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ASA Statement on the Current Crisis and a Ceasefire in Gaza

As a scholarly society whose mission it is to increase understanding about Africa in all its facets as well as to address issues of ethics, academic freedom, and human rights relevant to the field, the African Studies Association rejects the ongoing violence, violations of international law, and indiscriminate killing of civilians in the Israel-Gaza War that began on October 7th, 2023. As we have begun a new year and surpassed 100 days of relentless war, we call for the unconditional release of hostages and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Since the 1970s, ASA has been a vocal advocate on humanitarian issues and supporter of global struggles for self-determination. In line with that history, we wish to foreground the voices of our colleagues who have published important statements on the current crisis. 

The African Studies Association stands in solidarity with our sister organization, the African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA) and supports the organization’s statement that rightfully calls on all parties and the global community to respect international humanitarian laws, condemns the assault on academic freedom at universities throughout the world, and underscores the destructive impacts of colonial structures. We agree with these well-stated points and echo their call for a ceasefire.

We are also in solidarity with our colleagues in the Global South, including many on the African continent, who have called for peace in the Middle East. We also respect the expertise and professionalism of our area studies colleagues who are specialists on the Middle East, just as they have respected our expertise in the past. To that end, we wish to highlight the thoughtful letter authored by our colleagues at the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) to the Biden administration on a ceasefire in Gaza. The letter includes numerous linked sources and supported statistical data to construct a compelling appeal to the U.S. government to demand a permanent ceasefire. We support MESA’s informed position and echo their appeal to the U.S. government. 

Finally, the reflective open letter published by the coalition of concerned South African Jews mourns the tragic loss of both Palestinian and Israeli lives, highlights the disturbing rise of Islamophobic and anti-Semitic hate crimes globally, and acknowledges the roots of the current violence in “decades of dispossession.” We share these sentiments and concerns and echo their call for a ceasefire.