For those of you who joined us in Chicago for our 60th meeting, I hope you will agree that, by all measures, it was a massive success. We are especially grateful to the Local Arrangements Committee, chaired by Mark DeLancey and Amy Settergren, for putting together such a wonderful set of Chicago-focused events. Program chairs Marissa Moorman and Susanna Wing developed and assembled an outstanding array of panels, roundtables, and plenaries on “Institutions: Creativity and Resilience in Africa.” Special highlights for many of us included the Current Issues Plenary with Reed Brody and Dohkot Clément Abaïfouta, the ASR Distinguished Lecture by Alcinda Honwana, Anne Pitcher’s inspiring Presidential Address, and the Hormuud Lecture by Rafael Marques de Morais.
The months since our momentous Chicago meeting have been extremely busy on a number of fronts. The difficult and unpredictable political terrain in the United States, including debates around the federal budget and allocations for Title VI and Fulbright-Hays, have kept advocacy front and center in our work. Like our predecessors, we have had some lively discussions about what is appropriate to advocate for and protest against, but for the most part, we have been fairly agile and responsive, thanks to the Board’s Advocacy Committee. Still, we are in need of a more broadly based and representative structure to address the quickfire issues of these turbulent times and hope to roll out a new task force, drawn directly from our coordinate and affiliate organizations, in the coming months.
Related to advocacy, of course, are the partnerships we have developed and nurtured, especially in recent years. Increasingly, those partnerships – with disciplinary and area associations (via the American Council of Learned Societies, the Coalition for International Education, the Consortium for Social Science Associations, and the National Humanities Alliance) and with other African studies associations in other parts of the world, and especially with continent-based organizations like the African Studies Association of Africa and CODESRIA – are strategically important in helping us prioritize our work and determine our direction. In June 2016, the ASA held its first co-organized conference on the African continent, in Dakar and in partnership with the American Anthropological Association. That partnership was reprised this May in Johannesburg at a conference on “Africa in the World: Shifting Boundaries and Knowledge Production.” We will have more on that gathering in the next issue of ASA News. Meanwhile, we continue to explore ways of partnering directly and regularly with Africa-based associations as we move forward. It is more incumbent on us now than ever before to build equitable, multilateral, and sustainable institutional partnerships with academic associations that are Africa-focused and Africa-based.
As I write, plans are well underway for our 2018 meeting in Atlanta. Organized by our two program chairs, Nana Akua Anyidoho and Mark Auslander, around the theme, “Energies: Power, Creativity and Afro-Futures,” the meeting is poised to address some of the more pressing concerns of our common fields. I would like to take special note of the fact that Nana Akua Anyidoho is the first Africa-based program chair for an ASA annual meeting. My hope is that in the coming years increasing numbers of Africa-based scholars will play central roles in shaping the direction of our association. The Local Arrangements Committee for Atlanta (Jennie Burnet, Harcourt Fuller, and Pamela Scully) have been hard at work for over a year and have some real Atlanta treats in store for those able to attend.
Last, but certainly not least, our annual election results are in! First, a profound and heart-felt thanks to those who will be rotating off the Board in November: Anne Pitcher (Past President) and Board members Adérónké Adésolá Adésànyà, Mary-Jane Deeb, Jennifer Yanco, and Ruth Mruambadoro (Emerging Scholar Representative). We are delighted to be welcoming on: Ato Quayson as incoming Vice President and Leonardo Arriola, Sylvester Ogbechie, and Lahra Smith as new Board members. Yusuf Serunkuma Karuja will become our third Emerging Scholar Representative to the Board).