Looking ahead with the African Studies Program

African Studies Program staff and Mandela Washington Fellows are all smiles on Lake Mendota. (Photo by Meagan Doll)

A peek outside the windows of the African Studies Program office reveals students hurrying to discussion, backpacks bursting with textbooks, and leaves slowly changing: a new school year in Madison is upon us. The African Studies Program looks ahead to a year of dynamic programming in 2017-2018.

Inaugural Africa at Noon highlights new programs and research initiatives

To kick off the semester, the African Studies Program welcomed speakers from all corners of our African Studies community to share their summer accomplishments at the inaugural Africa at Noon.

PhD student Upenyu Majee reflected on his experience as the 2017 YALI Program Coordinator. The summer leadership institute was a success, giving fellows from 22 African countries the rare opportunity to network with each other and the greater Madison community. Upenyu’s reflections offered critical insights on the importance of bringing African voices to the table when developing YALI programming.

African Studies Program Faculty Director Neil Kodesh discussed his research project, “Mapping Hot Spots ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Uganda,” and shared images from his most recent research trip to Uganda. In May 2017, Kodesh and his collaborators, Josh Garoon and Tony Goldberg, led a group of UW graduate students to the Makerere University Biological Field Station in Kibale National Forest.

Undergraduate student Ellie Anderson discussed her internship at a coffee production company in Uganda alongside Carly Stingl of the International Internship Program. Ellie was the first student to complete this new internship, which developed after Stingl met 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow Rashida Nakabuga during the 2016 YALI leadership institute.

Nancy Kendall and Zikani Kaunda celebrated 20 years of collaborative endeavors and announced the launch of  a new multi-country initiative to study human and planetary well-being in the face of global change. The scholars also discussed plans to support and engage grandmothers as part of their work to examine the multigenerational impact of AIDS in Malawi.

Henry Drewal spoke on an upcoming exhibit on Yoruba masquerades, and even gave audience members a chance to dance away the stress of the first week of classes. He previewed this spring’s symposium, “Honoring Ancestors in Africa: Art & Acts.”

Aili Tripp wrapped up the event by describing her whirlwind sabbatical, where she visited several African countries and prepared for her forthcoming book, The Fight for Women’s Rights: Comparing the Middle East and North Africa. She also shared updates on her ongoing Women and Peacebuilding in Africa project.

Upcoming Africa at Noon speakers

The Africa at Noon lineup for the rest of the year promises even more exciting scholarship and reflection. This week, Robert Baum of Dartmouth College will examine the history of a Diola tradition of prophetic revelation in Senegambia. Later in the semester, the African Studies Program will be joined by Jacqueline-Bethel Tchouta Mougoué, who will discuss boxing, gender, and the fight for cultural heritage in Anglophone Cameroon, and Lina Benabdallah, who will discuss China-Africa relations. Join us for weekly Africa at Noon lectures on Wednesdays in 205 Ingraham Hall.

Special Events

September 28– A live recording of the Sinica Podcast
Kaiser Kuo and Jeremy Goldkorn of the Sinica Podcast will join Lina Benabdallah for a live recording. The trio will discuss China and Africa in a “post-fact world.”

October 4-6—Fred Cooper lecture series
UW-Madison will welcome Frederick Cooper of New York University as the 39th Merli Curti Lecturer. Dr. Cooper will give three lectures on empires and citizenship, focusing on decolonization and social and political rights in Africa.

October 20– Networking reception for undergraduates
Students interested in pursuing Africa-related careers should keep an eye out for an alumni career event on October 20. The African Studies Program and the International Division will welcome alumni with careers ranging from journalism to business to foreign policy to share how their studies of Africa at UW-Madison furthered their careers.

April 6-8 — Annual Symposium: Honoring Ancestors in Africa: Art & Acts
To wrap up the year, Henry Drewal,  Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Departments of Art History and Afro-American Studies, and his students have developed an exhibit on Yoruba masquerades (called “Whirling Return of the Ancestors: Egungun Masquerades among the Yoruba in Africa and Beyond”) at the Design Gallery-SOHE. This closing symposium will feature a performance by the Oyotunji African Village, the first intentional community based on the culture of the Yoruba and Dahomey tribes of West Africa. Stay tuned for early registration.