Welcome Back from African Studies

Welcome back to campus, everyone! We hope you all had a great summer.

Here in African Studies, we spent our summer hosting the 2019 cohort of Mandela Washington Fellows. We enjoyed getting to know this year’s Fellows and learning alongside them as they shared their perspectives with local communities in and around Madison.

Now that the Fellows have safely returned to their home countries, we’re getting ready for another great academic year. To kick things off, consider joining us on Wednesday, Sept 4th for our welcome luncheon. We’ll welcome the newest members of our community. Come and meet the 2019-20 African Studies staff, the African Studies Librarian, the faculty hosts of our upcoming fall and spring conferences, and the president of the African Cultural Studies Student Association, among others. We hope you can join us for some West African cuisine and the company of your colleagues in African Studies.

Africa at Noon Lineup

Since 1973, Africa at Noon has brought to campus a wide range of scholarship and stories from around the world. This semester will be no different. Speakers from South Africa, Ethiopia, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Liberia, and Cameroon, as well as colleagues from the World Health Organization, the UN, and top academics from around the country will join us this Fall. Historians, artists, lawyers, and public health professionals are all featured in this semester’s seminar series.

This year’s Africa at Noon will open with the second annual Jan Vansina Memorial Lecture on Wednesday, September 11. This year’s speaker, Emery Kalema, will present on “The Mulele ‘Rebellion’ (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Bodily Pain, and the Politics of Death.” Kalema is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Chair in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University in South Africa and a Summer Program in Social Science Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

See the full lineup here and join us for weekly Africa at Noon lectures on Wednesdays in 206 Ingraham Hall. Contact events@africa.wisc.edu for more details.

Fall Conference: Decolonizing African Studies

African Studies faculty director Nancy Kendall will host a two-day conference on November 18-19 which will foster discussion and critical thinking around the field of African Studies in the United States and other Western Countries.

This conference has come out of the recognition that the academic field of African Studies in Western countries has been shaped by, grounded in, and advanced by non-African scholars and interests. It will bring together decoloniality scholars, Africanist academics from across disciplines, and university Area Studies administrators to rethink Africa, African Studies, and Global Relations. Contact events@africa.wisc.edu for more information.

Spring Conference: Decolonization at Sixty: Francophone Africa Since Independence

This event will offer an intellectually rigorous and cross-disciplinary exploration of the process of decolonization in Francophone Africa. The conference theme is inspired by the upcoming sixtieth anniversary of formal independence in much of French-controlled Africa. Our interest, however, is not in explaining or understanding the granting of formal independence as a discrete event of the past. Rather, we are interested in exploring decolonization as an ongoing process through which France and its former possessions have struggled over the course of decades to redefine relationships of complex and lasting interdependence. The course of that struggle reflects acts of agency, both by France and by her African counterparts, but it also reflects the stickiness of past arrangements and the shocks of dramatic global political and economic change. The conference will address this theme from two interrelated angles.

First, we want to explore the current contours of Franco-African interdependence, and how they came to be, especially in relation to where France and her newly sovereign partners started sixty years ago. And we want to understand how much or how little progress France and Francophone Africa—including France’s former possessions in the Maghreb—have made in addressing some of the most important socio-economic challenges resulting from or brought to the surface by formal decolonization. The result, we hope, will be a bilan (accounting) in the truest sense—a balance sheet that appraises where decolonization stands, and how it got there, and where it is going, both for France and her former African possessions.

Conference conveners Jason Yackee, Gilles Bousquet, and Aliko Songolo are co-hosting this event with the African Studies Program, the Department of French and Italian, and the Law School. Contact events@africa.wisc.edu for more information.

Continued Outreach

Last year, the African Studies Outreach Program reached over 9,000 citizens throughout the state with its programming, and we hope to reach even more this year.

Our subscription service for “Discovery Boxes,” collections of material culture from different countries and cultures across Africa, is up and running. Our Outreach Scholars will continue to connect with local schools, presenting to high school and middle school students on a wide variety of African cultural and historical topics. Do you have an idea for a Discovery Box? Or perhaps you’d like to volunteer to share a story of the continent with K-12 students in our area? Please contact outreach@africa.wisc.edu with your ideas and suggestions.

The African Studies Program invites you to join us for these incredible events and opportunities throughout the fall. We are sure this will be a semester full of great scholarship, connections, and discussions!