Historian Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins Univ.) digs into her award-winning new book, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. The conversation brings out how Black women in Senegambia, the Caribbean, and Louisiana devised ways to gain control over parts of their lives and defined freedom for themselves in the age of slavery and the slave trade. The interview closes with Dr. Johnson’s thoughts on LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure, which she directs, and on the critical role of ethical collaborative scholarship in academic endeavors.
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.”
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.
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 South Africa and internationally.
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.
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).
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.
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 ASA Presidential Lecture.
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 UK, and oral histories of former members of the Rhodesian forces and the British South Africa Police.
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 recommendations.