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 South African photographs of the apartheid era.
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 women.
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 dynasties/chronologies, comments on the legacy of Des Forges, and discusses changes in the writing of African history.
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 on the identities of enslaved people in the Atlantic World.
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.