Northwestern University

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Feb
21
Wed 12:00 PM

Sandra Greene: Embracing Happenstance

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When: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: - Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Co-Sponsor(s):
International Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings

Description:

Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

Embracing Happenstance: An Academic Journey

Sandra Greene, Stephen ’59 and Madeline ’60 Anbinder Professor of African History and Chair, Department of History, Cornell University

Abstract:
Many academics spend their entire careers examining a particular topic in all its variations. There are scholars, for example, who focus solely on gender or on the American civil war. Others choose to explore a more wide range of topics and themes. As someone in the latter group, my work has ranged from a focus on gender and ethnic relations, to an examination of the history sacred sites, to analyses of West African narratives of slavery. Despite these seemingly diverse topics, it is still possible to identify some unifying interests that link these different areas of enquiry. Thus, as part of its 70th anniversary celebration, I will share how the Program of African Studies and the people who happened to be at Northwestern at the time I studied there influenced my own theoretical and methodological approaches to the topics I have examined throughout my career.

Bio:
Sandra E. Greene is the Stephen ’59 and Madeline ’60 Anbinder Professor of African History at Cornell University and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences as well as the Ambrosiana Academy in Milan, Italy. Her research interests have ranged widely, from the history of gender and ethnic relations, to the history of religious sacred sites and indigenous slavery in Africa. Her single authored books include Gender, Ethnicity and Social Change on the Upper Slave Coast (1996), Sacred Sites and the Colonial Encounter (2002), West African Narratives of Slavery (2011) and Slave Owners of West Africa: Decision-making in the Age of Abolition (2017). Her co-edited collections include the five-volume New Encyclopedia of Africa (2008), The Bitter Legacy: African Slavery Past and Present (2013), African Voices on Slavery and the Slave Trade, Vols. 1 and 2 (2013 and 2016), and African Slaves, African Masters: Politics, Memories, Social Life (2017). She is also the author of many articles in various journals and edited collections. Her research has been supported most recently by Cornell University, the National Humanities Center where she held the John Hope Franklin Senior Researcher Fellowship, and by the Mellon Foundation.

Among the courses she teaches are: “African Economic Development Histories” (which explores the history of economic development in Africa from precolonial times to the present as understood by historians, economists, and political scientists); “West Africa and the West” (which explores the history of West Africa’s relations with Europe and the Americas during the era of the Atlantic slave trade); and “Enslaved Then and Now”. She has also served in a number of administrative positions including Chair of the History Department at Cornell University (2001-2005) and (2016 to present) as well as President of the African Studies Association (USA).

Feb
28
Wed 12:00 PM

Matthew H. Brown: Breadlosers: Nollywood, State Television, and the Stakes of Masculine Melodrama

CANCELLED

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When: Wednesday, February 28, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: - Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings

Description:

Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

Cosponsored by the Nollywood working group

Breadlosers: Nollywood, State Television, and the Stakes of Masculine Melodrama

Matthew H. Brown, African Cultural Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Presentation Description:
The earliest Nollywood films drew from a pool of expertise within Nigeria’s massive state television network, and some films directly responded to state television narratives. In the 1990s, films focused on the subject of marriage were particularly influenced by the latest Nigerian soap operas, which explored new scripts for gender performance, often influenced by the rise of international NGOs devoted to women’s issues. Some Nollywood films extended the feminine melodramatic mode cultivated on state television, but others retaliated, developing a masculine melodramatic mode that would become typical of the industry. In this presentation, I propose that, by attending to narrative form and audiovisual aesthetics, we can better understand films that, on the surface, appear to be about the evils of greed. Instead, they make more sense as reactions to the economic foundations of gender relations. The subject of breadwinning, in particular, and the sometimes-nefarious means by which men pursue it, exposes Nollywood’s greater concern with the sharp contrast between people’s social fantasies and the conditions within which they actually live.

Bio:
Matthew H. Brown is Assistant Professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a media historian, with a focus on Nigeria, including colonial cinema, state television, and video film—otherwise known as “Nollywood.” His current book project, tentatively titled Indirect Subjects: Nollywood’s Local Address, teases apart the relationship between Nigeria’s state television network, which is the oldest and largest in Africa, and the Nollywood video boom that grew out of state television in the 1990s. Dr. Brown has also published articles and book chapters on genre theory, literature, and popular music in Africa.

Mar
7
Wed 12:00 PM

Oludamini Ogunnaike: Philosophical Sufism in the Sokoto Caliphate

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When: Wednesday, March 7, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: - Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Co-Sponsor(s):
Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa

Category: Lectures & Meetings

Description:

Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

Cosponsored by the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

ISITA seminar: Philosophical Sufism in the Sokoto Caliphate: The Case of Shaykh Dan Tafa

Oludamini Ogunnaike, Religious Studies, College of William and Mary

Abstract:

It has long been assumed that the discipline of falsafa (Islamic philosophy) died out in the Western lands of the Islamic world after the fall of Andalusia, and that philosophical intellectual work was largely limited to the disciplines of theology (kalām) and Sufism (tasawwuf). Moreover, the more creative and discursive tradition of theoretical of philosophical Sufism is also supposed to have migrated East in the 13th-C along with figures such as Ibn al-‘Arabi (d. 1240) and Ibn Sab‘in (d. 1271). However, the oeuvre of the Sokoto scholar Shaykh ‘abd al-Qādir ibn Muṣṭafā (d. 1864) (better known as dan Tafa, the grandson of Shaykh ‘Uthmān dan Fodio) poses a significant challenge to these assumptions. Shaykh Dan Tafa's works include a defense of philosophy, a treatise on universals (kulliyāt), a versified introduction to the study of philosophy, a critical evaluation of materialist and naturalist philosophies, as well as several works of philosophical Sufism, including a treatise on certain topics from ‘abd al-Karīm al-Jīlī's (d. 1424) masterpiece of Philosophical Sufism, al-Insān al-Kāmil. It seems unlikely that Shaykh Dan Tafa studied and produced these works entirely on his own, indicating the existence of little-known West African traditions of Islamic philosophy and/or philosophical Sufism. In this paper, I will evaluate some of Shaykh Dan Tafa's works and their ramifications for our understanding of the history of Islamic philosophy and philosophical Sufism in West Africa, and the role of these two traditions in the intellectual history the region.

Bio:

Oludamini Ogunnaike is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary. He holds a PhD in African Studies and the Study of Religion from Harvard University, and spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.

Ogunnaike's research examines the philosophical dimensions of postcolonial, colonial, and pre-colonial Islamic and indigenous religious traditions of West and North Africa, especially Sufism and Ifa, an indigenous Yoruba religious tradition. He seeks to understand the philosophical dimensions of these traditions by approaching them and their proponents not merely as sources of ethnographic or historical data, but rather as distinct intellectual traditions and thinkers, even as sources of theory and possible inspirations for methods of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. He is currently working on a book entitled, Sufism and Ifa: Ways of Knowing in Two West African Intellectual Traditions and maintains a digital archive of West African Sufi poetry.

Apr
18
Wed 12:00 PM

Ashley Leinweber: Congo's Islamic Borderland

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When: Wednesday, April 18, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: - Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Co-Sponsor(s):
Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

Category: Lectures & Meetings

Description:

Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

Cosponsored by the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

ISITA seminar: Congo’s Islamic Borderland

Ashley Leinweber, Political Science, Missouri State University

Short Bio:

Ashley E. Leinweber is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Interim Director of the Graduate Program in Global Studies at Missouri State University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on International Relations, International Organizations, Model United Nations, and African Politics. Her research focuses on the political engagement of the Muslim minority of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and has been published in Cahiers d'Etudes Africaines (June 2012), Review of African Political Economy (March 2013), Writing Boards and Blackboards: Islamic Education in Africa (2016), among others. She was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger from 2002-2004.

Paper Abstract: “Congo’s Islamic Borderland”

Borderland studies have tended to focus on areas experiencing isolation or interaction along international boundaries. This paper boldly argues that the Maniema province of Eastern Congo, despite its lack of international borders, does indeed represent a distinct borderland because of its unique historical and cultural connection and marginalization from the larger East Central Africa region and the Congolese state. While Christianity is the dominant religion in Congo, a significant Muslim minority exists in the eastern provinces, and particularly in Maniema, as the result of the expanding ivory and slave trade of Swahili-Arabs from the East African coast in the pre-colonial era. After an initial period of close interaction, the Muslim community was plunged into isolation from the broader Islamic society of East Africa by a suspicious Belgian colonial administration. Muslim Maniema also resembles a borderland due to the community’s shifting separation from and identification with the state, both in the colonial and post-colonial periods. Therefore, this paper presents Muslim Maniema as a borderland that at times is defined by its separation from the Congolese state or the larger Muslim society of East Africa, while at other times is incorporated into broader national and regional society and politics.

Apr
25
Wed 12:00 PM

Sylvester Ogbechie: The Metaphysics of Modernity: Globalism, African Art, and Ontologies of Being

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When: Wednesday, April 25, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM  

Where: 620 Library Place, Room 106, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: - Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Program of African Studies   847.491.7323

Group: Program of African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings

Description:

Join the Program of African Studies for our weekly lunch and lecture.

The Metaphysics of Modernity: Globalism, African Art, and Ontologies of Being

Sylvester Ogbechie, History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara

Abstract:

The study of modern and contemporary African art is gaining global visibility in art history and several publications are now emerging that carry out sophisticated analysis of individuals, contexts and discursive practices. How do these publications frame the emergent subjects / contexts and specifically position Africa within global debates about cultural production in general? Using the works of notable pioneer modern African artists (Ben Enwonwu, Irma Stern, Gerard Sekoto, Gazbia Sirry, Iba Ndiaye and Gebre Kristos Desta), I investigate how scholars might narrate a history of modern and contemporary art that foregrounds the status of the African subject in the metaphysics of modernity.

Bio:

Sylvester Okwunodu Ogbechie (Ph.D. Northwestern University) is Professor of Art History and Visual Cultures of Global Africa at the University of California Santa Barbara. His publications include Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist (University of Rochester Press, 2008), Making History: The Femi Akinsanya African Art Collection (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2011), and editor of Artists of Nigeria (Milan: 5 Continents Editions, 2012). Founder and editor of Critical Interventions: Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture, Ogbechie is a Melville J. Herskovits Award winner (2009), a Consortium Professor of the Getty Research Institute, Daimler Fellow of the American Academy in Berlin, and Senior Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution. He has also received prestigious fellowships, grants and awards for his research from the Rockefeller Foundation, Getty Research Institute, and the Institute for International Education. His research focuses on contemporary art, cultural informatics and the cultural patrimony of Africa and African Diaspora in the age of globalization.