What are your thoughts about being selected to participate in the ASA’s Presidential Scholars programme?
Indeed, this is a great privilege and honor to me. The African Humanities Program has a huge pool of vibrant upcoming scholars who focus on quite a wide range of very interesting themes concerning the continent of Africa. Therefore, my nomination as one of three African scholars to be the ASA Presidential Fellows for this year and from this big pool of the AHP family was truly a shock, and received with excitement. On another dimension, this nomination has been a great encouragement to me as a young scholar to recognize that other people up there have recognized and valued my work. I therefore, with sincere humility take this opportunity to express my heartfelt appreciation to all individuals involved in my nomination.
What do you hope you will gain from this experience?
This is the very first time I will be attending the ASA Annual Meeting. It is my great hope that by attending this event I will be able to sharpen my intellectual outlook by learning from experienced scholars through interaction with them and through their work. Moreover, the ASA Annual Meeting will serve as a fertile space for me to create network with scholars from other parts of the world whose research interests not only converge with mine, but cross-fertilize one another.
What kind of impact do you hope your research and other academic engagements will make in your community and/or network?
My current research focuses on the intersection between music, gender, religion, and state agencies in the fight against HIV and AIDS in Tanzania. While there is a handful of research conducted along those lines in Tanzania, or beyond, none of them addresses the subject matters with the same scope as does this current project. This research, therefore, makes a valuable specific contribution to the scholarship on performance, health, hegemony and identities within the context of the fight against the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Tanzania and beyond. Those interested will benefit from the multiple perspectives my research offers on performance: as an avenue for the production of multifaceted knowledge (musical, biomedical, religious and localized or indigenous knowledge) about healing in the context of HIV and AIDS; as a means of dismantling the asymmetrical sharing of information caused by neoliberalism; as a space in which gender and spiritual ideologies and identities are both displayed and contested; as a political act, both as avenue for negotiation of power relations and as a means of comprehending and transforming social reality.
In what ways do you feel the ASA can better engage African scholars working on pertinent issues that lie at the intersection of African Studies, on the African continent?
A forum such as the ASA annual Meeting may currently best serve as appropriate space for such an endeavor. In my opinion, however, meetings of regional chapters of ASA held on a quarterly basis would have worked better than waiting for the general ASA annual meeting. ASA Regional chapter meetings would also serve both as a means of spreading news about the activities of the association, and as a magnet to new members.
What are your thoughts about the role that the ASA can play in helping to consolidate African Studies as a discipline in African universities?
I think, my response to the question number five, may help serve as one of the possible ways of ASA making its presence strongly felt in African universities. If this is forcefully done the way the AHP program does, I am sure several steps will be removed from the distance between ASA and African universities.