Africa Past & Present

An Education, Society and Culture podcast
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Episodes of Africa Past & Present

Historian Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins Univ.) digs into her award-winning new book, Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World. The conversation brings out how Black women in Senegambia, the Caribbean, and Lo
Dr. Gerard Akindes discusses his experience playing and coaching basketball in West Africa and Europe, and the new Basketball Africa League. He considers the role of “electronic colonialism” in the sport media landscape and then reflects on his
Dr. Chambi Chachage (Princeton) discusses his intellectual journey from Dar es Salaam to Cape Town, Edinburgh, and Cambridge, Mass., his book manuscript on the history of Black entrepreneurs in Dar, and the changing role of digital humanities i
Cherif Keita (French and Francophone Studies, Carleton College) reflects on his life as a scholar from Mali and on his documentary films about John Langalibalele Dube and Nokutela Dube, founding figures of the African National Congress of South
Kim Yi Dionne (Political Science, UC Riverside) on her recent book, Doomed Interventions: The Failure of Global Responses to AIDS in Africa; the controversial May 2019 elections in Malawi, where she served as an observer; and hosting the Ufaham
Elizabeth Schmidt (History, Loyola Maryland) on her activist beginnings and professional trajectory as an historian, first of Shona women in colonial Zimbabwe and later of Guinea’s independence movement. The second part of the interview focuses
Didier Gondola (IUPUI, History and Africana Studies) on his book, Tropical Cowboys: Westerns, Violence, and Masculinity in Kinshasa. He reflects on how Hollywood Westerns shaped a performative young urban masculinity expressed through nicknames
Cal Biruk (Oberlin, Anthropology) on the politics of knowledge production in African fieldwork. We talk about her new book, Cooking Data: Culture and Politics in an African Research World, based on HIV and AIDS research in Malawi. The discussio
Alex Thurston (Miami University) discusses his recent book, Boko Haram: The History of an African Jihadist Movement. Taking local religious ideas and experiences seriously, Thurston sheds light on northeastern Nigeria and the main leaders of Bo
Msia Kibona Clark (African Studies, Howard University) on her new book, Hip-Hop in Africa: Prophets of the City and Dustyfoot Philosophers. Clark describes how her personal passion became academic expertise. She highlights African women emcees
Bonny Ibhawoh (McMaster Univ.) and Christian Williams (U. Free State) on historicizing refugees in Africa. Looking at children evacuated from the Biafran War to Gabon and Ivory Coast, Ibhawoh discusses the politics of “refugee” labeling. Willia
David Coplan (Wits, Emeritus) takes us on a journey from New York to Soweto and into the making of his ethnographic studies of music and popular culture in West and South(ern) Africa. Coplan then turns to his recent book about The Bassline jazz
Jean Allman (Washington U.) on rethinking African humanities. She discusses her research on Ghana, women, and gender, and highlights the transformative potential of collaborative work. Allman reflects on African Studies publishing networks and
Prof. Somadoda Fikeni (UNISA) and Nomzamo Ntombela (Stellenbosch) reflect on continuities and changes in South African social justice activism. Fikeni and Ntombela share their respective personal and political experiences, connecting the motive
Albie Sachs, former judge, freedom fighter, and professor, speaks (and sings!) about his anti-apartheid activism and lifelong commitment to equality and justice. He reflects on the enduring need for “soft vengeance” and draws on his 15-year ter
Prof. Norman Etherington (U. Western Australia) on empire in Africa, missions, and Southern African history. The interview focuses on themes of his distinguished career and influential works, such as The Great Treks, and his latest books Indige
Dr. Alcinda Honwana on the struggles of young Africans, the condition of “waithood”—a state of limbo between childhood and adulthood—and their creative engagements with everyday life. She reflects on the art and ethics of oral interviewing in M
Youssouf Sakaly and Malick Sitou discuss the Archive of Malian Photography, a collaborative Malian-US project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the British Library, that provides free access to preserved and digitized coll
Keren Weitzberg (Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London) on her new book We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya. She grapples with the long history of Somali migration across colonia
Prof. Alois Mlambo (University of Pretoria) discusses Zimbabwe’s deindustrialization and economic decline, its relationship with South Africa, and the role of Pan-Africanism and “patriotic history” in sustaining a new authoritarian nationalism.
Jeremy Prestholdt (U. California, San Diego) on East African commodities, culture, and “transnational imagination,” featuring his forthcoming book, Icons of Dissent (on Che, Marley, Tupac, Bin Laden). He also discusses changing meanings of Indi
John Mugane (Harvard University) on his book, The Story of Swahili, a history of the international language and its speakers. Mugane sheds light on enduring questions: Who is Swahili? What is authentic Swahili? He also discusses the state of pu
Allen Isaacman (University of Minnesota) discusses his recent Herskovits Award-winning book, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007, how the work was researched, its significan
Fallou Ngom (African Languages Director, Boston U.) on his new book Muslims Beyond the Arab World: the Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya. Focusing on Senegambia and Ahmadu Bamba, Ngom discusses Ajami literary texts — African languages in Arabi
Professor Amidu O. Sanni (Lagos State University) on his work for the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project and preservation of West African intellectual heritage. He discusses the importance of Ajami sources (African languages written in Arabic script)
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