Africa Past and Present is a podcast about history, culture, and politics in Africa and the diaspora. The show highlights interesting and significant people, ideas, and discussions in African Studies from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives. Our mission is to broaden the availability and accessibility of cutting-edge knowledge relating to African experiences and to do so in a down-to-earth and informed manner. Shows feature interviews with eminent scholars and persons, commentary on current events, and issues and debates of relevance to Africans at home and abroad.
Africa Past and Present is hosted by Michigan State University historians Peter Alegi and Peter Limb and produced by MATRIX—The Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at MSU.
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Cherif Keita (French and Francophone Studies, Carleton College) reflects on his life as a scholar from Mali and on his documentary films about John Langalibalele Dube and Nokutela Dube, founding figures of the African National Congress of South Africa. The interview closes with a discussion of musician Salif Keita’s journey from social outcast (as an […]. . .
Kim Yi Dionne (Political Science, UC Riverside) on her recent book, Doomed Interventions: The Failure of Global Responses to AIDS in Africa; the controversial May 2019 elections in Malawi, where she served as an observer; and hosting the Ufahamu Africa podcast and co-editing the Monkey Cage politics blog at the Washington Post. Follow her on […]. . .
Elizabeth Schmidt (History, Loyola Maryland) on her activist beginnings and professional trajectory as an historian, first of Shona women in colonial Zimbabwe and later of Guinea’s independence movement. The second part of the interview focuses on Schmidt’s recent books on foreign intervention in Africa since 1945—a complex story driven by multiple geopolitical and economic interests, […]. . .
Didier Gondola (IUPUI, History and Africana Studies) on his book, Tropical Cowboys: Westerns, Violence, and Masculinity in Kinshasa. He reflects on how Hollywood Westerns shaped a performative young urban masculinity expressed through nicknames and slang, cannabis consumption, gender violence, fashion, and sport. Gondola also offers insights on Jean Depara’s photography, the recent DRC elections, and […]. . .
Cal Biruk (Oberlin, Anthropology) on the politics of knowledge production in African fieldwork. We talk about her new book, Cooking Data: Culture and Politics in an African Research World, based on HIV and AIDS research in Malawi. The discussion explores the social and cultural cleaning (“cooking”) of survey data and its implications for demographers and […]. . .
Alex Thurston (Miami University) discusses his recent book, Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement. Taking local religious ideas and experiences seriously, Thurston sheds light on northeastern Nigeria and the main leaders of Boko Haram; relationships with the Islamic State; the conflict’s spread to Niger, Chad, and Cameroon; and US foreign policy in […]. . .
Msia Kibona Clark (African Studies, Howard University) on her new book, Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers. Clark describes how her personal passion became academic expertise. She highlights African women emcees and the role of local languages and Pan-African elements in the music. In the final part of the interview, Clark […]. . .
Bonny Ibhawoh (McMaster Univ.) and Christian Williams (U. Free State) on historicizing refugees in Africa. Looking at children evacuated from the Biafran War to Gabon and Ivory Coast, Ibhawoh discusses the politics of “refugee” labeling. Williams’s biography of a woman born in a SWAPO camp in exile in Tanzania shows how displaced people are agents […]. . .
David Coplan (Wits, Emeritus) takes us on a journey from New York to Soweto and into the making of his ethnographic studies of music and popular culture in West and South(ern) Africa. Coplan then turns to his recent book about The Bassline jazz club in Johannesburg. The interview concludes with insights from his new research […]. . .
Jean Allman (Washington U.) on rethinking African humanities. She discusses her research on Ghana, women, and gender, and highlights the transformative potential of collaborative work. Allman reflects on African Studies publishing networks and then previews her ASA Presidential Lecture delivered at MSU: “#HerskovitsMustFall? A Meditation on Whiteness, African Studies, and the Unfinished Business of 1968.” […]. . .
Prof. Somadoda Fikeni (UNISA) and Nomzamo Ntombela (Stellenbosch) reflect on continuities and changes in South African social justice activism. Fikeni and Ntombela share their respective personal and political experiences, connecting the motives and lessons of 1980s anti-apartheid mass mobilization to the recent #FeesMustFall student movement. Click here to watch the “Campus Activism for Justice: From […]. . .
Albie Sachs, former judge, freedom fighter, and professor, speaks (and sings!) about his anti-apartheid activism and lifelong commitment to equality and justice. He reflects on the enduring need for “soft vengeance” and draws on his 15-year term on South Africa’s Constitutional Court to emphasize the importance of constitutionalism for democracy. The interview concludes with Sachs’ […]. . .
Prof. Norman Etherington (U. Western Australia) on empire in Africa, missions, and Southern African history. The interview focuses on themes of his distinguished career and influential works, such as The Great Treks, and his latest books Indigenous Evangelists & Questions of Authority in the British Empire 1750-1940 and Imperium of the Soul.. . .
Dr. Alcinda Honwana on the struggles of young Africans, the condition of “waithood”—a state of limbo between childhood and adulthood—and their creative engagements with everyday life. She reflects on the art and ethics of oral interviewing in Mozambique, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia, and concludes with a hopeful vision of young women and men as […]. . .
Youssouf Sakaly and Malick Sitou discuss the Archive of Malian Photography, a collaborative Malian-US project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the British Library, that provides free access to preserved and digitized collections of five important photographers in Mali. The interview considers ethical questions, family and community memory, conservation and dissemination of […]. . .
Keren Weitzberg (Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London) on her new book We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya. She grapples with the long history of Somali migration across colonial/post-colonial borders, definitions of “Somaliness,” media coverage and representations of Somali people, and the “hidden history’” of women gleaned from poetry and […]. . .
Prof. Alois Mlambo (University of Pretoria) discusses Zimbabwe’s deindustrialization and economic decline, its relationship with South Africa, and the role of Pan-Africanism and “patriotic history” in sustaining a new authoritarian nationalism.. . .
Jeremy Prestholdt (U. California, San Diego) on East African commodities, culture, and “transnational imagination,” featuring his forthcoming book, Icons of Dissent (on Che, Marley, Tupac, Bin Laden). He also discusses changing meanings of Indian Ocean Africa and how technologies impact global circulation of ideas, people and commodities. With guest host, Laura Fair.. . .
John Mugane (Harvard University) on his book, The Story of Swahili, a history of the international language and its speakers. Mugane sheds light on enduring questions: Who is Swahili? What is authentic Swahili? He also discusses the state of publishing in Swahili, and the challenges and approaches to teaching African languages in the U.S.   Part of a podcast series […]. . .
Allen Isaacman (University of Minnesota) discusses his recent Herskovits Award-winning book, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007, how the work was researched, its significance, and the lives of those disrupted by the dam. He also talks of his long trajectory doing Mozambican history, book series publishing in […]. . .
Fallou Ngom (African Languages Director, Boston U.) on his new book Muslims Beyond the Arab World: the Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya. Focusing on Senegambia and Ahmadu Bamba, Ngom discusses Ajami literary texts — African languages in Arabic scripts — as sources for history. He also reflects on creating online Ajami collections, teaching and learning African languages […]. . .
Professor Amidu O. Sanni (Lagos State University) on his work for the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project and preservation of West African intellectual heritage. He discusses the importance of Ajami sources (African languages written in Arabic script) for historical and cultural analysis and suggests possibilities for future research and training initiatives.  . . .
Nicholas van de Walle (Cornell) and Michael Wahman (Missouri) analyze the 2016 Zambian presidential and parliamentary elections. The two political scientists discuss the controversial results, the role of the Constitutional Court in the process, violence, and the influence of international election observers. With guest host, Jessica Achberger. Part of a podcast series in collaboration with the U.S. African Studies […]. . .
Micere Githae Mugo (Syracuse, Emeritus) and Simon Gikandi (Princeton) discuss the making and aftermath of The Trial of Dedan Kimathi and, on the 40th anniversary of the play, reflect on the play’s historical and political significance in Kenya and beyond; its innovative elements; and researching, writing, and enacting the play with Ngugi wa Thiong’o and […]. . .
John Aerni-Flessner (MSU) on his forthcoming book Dreams for Lesotho: Independence, Foreign Assistance, and Development. Discussion focuses on development projects and their local, national and international politics; perspectives of Basotho youth, farmers, chiefs and government; and interactions with South Africa, U.S. Peace Corps and the foreign aid industry.. . .
Artist Sam Jury on the neglected situation of Sahrawi peoples’ refugee camps, her video installation To Be Here on their daily lives, and about the women who built the camps. Additional background on the Sahrawi movement is provided by Richard Knight (African Activist Archive).    . . .
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Greg Marinovich (Boston University) on the genealogy and ethics of his work and on his new book: Murder at Small Koppie: The Real Story of the Marikana Massacre—one of the largest killing of civilians in South Africa since 1960. For more: read the Marikana Commission of Inquiry Report here and watch Miners Shot Down here.. . .
Tejumola Olaniyan (Wisconsin–Madison) on African cartoonists, their depictions of the body and struggles with censorship, and the aesthetics of corpulence in African political cartooning. He elaborates on the deeper origins and gendered nature of satire in African societies and also discusses his website Africa Cartoons.com.. . .
This centenary episode brings together selections from the first eight years of the podcast. The chosen segments broadly represent earliest and latest episodes, different African countries and regions, and notable contributions by local and international guests on a number of subjects and themes.. . .
Anthropologist Rosemarie Mwaipopo (U. of Dar es Salaam) on artisanal and small-scale mining in Tanzania. She discusses the roles of women;grassroots dimensions, including cultural and gender dynamics; and government policies. The interview concludes with a comparative look at small-scale mining in Africa.. . .
Author Ben Rawlence (Open Society Foundations Fellow) on his new book: City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp. He describes working in Dadaab, Kenya, and discusses Somali refugees’ daily struggles, their personal lives, social relationships, trade, and Islam. The interview closes with reflections on the international dimensions of the conflict in Somalia and prospects for peace.. . .
Susanne Klausen (History, Carleton U.) on the history and politics of women’s reproductive rights in South Africa. Our discussion of race, nationalism, and women’s sexuality focuses on her new book, Abortion Under Apartheid, the first full-length study of the history of abortion in an African context. The interview concludes with an assessment of the present and future of abortion rights in […]. . .
Toyin Falola (History, Texas; President, African Studies Association) on Yoruba history and culture; language policy in Nigeria; creativity and decolonization; forms of community action in “hyper-modern” times; and the meaning of Buhari’s victory in the 2015 presidential election.. . .
Ganiyu Akinloye Jimoh (Creative Arts, University of Lagos) on his work in Nigeria as a popular cartoonist, with the pen name “Jimga,” and as a cartoon scholar. Issues discussed include: political aspects of cartooning; visual aspects of the art; language and graphic styles; and the future of cartooning in Nigeria.. . .
Professor Renfrew Christie (University of the Western Cape) on South African advances and challenges since 1994; educational transformations at UWC; his role as an anti-apartheid student activist, exposure of South Africa’s nuclear bomb and subsequent imprisonment, and nuclear issues today.. . .
Lisa Lindsay (North Carolina) on her forthcoming biography of James Churchwill Vaughan—whose life provides insights into the bonds of slavery and family and the differing prospects for people of African descent in the 19th-century Atlantic world. Vaughan’s odyssey took him from slavery-ridden South Carolina to Liberia and finally Nigeria, where he was involved in the […]. . .
Hikabwa Decius Chipande (PhD 2015 Michigan State) on the political and social history of football (soccer) in Zambia. He discusses becoming an historian; the game’s relationship with British colonizers, the copper mines, and postcolonial governments; and the archival research and oral interviewing process. Chipande concludes with insights from his extensive experience with sport development in Africa.. . .
Peter Cole (Western Illinois, SWOP [Wits]) compares Durban and San Francisco, maritime union solidarities, the anti-apartheid movement, and technological change in the two ports. Cole concludes with reflections on researching and teaching comparative history.. . .
Menán Du Plessis (Stellenbosch University and U. of Kentucky) on her literary work, research on the Kora! language, and the significance of Khoesan linguistics to southern African studies. Du Plessis also considers digitization efforts and the impact of mass media and the Internet on endangered African languages.. . .
Laura Seay (Government, Colby College) on becoming a Congo scholar; the genealogy and impact of her “Texas in Africa” blog; using Twitter for academic purposes and public discourse; and her book project titled “Substituting for the State” about non-state actors and governance in eastern DR Congo. Follow Laura on Twitter: @texasinafrica. . .
Keith Breckenridge (WISER) on the current state of digital Southern African Studies; the politics, funding, and ethics of international partnerships in digital projects; and his new book Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present. Follow Keith on Twitter: @BreckenridgeKD Part I of a series on digital African studies.. . .
Chitja Twala (History, Univ. of Free State) on the history of black politics and the African National Congress in the Free State province; oral history; cultural resistance; the field of History in South Africa; lessons of the Marikana Massacre; and “transformation” in South African higher education.. . .
Tebogo Motswetla, a leading African cartoonist from Botswana, on his journey of becoming a cartoonist; the 25th anniversary of his character “Mabijo”; applied aspects of his work; seTswana language dialogue; the creative process, censorship, and freedom of expression.. . .
Abdilatif Abdalla is the best-known Swahili poet and independent Kenya’s first political prisoner. He discusses poetry as a political instrument and as an academic field; publication prospects for African poets; and how poetry enabled him to survive three years of solitary confinement, after which he spent 22 years in exile. The interview ends with Abdalla […]. . .
Pius Adesanmi (Carleton University) on African literatures, public intellectuals, Sahara Reporters blog, social media and postcolonial writing, Yoruba and Anglophone literatures, ‘imposed transnationalism’ in the African literature classroom and ‘What is Africa to me’? With guest host Ann Biersteker. Photo courtesy of Pius Adesanmi. . .
Brett O’Bannon (Political Science, Director of Conflict Studies, De Pauw University) on the causes and consequences of civil war in Côte d’Ivoire; the “Responsibility to Protect” as applied to conflict in Africa ; and monitoring herder-farmer relations in Senegal to anticipate the onset of wider-scale warfare.. . .
Denis Goldberg reflects on his activism, hardships in prison, and the highs and lows of the antiapartheid movement. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1963 in South Africa’s Rivonia trial with Mandela and other leaders. He served 22 years in an apartheid prison. Goldberg’s autobiography is titled The Mission: A Life for Freedom in […]. . .
Dr. Chima Korieh (History, Marquette) on Nigerian experiences on the African homefront during World War II, agriculture and social change in the colonial era, the Biafran War and the politics of memory, and Igbo identity. The interview closes with a discussion of endangered archives in postcolonial Nigeria.. . .
David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory University, on the making of the Transatlantic Slave Trade database, a landmark collaborative digital project he has co-edited for two decades. Eltis discusses the research process, online dissemination, and new directions for the initiative. This is the second part of a two-part series recorded at […]. . .
Paul Lovejoy, Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History at York University, discusses building an international database of biographical information on all enslaved Africans. He outlines this digital history project’s contribution to the study of slavery, race, and broader themes in global history. This is the first part of a two-part series recorded at the […]. . .
David Gordon (Bowdoin, History) on his recent book Invisible Agents: Spirits in a Central African History. Gordon explores how and why spirits and discourses about spirits inspired social movements and influenced historical change, from precolonial Bemba chieftaincies and 1930s Watchtower millenarianism to the postcolonial state’s humanism and Pentecostalism under Kaunda and Chiluba, respectively. Gordon closes […]. . .
Barry Gilder, South African folk singer and ex-ANC intelligence operative, is the author of Songs and Secrets: South Africa from Liberation to Governance. In the interview, he reflects on freedom songs, exile, and armed struggle. Gilder performs his “Matola Song,” about a friend killed by an apartheid death squad. He ends with thoughts on democratic […]. . .
David Killingray (Emeritus, Goldsmiths College, U. of London) on the often-neglected role of African travelers and intermediaries in 19th-century Africa; black writers and activists in Victorian Britain; and the significance of documenting lived experiences of Africans to better understand processes of historical change.  . . .
Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi (U. Witwatersrand/Michigan) on radio, ethnicity and knowledge production in South Africa, both apartheid’s Bantu Radio and the liberation movement’s Radio Freedom, including broadcasts and audiences, idioms, songs and slogans. Also discusses formation of Ndebele ethnicity and role of popular radio in forging a strong ethnic consciousness, and histories of African interpreters and […]. . .
Geographer Abdi Samatar (U. Minnesota; President of the U.S. African Studies Association) on pirates and piracy off the Somali coast; the complexities and inequalities between “fish pirates” and other kinds of pirates; the inadequacy of “clans” in explaining Somali society; and thoughts on “Africa’s First Democrats” and the future of Somalia.  . . .
Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel) on protest and prophecy among Herero intellectuals in 1940s Namibia. Also discussed are the 1904-5 German genocide, construction of Herero modernity, private archives, popular culture, Namibian historiography, and how Namibians conceptualized a “South African Empire.”. . .
Vicki Huddleston (former U.S. Ambassador to Mali) and anthropologist Bruce Whitehouse (Lehigh Univ.) discuss the ongoing political and military conflict in Mali. Focus is on the complex origins of the Tuareg and Islamist insurgencies in the north, French intervention and U.S. policy, and how to chart the way to peace and stability in a wounded […]. . .
Enocent Msindo (History, Rhodes U.) on his recent book Ethnicity in Zimbabwe: Transformations in Kalanga and Ndebele Societies, 1860-1990. He explores chiefly politics, class, language, and local sources to show the creation of ethnic identity in southwestern Zimbabwe was not solely the result of colonial rule or African elites. Ordinary Africans created and shaped an […]. . .
Historian Gerald Horne (U. of Houston) on how labor struggles in Hawaii and black self-assertion in Kenya influenced a young Barack Obama; the legacy of African-American involvement in African political struggles; the confluence of African-American Studies and African Studies; and W.E.B. DuBois as a template for unity among people of African descent. With guest co-host […]. . .
Toby Green (King’s College London) on his recent book The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589. Green discusses periodization, sources, and the creation of creole communities in the Upper Guinea coast. He also comments on new research comparing Upper Guinea and West-Central Africa and concludes with a reflection on the opportunities […]. . .
Adam Ashforth (Univ. of Michigan) on “witchcraft” in rural Central and urban Southern Africa. Discusses connections with colonial and postcolonial power and authority; gender; spiritual insecurity and religious enthusiasm; law, culture, and HIV/AIDS in Malawi; “anti-anti-witchcraft,” and the “serious laughter” of photographer Santu Mofokeng.. . .
Sifiso Ndlovu (CEO, South African Democracy Education Trust) on the Soweto 1976 rising; personal and professional perspectives on challenges and contributions of African historians; writing and editing SADET’s The Road to Democracy in South Africa series; and the importance of orality and African languages in Zulu history and in rewriting South Africa’s past.  . . .
Alex Lichtenstein (History, Indiana U.) on the history of the struggles for class and racial justice in both South Africa and the U.S. The focus is on black trade unions and the apartheid state, the 2012 Marikana mine massacre, and labor in Jim Crow U.S. South, as well as an upcoming exhibition of Margaret Bourke-White‘s […]. . .
Prof. Nwando Achebe (MSU History) on her recent book The Female King of Colonial Nigeria: Ahebi Ugbabe. Achebe describes key aspects of King (or Eze) Ahebi’s life; reflects on the value of oral history and multidisciplinary methods; and discusses Igbo gender, culture, and power during British colonial rule.. . .
Peter Limb (Michigan State University) on the life and writings of Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma, President-General of the African National Congress (1940-49) and first black physician in Johannesburg. Limb discusses his just published book bringing together Xuma’s autobiography, correspondence, essays and speeches on health, politics, crime, beer, the pass laws, and the rights of African […]. . .
Tom Turner (DR Congo country specialist, Amnesty International USA) on the politics of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, focusing on The Congo Wars and their complex political, economic and international dimensions; the obstacles to peace; and the ambiguities of the “Kony 2012” campaign.  . . .
David Newbury (Smith College) on the historical dynamics of kingship, legitimacy and violence in Central and East Africa, focusing on Alison Des Forges’s Defeat is the Only Bad News: Rwanda under Musinga, 1896-1931 and The Land beyond the Mists: Essays on Identity & Authority in Precolonial Congo & Rwanda. He deconstructs static views of royal […]. . .
Anthropologist Richard Werbner (University of Manchester) on the similarity between Freud and African wisdom diviners, ethnographic filmmaking in southern Africa, and the place of ‘Holy Hustlers’ (pentecostal churches and prophecy in Botswana) — the subject of his latest book — in the public sphere.  . . .
Historians Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and Walter Hawthorne on Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network — a digital history project of Matrix and the MSU History Department funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. They discuss the origins of the ASDN, intellectual and technological challenges, and the wider significance of building a freely accessible web database […]. . .
Jacob Dlamini, South African author, journalist, and historian, on his best-selling book Native Nostalgia, a memoir that challenges conventional struggle narratives. He also discusses the social and political history of Kruger National Park and a new research project on collaborators of the apartheid security forces.  . . .
Aili Mari Tripp (U. of Wisconsin – Madison and ASA President) on African women’s movements and paradoxes of power in Museveni’s Uganda. Includes discussion of democratization and highlights the need for the African Studies Association to challenge the U.S. government’s draconian cuts to international education. With guest host Prof. Kiki Edozie (International Relations, Michigan State).. . .
Eddie Daniels and Christine Root on spending a lifetime working for African liberation; Daniels in South Africa, where he was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island (1964-79), and Root in the U.S. as Associate Director of the Washington Office on Africa in solidarity with such struggles. The African Activist Archive preserves records and memories […]. . .
Dr. Gary Morgan, MSU Museum Director, on African masks and the Great Dance (Gule Wamkulu) in Chewa society, Malawi. Discusses origins and characters of Gule Wamkulu, and gender, political, educational and health aspects of masks and their future in a globalizing world. Accompanies MSU exhibition on masks and the first major book on Gule Wamkulu […]. . .
Derek Peterson (University of Michigan) on the politics and practice of archives in East Africa, the precarious state of some archives, and exciting possibilities of preservation and digitization at Mountains of the Moon University in Uganda; “homespun” historians in Recasting the African Past and Mau Mau prisons in Kenya; and his forthcoming book Pilgrims & […]. . .
Heather Hughes (University of Lincoln) on her new biography of John Langalibalele Dube, founding president of the African National Congress of South Africa, which celebrates its centenary in 2012. Hughes focuses on Dube’s rich connections to the United States; his educational work and political beliefs; and the previously overlooked role of Nokutela Dube.  . . .
David Wiley, James Pritchett, Laura Mitchell, and Joshua Grace discuss huge federal government cuts to Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs and their impact on African Studies in the United States.. . .
Hlonipha Mokoena (Anthropology, Columbia U.) on her new book: Magema Fuze: The Making of a Kholwa Intellectual (2011). Explains the rise of a black intelligentsia in 19th- and early 20th-century South Africa through the remarkable life of Fuze, the first Zulu-speaker to publish a book in the language: Abantu Abamnyama Lapa Bavela Ngakona / The […]. . .
Dorothy Hodgson (Anthropology, Rutgers) on Maasai pastoralists in Tanzania, with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of women. She discusses the intersections of gender, ethnicity, and Christianity, and then turns to the subject of her new book, Being Maasai, Becoming Indigenous, which explores local activists’ engagement with the transnational indigenous rights movement.  . . .
Horace Campbell (African American Studies and Political Science, Syracuse U.) on political change in Africa and the Diaspora. Focus is on the revolution in Libya, popular revolts, war, peace, and neo-liberalism in Africa and beyond. Campbell also shares insights from his new book: Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA. […]. . .
Salah Hassan and Ken Harrow (Michigan State University) on the democratic revolutions in North Africa. Events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are analyzed from below and above, with focus on the perspectives of youth, creative uses of technology, as well as the connections to, and relevance of, the events to Africa and the wider world. […]. . .
Judith Byfield (History, Cornell) on the social and economic history of women and the environment in Nigeria. She elaborates on the role of the prominent Kuti family and also on the origins of her scholarly interest in Africa. The interview was recorded during Dr. Byfield’s visit to Michigan State University where she delivered the 2010 […]. . .
Diana Jeater on Zimbabwe’s colonial history. Focus is on gender and on how culture and access to material resources shaped African lives, and on the role of African languages — and their translation by white settlers — in constructing discourses about morality. Jeater also discusses current work on private archives of Rhodesian expats in the […]. . .
Historian Paul Landau (University of Maryland) on rethinking the broad history of Southern Africa from 1400 to 1948. His new book re-asserts African agency by seeing Africans in motion, coming out of their own past. Drawing on oral traditions, genealogies, 19th-century conversations, and other sources, Landau highlights the resilience of African political cultures and their […]. . .
Prof. Terence Ranger (Emeritus, University of Oxford) discusses his many contributions to African Studies and African History, how these themes have developed, and also his 17th book, Bulawayo Burning (2010). This is the first of three podcasts recorded at the ‘Making History: Terence Ranger and African Studies’ conference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign October, 2010.. . .
Radikobo Ntsimane (UKZN School of Theology) on African voices in the history of mission hospitals in South Africa and the Sinomlando Center‘s ‘memory box’ program. Ntsimane’s work demonstrates how oral history is not just an intellectual practice, but also ‘a human encounter that can have a profound effect on people’s lives.’ Free download of R. […]. . .
Chris Bolsmann (Sociology, Aston University) on the successful 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Topics covered include experiences at stadiums; FIFA‘s Disney-fied World Cup; Pan-Africanism and African teams; and the economic and political impact of the tournament. More World Cup Thoughts Online: ‘After the Final’ with Karabo Mathang and Sindi Mabizela (audio) Laurent Dubois and […]. . .
Penda Mbow (l’Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar), prominent historian and public intellectual of Senegal, on women and Islam, intellectual history in Muslim Africa, and civil society in Senegal. She also discusses the significant contribution and role of David Robinson in African and Senegalese historiography.. . .
Thabo Dladla, Konti Khubeka and Zeph Mthembu on the potential impact of the 2010 World Cup on grassroots soccer in South Africa. All three men are former professional players now coaching youths. What does 2010 mean to these elders of the game? Will the tournament address the legacy of apartheid and the new challenges of […]. . .
Paul Tiyambe Zeleza (Loyola Marymount University) on the history and study of Africa and its Diasporas. He discusses the themes of his new book, Barack Obama and African Diasporas: Dialogues and Dissensions, as well as globalization and Africa, and changes over time in the nature and focus of African Studies.. . .
Franco Barchiesi (Ohio State U) explains the precarious lives of South African workers and unemployed together with the role of politics and the impact of economic crises today. He also analyzes contests over social citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa and discusses the development of his own interest in South African labor matters.. . .
Jabulani Sithole (UKZN) on why history matters in South Africa. Sithole discusses his journey from activist to historian, and his research on the ANC and labor unions in KwaZulu-Natal, part of SADET’s landmark The Road to Democracy in South Africa series. He elaborates on Zulu identities and his role in renaming streets in Pietermaritzburg.. . .
Candace Keller (MSU Art and Art History) on her research on West African photographers, cultural histories, identities, and aesthetics from the 1940s to the present. Dr. Keller describes and explains the rich and varied photographic scene in Mali, its historical roots and aesthetic and technological components, discusses leading photographers such as Malick Sidibe and Seydou […]. . .
Mwalimu Deo Ngonyani (MSU Linguistics) on his research on Kikisi — a Bantu language spoken by 10,000 people on the shores of Lake Malawi in southwestern Tanzania. Ngonyani elaborates on projects committed to preserving ‘small’ languages and highlights the significance of government language policies, especially in regards to English and Swahili.. . .
Wendi Manuel-Scott and Benedict Carton on the ‘African Identities in the Age of Obama’ conference they organized recently at George Mason University. Bridging the gap between studies of Africa, African America, and the Caribbean, participants debated who and what does Obama represent? How do cultural aspects of the Obama phenomenon intersect with political and economic […]. . .
Historian Chuck Ambler (UTEP and African Studies Association president) on the work of the ASA and his ongoing research on African audiences ‘from Hollywood to Nollywood.’ He also discusses a manuscript-in-progress on mass media and popular culture in colonial and post-colonial Africa. With guest co-host Laura Fair.. . .
Marika Sherwood (senior research fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London) on the history of the African diaspora in Britain. She discusses aspects of her 2007 book After Abolition: Britain and the Slave Trade Since 1807, the 1945 Pan Africanist Congress in Manchester, and Pan-African biographies. Sherwood concludes by noting the inadequate treatment of black history […]. . .
Historian Ned Alpers (UCLA) on changing trends in Indian Ocean history and Africa’s centrality within it. Drawing from over three decades of research and a recently published book, Alpers discusses east African views of the Indian Ocean; slavery and the slave trade; resistance and agency. He concludes by reflecting on the daunting challenges and exciting […]. . .
Dr. Robert Vinson (History, College of William and Mary) on the spread of Garveyism in South Africa and its political and cultural impact. Vinson explains how black men and women in the 1920s and 30s appropriated Garvey’s ideas of racial pride, pan-Africanism, and modernity to sustain themselves and to propel South Africa’s struggle for freedom.. . .
Prof. Robert A. Hill (History, UCLA) on his life’s work as editor of The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers, a magisterial multi-volume series published by the University of California Press since 1983. Hill discusses the origins of his interest in Garvey and the “Africa for the Africans” movement — the largest organized mass movement in […]. . .
Dr. Ibro Chekaraou, Dr. Waithera Karim-Sesay, Mamarame Seck on challenges and possibilities for African language study in North America. Focus is on pedagogy and language politics in Africa with specific reference to Hausa, Swahili, and Wolof.. . .
Historians Stephanie Beswick (Ball State U.) and Jay Spaulding (Kean U.) on ethnicity, slavery, and trade in Sudan. Focus is on pre-colonial times, with an emphasis on how power relationships and economic factors influenced identity formation and political conflict. The interview was conducted at the Sudan Studies Association meeting in East Lansing.. . .
Dr. Robert Hitchcock (chair of Anthropology at MSU) on San people’s struggles in southern Africa’s Kalahari region. Focus is on government-San relations; San communities’ local and international quest for empowerment and human rights; and images of the San in film. Hitchcock concludes with an assessment of the impact of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project on […]. . .
2009 elections in South Africa: Dr. Sean Jacobs and Dr. Hlonipha Mokoena analyze the significance of the ANC victory; Jacob Zuma and Zulu nationalism; the opposition’s weak showing outside the Western Cape; and local and international media coverage. Read Ray Suttner’s paper “Why is this election different from all others?” Watch controversial commercial mentioned by […]. . .
Prof. Abebe Zegeye (Chair of Genocide and Holocaust studies at UNISA) on Africans’ multiple identities and genocide studies in Africa. Is there a need for a different model than that of Holocaust studies to analyze political violence in colonial and post-colonial Africa? Zegeye closes with thoughts on his recent appointment as Director of WISER at […]. . .
Dr. Sheryl McCurdy (University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health) on drugs, gender, and violence in East Africa. McCurdy examines heroin use in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania — its recent history, enabling conditions, and the differences between men and women users. She concludes with observations on the local ‘war on drugs’ and then offers policy […]. . .
Dr. Paul Darby (University of Ulster) on Africa’s place in world soccer. He examines Africa’s political relations with FIFA and the role of CAF, the continental governing body. Darby then discusses his new research on the migration of young African players to Europe through case studies of Ghana’s Liberty Professionals FC and the Right to […]. . .
Dr. Wapu Mulwafu (Univ. of Malawi) on African environmental history. Mulwafu discusses the history of water use and management in Malawi, focusing on political and religious aspects of soil conservation and the importance of indigenous ecological knowledge and practices. He closes with insights on the challenges of “doing history” in Malawi.. . .
Anthropologist Mara Leichtman (MSU) on religion, migration, and politics. Leichtman unveils her new book New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal (co-edited with Mamadou Diouf). She then discusses transnational Shi’a Islam in Dakar among Lebanese migrants and Senegalese converts, and in London at the Al-Khoei Foundation. A fine example of why we cannot properly analyze “globalization” […]. . .
Our first anniversary episode! Historian Martin Klein (Emeritus, U. of Toronto) reflects on African history and historiography and his life’s work on slavery in West Africa. Klein then sheds light on his ongoing research (in cooperation with leading Africanists) on African slaves. He concludes with observations about the state of historical research in Senegal, Mali, […]. . .
Narissa Ramdhani (Ifa Lethu CEO) — South African historian, archivist, and cultural heritage specialist — discusses her studies in exile in the USA and how she coordinated the return of 7 million documents from African National Congress offices in 33 countries to Johannesburg. The collection is now housed at the University of Fort Hare. Ramdhani […]. . .
Historian Luise White (U. of Florida) has published extensively on women’s history, medical history, political and military history, from East Africa to Central and Southern Africa. She reveals the genealogy of her work on renegade white independence and describes the strange history of the African franchise in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. White concludes with her thoughts about where […]. . .
New Media and Southern African Studies in the 21st century: What are the politics and ethics of digital knowledge production? How can podcasts enhance teaching, research, and international networking? Listen to this stimulating discussion held at the recent NEWSA meeting — featuring yours truly, Elizabeth Green Musselman (Southwestern University), and questions from the audience (Download: […]. . .
Mac Maharaj (South African activist and intellectual) explains why the model of South Africa’s transition to democracy cannot be replicated in powersharing agreements in Kenya and Zimbabwe. In the second part of this episode, recorded at the NEWSA meeting in Burlington, VT, Alex Beresford (PhD candidate, University of Edinburgh) tells us about his research on […]. . .
Kiki Edozie (James Madison College at MSU) compares recent corruption scandals in Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya. She argues that democratic crises are closely tied to economic crises. At the end, the implications of these processes for African politics are considered.. . .
Concerned Africa Scholars co-chair Sean Jacobs discusses the goals of this organization, its new blog and web site, and upcoming panels at the ASA meeting in Chicago. The second part of this episode features a conversation about African women’s sport with Martha Saavedra (African Studies, UC-Berkeley) and Anisa Adem (Founder, Future Generation African Girls Association).. . .
Bill Derman (Anthropology, MSU) talks about his recent volume on Conflicts Over Land and Water in Africa (2007). He examines the role of government policies, local farmers, and chiefs in land reform in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Derman then shares his observations of refugee flows, and points to the sensitive position of researchers working in […]. . .
Walter Hawthorne (History, MSU) is an expert on Africa and the Atlantic World in the era of the slave trade. We talk with him (and Joseph Lauer) about the history of rice farmers on the Upper Guinea Coast and the vigorous debate over Judith Carney’s “Black Rice” thesis. Hawthorne closes by describing his forthcoming book […]. . .
Solomon Addis Getahun (Central Michigan University) discusses the history of Ethiopian immigrants and refugees in the USA. He describes the diversity of Ethiopians in the diaspora and their community organizations. For example, to overcome isolation and carve out an autonomous space within US society, in 1984 Ethiopians established the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America. […]. . .
Peter Alegi discusses his book manuscript in process African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game (Ohio University Press :Africa in World History Series). Guest host Solomon Getahun and Peter Limb talk with Alegi about football and anti-colonial nationalism in Nigeria, Algeria, and South Africa; the history of migration of African players to Europe; […]. . .
Rita El-Khayat (University of Chieti, Italy) is an anthropologist, psychiatrist, novelist and poet from Morocco. Guest host is Professor Safoi Babana-Hampton (MSU). El-Khayat describes her work on North African women; the study and practice of psychiatry; and the importance of breaking down barriers through cultural mixing (métissage). The interview took place during the conference “Muslims, […]. . .
Social historian Ibrahima Thioub (Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar) reflects on “history from below,” French colonial prisons, African resistance, and ongoing digitization projects at UCAD. Guest co-host is Ibra Sene, a former student of Thioub’s, who is finishing a dissertation at MSU on “Crime, Punishment, and Colonization: A History of the Prison of Saint-Louis and […]. . .
Historian Robert Edgar (Howard University) discusses his project on African Americans and South Africa, showing how black communities in different parts of the world engage, interact and influence each other. Edgar talks about the history of representations of the Zulu in America, and reflects on how he rescued the Prophetess Nonthetha Nkwenkwe and the African […]. . .
Patrick Bond (Director of the Centre for Civil Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal) talks to us about his new book Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society: Negative Returns on South African Investments (co-edited with Rehana Dada and Graham Erion, 2007). Bond discusses carbon trading’s effects on global warming, critiques free market approaches to climate change, […]. . .
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