Our first anniversary episode! Historian Martin Klein (Emeritus, U. of Toronto) reflects on African history and historiography and his life’s work on slavery in West Africa. Klein then sheds light on his ongoing research (in cooperation with leading Africanists) on African slaves. He concludes with observations about the state of historical research in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea.
Social historian Ibrahima Thioub (Université Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar) reflects on “history from below,” French colonial prisons, African resistance, and ongoing digitization projects at UCAD. Guest co-host is Ibra Sene, a former student of Thioub’s, who is finishing a dissertation at MSUon “Crime, Punishment, and Colonization: A History of the Prison of Saint-Louis and the Development of the Penitentiary System in Senegal, ca.1860-ca.1940.”
The inaugural episode of Africa Past and Present introduces the podcast and features an interview with University of Pennsylvania Professor Cheikh Anta Babou (MSU PhD 2002).“Africa matters,” says co-host Peter Alegi in the first segment. “It matters to America since about one in seven Americans trace their origins to the African continent. Africa also has global implications: economic, political, and cultural ones. Finally, Africa deserves to be studied and debated in its own right, like any other continent.” For co-host Peter Limb, “Podcasting is an exciting and vibrant forum, especially for communication. It opens up a new horizon for interaction not just in this country, but also with scholars, activists, and others in Africa itself.”
In the second segment, MSU University Distinguished Professor David Robinson joined Alegi for an interview with Cheikh Babou, the Senegalese historian and author of a new book entitled Fighting the Greater Jihad: Amadu Bamba and the Founding of the Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853-1913(Ohio University Press, 2007). Professor Babou hopes his book will encourage readers to “understand that Islam is diverse; not to see Islam as an essence, not to confuse it with Arab culture or Middle Eastern Culture.” Robinson stresses the importance of learning about religious diversity in a post-9/11 world and to appreciate that “what some people say is Islam is really a distortion of that main tradition.”