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.
Bill Derman (Anthropology, MSU) talks about his recent volume on Conflicts Over Land and Water in Africa (2007). He examines the role of government policies, local farmers, and chiefs in land reform in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Derman then shares his observations of refugee flows, and points to the sensitive position of researchers working in the changing political context of southern Africa.