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
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 by noting the effervescence of Zambian studies today. (Note: the interview was recorded via Skype.)
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.