From 11 to 12 November 2013, the University of the Free State hosted a conference entitled 'Power and Coercion in Colonial and Postcolonial Africa'. As an expression of the University of the Free State’s strategic commitment to expand graduate research, it offered an opportunity for recently recruited doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows to showcase their research to world-class academics from across Southern Africa and Europe. This provided a high level of critical advice to help further refine their work. In addition, a skills training workshop was run for master's and doctoral students, in order to benefit from the expertise the conference attracted to the University of the Free State. The visiting academics were joined by leading archivists from the national archives of South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The conference was opened by the Rector, Professor Jonathan Jansen, and the keynote address was delivered by Professor Ashley Jackson (Kings College, London) who spoke on 'War, Violence and the British Empire'. Other visiting historians included Professor Karen Harris (UP); Dr Marja Hinfelaar (Director Research and Programmes at SAIPAR); Professor Heidi Hudson (UFS); Professor Alois Mlambo (UP); Professor Brian Raftopolous (UWC); Professor Martial Staub (University of Sheffield) and Professor Sandra Swart (US).