Research Africa News: September 29th, 2021

Research Africa News: September 29th, 2021

In Memoriam: distinguished Professor Charles W. Mills, a philosopher who changed the conversation about race in the U.S.
The Graduate Center community is immensely saddened by the passing of Distinguished Professor Charles W. Mills (Philosophy) who died on September 20, 2021, at age 70 after battling cancer. He was an esteemed scholar and treasured colleague and mentor whose loss is deeply felt. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Read the research article here.

No One’s Memory: Blackness at the Limits of Comparative Slavery No One’s Memory: Blackness at the Limits of Comparative Slavery
Parisa Vaziri, Cornell University

“If it is true that historical knowledge demands that its object be isolated and withdrawn from any libidinal investment come from the historian, then it is certain that the only result of this way of ‘putting down’ [rédiger] history would be to ‘put it down’ [réduire].” [1]
In this paper, I reflect upon a series of patterns in Indian Ocean slavery historiography. My claim is that historiography’s inheritance of disciplinary authority about the truth of race is unearned, unthought. In cataloguing the recurring tropes of comparison between Indian Ocean slavery and its putative foil, Atlantic slavery, I argue that repeating comparisons express a stewing tension between Indian Ocean and Atlantic slavery historiography.
Read the research article here.

‘The Last Nomad’: Somali refugee, soccer mom, and everything in between
Ryan Lenora Brown Staff writer, August 30, 2021

The Malian writer Amadou Hampâté Bâ famously wrote that “in Africa, when an old man dies, a library burns down.” Shugri Said Salh found herself haunted by those words. She had grown up in a nomadic community in Somalia, but she was raising her three children in California on an all-American diet of soccer practices, piano lessons, and playdates. She loved the life she had given them, but she also didn’t want them to lose track of where they had come from.

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Universities Say They Want More Diverse Faculties. So Why Is Academia Still So White?
By J. Nathan Matias, Neil Lewis Jr. and Elan Hope Graphics by Jasmine Mithani Filed under Higher Education Published Sep. 7, 2021

When she was hired as a professor by Harvard University in 2013, Lorgia García Peña was the only Black Latina on a tenure track in the university’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. But in 2019, she was denied tenure even though her department chair and two deans had told her that she should apply for early tenure. Her tenure committee also unanimously recommended she be promoted, and another committee above that endorsed its recommendation.
Read the rest of the article here.

Why are coups making a comeback in Africa?
Analysis by Remi Adekoya, for CNN Updated 3:47 AM ET, Mon September 13, 2021

In just over a year, Africa has experienced three successful coups (two in Mali and one more recently in Guinea), one unsuccessful coup attempt in Niger, and an arbitrary military transfer of power in Chad following the assassination of its president. These power grabs threaten a reversal of the democratization process Africa has undergone in the past two decades and a return to the era of coups as the norm.
Read the article here.

Helmi Sharawy’s Critique of Racial and Colonial Paradigms in Egyptian African Studies
Zeyad el Nabolsy, Cornell University
This paper seeks to understand how conceptions of essential differences between “Egypt” and North Africa more broadly on the one hand, and “Sub-Saharan Africa” on the other hand have informed African studies in Egypt. It is commonly claimed that most Egyptians do not think of themselves as Africans; in this paper I aim to explore how this popular self-understanding has both informed African studies in Egypt and has been affected by academic discourses.
Read the research article here.

After Kabul, is Mogadishu next?
Makau Mutua, September 25, 2021

I’ve been mercilessly pilloried in the past when I’ve suggested the Somali state is nonsense on stilts that should be unwound, or dismembered. I understand the patriotic jingoism and the pain my Somali brethren must feel when I utter this bitter truth. I would see red too, and curse the speaker. But facts are stubborn things. Undeniable
Read the research article here.

NEW BOOKS ‫كتب جديدة

Babingo: the Noble Rebel
[بابينجو: المتمرد النبيل]
Author: Moussibahou Mazou

In Pointe-Noire of the 1950’s lived Paul Makouta, a “civilized” and westernized native who was very proud of communicating exclusively in French with Madeleine Mamatouka, his wife, Alex his only son, and the other children of his household. Under no circumstance did Makouta allow the members of his family speak the language of Metropolitan France with the slightest trace of a Bantu accent. Again, anyone who dared speak Kituba, an indigenous language, with the family’s domestic staff was liable to severe reprimand. Clearly, the father’s intransigence was at odds with the communicative practices in the neighborhood and of children commuting daily to school. Little did Alex Babingo realize that his initial acceptance of the irrationality of the father’s prohibition in colonized Congo was only the start of a trajectory which, from the other side of the world, would impel his return to the very roots of his culture and ancestral traditions in the now independent Republic of Congo or Congo-Brazzaville.
Publisher: Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana, 2021.

Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad
[أبناؤكم تحت خدمتكم: نداء الجهاديين في تونس]
Author: Danny Adeno Abebe

Tunisia became one of the largest sources of foreign fighters for the Islamic State—even though the country stands out as a democratic bright spot of the Arab uprisings and despite the fact that it had very little history of terrorist violence within its borders prior to 2011. This book highlights the longer-term causes that affected jihadi recruitment in Tunisia, including the prior history of Tunisians joining jihadi organizations and playing key roles in far-flung parts of the world over the past four decades. He contends that the jihadi group Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia was able to take advantage of the universal prisoner amnesty, increased openness, and the lack of governmental policy toward it after the revolution. In turn, this provided space for greater recruitment and subsequent mobilization to fight abroad once the Tunisian government cracked down on the group in 2013. Zelin marshals cutting-edge empirical findings, extensive primary source research, and on-the-ground fieldwork, including a variety of documents in Arabic going as far back as the 1980s and interviews with Ansar al-Sharia members and Tunisian fighters returning from Syria.
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 2020.

Travel and the Pan African Imagination
[الترحال وصناعة الخيال الأفريقي]
Author: Tracy Keith Flemming

Travel and the Pan African Imagination explores the African Atlantic world as a productive theater or space where modernity, racialized dominance, and racialized resistance took form. The book stresses the importance of placing three Atlantic figures—the Charleston, South Carolina-based armed resistance leader Denmark Vesey; the West African emigration advocate, Edward Wilmot Blyden; and the Christian missionary and teacher in Liberia as well as the United States, Alexander Crummell—within an Atlantic context and as African world community figures between the late-eighteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The book also examines the religious origins of Black Power ideology and modern Pan Africanism as products of the intense dialogue within the African world community about concepts of modernity, progress, and civilization.
Publisher: Lexington Books, 2021.

Islamic Scholarship in Africa: New Directions and Global Contexts
[المعارف الإسلامية في إفريقيا: أفق جديدة جديدة ومحاورعالمية]
Author: Ousmane Oumar Kane (editor)

In 1937, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, travelling to Mecca to make his first hajj, encountered Egyptian scholars who couldn’t fathom that Niasse’s erudition was a product of his fully Senegalese education. This book presents a state-of-the-art volume that seeks to pulverize that blind spot. Authors underscore the contributions of Black Muslim scholars to Islamic knowledge, the global connections that have long tied sub-Saharan Africa to the global Islamic world, the ways that orality and textuality interact with each other historically and up through to the social media age, in addition to exploring debates around education, spirituality, and Ajami. In the interview, we discuss Kane’s scholarly journey and the greater intellectual project of bridging the knowledge divide separating “Europhone” and “non-Europhone” scholars in the study of Islam in Africa.
Publisher: James Currey, 2021, 2021.

From Africa To Zion: The Shepherd Boy Who Became Israel’s First Ethiopian-born Journalist
[من إفريقيا إلى بني صهيون: الراعي الصغير الذي أصبح أول صحفي إسرائيلي مولود في إثيوبيا ]
Author: Danny Adeno Abebe

In 1984, in an unprecedented act of brotherhood, Israel airlifted thousands of persecuted and starving Ethiopian Jews from Africa to Israel. They had been waiting in Ethiopia for millennia, sustained by the hope to return home to the Holy Land. Among the refugees was an 8-year-old boy, Danny Adeno Abebe. Now an Israeli journalist, Abebe tells the story of his family and his village, and the journey they traveled from Ethiopia through Sudan to Israel, and the even longer distance from a rural village life without indoor plumbing, electricity, or books, to a modern society. Many who left the villages did not survive the hardships of the journey, and many of those who did reach the Promised Land were emotionally wounded in the process. In his new country, Adeno Abebe encountered rejection as well as embrace. He experienced both astonishing support and appalling prejudice. As he matured, he recognized that both attitudes exist among his former countrymen in Africa, as well.
Publisher: Miskal Publishing – Yedioth Books, 2021.

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