Lori Hartmann-Mahmud
International Studies
Centre College

My experiences in Africa have shaped my adult life both professionally and personally, beginning with 2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger (1988-90). I served as a high school math teacher in Tahoua, in addition to doing agricultural projects during the summers. This experience sparked many questions about definitions of wealth and poverty and the projects associated with “development,” especially with a gender focus. I returned to the U.S. ready to explore these questions in a PhD program at the University of Denver. I went back to Africa as a Rotary scholar in Senegal in 1992-93, spending the year in Dakar taking classes at the Université Cheikh Anta Diop and watching the fascinating unfolding of the 1993 presidential and legislative elections. Citizens were so hungry for news that the “Sud Hebdomadaire” became the “Sud Quotidien” practically overnight. Democratic transitions and the interplay between economic and political development have been an on-going research and teaching interest of mine.

In 1999 I began teaching at Centre College (a liberal arts college in Kentucky) where I am currently the Hower Associate Professor of International Studies, and chair of the International Studies program. I regularly teach courses on African Politics on campus and in Cameroon. My scholarly interests have focused on gender issues; for example, “Pounding Millet during school hours:  obstacles to girls’ formal education in Niger” in European Journal of Development Research 23/3 (July 2011) and “As Development Seeks to Empower: Mexican and Nigerien Women Challenge Theoretical Categories,” co-authored with Gerard Huiskamp, Journal of Poverty 10/4 (2006). I also have an interest in pedagogical strategies, explored in, “Neoliberalism: A Useful Tool for Teaching Critical Topics in Political Science,” Political Science and Politics 42/4 (October 2009). Finally, I have recently co-authored an article with a former student on peace-building in the DRC, forthcoming in African Conflict and Peacebuilding Review.

I began attending the ASA conferences in 1995, and have enjoyed participating in the conferences ever since. I have not served on committees but would welcome the opportunity to be more involved. I would bring several ideas and perspectives to the role of Board member. First of all, I would like to help expand our outreach to scholars working in Africa in terms of collaborative research, teaching exchanges, and facilitating attendance at our annual conference. Second, it is striking that the ASA annual meeting has never been held in Africa. We are engaging in significant conversations about the past, present, and future of the continent in a context very far removed from that reality. I know that previous ASA boards have worked on this issue but I would like us to revisit the possibility of organizing the conference (or at least a subset of the panels) at an African location. Finally, I take seriously the challenge to think and teach from an interdisciplinary perspective. I would like us to explore creative interdisciplinary ways of organizing and integrating our vast array of knowledge and approaches in the field of African Studies, both at the annual conference and in our respective academic homes.