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 of history, not just faceless victims. The interview ends with lessons for refugee crises today.
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. 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.
Professor Amidu O. Sanni (Lagos State University) on his work for the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project and preservation of West African intellectual heritage. He discusses the importance of Ajami sources (African languages written in Arabic script) for historical and cultural analysis and suggests possibilities for future research and training initiatives.
Micere Githae Mugo (Syracuse, Emeritus) and Simon Gikandi (Princeton) discuss the making and aftermath of The Trial of Dedan Kimathi and, on the 40th anniversary of the play, reflect on the play’s historical and political significance in Kenya and beyond; its innovative elements; and researching, writing, and enacting the play with Ngugi wa Thiong’o and with the community.