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From the President

Personally Speaking

Welcome to the fall edition of the ASA News.  

As we prepare to gather in Indianapolis for the 57th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, at least two concerns weigh heavily on our minds.  First, so many members of the senior generation of Africanists have passed away in recent months: Jacob Ade Ajayi, Warren d’Azevedo, Joel Barkan, George Bond, Patrick Chabal, Carl Eicher, Ali Mazrui, Margaret Vogt, Ivor Wilks, and many others.  Our discipline has suffered a tremendous loss.  At the upcoming meetings we shall endeavor to find time, space and the appropriate means to honor our dearly departed, and to reflect on their individual and collective contributions to the African Studies enterprise.  But we shall also seize upon this moment, as an association, to redouble our efforts to bring onboard the next generation of Africanists, and to equip them with better scholarly materials, more rigorous methodologies, more meaningful theoretical frameworks and more carefully nuanced historical insights than were available to previous generations.  Our longstanding Board Sponsored workshop designed to demystify the world of publishing will be joined this year by a robust stream of professional development workshops designed to increase the competency of junior scholars in every phase of their career trajectory.  May I call upon all ASA members to “pay forward,” to honor our debt to our predecessors by contributing to the development of our future.

57th Annual Meeting information and highlights

It’s hard to believe that the 57th Annual Meeting of the ASA is only a month away! We are very excited as this promises to be a great event, and we certainly look forward to seeing you there. The ASA secretariat has put this article together to highlight some of the important things to know about the conference!

From the 2014 Program Committee

Recent events remind us of the central role of violence in shaping the world around us.  The downing of flight 17 in a lawless area of Ukraine (likely by paramilitaries supported by Russia), the war in Gaza, the thousands of Latin American children fleeing vulnerable lives, and in Africa the tyrannies of Boko Haram, call attention to the fact that people across the globe live amidst considerable violence.

Identifying these brutal realities is far easier than understanding them.  Violence very often ruptures the fabric of social life.  Violence is both exceptional and banal.  Its study has generated a plethora of words modifying the original noun:  

Letter from the 2014 Local Arrangements Committee

Dear Members of the African Studies Association:

We are proud to serve as the co-chairs of the Local Arrangements Committee for the upcoming 57th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, to be held in Indianapolis from November 20-23, 2014. Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis and Indiana University-Bloomington are pleased to be serving as the local host institutions this year and are joined by Martin, Marian, and Butler Universities in this effort.  The members of the LAC have been working diligently over the past year to help publicize the conference and the call for papers to scholars and practitioners of Africa in coordination with the ASA Secretariat.  We have sought to expand participation by inviting more faculty and students to attend and be exposed to scholarship on Africa.  We have also invited politicians, diplomats, members of the broader community, and members of the ecumenical community who have provided support to African countries in a variety of ways through the years. Finally, we have been working assiduously to develop a range of activities and events to make your visit to Indianapolis an enjoyable and memorable one. We look forward to extending a warm welcome to each and every one of you in November. 

Our Sponsors

The ASA wold like to acknowledge sponsors of this year's conference. We thank you for supporting the work of the Association, and acknowledge that without your generous and continued support, we would be unable to make the conference and its supporting activities as dynamic and impactful as they have been. Under your generous sponsorship,we have been able to fund new initiatives among which include:

Personally Speaking: ASA President James Pritchett

James Pritchett was born and spent his early years in Hale County Alabama, which he points out, was one of the poorest counties in the United States at that time. Hale County comprised mostly of black rural farming communities…parallel in many ways to parts of Africa, and James early memories consisted of a busy beehive of black folks farming and raising their food (pigs, chickens, goats and guinea fowl).

James did not stay in Hale County for too long, and was eventually taken to Columbus Ohio as a young schoolboy. He still remembers the culture shock of moving from the almost extreme rural environment of Hale, to the stark and industrial urban city that was Columbus. In his twenties, James experienced a profound sense of frustration with being a young black man living in the United States. This frustration was served by the fact that America was fighting in the Vietnam war at the time, and the very nature of the war politicized people, and especially young men who were under pressure to go fight in the war. This opened the world up to James, perhaps sooner than would have been otherwise the case. A second significant influence in James life was Malcolm X, whose speeches mapped out a methodology of learning for him which was based on engaging “blackness” from a world perspective.

Interview with "Confusion Na Wa" Film Producer Kenneth Gyang

The ASA is delighted to announce that the director of the award-winning film Confusion Na Wa, Kenneth Gyang, will attend this year's conference. Confusion Na Wa will be screened during the 2014 conference, at the Madame Walker Theatre in Indianapolis on Friday November 21st, at 6:00PM to 8:00PM.

Set in an anonymous Nigerian city, Confusion Na Wa is a dark comedy about a group of strangers whose fates become intertwined over the course of 24 hours. At the heart of everything is a phone found by two opportunist wasters, Charles and Chichi, who, having read through the contents, decide to blackmail the owner Emeka. Little do they realize that their misdemeanors have set in motion a chain of events that will lead to a shattering end. Confusion Na Wa was winner of the ‘Best Picture’ category at the 2013 African Movie Academy Awards.

Kenneth Gyang is a writer and director that has been working in film and television since 2006 having graduated from the National Film Institute in Jos. Notable early projects included working as a director for the BBC series Wetin Dey and SoundCity’s Finding Aisha. Kenneth has directed two features: the political love story Blood and Henna (2012) and Cinema Kpatakpata’s Confusion Na Wa (2013). 

Photography Exhibit at the Annual Meeting: Families from Burkina Faso by Beryl Goldberg

Exhibit of Photos by Beryl Goldberg, Taken over a 40 year period

My series of photos is of three families in Burkina Faso over several generations. We see the family members in the course of their daily lives supporting each other, working hard, studying, celebrating and enjoying being together.Families such as these provide the basis for construction, reconstruction, reconciliation in the world (the conference theme). 

Spanning more than four decades, the photographs of the three families celebrate a remarkable vision of modern Africa: both positive and upbeat.  Beryl Goldberg first traveled as a photographer to Africa in 1972 and then returned a number of times in the 70’s.  

Ali Mazrui, 1933-2014: A Tribute

By Toyin Falola

The University of Texas at Austin

 Laa ilaaha illal-lahuu 
Muhammadur Rasuulullah

["There is no good example except Allah (SWT)
Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah (SWT)."]

Inna lillaahi maa akhaza, 
wa lillaahi maa a'ataa, 
wa kullun indahu, 
bi ajalim musamman, 
faltasbir waltahtasib

2014 Women's Caucus Lecture

The 2014 ASA Women's Caucus Luncheon and Lecture will be held at the 57th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Indianapolis, on Saturday November 22nd 2014 at 12:00PM to 1:15PM. This year's speaker is Professor Micere Githae Mũgo who will lecture on the topic Women Embracing Creativity and Utu as Tools to Combat Violence and Find Healing. 

Professor Jacob Festus Ade Ajayi (1929 - 2014): A Eulogy with a Dirge

 By Toyin Falola

Our Foundation, Our Mainframe, and Our Roof

Ẹ jẹ́ á sògbérè
Lójú oórì ẹnì ó kú;
K’á lè rẹ́ni tí ó sògbérè lẹ́hìn tàwa
Níjọ́ a bá lọ

It is honorable to render a dirge
At the grave site
Of the one who has gone to be with the ancestors;
So that those we leave behind 
May perform a similar dirge for us
When we join our ancestors later

It was with much sorrow that we learned on Sunday morning (August 10, 2014) of the passing, the night before of Professor Jacob Ade Ajayi. He was an eminent historian, a public intellectual, a celebrated educator, a famous administrator, and a devout Christian. Patient and attentive, he listened to the voices of various generations of Nigerians and also represented them full well in a legion of writings and speeches. He listened when many people were deaf, and he looked while many were blind.  His death marks the end of an era laced in an epoch of the first generation of African historians who carved niches for themselves. Indeed, Mother Africa has lost one of her best sons; while historians have lost a leader; and the Christian community a confidante.

In Memory: Ivor Wilks (1928 - 2014)

The African Studies Association mourns the loss of long-time member, Professor Ivor Wilks.

Emeritus Professor Ivor Wilks first joined the Department of History at Northwestern University in the fall of 1967, but resigned a year later to take up a position in Church College, Cambridge. Within a short time, he realized that Northwestern offered a better opportunity for serious research in African history and decided to accept an offer to return in January 1971 and remained until his retirement in 1993. During that time he was adviser to twenty-eight students who completed PhDs in African history and served on the dissertation committees of another thirty-five in non-African fields. In 1984, Wilks was appointed Melville J. Herskovits Professor of African Studies.

African Humanities Program (AHP) 2014 - 2015 Fellows Announced

The American Council of Learned Societies is pleased to announce 38 fellowship awards to African scholars in the sixth year of the African Humanities Program (AHP), a multi-year initiative of annual, international competitions funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The program is open to humanities scholars in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

2014 African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellows

2014 African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellows

The humanities lay the foundations for understanding and furthering every society’s economic and social development. The AHP is committed to advancing the humanities as a core component of higher education in Africa. To revitalize humanistic study, AHP offers fellowships for the completion of PhD dissertations and postdoctoral projects by early career scholars. Stipends provide a year free from teaching for full-time dissertation writing or postdoctoral research and writing as well as the option of a two-month residency at one of six internationally renowned research centers in Africa. Applications are evaluated by an international committee of senior scholars from African universities in a rigorous process of peer review.

In addition to fellowships, the AHP organizes two annual Manuscript Development Workshops for AHP Fellows who have completed book manuscripts.

The African Humanities Series, a collaboration between the AHP and University of South Africa Press, publishes selected manuscripts written by AHP Fellows.

Application materials for the 2014-15 competition will be available in early September. See the competition announcement for details. This year’s deadline is November 1, 2014.

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