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Africa Past & Present

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United States


The Podcast about African History, Culture, and Politics




Michigan State University 409 Natural Sciences Building East Lansing, MI 48824-1120 Phone: +517.355.9300 – Fax: +517.355.8363


Episode 112: Zimbabwe’s Politics of Economic Decline

Prof. Alois Mlambo (University of Pretoria) discusses Zimbabwe’s deindustrialization and economic decline, its relationship with South Africa, and the role of Pan-Africanism and “patriotic history” in sustaining a new authoritarian nationalism.

Duration: 00:24:06

Episode 111: Indian Ocean Africa—Icons, Commodities, Mobility

Jeremy Prestholdt (U. California, San Diego) on East African commodities, culture, and “transnational imagination,” featuring his forthcoming book, Icons of Dissent (on Che, Marley, Tupac, Bin Laden). He also discusses changing meanings of Indian Ocean Africa and how technologies impact global circulation of ideas, people and commodities. With guest host, Laura Fair.

Duration: 00:38:40

Episode 110: The Story of Swahili

John Mugane (Harvard University) on his book, The Story of Swahili, a history of the international language and its speakers. Mugane sheds light on enduring questions: Who is Swahili? What is authentic Swahili? He also discusses the state of publishing in Swahili, and the challenges and approaches to teaching African languages in the U.S. Part of a podcast series […]

Duration: 00:40:50

Episode 109: Doing Mozambican History—Dams, Development & Going Digital

Allen Isaacman (University of Minnesota) discusses his recent Herskovits Award-winning book, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007, how the work was researched, its significance, and the lives of those disrupted by the dam. He also talks of his long trajectory doing Mozambican history, book series publishing in […]

Duration: 00:21:47

Episode 108: Ajami in African History

Fallou Ngom (African Languages Director, Boston U.) on his new book Muslims Beyond the Arab World: the Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya. Focusing on Senegambia and Ahmadu Bamba, Ngom discusses Ajami literary texts — African languages in Arabic scripts — as sources for history. He also reflects on creating online Ajami collections, teaching and learning African languages […]

Duration: 00:38:39

Episode 107: West African Intellectual Heritage

Professor Amidu O. Sanni (Lagos State University) on his work for the Timbuktu Manuscripts Project and preservation of West African intellectual heritage. He discusses the importance of Ajami sources (African languages written in Arabic script) for historical and cultural analysis and suggests possibilities for future research and training initiatives.

Duration: 00:22:42

Episode 97: Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa

Susanne Klausen (History, Carleton U.) onthe history and politics of women’s reproductive rights in South Africa. Ourdiscussion ofrace, nationalism, and women’s sexuality focuses on her new book, Abortion Under Apartheid, the first full-length study of the history of abortion in an African context. The interview concludes with anassessment ofthe present and future of abortion rightsin […]

Duration: 00:43:10

Episode 96: Creativity and Decolonization: Nigerian Cultures and African Epistemologies

Toyin Falola (History, Texas; President, African Studies Association) on Yoruba history and culture; language policy in Nigeria; creativityanddecolonization; forms of community action in “hyper-modern” times; and the meaning of Buhari’s victory in the 2015 presidential election.

Duration: 00:43:43

Episode 95: Nigerian Politics and Society in Cartoon Art

Ganiyu Akinloye Jimoh(Creative Arts,University of Lagos)on his work in Nigeriaasa popular cartoonist, with thepen name “Jimga,” and as a cartoon scholar. Issues discussed include:political aspects of cartooning;visual aspects of the art; language and graphic styles; and the future of cartooning in Nigeria.

Duration: 00:43:42

Episode 94: The Bomb, a Professor, and Higher Education in South Africa

Professor Renfrew Christie (University of the Western Cape) on South African advances and challenges since 1994; educational transformations at UWC; his role as an anti-apartheid student activist, exposure of South Africa’s nuclear bomb and subsequent imprisonment, and nuclear issues today.

Duration: 00:29:45

Episode 93: Atlantic Bonds and Biography: from South Carolina to Nigeria

Lisa Lindsay (North Carolina) on her forthcoming biography of James Churchwill Vaughan—whose life provides insights into the bonds of slavery and family and the differing prospects for people of African descent in the 19th-century Atlantic world. Vaughan’s odyssey took him from slavery-ridden South Carolina to Liberia and finally Nigeria, where he was involved in the […]

Duration: 00:32:35

Episode 92: Football, Power, and Identity in Zambia

Hikabwa Decius Chipande (PhD 2015 Michigan State) on the political and social history of football (soccer) in Zambia. He discussesbecoming an historian; the game’s relationship withBritish colonizers, the copper mines, and postcolonial governments; and thearchival research and oral interviewing process. Chipande concludes with insights fromhis extensiveexperience withsport development in Africa.

Duration: 00:36:36

Episode 91: African and American Ports–Solidarities in Durban and San Francisco

Peter Cole (Western Illinois, SWOP[Wits]) compares Durban and San Francisco, maritime union solidarities, the anti-apartheid movement, and technological change in the two ports. Cole concludes withreflectionson researching and teachingcomparative history.

Episode 90: Language and Power–Khoesan Studies

Menán Du Plessis (Stellenbosch University and U. of Kentucky) on her literary work, research on the Kora! language, and the significance of Khoesan linguistics to southern African studies. Du Plessis also considers digitization efforts and the impact of mass media and the Internet on endangered African languages.

Duration: 00:23:10

Episode 89: Digital African Studies Part 2 with Laura Seay

Laura Seay (Government, Colby College)on becoming a Congo scholar; thegenealogy and impact of her“Texas in Africa” blog; using Twitter for academicpurposes and public discourse;andher book projecttitled“Substituting for the State” about non-state actors and governancein easternDRCongo.Follow Lauraon Twitter:@texasinafrica

Duration: 00:31:42

Episode 88: Digital African Studies with Keith Breckenridge

Keith Breckenridge (WISER) on the current state of digital Southern African Studies; the politics, funding, and ethics of international partnerships in digital projects; and his new book Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present.Follow Keith on Twitter: @BreckenridgeKD Part Iof a series on digital African studies.

Duration: 00:28:53

Episode 86: Cartooning in Africa with Tebogo Motswetla

TebogoMotswetla, aleading African cartoonist from Botswana, on his journey of becoming a cartoonist; the 25th anniversary of his character “Mabijo”; applied aspects of his work; seTswana language dialogue; the creative process, censorship, and freedom of expression.

Duration: 00:26:15

Episode 85: Swahili Poetry with Abdilatif Abdalla

Abdilatif Abdalla is the best-known Swahili poet and independent Kenya’s first political prisoner. He discusses poetry as a political instrument and as an academic field; publication prospects for African poets; and how poetry enabled him to survive three years of solitary confinement, after which he spent 22 years in exile. The interview ends with Abdalla […]

Duration: 00:29:45

Episode 84: African literatures & public intellectuals: Sahara Reporters & ‘What is Africa to me’?

Pius Adesanmi (Carleton University) on African literatures, public intellectuals, Sahara Reporters blog, social media and postcolonial writing, Yoruba and Anglophone literatures, ‘imposed transnationalism’ in the African literature classroom and ‘What is Africa to me’? Photo courtesy of Pius Adesanmi

Episode 83: Conflict in Côte d’Ivoire and Beyond, From High Politics to the Grassroots

Brett O’Bannon (Political Science, Director of Conflict Studies, De Pauw University) on the causes and consequences of civil war in Côte d’Ivoire; the “Responsibility to Protect” as applied to conflict in Africa ; and monitoring herder-farmer relations in Senegal to anticipate the onset of wider-scale warfare.

Duration: 00:35:56

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