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What to Expect at the Washington DC 59th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association

This blog, written by 2016 Annual Meeting Program Co-Chair Benjamin Lawrance, originally appeared on the Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa blog, and is re-posted here with their permission. You can access the original posting here.

By Benjamin N. Lawrance

Africa as marginal, Africa as forgotten, Africa as a country… we’ve all encountered the tired and simplistic formulae and frameworks that are reproduced time and time again. From its inception in Chicago over half a century ago, the African Studies Association has persistently confronted, engaged, and resisted tropes of Africa and Africans. What happens when we flip the script and insist on methods, practices, analyses, and narratives at which Africa is front and center? In our co-authored call last year for papers, panels, and roundtables, we recognized that when Africa is wielded as a unit for research and policy it too easily becomes a framework synonymous with troubles and dangers. We observed that the need to interweave academy, policy, and practice is arguably now more pressing than ever as funding for Area Studies research declines precipitously. We invited our membership to propose papers and panels that build on the ASA’s rich legacy of experimentation bridging scholarship, representation, and policy, celebrating the continent’s diversity, history, and complexity.

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.

Member Aid For Africa
African Studies Association is a participating member of Aid for Africa, a unique partnership of nonprofit organizations serving families and communities throughout Africa.
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