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Interviews with Scholars of Africa about their New Books

New Books in African Studies New Books Network

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Interviews with Scholars of Africa about their New Books

    Alanna O’Malley, "The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain, and the United Nations during the Congo Crisis, 1960-1964" (Manchester UP, 2020)

    Alanna O’Malley, "The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain, and the United Nations during the Congo Crisis, 1960-1964" (Manchester UP, 2020)

    In the summer of 1960, the Republic of the Congo won its independence from Belgium. Only one week later, however, Belgium had already dispatched paratroopers into the country and the Congolese government was appealing to the United Nations to intervene and protect Congolese sovereignty. The ensuing crisis, as Alanna O’Malley writes in her deeply researched and important book, The Diplomacy of Decolonisation: America, Britain, and the United Nations during the Congo Crisis, 1960-1964 (Manchester University Press, 2020) “catapulted the Congo into the international consciousness.”
    The Diplomacy of Decolonisation examines the global contours of the Congo crisis, which fragmented the newly independent Republic of the Congo and rocked the international order in the early 1960s. It even led the United Nations, for the first time ever, to dispatch peacekeepers to protect the sovereignty of one of its member states against secessionists. O’Malley guides readers through this complicated story. She charts the sprawling geography of the crisis, pulling readers through foreign capitals, the United Nations, and the Congo itself. And she shows how the crisis transformed the Cold War and the politics of decolonization.
    Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at dexter.fergie@u.northwestern.edu or on Twitter @DexterFergie.
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    • 1 tim. 2 min
    Steven J. L. Taylor, "Exiles, Entrepreneurs, and Educators: African Americans in Ghana" (SUNY Press, 2019)

    Steven J. L. Taylor, "Exiles, Entrepreneurs, and Educators: African Americans in Ghana" (SUNY Press, 2019)

    African Americans have a long history of emigration. In Exiles, Entrepreneurs, and Educators: African Americans in Ghana, Steven J. L. Taylor explores the second wave of African American exiles or repatriates to Ghana in post-1980s.
    Unlike the first wave of emigrants during the Kwame Nkrumah years (1957-1966), Taylor argues that the second wave is far more diverse and have largely been attracted to entrepreneurial opportunities. More importantly, this book examines the political engagement of African Americans in Ghana’s two-party political system.
    Steven Taylor is Associate Professor in the Department of Government at the American University, Washington, DC
    Sharika Crawford is an associate professor of history at the United States Naval Academy. 
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    • 57 min
    Ken O. Opalo, "Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Ken O. Opalo, "Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies" (Cambridge UP, 2019)

    Legislative Development in Africa: Politics and Postcolonial Legacies (Cambridge University Press, 2019) examines the development of African legislatures from their colonial origins through independence, autocracy and the transition to multi-party rule.
    In it, Ken Ochieng’ Opalo seeks to explain the different trajectories that African legislatures have taken, why some have become stronger than others, and what are the conditions that allow for democratic institutions to emerge from an autocratic system.
    The book combines a broad historical analysis of legislatures throughout Africa with the comparative case studies of Kenya and Zambia. It employs both quantitative and qualitative data to support the argument that despite the limitations imposed by autocratic rulers, the seeds for the development of strong legislatures can be planted during periods of non-democratic rule.
    The author presents a dynamic and well-argued model for the study of legislatures in post-colonial states, and argues for a more nuanced and historically-grounded analysis of institutional development in Africa and beyond.
    Esperanza Brizuela-Garcia is Associate Professor of History at Montclair State University. She specializes in modern intellectual history of Africa, historiography, World history and Philosophy of History. She is the co-author of African Histories: New Sources and New Techniques for Studying African Pasts (Pearson, 2011).
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    • 1 tim. 13 min
    Lynn M. Thomas, "Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners" (Duke UP, 2020)

    Lynn M. Thomas, "Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners" (Duke UP, 2020)

    By 2024, global sales of skin lighteners are projected to reach more than $30 billion. Despite the planetary scale of its use, skin lightening remains a controversial cosmetic practice. Lynn M. Thomas’ new book, Beneath the Surface: A Transnational History of Skin Lighteners (Duke University Press, 2020), investigates what she calls its “layered history.” Focused principally on South Africa, the book quickly makes evident how closely connected skin lightening is to the history of the United States and other parts of the African continent. Over the course of the twentieth century, and particularly in the context of minority rule in South Africa, skin lighteners have raised thorny debates about race, respectability and self-regard. Thomas examines these questions but shows how class and gender intersect with race to complicate our understanding of who brightens, and why. A complex history of capitalism, medicine, media and technology informs Thomas’ intimate portrayal of these perilous cosmetics. Beneath the Surface is a deeply social history of a singularly fraught commodity.
    Dr. Elisa Prosperetti teaches African and global history at SciencesPo Paris. Her research focuses on the connected histories of education and development in postcolonial West Africa. Contact her at www.elisaprosperetti.net.
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    • 57 min
    Mauro Nobili, "Sultan, Caliph, and the Renewer of the Faith" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    Mauro Nobili, "Sultan, Caliph, and the Renewer of the Faith" (Cambridge UP, 2020)

    In the early 19th century, on the floodplain of the Niger river’s inland delta in West Africa (present-day Mali), the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi emerged. The new State, locally known as the Maasina Diina, sought to consolidate its dominance over Fulani, Bamanan, and Arma military and political elites, as well as Jenne and Timbuktu’s scholarly establishment. It also attempted to reach a balance of power with neighboring Sokoto. The arsenal of tools the Caliphate deployed to achieve these goals included war, economic expansion, diplomacy, and the crafting of a historical chronicle known as the Tārīkh al-Fattāsh.
    In two separate strands of historiography, scholars have tackled the genesis and literary construction of the chronicle on the one hand, and the history of the Caliphate on the other. The new book Sultan, Caliph, and the Renewer of the Faith: Ahmad Lobbo, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh and the Making of an Islamic State in West Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2020), brings both together. Mauro Nobili argues that the Tārīkh al-Fattāsh was a coherent and historically contingent product of the Caliphate. It was designed as a result of one Ḥamdallāhi scholar’s assessment of what it would take to legitimize claims to power and authority in the hotly contested political landscape of 19th-century Muslim West Africa.
    Madina Thiam is a PhD candidate in History at UCLA.
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    • 58 min
    Neil Roberts on How Ideas Become Books in Africana and AfroAm Studies

    Neil Roberts on How Ideas Become Books in Africana and AfroAm Studies

    Where do good ideas come from? How does an idea go from creation to a research project? How is historical research done? And how does research find its way into a finished book? And what impact can a book have?
    Today, I discuss these topics and more with my colleague and friend Dr. Neil Roberts. Dr. Roberts teaches Africana studies, political theory, and the philosophy of religion at Williams College. Roberts is also the Chair and Associate Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Political Science and Religion. Additionally, Roberts is the W. Ford Schumann Faculty Fellow in Democratic Studies.
    Adam McNeil is a third year Ph.D. in History student at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
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    • 1 tim. 28 min

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