Like many this past week, our attention has been fixated on the media coverage of the Ebola outbreak: images of experts showing off the proper way to put on and take off protective gloves to avoid exposure to the virus; political pundits quarrelling over the appropriateness of travel restrictions; reassuring press conferences by the director of the Centers for Disease Control. It is an event that has received immediate and intense attention and generated compelling journalism, for sure, but does it really give us an emotional understanding of the impact of the event?
As an Africanist historian who has long been committed to reaching broader publics, I was thrilled when the research team for the BBC’s popular genealogy program Who Do You Think You Are? contacted me late last February about an episode they were working on that involved mixed race relationships in colonial Ghana.
What is African American religion? Scholars have written a lot about the difficulties in the study of religion generally. Those difficulties become even messier when we use the words black or African American to describe religion. The adjectives bear the burden of a difficult history that colors the way religion is practiced and understood in the United States. They register the horror of slavery and the terror of Jim Crow as well as the richly textured experiences of a captured people, for whom sorrow stands alongside joy.
Political Economy is back on the centre stage of development studies. The ultimate test of its respectability is that the World Bank has realised that it is not possible to separate social and political issues such as corruption and democracy from other factors that influence the effectiveness of its investments, and started using the concept.
Hadrian’s Wall has been in the news again recently for all the wrong reasons. Occasional wits have pondered on its significance in the Scottish Referendum, neglecting the fact that it has never marked the Anglo-Scottish border, and was certainly not constructed to keep the Scots out. Others have mistakenly insinuated that it is closed for business, following the widely reported demise of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust.
Refugee identity is often shrouded in suspicion, speculation and rumour. Of course everyone wants to protect “real” refugees, but it often seems – upon reading the papers – that the real challenge is to find them among the interlopers: the “bogus asylum seekers”, the “queue jumpers”, the “illegals”. Yet these distinctions and definitions shatter the moment we subject them to critical scrutiny.
By Isaac Terwase Sampson
The Boko Haram (BH) terrorist group, responsible for the abduction of over 200 school girls in north-eastern Nigeria, has been Nigeria’s prime security threat since 2009.
By Dennis Showalter
The looming centennial of the Great War has inspired a predicable abundance of conferences, books, articles, and blog posts. Most are built on a familiar meme: the war as a symbol of futility. Soldiers and societies alike are presented as victims of flawed intentions and defective methods, which in turn reflected inability or unwillingness to adapt to the spectrum of innovations (material, intellectual, and emotional), that made the Great War the first modern conflict.
African religions cover a diverse landscape of ethnic groups, languages, cultures, and worldviews. Here, Jacob K. Olupona, author of African Religions: A Very Short Introduction shares an interesting list of 15 facts on African religions.
By Scott Straus
We are now entering the month of April 2014—a time for reflection, empathy, and understanding for anyone in or involved with Rwanda. Twenty years ago, Rwandan political and military leaders initiated a series of actions that quickly turned into one of the 20th century’s greatest mass violations of human rights. As we commemorate the genocide, our empathy needs to extend first to survivors and victims. Many families were destroyed in the genocide.
By J. J. Carney
Although the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has garnered the most scholarly and popular attention – and rightfully so – it did not emerge out of a vacuum. As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the genocide, it is important to locate this epochal humanitarian tragedy within a broader historical and regional perspective.
This March we celebrate Women’s History Month, commemorating the lives, legacies, and contributions of women around the world. We’ve compiled a brief reading list that demonstrates the diversity of women’s lives and achievements.
In honor of Black History Month, we sat down with Noel Erskine to learn more about the Plantation Church—the religions that formed on plantations during slavery—and its roots in the Caribbean.
By Matthew Flinders
My New Year message is simple: we can change the world in 2014 but only if we recognise that we have an economy based upon exclusion and inequality. Some people are ‘down and out’ in Bloemfontein or Rio de Janeiro, or even London, because they were born into a system that entrenched certain inequalities that would shape their life chances. They are not animals in a zoo to be gawped at or mimicked.
Beginning the 26th of December, a globe-spanning group of millions of people of African descent will celebrate Kwanzaa, the seven-day festival of communitarian values created by scholar Maulana Karenga in 1966. The name of the festival is adapted from a Swahili phrase that refers to “the first fruits,” and is meant to recall ancient African harvest celebrations.
Here we celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela. From his early days as an activist, to his trial and imprisonment, to his presidency, this reading list covers all aspects of his life, and looks beyond the work he did to see how he influenced South Africa and the world.