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 […]