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2016 ASA Presidential Fellows

The African Studies Association Presidential Fellows program was established in 2010 with the objective of inviting outstanding Africa-based scholars to attend the ASA Annual Meeting and to spend time at African Studies programs/centers in the U.S. Now entering its sixth year, the Presidential Fellows program has expanded to include member nominated fellows, and to explore additional opportunities for collaboration between these fellows and ASA members.

This year, the ASA will welcome four fellows that were selected in collaboration with the African Humanities Program of the American Council of Learned Societies to its Annual Meeting in December. These fellows will all present at the Annual Meeting, and the ASA welcomes proposals from institutions to host a fellow this fall. Fellows are typically hosted for a week before or after the Annual Meeting. For more information about hosting, please contact the ASA Secretariat at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

ACLS-AHP Fellows
Evassy Amanda Tumusiime, Lecturer, Visual Communication and Multimedia, Makerere University
Tumusiime will present the paper “Art and Gender: Imag[in]ing the New Woman in Contemporary Ugandan Art”.  This study proposes that patriarchal perceptions have continued to influence the kinds of images through which women are represented in Ugandan art. This argument is well supported by evidence from visual art as well as from other sources of popular culture. This proposed study intends to show how African women in general and Ugandan women in particular are 'othered' in cultural discourse authored by men and expressed through the medium of art. Such images of women in Ugandan art serve a political purpose, the most important being to silence the voices of women. On the other hand, the study will articulate that despite their small number Ugandan profession women artists, who are formally trained, see themselves as new woman by virtue of their tertiary education and professional practice. These ‘new’ women are able to articulate different visual representations from those formed by men, thus epitomising unrelenting resistance to patriarchal oppression.

Nomusa Makhubu, Lecturer, Fine Art, University of Cape Town
Makhubu will present the paper “Interventionism, Art and Protest: Renegotiating Urban Spaces of Africa”. Over the last twenty years, there has been an increase in unconventional art forms and popular cultural interventions in African urban spaces that not only challenge the traditional tenets of the art history discipline but can also be seen as complex forms of political and social engagement. A common thread in these art forms is performance and live art. This study approaches live art interventionist aesthetics as significant discourses that illuminate the paradoxes of social practice in contemporary African cities. The initial research for this study focuses on two cities: Lagos and Cape Town. Based on doctoral research, this study interrogates the ways in which performance in live art, video art and video-film is used to renegotiate ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres in continually changing and enigmatic urban spaces of Africa.

 
Okechukwu Charles Nwafor, Lecturer II, Fine & Applied Arts, Nnamdi Azikiwe University
Nwafor will present the paper “The Fabric of Friendship: Asọ ebì and the Moral Economy of Amity in Nigeria”. Asọ ebì is a practice which is thought to have originated among the Yoruba who live in the Western part of Nigeria. In Yoruba, asọ means cloth while ebì means family. Translated literally, asọ ebì means family cloth. Among many other recent interpretations, asọ ebì fabrics connote solidarity, uniformity, oneness and friendship. This project, which will focus on the south eastern part of Nigeria, hopes to investigate whether asọ ebì’s solidarity is bound by any genuine mobilizing sense of collective. The author asks whether asọ ebì gift’s claims as the spiralling movement towards the consolidation of collective relationships has been supplanted by a sense of individualism and ephemerality. The author enquires whether the spirit of asọ ebì solidarity has been substituted by shallow, bodily attire and finally the author investigates the roles of visual cultural practices in the social and cultural valences that constitute asọ ebì as a gesture of group conviviality.

Eric Debrah Otchere, Lecturer, Music & Dance, University of Cape Coast
Otchere will present the paper “Seashore harmonies: the message in the songs of a dying fishing culture”. Indigenous Ghanaian fishermen in many coastal towns propelled their canoes and boats through manual rowers who sang as they rowed to sea. These songs, which served a variety of purposes, have grown extinct since outboard motors have come as a convenient substitute to the manual rowing. The place for the singing now is when the fishermen are pulling their nets on shore. Their songs, apart from providing useful reference points for synchronizing their individual efforts and hence easing the labor, also contain vital pieces of encoded information. Unfortunately, modernism has made the death of this fishing culture imminent, as equipment for pulling fishing nets have already been embraced in many places. Focusing on two surviving singing-fishing communities in Cape Coast, the author will document the songs and examine the extent to which these songs reflect the belief system, identity, cosmology, genealogy and general philosophy of life of the people.

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