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About African Studies @ Wes:

Wesleyan University’s African Studies Cluster is devoted to facilitating a deeper understanding and engagement with Africa for the Wesleyan Community and beyond. We bring together a diverse array of courses focusing on Africa, culling the interests of faculty specializing in Africa from a wide variety of disciplines. This broadly interdisciplinary cluster focuses on a large geographic region that is of great historical, cultural, political, and artistic importance and interest to American university students, not to mention American society in general. The cluster promotes interdisciplinary learning in the best of liberal arts traditions.

Photos courtesy of Olivia Drake and various students and faculty.

Help shape the social media presence of the African Studies Cluster!

Get involved in helping to plan upcoming African Studies Events!

 

We are looking for a student with experience in WordPress and other social media platforms. Good organizational and writing skills are a must and photography and digital recording skills are helpful but not required.

10$/hour and flexible hours

Email Prof. Twagira (ltwagira@wesleyan.edu ) for an interview.

 

Lunch talk sponsored by the History Department and African Studies:

 

Ebola in the News

A Historical and Political Perspective

A recent NPR story reported that the recent outbreak of the Ebola virus has “Broken All The Rules” (Sept 20, 2014).

“Worst Case Scenario: CDC Predicts 1.4 Million Cases in Four Months” (New York Times, September, 24, 2014)

 

Has Ebola broken all the rules? What do we know about past outbreaks?

What is the potential political impact for Africa?
Professors Bill Johnston (History), Laura Ann Twagira (History), and Mike Nelson(Government) will discuss the recent health crisis.


Monday, October 6, 12-NOON, PAC 002. Light lunch will be available.

 

Ebola in the News

Panel Discussion:
Gender, Islam, and the “Muslim Problem”

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM
CFA Hall

•   •   •
§ Aida Mansoor
¶ President of the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut

§ Leila Buck ’99
¶ Writer, performer, and teaching artist

§ Dr. M. Saud Anwar
¶ Mayor of South Windsor, Connecticut

§ Typhaine Leservot
¶ Associate Professor of French and Letters

§ Peter Gottschalk
¶ Professor, Department of Religion
•   •   •
This panel, part of the Muslim Women’s Voices Project, will feature a discussion of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiments, which have proven so influential among non-Muslim Americans and Europeans. The panel will ask questions that will prepare the community for the larger, year-long look into the complexities that challenge what are often one-dimensional popular portrayals of Islam, gender, and Muslim groups and cultures.

From my colleague, Typhaine Leservot

A quick announcement to bring your attention to several events this week involving Northern Africa through the “Muslim Women Voices” festival:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 4:15 PM / Daltry Room (Music Rehearsal Hall 003) / free: Women’s Voices, Verbal Ability, and Symbolic Power: The Case of Moroccan Shikhat. Alessandra Ciucci analyzes a wedding celebration in Morocco to determine the role(s) of the shikhat, a class of professional female singer-dancers.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 7:00 PM / CFA Hall / free: Panel Discussion: Gender, Islam, and the ‘Muslim Problem’. Organized and moderated by Professor of Religion Peter Gottschalk.

Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM / World Music Hall / Free for Wes students. Meryem Saci Workshop: Music Is Medicine—Hip Hop Therapy for the Bifurcated Soul. In this workshop, Meryem Saci will explore her experiences as a refugee, an artist, and a Muslim woman. She will unpack the therapeutic and spiritual benefits that music can provide, pulling examples and lessons from her own history and life story. Meryem Saci fled Algeria in 2000 and now lives in Montréal.

Saturday, September 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM / Fayerweather Beckham Hall / Planet Hip Hop Festival Concert – Evening performances by international Muslim women in hip hop, including London’s spoken-word duo Poetic Pilgrimage, the U.S. debut of Montreal-based Algerian singer-songwriter and rapper Meryem Saci (pictured) as a solo artist, and the New England debut of Washington, D.C.-based and Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, poet, and emcee Maimouna Youssef a.k.a. Mumu Fresh as a solo artist.

More at a later date: look for Hind Benali, Moroccan dancer, who will come at Wesleyan the week of October 13th.

For more information about the entire MWV festival, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa/mwv

Women’s Voices, Verbal Ability, and Symbolic Power: The Case of Moroccan Shikhat.
Alessandra Ciucci (Northeastern University)
4:15 PM Wednesday, September 17
The Daltrey Room (Rehearsal Hall Room 003)

For musicians and audiences in North Africa and the Middle East hearing music means, first and foremost, hearing a poetic text. The Arabic term musiqa (music), in fact, needs to be understood as a relatively recent adoption brought about by colonial and post-colonial politics, conservatory training and, more recently, by the music industry. Poetry also plays a critical role in everyday life. In Morocco, where indirect speech is the preferred means of communication, poetry is the perfect coded vehicle of expression. Verses of a particular song in fact are often sung to comment on matters that are being discussed and, thus, woven in and out of spoken discourse. Singing therefore is both a socializing and an intimate discourse with which and through which people bond, express their inner selves, celebrate their desires, reflect on their predicaments, and question and challenge their status quo, reshaping ideas and reconfiguring boundaries of power.

But what does it mean for a female performer to be and to have such a poetic voice? What is her role in the context of performance? What is the role of traditional and improvised verses constituting the principal means of oral communication at occasions where participants share the understanding of the codes and convention of a specific genre of sung poetry? And what can an analysis of the interaction between audience and performers, and of the participation and socialization among the guests, reveal about the voice of a class of professional female singer-dancers (shikhat) in Morocco? In this talk I will analyze significant moments at a wedding celebration in Morocco in order to determine the role(s) of the shikhat and of a genre of sung poetry, aiṭa, in performances associated with ceremonies publicly sanctioning the transition and transformation of individuals. This ethnographic focus aims to present an analytical framework on researching authority, gender and access, and the notion of power and performance for women in North Africa and the Middle East.

Alessandra Ciucci received her PhD in music (ethnomusicology) from The City University of New York at The Graduate Center and is currently a Full-Time lecturer at Northeastern University in Boston. Her research focuses on the music of Morocco, music and gender, sung poetry, and music and migration in the Mediterranean. Her articles appear in Ethnomusicology, The Yearbook for Traditional Music, The International Journal of Middle East Studies, Mondi Migranti, Cahiers de musiques traditionnelles, and in several edited volumes. She is currently working on a book project tentatively titled Sounding Rurality: Tradition, Modernity, Migration and the Mediterranean Horizon. Ciucci has been a recipient of a Fulbright foreign scholarship grant (Morocco), a fellowship from the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women, a grant from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies Grant, and was a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Music Department at Columbia University.

Esi (’14) has reported on her “Ghana Writing Project” that commenced this summer:

I have had three classes with them so far. It has exceeded all my expectations – the students have been so respectful and extremely eager to learn. They are always very happy to see me and they have done all the reading and writing assignments I have given them, all 30 of them, which is a very good sign. I am not very sure if I mentioned this in the last email I sent but I decided to go for a much older year group; 15 year olds. This group will be taking their B.E.C.E’s next April, which is a Ghanaian wide exam everyone in the public school system takes to place them into Senior High School. I did this in the hopes that we could have deeper conversations about the books we were reading. Unfortunately, this has been far from the case. I have come to realize that their level in reading and writing is not what their teachers had told me. They are very behind their age mates in other parts of the world. We are using Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s, Weep Not, Child and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. If I had  known their level before I purchased the reading material, I would have most probably gone with other choices. I am making it work, though – I have made several adjustments to my original syllabus; I have incorporated spelling and dictation exercises, a mandatory vocabulary diary for each of them and also I have had two of them lead with me in each class, to improve their public speaking skills.They seem to have really enjoyed the classes I have had with them which is a good sign.

She includes the following photos:

photo 2 photo 1

MukomaPoster-1

BrodiganFlyer2014

Mietek

Our very own Professor of History, Richard A. Elphick, has been nominated for the African Studies Association’s Melville J. Herskovits Award for his book, The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Charlottesville, and London: University of Virginia Press, 2012). The Award honors the most outstanding book published in African Studies in the previous year. The winner will be announced at the annual conference this weekend.

For more information: http://www.africanstudies.org/publications/asa-news/november-2013-56th-annual-meeting/276-2013-melville-j-herskovits-award-finalists

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