- 28 January 2015
By Elaine Coburn
This piece was originally published on the Environmental and Community Services blog page. It has been republished here with the permission of the author
Ebola is an obvious scourge. Therefore, fighting Ebola, by whatever means, is an obvious good. It makes sense to celebrate and support heroic American and European workers, far from home in West Africa, sacrificing themselves for strangers. Here, following many others, I want to complicate that story. Why? To obscure fundamental truths with what Blood Tribal member, disability activist and artist Everett Soop (1988) once wearily called “fancy words”? To throw mud at heroic workers who ought to be an example to us all in their self-sacrifice and concern for others? To make a case against global solidarity and for a liberal ethic of each individual for herself?
- 28 January 2015
By Elaine Coburn
This piece was originally published at http://decolonization.org/index.php/des/article/view/22016/17858. It is re-published here with permission from both the author and editor
In 1959, a young Jewish student named Marshall Berman (2000) hazarded upon Karl Marx’s Economic and Philosophical Manuscript of 1844. He was so amazed by what he read, he immediately went out to the nearest Soviet-subsidized bookstore and bought copies for everyone he knew. Re-reading his original copy, years later, he discovered that he had underlined virtually every line in the book. Reading Achille Mbembe’s Critique de la Raison Nègre inspires the same kind of enthusiasm. Currently only available in French, it’s a book that you want to shout about from the rooftops, so that all of your colleagues and friends will read it. My copy, only a few months old, is stuffed with paper markers at many intervals, suggesting the richness of analysis and description on nearly every page. It is not a perfect book. For instance, Mbembe is almost relentlessly masculinist in standpoint and language, so that you can already imagine a Black feminist re-telling that challenges this “malestream” account, so building new, necessary layers to his analysis. He does not explicitly consider how the liberation struggles of the “Nègre” might act in concert and in tension with other liberatory movements, for instance, by still-colonized Indigenous peoples. He emphasizes literary, artistic and intellectual figures, although not exclusively, so that it is possible to imagine another re-telling, this time centering the everyday struggles of many ordinary people designated as “Nègre” over the last centuries. Notwithstanding these important limitations, this is certainly one of the outstanding intellectual contributions to studies of empire, colonialism, racism and human liberation in the last decade, perhaps decades. Indeed, I fear I can hardly do Mbembe’s book justice in this brief review. With that preface...
- 15 January 2015
IMAGE: Friends of Hezekiah ben Habakkuk, bar mitzvah boy, in Abuja, Nigeria. (by William F.S. Miles)
by Len Lyons
This article was originally published in Tablet Magazine on December 30th, 2014
For the first time in its 57-year history, the African Studies Association’s annual conference this year offered panels discussing the rising tide of Black Judaism—communities in sub-Saharan Africa and in the African Diaspora identifying themselves as descendants of Jews or practicing some form of Judaism. I attended the November conference along with 1,600 participants from 30 countries, and presented new research on Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Five other researchers and authors in the field of Black Judaism also contributed to the panels.
- 13 January 2015
by Kathryn Salucka
- 12 January 2015
By Ken Harrow
Professor Ken Harrow organizes the ASA conference film screenings, and also coordinates the video marketplace in the exhibit hall
In November of 2014 we screened two films for the ASA conference. In addition to providing dozens of dvds for attendees to view at the Exhibit hall, we determined that projecting two important films, one on Friday and another on Saturday, might best fit the schedules of people attending the conference, what with all the other obligations and panels competing for people’s time.