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Events Calendar


The African Studies Center hosts and co-sponsors a wide array of talks, conferences, symposiums, and seminars by internationally renowned intellectuals, artists, and scholars.

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January

Dr. Kamela Heyward-Rotimi
Global Black Scholars’ Limited Access to Digitized Academic Knowledge

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 3:15-4:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

Dr. Heyward-Rotimi is a public anthropologist and researcher specializing in the equitable appropriation of, access to, and the production of digital knowledge by groups of the African diaspora. She will discuss her current project on developing an open-source digital repository to support the bidirectional exchange of scholarship for researchers at institutions in Africa and the Caribbean as well as those at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.   Free.   Please Contact: Institute for African American Research iaar@unc.edu for more information.


Complexity Galore: Governance and Outcomes of Sustainability Initiatives in Africa
Prof. Stefano Ponte

Thursday, January 25, 2018, 5:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

New and more complex partnerships are emerging to address the sustainability of natural resource use in Africa. These partnerships variously link donors, governments, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), business, certification agencies and other intermediaries. Yet, we still do not know whether more sophisticated organizational structures, more stakeholders involved, and more advanced participatory processes have delivered better sustainability outcomes, and if so, in what sectors and under what circumstances. The ‘New Partnerships for Sustainability’ (NEPSUS) research project assembles a multidisciplinary team to analyze sustainability partnerships in three key natural resource sectors in Tanzania: forestry, wildlife and coastal resources. In this presentation, Prof. Stefano Ponte, of the Department of Business and Politics at Copenhagen Business School, explores some of the main conceptual issues arising in this effort and presents preliminary results. He has authored or edited eight books, including, most recently, the monograph Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World (with Lisa Ann Richey, Minnnesota University Press, 2011). This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


SERSAS/SEAN 2018 Spring Conference
Friday, January 26, 2018 - Saturday, January 27, 2018, All day.
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

The South East Regional Seminar in African Studies (SERSAS) & Southeast Africanist Network (SEAN) will hold their Annual Joint Meeting at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The joint SERSAS/SEAN conference prides itself on providing a collegial and welcoming atmosphere, and we are particularly interested in supporting emerging scholars. Co-sponsored by the African Studies Center, UNC-Chapel Hill and the Center for African Studies, University of Florida.   Registration/fee is required.   Please Contact: Todd Leedy tleedy@ufl.edu for more information.



February

Monitoring, Accountability, and Program Success: The Comparative Influence of Social Accountability Actors in Three African Contexts
Prof. Brigitte Seim

Thursday, February 1, 2018, 5:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

Brigitte Seim (Public Policy, UNC-CH) asks: when and why are government programs more effective and less corruptible? Although this question figures prominently across theories of development, it has been difficult to adjudicate among the many factors that are known to promote program success. This talk examines the determinants of successful public programs in Ghana, Malawi and Uganda and suggests that donor-funded programs with visible outputs and those that involve collaboration with civil society groups are most likely to experience success, both in terms of greater effectiveness and limited corruption. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


Personhood as Infrastructure: Derivation, Extension, and Self-Making Among Dar es Salaam's "Street Electricians"
Prof. Michael Degani

Thursday, February 8, 2018, 5:30 PM.
Fedex Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

Extending AbdouMaliq Simone’s notion of “people as infrastructure” in African cities, this talk examines how freelance “street electricians” build their careers by positioning themselves as informal fixers along different stretches of Dar es Salaam’s faltering power network. The power network can be understood as a sociotechnical gradient that moves from the alienable to the inalienable; the short-term to the long-term; the derivative to the singular. The deeper into the network an electrician operates, the more his or her personhood absorbs and reciprocally mediates its flows of value—often to ambiguous effect. Electricity is thus channeled not just through people, but through persons, in all of their specificity and history. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


Graduate Student Research Jama
Margit Bertalan and Mark Reeves

Thursday, February 15, 2018, 5:30 PM.
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 2008/2010, UNC-CH

Margit Bertalan is a PhD student in Environment and Ecology at UNC-CH. Her research focuses on human-environment interactions in Kenya and the perception of conservation by local residents. Mark Reeves is a PhD student in History at UNC-CH. His research focuses on the global history of anticolonialism in the 20th century, especially intersections between anticolonialism and various forms of internationalism. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


Prof. Joseph Mensah
African Immigrants in Canada and the Racial Discrimination Boomerang

Thursday, February 22, 2018, 5:30 PM.
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 1005, UNC-CH

The Black population in Canada today is highly diverse; it includes the Canadian-born descendants of those who came through the slave trade; the descendants of those who migrated from the U.S. before and after the Civil War; and Blacks who immigrated from the Caribbean, African, and other countries in recent decades. Notwithstanding this diversity, portrayals of Blacks as a homogeneous group abound in the Canadian public discourse and academic writings. This presentation will deal with the immigration, socioeconomic conditions, and experiences of racism among Blacks in Canada, paying particular attention to Black continental Africans. Prof. Joseph Mensah is Chair of the Department of Geography at York University in Toronto. A first-generation African-Canadian intellectual, born and raised in post-colonial Ghana where he did his B.A., he has written widely on Cultural Studies, transnational and return migration, ethno-racial identity formation, and African development. His most recent book, written with Christopher J. Williams, is entitled Boomerang Ethics: How Racism Affects Us All. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.



March

Partial Evidence and Slow Violence: Maternal Death in Malawi
Prof. Claire Wendland

Thursday, March 1, 2018, 5:30 PM.
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

Public attention to high maternal death rates in Malawi has often prompted people to bolster their own authority by blaming others for dangerous care—in addition to blaming mothers themselves. Ethnographic research in Malawi reveals that narratives told by community experts (inside and outside the formal health sectors) legitimate some kinds of expertise, often by characterizing other kinds as dangerous: corporeally, socially, or spiritually. To represent reproductive violence as an acute crisis can be politically useful. That representation also risks drawing attention away from the slow injuries that happen within health systems, between them, or outside them entirely. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


Prof. Charles Piot
Migration Stories: The US Visa Lottery and Global Citizenship

Thursday, March 22, 2018, 5:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

More Togolese per capita apply for the US Diversity (Green Card) lottery than those from any other African country, with winners attempting to game the system by adding “spouses” and dependents to their dossiers. The US consulate in Lomé knows this gaming is going on and constructs ever-more elaborate tests to attempt to decipher the authenticity of winners’ marriages and job profiles – and of their moral worth as citizens – tests that immediately circulate to those on the street. This presentation explores the cat-and-mouse game between street and embassy, situating it within the post-Cold War conjuncture – of ongoing crisis, of an eviscerated though-still-dictatorial state, of social death and the emptiness of citizenship under such conditions, of a sprawling transnational diaspora and the desires and longings it creates, of informationalism and its new technologies, of surveillance regimes and their travails, and of the way in which mobility/immobility and sovereignty are newly entangled and co-constitutive in the contemporary moment. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.



April

Black Capitalists and the Politics of South African State Capture
Prof. Anne-Maria Makhulu

Thursday, April 5, 2018, 5:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

This talk examines a form of corruption that is both systemic and defined by private sector influence over political decision-making. South Africa is not the only country in which the private sector holds such sway over state directives. What is particular to the South African context, however, is also what makes state capture there most especially insidious given rapacious financialization of the very conditions of life: from the monetization of basic utilities; to the efforts at municipal cost recovery for infrastructural projects in poor, black communities; and most centrally, to the politics of procurement that facilitates the provision of utilities, infrastructure, and other basic goods and services. That those who illicitly access state coffers through government contracts for development projects and those radically disadvantaged by such asset stripping are black, in a sense, occludes the processes of re-racialization by capital that is the outcome of state capture. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.


Care, compassion and memory in the Ebola museum
Prof. Adia Benton

Thursday, April 12, 2018, 5:30 PM
FedEx Global Education Center, Room 4003, UNC-CH

What can practices to commemorate official epidemic responses tell us about the logics of response itself? Prof. Benton compares two exhibits that describe efforts to respond to the 2014-6 West African Ebola epidemic: the Imperial War Museum’s “Fighting Extremes: From Ebola to ISIS” (London) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Ebola: People + Public Health + Political Will” (Atlanta). For the military museum, Ebola represents an instance of the ‘extreme’ and the extraordinary capacity of the armed forces to provide care under challenging circumstances. The exhibit showcases the tensions of militarized humanitarianism, referred to elsewhere as the ‘empire of hugs.’ The CDC exhibit, while highlighting the contribution of its workers and ‘partnerships’ so central in US public health discourse plays to intimate dimensions of ‘population’ – suggesting that acts of care may occur outside the frame of the interpersonal. She will also discuss the in-progress National Ebola Museum in Njala, Sierra Leone, where questions of local ownership, memory and immunity linger in the digital and oral history archives. This talk is part of the Thursday Jama series sponsored by the Carolina Seminar in African Ecology and Social Processes. The Thursday Jama is open to all area faculty and graduate students in any discipline. Light refreshments will be served.   Free.   Please Contact: Stacey Sewall sewall@email.unc.edu for more information.



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