Elizabeth Schmidt
Loyola University, Maryland

I came to academia in the early 1980s–a product of the U.S. anti-apartheid movement. My first book, Decoding Corporate Camouflage: U.S. Business Support for Apartheid (Institute for Policy Studies, 1980), was an exposé of the Sullivan fair employment code. It was banned in South Africa before I entered graduate school. Problems with apartheid era security police, stemming from a three-month journalistic stint in South Africa, led me to shift my academic focus to newly independent Zimbabwe. In 1985-86, I conducted my doctoral research in Zimbabwe and the UK under the auspices of Fulbright-Hays, Woodrow Wilson, and British Federation of University Women fellowships. I received my Ph.D. in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1987 and published my revised doctoral dissertation as Peasants, Traders, and Wives: Shona Women in the History of Zimbabwe, 1870-1939 (Heinemann, 1992).

After teaching African and comparative world history at Macalester College for three years (1987-1990), I went to the Republic of Guinea as a Fulbright teacher/scholar in 1990-1991. Research conducted in Guinea, Senegal, and France, with the support of Fulbright and the American Council of Learned Societies/Social Science Research Council, resulted in two books: Mobilizing the Masses: Gender, Ethnicity, and Class in the Nationalist Movement in Guinea, 1939-1958 (Heinemann, 2005) and Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946-1958 (Ohio University Press, 2007). My most recent book, Foreign Intervention in Africa: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, was published in Cambridge University Press’s New Approaches to African History series in March 2013. My current project, From State Collapse to the War on Terror: Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War, is under contract with Ohio University Press.

I have taught African history at Loyola University Maryland since 1991. Over the past eight years, I have incorporated service-learning into all of my courses, involving my students in tutoring, mentoring, and soccer programs for local African refugee youth. My administrative experience includes a term as Loyola’s History Department chair (1995-1998). I have been active in the African Studies Association since 1986 and served as a board member from 2006-2009, an executive committee member in 2008-2009, and a member of the Local Arrangements Committee in 2013. My duties on the board’s Annual Meeting Committee included organizing the Current Issues Plenary sessions (2007-2009), which highlighted African perspectives on U.S. policy toward Africa. My duties on the Nominations and Membership Committee included developing strong slates of candidates for the ASA board and executive elections. As a member of the ASA executive committee, I helped to make decisions on behalf of the ASA board between its biannual meetings. I have also been an active member of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (ACAS), an ASA coordinate organization, serving on the ACAS board or executive committee between 1991 and the present.

In an era of severe economic cutbacks, it is essential that the ASA strengthen its role as an advocate for the continued funding of African studies at all levels of education and for academic exchanges between the United States and the continent. As concerned scholars of Africa and as global citizens, we need to bolster our relationships with NGOs, policy makers, and media personnel working on African issues, providing resources and know-how that will result in more informed American policies and actions. Finally, we must expand our networks of financial resources and enhance our relationships with foundations that can help the ASA promote its mission.