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.)
Vicki Huddleston (former U.S. Ambassador to Mali) and anthropologist Bruce Whitehouse (Lehigh Univ.) discuss the ongoing political and military conflict in Mali. Focus is on the complex origins of the Tuareg and Islamist insurgencies in the north, French intervention and U.S. policy, and how to chart the way to peace and stability in a wounded West African nation.
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.
Salah Hassan and Ken Harrow (Michigan State University) on the democratic revolutions in North Africa. Events in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are analyzed from below and above, with focus on the perspectives of youth, creative uses of technology, as well as the connections to, and relevance of, the events to Africa and the wider world.
Franco Barchiesi (Ohio State U) explains the precarious lives of South African workers and unemployed together with the role of politics and the impact of economic crises today. He also analyzes contests over social citizenship in post-apartheid South Africa and discusses the development of his own interest in South African labor matters.