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 on African borderlands and its contributions to global Border Theory.
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.”
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’ thoughts on Jacob Zuma’s demise and Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency.
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.
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 endangered materials, and changing media technology. With guest host Dr. Candace Keller. Listen to Episode 37 for more about her research on Mali’s “Visual Griots.”
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 interviews. Follow her on Twitter at @KerenWeitzberg.
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 in collaboration with the U.S. African Studies Association.
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 African studies, ALUKA digital collections, and the future of the African Studies Association.
Note: Part of a podcast series in collaboration with the U.S. African Studies Association.