2017 African Critical Inquiry Workshop: Secret Affinities

The African Critical Inquiry Programme (ACIP) is pleased to announce that the 2017 ACIP workshop will be Secret Affinities: A workshop in critical reading and an interrogation of the city in Africa via Walter Benjamin’s “Passagen-Werk.” The project was proposed and will be organized by colleagues at the University of the Witwatersrand, Noëleen Murray (Director, Wits City Institute and Andrew W. Mellon Research Chair in Critical Architecture and Urbanism) and Brett Pyper (Head of the Wits School of Arts). Working groups formed in the initial Secret Affinities workshop will develop collaborative projects over the following year, presenting their outcomes in seminars and public forums in 2018. Activities will take place in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Secret Affinities

Das Passagen-Werk, Walter Benjamin’s unfinished refection on modernity and history, is the starting point for a two-day workshop in which sections of Benjamin’s text (known in English as The Arcades Project) will be discussed with the aim of facilitating cross-disciplinary discussion in relation to heritage, architecture and public history practices associated with cities and the African present. As with Benjamin’s positioning in Paris, his ‘capital of the nineteenth Century’, we work from our vantage point in Johannesburg, city of an African (but also hybrid) modernity, arguably the ‘African capital of the twenty-first century.’ We follow Benjamin’s endeavour in Arcades to construct ‘a world of secret affinities’ in which his assemblage of notes, reflections and citations on a host of topics, could begin to inform each other in unpredictable ways.

The very site of the workshop illustrates the layered urban histories, experiences, transformations and architectural imaginations that the workshop will seek to examine through particular sites. It will take place at what is now known as Satyagraha House, built as a residence in 1907 by German-born Lithuanian architect Hermann Kallenbach with a rondavel-inspired design. Mohandas Gandhi lived there with his friend Kallenbach and others for two years. Today the buildings have been renovated as a heritage site, museum about Gandhi’s time in South Africa, and guest house. It is a place steeped in history that we cannot recover outside of imaginary recreation involving rhetorics of display and heritage curation; a place that cannot now be divorced from re-invention or politics, but that nevertheless has been re-invented in austere opulence by a French tourism company working with an historian, curator and heritage architect.

The Secret Affinities workshop will form small discussion and working groups made up of established scholars, artists, architects and postgraduate students. Groups will define projects located at the intersections of architecture, public history, spatial planning, heritage and urban studies to develop through regular meetings during the following year. Their outcomes will be presented in 2018 and could include exhibitions, performances, public lectures or seminars, publications, digital and on-line platforms, or special editions of journals.

Founded in 2012, the African Critical Inquiry Programme (ACIP) is a partnership between the Centre for Humanities Research at University of the Western Cape in Cape Town and the Laney Graduate School of Emory University in Atlanta. Supported by donations to the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Fund, the ACIP fosters thinking and working across public cultural institutions, across disciplines and fields, and across generations. It seeks to advance inquiry and debate about the roles and practice of public culture, public cultural institutions and public scholarship in shaping identities and society in Africa through an annual ACIP workshop and through the Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards, which support African doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences enrolled at South African universities.

Information about applying to organize the 2018 ACIP workshop and for the 2017 Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards will be available in November 2016. The expected deadline for both workshop applications and student applications is 1 May 2017.

For further information, see http://www.gs.emory.edu/about/special/acip.html and https://www.facebook.com/ivan.karp.corinne.kratz.fund.

African Critical Inquiry Programme Announces 2016 Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards

The African Critical Inquiry Programme has named Candice Jansen, Nothemba Kate Luckett, and Ajumeze Henry Obi as recipients of the 2016 Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards. Jansen and Luckett are both South African students at the University of the Witwatersrand. Jansen is pursuing her PhD in History of Art, while Luckett is studying Sociology. Obi is a Nigerian scholar doing his degree in African Studies and Theatre Studies through the University of Cape Town. Support from ACIP’s Ivan Karp Awards will allow each of them to do significant research for their dissertations. Jansen will work on BINNEGOED: Coloured and South African Photography. Luckett will pursue research on Hope and Utopianism in the Everyday Lives of Metalworkers and their Communities. Obi’s dissertation project will examine The ‘Theatre of the Bloody Metaphor’: The Biopolitics of Violence in the Theatre of the Niger Delta.

Founded in 2012, the African Critical Inquiry Programme (ACIP) is a partnership between the Centre for Humanities Research at University of the Western Cape in Cape Town and the Laney Graduate School of Emory University in Atlanta. Supported by donations to the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Fund, the ACIP fosters thinking and working across public cultural institutions, across disciplines and fields, and across generations. It seeks to advance inquiry and debate about the roles and practice of public culture, public cultural institutions and public scholarship in shaping identities and society in Africa through an annual ACIP Workshop and through the Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards, which support African doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences enrolled at South African universities.

About Candice Jansen’s project: Jansen’s project, BINNEGOED, argues that the conceptual and historical parallels between the medium of photography and the identity of ‘coloured’ can open renewed ways of engaging colouredness and theorising visual histories in South Africa. Naming her project with an Afrikaans word for innards or intestines, Jansen considers the racial identity of coloured through the history of South African photography. She takes up W.J.T. Mitchell’s provocation — ‘what if race was a medium?’ – by using the medium of photography to see into the ways in which word, image and biography mask deeper historical realities of race. What happened to the intellectual project on colouredness and what does any of this have to do with photography? BINNEGOED locates and examines coloured moments in the history of photography to analyse the ways in which race and image intersect over time and to propose alternative ways of thinking coloured identity today. Thus, Jansen will use colonial photographs to locate forgotten identities of the 19th century that eventually became assimilated into coloured categorisation. She will read the history of coloured representation in contemporary photography through a particular focus on coloured prison culture. Finally, she will study colouredness as creative practice through the lives of coloured photographers and coloured life writing. Drawing on interviews as well as archives, collections and libraries in South Africa, Sweden and the United States, Jansen will consider the works and lives of photographers Cedric Nunn, Ernest Cole, George Hallett, David Lurie, Mikhael Subotkzy, Gordon Clark, Luke Daniel, Pieter Hugo, and Araminta da Clermont, as well as unidentified 19th century photographers whose work was archived. In this way her project will help reimagine the entwined histories of race and visuality in South Africa.

About Nothemba Kate Luckett’s project: The National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) resolved to build a political alternative in opposition to the status quo in 2013 in the context of the Marikana Massacre and changing political landscape in South Africa.1 Workers taking action and refusing to “tolerate a dog’s life” (Bloch, 1986) is not something new in South Africa. The struggles of workers, communities and youth were critical in bringing down the apartheid regime and continue to be at the forefront of pushing against and beyond an oppressive and exploitative society. Processes of hope and utopianism do not only happen during the big moments of struggle or through overtly political practices, but are part of everyday lives, concretely manifesting in multiple ways that in turn shape the social world. Luckett’s dissertation, Hope and Utopianism in the Everyday Lives of Metalworkers and their Communities, contends that utopian thinking is part of being human: its ontological basis is that the material world is in process. Hope as a political necessity galvanizes action because it is more than the critique of what is but an imagining beyond the present. Through participant observation, oral histories, and research with documents and local archives, Luckett will explore the everyday lives of metalworkers, and the communities in which they live, through the lens of hope and utopianism and the concrete manifestations thereof. She will further explore the ambiguities and contradictions of utopianism and practices of co-option of hope into the status quo. Her research will focus on Eskom workers and communities in Lephalale, Limpopo, a site that contains many of the contradictions of post-apartheid South Africa. The topic of hope is of particular importance in the current context of alienation and disaffection of millions of working class South Africans, a context that is simultaneously a period of renewed searching, questioning and dreaming.

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  1. The South African Police Service opened fire on a crowd of striking mineworkers at Marikana in August 2012, resulting in 34 dead, 78 wounded, and hundreds arrested.

About Ajumeze Henry Obi’s project: Since the discovery of huge deposits of crude oil in Nigeria in 1956, the creeks of the Niger Delta have metamorphosed into a volatile space of tripartite conflicts between armed youths of the region and the Nigerian military forces in collaboration with multinational oil corporations. The local agitation against ecological pollution and degradation in the region is not only indicative of the collective struggle for survival of the oil-producing communities, but also of environmental insecurity in the region. The ‘Theatre of the Bloody Metaphor’: The Biopolitics of Violence in the Theatre of the Niger Delta will explore the subjectivities of these bio-political conflicts by examining how the insurgency is culturally represented in six Nigerian plays. It considers how this representation captures the material contribution of non-human nature in the history of the resistance, from pre-oil to oil-modernity in the region. Analysis will focus on works by J. P. Clark-Bekeremo, W. Soyinka, Eni Jologho Umuko, B. Binebai and A. Yerima. The texts selected register the topography of the region in a manner that draws on site-specific and geomorphic forces in the performance of insurgency. They point to ways in which nature and the human subject are collectively embedded within the “pluriverse” of the Delta. Interviews conducted in the Warri area of the Niger Delta region will help interpret aspects of the creeks, mangroves and rivers and the relations between geography and supernatural power that figure in the plays. Obi will examine the texts from the standpoint of what Bruno Latour describes as “relational epistemology”, in which political agency is mapped on both sides of the human/nature dualism. In this way, his research will interrogate the dominance of the anthropocentric character of insurgency in the region, while foregrounding the spatial configuration of the geography of the Delta as co-combatant in the historical contestation against global oil capital. Obi’s work will bring a fresh perspective to Nigerian writing and understandings of the insurgencies by tracing the shifting contours of geopolitics and biopolitics in the cultural and dramatic imaginations of the region.

Information about the 2017 Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards for African Students enrolled in South African Ph.D. Programmes will be available in November 2016. The application deadline is 1 May 2017.

For further information, see http://www.gs.emory.edu/about/special/acip.html and https://www.facebook.com/ivan.karp.corinne.kratz.fund

2016 Graduate and Undergraduate Paper Awards and Honorable Mentions

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 AfAA Student Paper Awards. Once again, we received strong submissions for both awards. Thank you to all Board Members who submitted and recommended papers.

In particular, we would like to acknowledge the Macalester College Department of Anthropology on the consistently high quality of their submissions over the past several years. This year, a Macalester student will receive the Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award, and we look forward to recognizing the department in their home state of Minnesota. As a result, the undergraduate award winner should be able to attend the meetings in Minneapolis without any travel cost.

The names of the award winners and the honorable mentions are listed below.

Bennetta Jules-Rosette Graduate Essay Award
($500 cash award for winner)

Winner: Eduardo Santana (University of California San Diego), “The Black Roots of Argentine Tango: Embodied Identities in the Dancing Diaspora” (Nominated by Ivan Evans, University of California San Diego)
Eduardo Santana’s theoretically rich essay explores the African roots of Tango in terms of theories of embodiment and performance. He touches upon a broad range of literature on the Black Atlantic and problematizes Tango as seen from perspectives of global scholarship. He addresses the diasporic theories of Robert Farris Thompson and Paul Gilroy in juxtaposition with both the writings and performances of Argentinian and Angolan Tango masters. The broad theoretical scope of his research is noteworthy, and his innovative contributions to studies of communication, dance, and cosmopolitanism are commendable.

Honorable Mention: Carrie McLachlin Leslie (University of Oklahoma), “African Women’s Resistance and the Reclamation of their Environment” (Nominated by Betty Harris, University of Oklahoma)
Carrie McLachlin Leslie’s essay addresses African environmentalism, including Kenya’s Greenbelt movement, in terms of the contributions of women to environmental change and preservation across the African continent. Comparative examples are drawn from a broad range of countries, highlighting Kenya, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others. The paper also advocates approaches to sustainable energy reforms across the African continent. It offers a strong model of applied anthropological research.

Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award
($100 cash award for winner + conference registration)

Winner: Nana Charlene Elfreda Adubea Toa-Kwapong (Macalester College), “Alienation,(Re)integration or Something in Between: Return Migration to Accra, Ghana and Cultural Liminality” (Nominated by Olga González, Macalester College)
Nana Charlene Elfreda Adubea Toa-Kwapong, also known as Dubie, breaks new ground in her study of African migrants who return to their homes in Ghana. She draws upon extensive field research and in-depth interviews with returning immigrants, who narrate their experiences abroad and their perceptions of return. After returning to Ghana, they are often viewed as foreigners and outsiders who have to readjust to their home cultures. In summarizing their narratives, she states: “Return is about more than being in Ghana or Africa at all times – it is about reconnecting with the motherland.” The migrants return with a Pan-African perception of their experiences. This essay is an excellent exploration of diasporic studies seen from an innovative and original perspective that examines migration as a complete circuit.

Honorable Mention: Jamie Franzese (University of Oklahoma), “Democratization and Women’s Issues: A Comparative Analysis of Tunisia and Egypt” (Nominated by Betty Harris, University of Oklahoma)
Jamie Franzese’s essay examines women’s empowerment in relation to the Arab Spring protest movements of 2011. The essay provides a multifaceted comparison of political participation, occurrences of gendered violence, women’s health resources, and advocacy networks in Tunisia and Egypt. Jamie argues that, although democratic institutions are much stronger in Tunisia than in Egypt, this fact does not translate into noticeable improvements in gender equality. We commend this comparative approach to gender studies and political anthropology.

Congratulations to all the award winners and honorable mentions, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Minneapolis.

AfAA Awards for 2016!

Please consider nominating yourself, a colleague and/or student for an AfAA award. Contributions from all sub-fields of anthropology are welcome. The AfAA offers three annual awards:

  • the Elliott P. Skinner Book Award to honor a recent contribution that furthers the global community of Africanist scholars and the wider interests of the African continent, as exemplified in the work of Elliott P. Skinner.
  • the Bennetta Jules-Rosette Graduate Student Essay Award for outstanding graduate student essay in Africanist anthropology.
  • the Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Paper Award for outstanding undergraduate paper in Africanist anthropology.

For more information about these awards, please visit the AfAA Awards page.

Submission information for 2016 Annual Meetings

2015 Elliot Skinner Book Awards

After careful consideration of many exciting contributions, AfAA is pleased to announce the winner and two honorable mentions for this year’s Elliot Skinner Book Award!

The winner of this year’s award is Daniel Jordan Smith’s AIDS Doesn’t Show Its Face: Inequality, Morality, and Social Change in Nigeria (2014, University of Chicago Press).  More information about the book

The two honorable mentions go to Cati Coe for her book The Scattered Family: Parenting, African Migrants, and Global Inequality (2013, University of Chicago Press) and to Pnina Werbner for her book The Making of an African Working Class: Politics, Law, and Cultural Protest in the Manual Workers Union of Botswana (2013, Pluto Press).

Congratulations to Dr. Smith, Dr. Coe, and Dr. Werbner!

AfAA @ AAA 2015: Business Meeting, Reception, and Distinguished Lecture by Jennie Burnet

Join us on Thursday evening from 7:45-10 pm at CCC-401 in the Convention Center for the annual AfAA Reception, featuring a Distinguished Lecture by Jennie Burnet.  The lecture is titled “Ethnography in the Age of Total Bureaucratization: Consent, Ethics, and the Familiar/Strange of Government Oversight.  Burnet is the 2013 winner of the Elliott P. Skinner Book Award for Genocide Lives in Us: Women, Memory, and Silence in Rwanda. Before the lecture and reception, join us for the Business Meeting in CCC-401 from 6:45-7:45.

See the attached flyer for more details: Jennie Burnet Distinguished Lecture 2015

Job Announcement: Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College Department of Anthropology invites applications for a tenure-track appointment in sociocultural anthropology at the rank of assistant professor.  We seek a scholar-teacher whose research contributes new theoretical perspectives on cultural processes of diaspora and dislocation, including but not exclusive to the effects of forced or voluntary migration brought about by political, gendered, and ethnic violence, development projects or economic policy, as well as identity politics and processes associated with diasporic communities. Geographic area of specialization is open but should complement those presently represented in the department. The successful candidate will be firmly grounded in ethnographic research and ready to contribute to a department that teaches a four-field undergraduate curriculum.

The appointment will begin July 1, 2016 and the candidate must have PhD in hand prior to that date. Review of applications will begin October 1, 2015 and will continue until the position is filled. Submit a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and the names and contact information of three references via Interfolio by following this link: apply.interfolio.com/30928

With parity between male and female undergraduate students and over one quarter of the students being members of minority groups, Dartmouth is one of the most diverse institutions of higher education in New England. Dartmouth College is an equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer and has a strong commitment to diversity. We strongly encourage applications from a broad spectrum of people, including women, persons of color, gay, lesbian, and transgender persons, persons with disabilities, and veterans. Dartmouth offers health insurance and other benefits to same-sex domestic partners. Information about all of Dartmouth’s benefits is available at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~hrs/benefits/index.html

Job Announcement: Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of New Hampshire

University of New Hampshire, College of Liberal Arts, Department of Anthropology invites applications for a tenure track, Assistant Professor in sociocultural anthropology specializing in public health, development, and/or globalization in Africa or Asia starting in August 2016. The successful candidate will have an active research program, demonstrated scholarly productivity, a strong pedagogical commitment to undergraduate education, and the capacity to teach courses, including introduction to anthropology, research methods, and upper-level courses in candidate’s area of specialization.

UNH actively creates an educational environment that fosters diversity, inclusion and quality engagement for all.  A PhD in Anthropology or closely related qualitative field is required.  We seek a scholar who can offer hands-on applied learning opportunities, make significant research contributions including publications and securing external funding, who engages interdisciplinary questions and methods and can collaborate across disciplines with other departments and programs at UNH.  We welcome candidates with skill in creating and sustaining culturally diverse constituencies in the academic environment and the ability to cultivate external relations.

Please send curriculum vita, letter of interest discussing areas of research, teaching experience and prospective courses, and the contact information of three referees via email in PDF format to Department Coordinator,[email protected], not later than November 20, 2105.  Preliminary interviews will be conducted via Skype.

The University of New Hampshire is the state’s public research university providing high-quality undergraduate programs and graduate programs of distinction.  Its primary purpose is learning: students collaborating with faculty in teaching, research, creative expression, and service.  The University of New Hampshire has a national and international agenda and holds land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant charters.  From its main Durham campus and its college in Manchester, The University serves New Hampshire and the region through continuing education, cooperative extension, cultural outreach, economic development activities, and applied research. The University seeks excellence through diversity among its administrators, faculty, staff and students.  The University prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, veteran status, or marital status.  Application by members of all underrepresented groups is encouraged.

Putting Africa back on the map