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Tiffany Florvil and Vanessa Plumly, "Rethinking Black German Studies: Approaches, Interventions, and Histories" (Peter Lang, 2018)

Black German Studies is an interdisciplinary field that has experienced significant growth over the past three decades, integrating subjects such as gender studies, diaspora studies, history, and media and performance studies. The field’s contextual roots as well as historical backdrop, nevertheless, span centuries. Rethinking Black German Studies: Approaches, Interventions, and Histories (Peter Lang, 2018), edited by Tiffany Florvil and Vanessa Plumly, assesses where the field is now by...


Sasha D. Pack, "The Deepest Border: The Strait of Gibraltar and the Making of the Hispano-African Border" (Stanford UP, 2019)

In his new book, The Deepest Border: The Strait of Gibraltar and the Making of the Hispano-African Border(Stanford, 2019), Sasha D. Pack considers the Strait of Gibraltar as an untamed in-between space—from “shatter zone” to borderland. Far from the centers of authority of contending empires, the North African and Southern Iberian coast was a place where imperial, colonial, private, and piratical agents competed for local advantage. Sometimes they outmaneuvered each other; sometimes they...


Chris S. Duvall, "The African Roots of Marijuana" (Duke UP, 2019)

There's so much discussion in the contemporary United States about marijuana. Debates focus on legalization and medicalization. Usually, Reefer Madness, Harry Anslinger, and race are brought into the conversation. But a big part of the larger marijuana story is missing. In Chris S. Duvall's new book, The African Roots of Marijuana (Duke University Press, 2019), he tells a distinctly non-American story that nevertheless has important lessons for current debates. Duvall helps us understand...


Joseph Hill, "Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal" (U Toronto Press, 2018)

Joseph Hill's new book Wrapping Authority: Women Islamic Leaders in a Sufi Movement in Dakar, Senegal (University of Toronto Press, 2018), is an ethnographic study of women Sufi leaders in the Taalibe Baay or Fayda branch of the Tijaniyya. Hill provides life stories of various fascinating and powerful female muqaddamas (or Sufi leaders) in Dakar and explores how they navigate the complexity of their gendered authority in religious, familial, and public domains. The book examines the...


Jeannette Eileen Jones, "Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936" (U Georgia Press, 2011)

When President Trump talked of Africa as a continent of “shithole countries” where people lived in huts, he was drawing on a set of ideas made popular in the 19th century. “Darkest Africa” became a favorite trope of explorers like Henry Morton Stanley who promoted his books and lectures by pushing the idea of Africa as a dark place – a phrase that had all kinds of meanings – racial, intellectual, geographical. Today I speak with Jeannette Eileen Jones, author of In Search of Brightest...


Dannel Jones, "An African in Imperial London: The Indomitable Life of A.B.C. Merriman-Labor" (Hurst, 2018)

In 1919 a man named Ohlohr Maigi died of tuberculosis in London, in deep poverty. He had arrived over a decade before in the imperial capital bearing different name, seeking education, fame and fortune. Some of these he had found, but ultimately he had found much more adversity than success. Ultimately, as Dannel Jones writes, he had spiraled downward on the social ladder, from barrister to worker in a munitions factory, from a satirist of the social order to a tuberculosis patient in a...


Jane Hooper, "Feeding Globalization: Madagascar and the Provisioning Trade, 1600-1800" (Ohio UP, 2017)

Madagascar lies so close to the African coast--and so near the predictable wind system of the Indian Ocean--that it’s easy to overlook the island, the fourth largest in the world, when talking about oceanic trade and exploration. But there is a lot to tell. Jane Hooper talks about Madagascar and its importance to the history of Indian Ocean trade and exploration. Hooper is the author of Feeding Globalization: Madagascar and the Provisioning Trade, 1600-1800, recently published by Ohio...


Stephan Bullard, "A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the 2013-2016 Ebola Outbreak" (Springer, 2018)

Why did Ebola, a virus so deadly that it killed or immobilized its victims within days, have time to become a full-blown epidemic? That’s what happened in 2013 in when the virus, already well-known to virologists and epidemiologists, broke out in West Africa, infecting twenty-eight thousand people and killing eleven thousand. Stephan Bullard, associate professor of biology at the University of Hartford, discusses the 2013 outbreak which is the subject of his new book, A Day to Day Chronicle...


Daniel Hershenzon, "The Captive Sea: Slavery, Communication, and Commerce in Early Modern Spain and the Mediterranean" (U Penn Press, 2018)

For hundreds of years, people living on the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea enslaved one another. Moslems from North Africa captured Italians, French, and Spaniards; and North African Moslems were in turn enslaved by those nations. As prisoners, their ransom and redemption became a form of commerce, which in a curious way created communication networks that brought together these different peoples. Captivity integrated the Mediterranean. That is in part the argument of today’s guest on...


Ryan Hanley, "Beyond Slavery and Abolition: Black British Writing, c. 1770 -1830" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

To our eyes, eighteenth-century Britain can look like a world of opposites. On one hand everything was new: political parties and a ‘prime’ minister emerged in parliament; their sometime unruly debates were recorded by an expanding political press, whose products were read and debated in London’s many coffee houses. The Enlightenment began in Scotland, and unleashed new ideas about natural law, natural rights, and the perfectibility of society that drove the great democratic revolutions. On...


Toby Green, "A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution" (U Chicago Press, 2019)

All too often, the history of early modern Africa is told from the perspective of outsiders. In his book A Fistful of Shells: West Africa from the Rise of the Slave Trade to the Age of Revolution (University of Chicago Press, 2019), Toby Green draws upon a range of underutilized sources to describe the evolution of West Africa over a period of four transformative centuries. With these sources Green demonstrates that the region was integrated into the developing transcontinental trade...


Andrew Wallis, "Stepp’d in Blood: Akazu and the Architects of the Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsis" (Zero Books, 2019)

Last month Rwanda commemorated the 25th anniversary of the genocide. Unlike the recent outpouring of books marking hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, there was only a short flurry of newspaper and radio remembrances of the events of April and May of 1994. The number of book-length narratives was similarly small. Now Andrew Wallis has published a significant new survey of the origins and aftermath of the genocide. Stepp’d in Blood: Akazu and the Architects of the...


Kristin D. Phillips, "An Ethnography of Hunger: Politics, Subsistence, and the Unpredictable Grace of the Sun" (Indiana UP, 2018)

Families in parts of rural Tanzania regularly face periods when they cut back on their meals because their own food stocks are running short and they cannot afford to buy food. Kristin D. Phillips' new book An Ethnography of Hunger: Politics, Subsistence, and the Unpredictable Grace of the Sun (Indiana University Press, 2018) provides a deeply empathetic portrait of rural life in Singida, in central Tanzania. Her study is both a memoir of rural life during a food shortage and a deeply...


Caitlín Eilís Barrett, "Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in Pompeian Gardens" (Oxford UP, 2019)

Domesticating Empire: Egyptian Landscapes in Pompeian Gardens (Oxford University Press, 2019) is the first contextually-oriented monograph on Egyptian imagery in Roman households. Caitlín Eilís Barrett, Associate Professor of Classics at Cornell University, draws on case studies from Flavian Pompeii to investigate the close association between representations of Egypt and a particular type of Roman household space: the domestic garden. Through paintings and mosaics portraying the Nile,...


Jeremy Black, "Imperial Legacies: The British Empire Around the World" (Encounter Books, 2019)

Are you tired of the constant refrain from our campus radicals and their bien-pensant allies in the intelligentsia that the United States and the United Kingdom, AKA the American and the British empires are the source of all the problems in the world, past and present? Do you not regard Sir Winston Churchill and other heroic figures of the recent and not so recent Anglo-American past as villains and racists to boot? If so University of Exeter Professor of History, Jeremy Black, the most...


James L. A. Webb, "The Long Struggle against Malaria in Tropical Africa" (Cambridge UP, 2016)

It is estimated that malaria kills between 650,000 to 1.2 million people every year; experts believe that nearly 90 percent of these deaths occur in Africa. In The Long Struggle against Malaria in Tropical Africa (Reprint edition; Cambridge University Press, 2016), James L. A. Webb explains the disproportionate impact that malaria has on the African continent by examining the evolution of parasites, vectors, and human hosts and the different attempts at controlling and eradicating the...


Elizabeth Schmidt, "Foreign Intervention in Africa after the Cold War: Sovereignty, Responsibility, and the War on Terror" (Ohio UP, 2018)

Of all the blank spots in the mental maps of many Americans, Africa is one of the largest. Informed by a number of misconceptions and popular myths, knowledge of the continent’s complexity is poorly understood not just by ordinary citizens but by policymakers as well. This ignorance informs foreign relations with African states: as Maxine Waters once put it, when it came to the Rwandan Genocide, she couldn’t tell whether the Hutus or the Tutsis were right, and because of that she couldn’t...


Hennie van Vuuren, "Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit" (Hurst, 2019)

In his new book, Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit(Hurst, 2019), Hennie van Vuuren examines the final decades of the apartheid regime in South Africa. He weaves together archival material, interviews and newly declassified documents to expose some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes and their murderous consequences. Those who profited from sustaining white power in South Africa included heads of state, arms dealers, aristocrats, bankers, spies, journalists and...


Elena Schneider, "The Occupation of Havana: War, Trade and Slavery in the Atlantic World" (UNC Press, 2018)

Histories of the British occupation of Havana in 1762 have focused on imperial rivalries and the actions and decisions of European planters, colonial officials, and military officers. In her stunning revision, The Occupation of Havana: War, Trade and Slavery in the Atlantic World (University of North Carolina Press, 2018), Elena Schneider restores the central roles of enslaved Africans in all stages of the story. The relevance of the slave trade and the multiple and essential roles of...


Kathleen Keller, "Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa" (U Nebraska Press, 2018)

Kathleen Keller’s new book, Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa (University of Nebraska Press, 2018) is teeming with mysterious persons, foreigners, misfits, and the surveillance of numerous figures who appeared to threaten the stability of empire. In this detailed and compelling study of what the author has termed the “culture of suspicion” of the years between the world wars, readers are exposed to a range of colonial...