On behalf of the ASA board and the secretariat, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making our 60th anniversary such a memorable occasion. Marissa and Susanna worked closely with the Vice-President, Jean Allman, and the Annual Meeting Committee to produce the theme statement and create the program. We thank them and all of the section chairs for their dedication and good humor.
We are grateful also to the Local Arrangements Committee chaired by Amy Settergren (Northwestern University) and Mark DeLancey (DePaul University) for helping us to explore all the wonders of the Windy City.
Since my Presidential lecture will use the occasion of our 60th anniversary to recall how the past brings meaning to the present, I will briefly examine five goals that ASA has for the future here.
1. Engagement from the ground up- For the first time this year, we offered small grants to our coordinate organizations to encourage them to find more inclusive and imaginative ways to engage with ASA members based on the continent. These include travel grants for Africa based scholars to attend the ASA annual meeting or funds to host workshops on the continent. You will read about some of those initiatives in this issue of ASA News.
2. ASR PEAS project-Right out of the starting gate, the new editor of African Studies Review, Benjamin Lawrance (University of Arizona) and his editorial team sponsored a workshop in Ghana for emerging scholars to encourage them to submit manuscripts to ASR or to serve as reviewers. Invited scholar mentors discussed submission guidelines, best practices, and the review process. In the coming years, we hope that such workshops will increase submissions and publications by scholars based in Africa.
3. Partnerships with other associations- Building on the success of the Dakar conference last year, the ASA has once again teamed up with the American Anthropology Association, with additional participation from TMALI/UNISA, the University of Witwatersrand, the University of Pretoria, and Anthropology Southern Africa to collaborate on another conference on the African continent in 2018. Called “Africa in the World: Shifting Boundaries and Knowledge Production” the conference will be held May 25-28, 2018 in Johannesburg. In September, the ASA also joined with the American Political Science Association to sponsor the African Research Development Group. The RDG selected six scholars from Africa to discuss their research and to receive constructive comments on their work from scholar-mentors. Following the one day workshop, the six scholars also attended the American Political Science Association meetings in San Francisco.
4. Advocating for our interests- The global decline of funding for the humanities and the interpretive social sciences and the resurgence of isolationism in the US and Europe leaves associations that value multi-culturalism and international connectedness vulnerable. To sustain our commitment to building knowledge about Africa and to promote awareness of the continent, we must increase our participation in policy debates both here and abroad. The Board continues to brainstorm ideas regarding how to strengthen our engagement but we welcome input from members regarding how best to accomplish this goal.
5. Future Meetings- This goal is currently on the wishlist but the ASA is working towards one day hosting our annual meeting on the continent. It would be great to celebrate our 70th anniversary in Accra, Ibadan, or Maputo!
I’ll soon be transitioning to Past President of the ASA and as I step back I want to express my appreciation to those who make the ASA such a vibrant and rewarding association. The successes achieved by our association with regard to our partnerships, pipeline projects, new initiatives and grants are largely a result of our imaginative and hardworking secretariat, our Board, and ASA members. We owe many thanks to our superb Executive Director, Suzanne Baazet, her staff, and the Board. Our Vice President, Jean Allman, worked conscientiously with the annual meeting committee, the local arrangements committee and nominations committee. As Past President, Dorothy Hodgson, has responsibly and admirably sustained her commitment to the ASA and I am especially grateful for her continued engagement.
I also want to thank our departing Board members ––Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Brenda Chalfin, and Tim Longman for their dedicated service. Additionally, I want to welcome our incoming Vice President, Maria Grosz-Ngate, and Board members (Bessie House-Soremekun, Sean Jacobs, and Ebenezer Obadare) and know they will bring much energy and enthusiasm to our community.
Finally, I would like to thank members who have contributed so generously to our 60th anniversary fund and encourage others to donate this year. It’s been an immense pleasure working with everyone.
President of the African Studies Association
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