Soci­ety active­ly pur­sues the par­tic­i­pa­tion of schol­ars and grad­u­ate stu­dents from the African con­ti­nent, the African Dias­po­ra and from African Stud­ies spe­cial­ists across the world. At present, our main lan­guages of dis­cus­sion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion are Eng­lish and French.

How­ev­er, in the short term, our aim is to active­ly solic­it and encour­age the mem­ber­ship of schol­ars from the Por­tuguese-speak­ing and Span­ish-speak­ing world and from the African Dias­po­ra of the Americas.