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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.

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




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

Colloquium – Su Zheng, Li Yinbei, Ma Chengcheng, Sun Yan

Exploring Music in China’s New African Diaspora—An Innovative U.S.-China Team Research Project

This Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Location: Freeman Center for East Asian Studies

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Since the 1990s, African traders and investors have made their way to China as a result of the rapid surge of China-Africa trade. There are now somewhere between 30,000 and 200,000 African migrants living in Guangzhou. Su Zheng led a research team of threegraduate students from Shanghai Conservatory to explore music in Guangzhou’s African communities. They will present their research on various African diasporic music scenes in Guangzhou and discuss the theoretical and methodological issues that arose in this innovative cross-cultural, cross-national team research process.

Su Zheng is associate professor of Music at Wesleyan University. LI Yinbei, MA Chengcheng, SUN Yan are graduate students in ethnomusicology from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China.


‘Leo Africanus’ Discovers Comedy: A Mediterranean Adventure
From Wesleyan’s Website:
Sep. 15, 2013 by Ann Tanasi
This talk stages a dialogue between two theatrical traditions at the end of the Middle Ages: the popular theater of the Arabic and Islamic world and the theater of Christian Europe. It does so through the adventures of Hasan al-Wazzan (“Leo Africanus”), a Moroccan traveler and diplomat, who was captured by Christian pirates in 1518 and spent several years in Italy as a seeming convert before returning to North Africa. The talk reflects on possible limits to cultural exchange and on the continuing vigor of alternate cultural traditions.
Natalie Zemon Davis has received honorary degrees from numerous universities in the United States and Europe. In 1987 she served as President of the American Historical Association.  In recognition of her path breaking historical work, in 2010 she was awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize, and in 2012 she received the National Humanities Medal.

wpid-Davis-239x300-2013-10-11-15-55.jpgNATALIE ZEMON DAVIS

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita

Thursday, October 17 – 4:15 pm – Beckham Hall


A talk by Rachel Schurman, a professor of sociology from Minnesota, about her project “Science for the Poor: Foundations, Firms and the New Green Revolution for Africa” at 4:30 pm Monday, October 14, in PAC 001.  Her website, http://www.soc.umn.edu/people/schurman_r.html.

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