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A Message from the National Humanities Alliance: Yes, Your Emails to Congress Matter

By Robert Bowen, Governmental Affairs Associate, National Humanities Alliance

The African Studies Association is a member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). This blog comes from the series of columns the NHA authors to provide members with information about humanities advocacy. This week is also Humanities Check-In week, and the NHA encourages you to reach out to your representatives to support funding for the humanities.

We have all become familiar with urgent requests in our inboxes and social media feeds to write our Members of Congress about an important issue. With a few clicks, these “action alerts” promise, we can influence our Senators and Representatives. Once we enter our zip code, we see a form letter replete with policy details and a specific request. We have the option to tailor the letter, but we can also simply hit “submit.”

Like other advocacy organizations, the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) issues action alerts to our network of advocates. Most often, we ask our advocates to communicate support for funding increases—or opposition to cuts—for the National Endowment for the Humanities, Title VI, or Fulbright-Hays.

ASA joins scholarly societies in call for respect for academic freedom in Turkey

 The African Studies Association joins over 50 learned and scholarly societies in signing a letter from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) expressing concern on threats to Turkish Academic Freedom and Higher Education. You can read the letter on the MESA website.

National Humanities Alliance: Telling the Story of your Work

By: Stephen Kidd

The African Studies Association is a member of the National Humanities Alliance (NHA). This is the first in a series of columns that NHA will author to provide our members with information about humanities advocacy and how to become involved.

Several years ago, the National Humanities Alliance invited Folger Shakespeare Library Director Mike Witmore to testify on Capitol Hill in support of federal funding for the humanities. In his finely-crafted remarks, Witmore drew on his experience teaching Shakespeare to engineering students at Carnegie Mellon University to make the claim that “a lot of what makes us tick cannot be stated as an equation.” At the end of his remarks, he posed a question to the committee: “What would happen if you subtracted Shakespeare from our world, from our schools, and from our culture?” He then answered, “… America would not have produced a Lincoln, a Frederick Douglass, or an Emily Dickinson, all of whom were steeped in the plays of this writer.”

Terrorism and Violence in Kenya: Balancing a Global vs Local View?

By Matt Carotenuto, St. Lawrence University

On April 2, 2015 much of the world was reminded of unfortunate but now familiar tropes in viewing the East African nation of Kenya through themes of political violence and the “global war on terror.” In a brazen pre-dawn raid at Garissa University College in Northeastern Kenya, Somali based Al Shabaab militants killed 147 people. Most of victims were students. As Kenya grapples with challenges of insecurity in the porous Somali borderland, many questions about this specific attack are left unanswered. However, searching for quick answers to these heinous acts of violence often leads to incomplete and misplaced conclusions which have a detrimental impact on efforts to address the underlying roots of insecurity and violence.

Review: Toyin Falola and African Epistemologies

By Professor Mario D. Fenyo- Bowie State University

Introduction,  An emerging biography, Appendices, List of works, Notes, Bibliography, Index, xi, 298 pp. 

This work is a great meeting of minds: the mind of Abdul Karim Bangura with the mind of Toyin Falola.

As Bangura explains at the beginning, Falola has been the subject of five Festschriften already; he might have added,  here comes another. Technically a Festschrift is a collection of writings by a group of scholars on a variety of subjects in honor of a single distinguished scholar.   This particular volume does not fit the definition to the letter.  Yet, I see it as a Festschrift nevertheless, honoring the same scholar,  but written by a single scholar.   Bangura approaches the subject from a variety of angles and various insights, without overlooking  any major aspect of Falola’s  vast production.  

The book is organized into three sections, along with an introductory segment and a series  of appendices after the conclusion. Part I is “Africa in the configuration of knowledge." Part II, the “Yoruba in  the configuration of knowledge.” Part III is entitled “The value of knowledge: policies and politics.” Naturally, the book is permeated by knowledge, hence the “epistemologies” of the overall  title. The last segments include a list of works by Falola, and a bibliography. The list includes 121  titles by Falola, which  do not cover articles, but it does include some works edited by him and some other works that have more than one author, in addition to Falola himself. By and large the works are mostly his and his alone. The bibliography extends over 15 pages, single-spaced, using a small  font that appears to be font “8”.    

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