Welcome to the Summer 2016 edition of ASA News!

Welcome to the Summer 2016 edition of ASA News! In this issue you will find letters from the ASA President and Executive Director, member announcements, and information about new ASA initiatives and developments. We hope you enjoy this issue, and please feel free to share your feedback about this issue with us by emailing the ASA at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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From the President

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to this edition of ASA News! We apologize for the inconsistent publication of the newsletter over the past year or so, but look forward to a regular publication schedule now that the Secretariat is once again fully staffed.

I have now had the privilege of serving as President of the ASA for six months, and what an active, exciting, and rewarding time it has been. The strength of our association depends on the tireless service of our members, who chair or serve on numerous committees (including the ASA Board of Directors), edit our premier journals, African Studies Review and History in Africa, run teachers’ workshops, lead our coordinate organizations, and more. As Vice President and now President, I have had the honor to meet with many of you in San Diego, Chicago, Washington DC, New York and lovely New Brunswick. I admire your dedication to the ASA and to strengthening African studies in the US and globally.  Thank you for all that you do.  And for those of you interested in becoming more involved with ASA – karibu sana!

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From the Desk of the Executive Director

Dear ASA Community,

As I write to you from the gardens of the Novotel Hotel in Dakar, Senegal I am reminded of what an extraordinary time it is for the ASA. The ASA’s new program manager Renee DeLancey, Ushma Suvarnakar from the American Anthropological Association, and I are onsite to put the finishing touches on the “Innovations, Transformations, and Sustainable Futures in Africa” conference which kicks off this week.

After a whirlwind month which included a very productive ASA Spring Board meeting, the ASR Editor’s Retreat, and the American Council of Learned Societies Annual Meeting, it is incredible to find myself in Dakar, awaiting the start of this week’s conference.

Since my first contact with the ASA almost a decade ago, there have been two recurring themes that have dominated the Association’s strategic conversations: the importance of engaging scholars based in African Institutions and the critical need to host an event on the continent to further this engagement. This week’s conference will mark the first time in the 59 year history of the ASA that the Association hosts an event in Africa.

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Announcing the 2016 Board of Directors Election Results


The African Studies Association is pleased to announce the results of the 2016 Board of Directors election, and thanks all of those who cast their ballot – over 50% of our members voted in this year’s election. The newly elected officers will join the Board in November 2016.


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“Innovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa” Conference Highlights

The African Studies Association (ASA), American Anthropological Association (AAA), Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), and the West African Research Center  (WARC) are happy to launch the inaugural joint conference of the ASA and AAA, entitled, “Innovation, transformation and sustainable futures in Africa” (www.dakar2016.org). The conference was held in Dakar, Senegal on June 1-3, 2016 and hosted by local partners WARC and CODESRIA.

This joint conference in Africa presented an interdisciplinary occasion to focus research attention on transformations as they relate to Africa’s future. The ASA knows that many of our members often have to choose between attending the AAA and ASA conference each year, and is excited we were able to partner with AAA on this initiative.

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New Additions to the ASA Secretariat

The African Studies Association is excited to announce that the Secretariat is now fully staffed! We have welcomed two new staff members to the ASA in 2016. The completion of the Secretariat staffing will allow the ASA to continue our programming activities such as the Annual Meeting, as well as expand to new initiatives, such as our Dakar 2016 conference in partnership with the American Anthropological Association, the West African Research Center, and CODESRIA, and the new ASA advocacy agenda.

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ISITA Honors John O. Hunwick with Symposium on Textual Cultures in Islamic Africa

The African Studies Association will showcase the events and activities of one of our coordinate organizations in each issue of ASA News. The Summer 2016 edition features an update from the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa. The ASA thanks Rebecca Shereikis for sharing ISITA's update with the association.

From April 21-22, over twenty scholars from Africa, Europe, and North America converged at Northwestern University to take part in an interdisciplinary symposium coorganized by ASA coordinate organization the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), Northwestern’s Program of African Studies, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center for African Studies, and the American Islamic College, Chicago.  Titled “Sacred Word: The Changing Meanings in Textual Cultures of Islamic Africa” the symposium was dedicated to the memory of ISITA cofounder and Northwestern history and religion professor emeritus John O. Hunwick (1938-2015).  Among Hunwick’s many honors and achievements are the ASA’s Best Text Prize in 2001 for Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire (Brill, 1999) and the Distinguished Africanist Award in 2005. 

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Summer 2016 ASA Member News and Announcements

The African Studies Association is pleased to showcase the achievements of our members in each edition of ASA News. If you have an announcement, publication, or other accomplishment you’d like highlighted in the next issue of ASA News, please let the ASA know by filling out this online form. Watch our LinkedIn page for professional achievements and member announcements in between editions of ASA News. You can also share your news and accomplishments with the ASA year-round by tweeting us @ASANewsOnline.

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2016 ASA Presidential Fellows

The African Studies Association Presidential Fellows program was established in 2010 with the objective of inviting outstanding Africa-based scholars to attend the ASA Annual Meeting and to spend time at African Studies programs/centers in the U.S. Now entering its sixth year, the Presidential Fellows program has expanded to include member nominated fellows, and to explore additional opportunities for collaboration between these fellows and ASA members.

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11th Annual ASA Presidential Lecture at Rutgers University

Every spring the African Studies Association welcomes its Board of Directors to the ASA headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ, for the Spring Board Meeting. During this time, the ASA partners with the Center for African Studies at Rutgers University to host a lecture delivered by the President of the ASA. This year, ASA President and Professor and Graduate Director in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University Dorothy Hodgson delivered the lecture “Gender Justice, Human Rights, and the Problem of Culture.”

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ASA Launches New Member Portal

The African Studies Association launched a new membership portal in February 2016. This portal, hosted directly by the ASA on its main website, will replace the Cambridge membership system. The new portal allows ASA members to process their membership renewals, register for the annual meeting, edit their member profile, and access the member directory.

In building this portal, the ASA worked to incorporate member feedback from the past few years. This new portal allows the ASA to more easily register groups for ASA membership and the Annual Meeting, assist members in updating their profiles, and provides a working member directory. If you have any feedback about the membership portal and the member directory, please share it with the ASA by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , as the ASA is always looking for ways to improve the member experience.

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ASA Advocacy Policy

At their 2015 Fall Board Meeting, the ASA Board of Directors approved the following policy, which will direct the ASA's involvement in advocacy efforts.

The ASA engages in advocacy to raise general awareness about the field of African Studies, to ensure the continued funding and support of African Studies within institutes of Higher Education, and to address ethical, academic freedom, and human rights issues relevant to the field.

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Decisions of the ASA Board of Directors

The ASA Board of Directors met April 29-30, 2016 in New Brunswick, NJ, at the annual Spring Board Meeting. Below please find a listing of some of the accepted Board motions and action items coming from the meeting.

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