Africa: Migration, Culture, Conflict

The Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce a three day event Africa: Migration, Culture & Conflict featuring three keynote scholars:

  • Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University
  • Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town
  • Charles Piot, Duke University.

Wednesday 15 January, 7-9pm

Opening Reception and Photography Exhibition, “Bits of Borno,” with Fati Abubakar Gangaran.

Welcome by Professor Scott MacEachern, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

IB Lobby. Light refreshments provided.

Thursday 16 January, 6:30-8:30pm

Student Discussion Panel with keynote speakers hosted by the Society of Black Global Scholars: What Does It Mean to Be A Migrant?

Water Pavilion. Light refreshments provided.

Friday 17 January, 10am-2:30pm

Keynote Lectures in AB1087

10am: Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town

Introduced by Professor Selina Lai-Henderson

Writing, Timbuktu

The great Malian writer, Amadou Hampaté Bá, is reported to have said that, “In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library that burns.” But what happens when a library really disappears, especially in the world from which this writer has emerged? In recent years this has become an actuality in some places and remains a possibility in various parts of Africa as conflicts entail destruction of lives and things like books. This should take us back to the history of writing and books, in this case in West Africa. How and when did writing spread and libraries get formed? This talk will reflect on the question of writing as a technology and book learning and collecting as cultural forms of expression in the region around Timbuktu in West Africa.

11am: Coffee Break

11:30am: Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University

Introduced by Professor Kaley Clements

Bruised, Not Broken

Since Boko Haram, literally meaning ‘Education is Forbidden,’ a terrorist group, launched  its first attack on a quiet morning in 2009 in Maiduguri, Borno State, North East Nigeria, there has been a media frenzy. From 2009 till date, there have been attacks, suicide bombing, abductions, silent killings. And mainstream media covered everything as ‘Breaking News’. There were no other stories besides the numbers, the blasts. The state is currently being plagued by the images of turmoil and despair with a total neglect of its resilience. Our hometown has been reduced to statistics: 20,000 died, 400,000 malnourished. We have become numbers. There are no faces to the conflict. No survivors. And it is as importance to document death as it is resilience. What is life like for the people left behind? What is like after the breaking news and bombs?

Bits of Borno is a photography project that chronicle the lives of people in the communities around Borno. It is the faces of the people who have survived Boko haram. An everyday life.  It is a story of a resilience people who are thriving in the midst of adversity. The project which has been ongoing for three years has also been documenting the humanitarian crisis in the state.

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Charles Piot, Duke University

Migration Stories: The US Visa Lottery and Global Citizenship

Introduced by Professor Jesse Olsavsky

More Togolese per capita apply for the US Diversity (Green Card) lottery than those from any other African country, with winners attempting to game the system by adding “spouses” and dependents to their dossiers.  The US consulate in Lomé knows this gaming is going on and constructs ever-more elaborate tests to attempt to decipher the authenticity of winners’ marriages and job profiles – and of their moral worth as citizens – tests that immediately circulate to those on the street. This presentation explores the cat-and-mouse game between street and embassy, situating it within the post-Cold War conjuncture – of ongoing crisis, of an eviscerated though-still-dictatorial state, of social death and the emptiness of citizenship under such conditions, of a sprawling transnational diaspora and the desires and longings it creates, of informationalism and its new technologies, of surveillance regimes and their travails, and of the way in which mobility/immobility and sovereignty are newly entangled and co-constitutive in the contemporary moment.

Keynote Speakers

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran is a documentary photographer, photojournalist, public health humanitarian health worker from Nigeria was born and raised in Maiduguri, Borno State. She has a Bachelors degree in Nursing and a Masters degree in Public health and Health Promotion. She specializes in documenting cities, towns highlighting both the positives and negatives of each location. She focuses on health perspectives, using photography as a medium to highlight the problems at community level. She also has an interest in documenting cultures, conflict, urban poverty, rural development and humanitarian issues. She has a special interest in counter narratives for underrepresented communities. In 2015, she embarked on a personal project to showcase her hometown of Borno State, Nigeria at the time of Bokoharam. A project which has been titled ‘Bits of Borno’ on social media  has gained critical acclaim and has been published in media outlets including The New York Times, BBC, Reuters, CNN, Voice of America, Newsweek Europe, Africa is a Country blog, Nigerian newspapers such as ThisDay and the Blueprint. She has been commissioned to work with UNICEF, International Alert, Action Aid and more.

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie received his PhD from Princeton University and is currently is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has worked on aspects of the social history of Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, and 19th-century Sudan. Shamil founded The Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in which he explored the formation of a culture of collecting in Timbuktu. He also led a National Research Foundation study group on history and the humanities in South Africa today. He has been the chairperson of the South-South Exchange Programme in the History of Development (Sephis), and is now the Director of HUMA, Institute for Humanities in Africa. Shamil serves on various platforms concerned with the development of the humanities, history and heritage in Africa and the global South.

Charles Piot

Charles Piot

Charles Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where he has a joint appointment in African and African American Studies.  His area of specialization is the political economy and cultural history of rural West Africa.  His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) attempted to re-theorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and global.  His second book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War(2010), explored shifts in Togolese political culture and sovereignty during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over the bio-political, organizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His recently-published book, The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles, is about Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa lottery.

*Header photo, Eid, (c) Fati Abubakar

 

 

Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena

By Yinan DU

During the second weekend of the fall semester, DKU welcomed its first drawing workshop and it turned out to be a huge leap towards the growth of Arts and Humanities o n our campus. The Spanish visual artist Edén Barrena is invited to instruct this three-days’ drawing workshop. She is fully experienced in interpreting the world around us and able to transmit the message she perceived to the audiences through various media forms. This drawing workshop aimes to help students do their research profile by integrating the creative practice. Through working with Edén , students were given abundant chances to explore arts and themselves and they start to develope a new spectrum for communication: talking through arts. Continue reading “Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena”

Poster Drawing Workshop with Edén Barrena

September 6-8, 2019 in DKU Water Pavilion

Edén Barrena is a Spanish visual artist based in Shanghai who has exhibited her work internationally. Join her in a drawing workshop aimed at integrating creative practice to your research profile. The workshop will include tips on accessing the archive, interpreting your research into a visual medium, and critique from an experienced artist.

Register online. Continue reading “Poster Drawing Workshop with Edén Barrena”

Humanities Career Forum Presents Andrew Sohn

The Humanities Research Center will host a Humanities Career Forum on Friday 20 September from 12-1pm in the Water Pavilion the campus of Duke Kunshan University. The guest of honor will be Mr. Andrew Sohn, who majored in English at Columbia University before embarking on a career in investment banking, and then founding his own company, Due West Education. Continue reading “Humanities Career Forum Presents Andrew Sohn”

The Memory Project at Duke Kunshan University

By Anisha Joshi, DKU’22

The word ‘memory’ can refer to many different things. It can mean an individual’s remembrance of a past experience, or the collective recollection of an event that impacts a larger group of people. With the Memory Project, documentarian Wu Wenguang explores both these avenues by documenting and protecting the memories of people who lived through the cultural revolution and who live in China with the legacy of this past. Support from the Duke Kunshan University Humanities Research Center, enabled Wu Wenguang to bring the project to the campus during the Water Town Film Festival with two of his team members, Hu Sanshou and Zhang Mengqi from Beijing. Continue reading “The Memory Project at Duke Kunshan University”

Workshop Report: Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1940–1949

By Alberto Najarro and Zach Fredman

Duke Kunshan University welcomed historians from around the globe to our campus from July 12 to 13 for conference entitled “Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1940–1949.” Sponsored by the Humanities Research Center, this conference explored the wide-ranging encounters between Chinese and Americans in China during this crucial decade. Zach Fredman, assistant professor of history at DKU, co-organized the event with Judd Kinzley, associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Continue reading “Workshop Report: Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1940–1949”

Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1940–1949

The largest sustained engagement between Americans and Chinese that ever occurred in China took place during the 1940s. During this period, individual American and Chinese soldiers, scientists, nurses, and truck drivers, among many others, came together to collaborate in the fight against Japan. These interactions had a resonating impact: shaping popular perceptions of China and the United States, impacting the development of new and powerful institutions, and creating new markets and demands that would transform both countries and indeed much of East Asia. Yet, we know surprisingly little about these important grassroots interactions between Americans and Chinese. This conference, Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, is an attempt to shine a direct light on the interactions between Americans and Chinese at all levels of the socio-economic spectrum in the 1940s. Focusing on grassroots perspectives rather than elite politics enables us to explore a wide range of Sino-American encounters during this period, from interaction between ordinary American servicemen and Chinese civilians to the trans-Pacific material exchange of American industrial goods for Chinese raw materials. Other themes include transnational disease control, intelligence and scientific collaboration, educational exchange, and the subjective experience of war. In addition to discussing current research, we plan to outline a framework for further study on the 1940s. Continue reading “Uneasy Allies: Sino-American Relations at the Grassroots, 1940–1949”

Urban Villages in China

Over the last three decades, China’s rapid urbanization has been facilitated by the unprecedented mobility of rural migrant populations. Today it is estimated that some 240 million migrants have left the countryside to work in China’s cities, though the number is surely much higher. While there are heated debates about how to characterize what some have dubbed “largest human migration in history,” there is general agreement that this mobility has resulted from the increased demand for formal and informal labor in industry, for urban fringe agriculture, and for a range of services (everything from recycling and trash collection, to domestic work for the middle class to road and building construction, hotel work, food delivery services, entertainment and beauty services, sex work, and much more). As scholars on migration have emphasized, this mass human migration has unveiled the fluidity and dynamism of the rural and urban divide, even while the hukou 户口 or “household registration system,” created in the late 1950s, has remained the dominant mode to categorize and count rural and urban populations. Less understood is how rural migration to different kinds of urban spaces has created ambiguous interstitial spaces and networks through which new forms of labor and production of surplus value are emerging. These uneven urban spaces are inextricably linked to transformations in regimes of production and land use, as well as to changes in the organization of kinship and other social relations. Continue reading “Urban Villages in China”

Art in Global China, February 23-24, 2019

by Xuenan Cao

Art in Global China was in the 1990s the site of intense contestation between market and art. This site continues in the present as both a public and private discourse space for gatherings of art historians, curators, artists, researchers and students, and others who are similarly invested in the making of the contemporary art scene. During the two-day event, Professor Eva Man, director of Film Academy and Chair Professor at Hong Kong Baptist University and Haoyang Zhao, MFA from Duke University gave academic talks on the institutional, cultural, and technical components that inscribe what make sense to us as art. The event also provided an opportunity for speakers and guests to review students’ photography and film works and nurture interests in these two prominent media of art-making. Continue reading “Art in Global China, February 23-24, 2019”