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Welcome to the African Studies Program!

The African Studies Program has long been recognized as one of the leading centers for the interdisciplinary study of Africa. Our diverse research, teaching, and outreach activities promote greater understanding and appreciation of the continent and its people. We also promote the study of Africa in global perspective by cooperating with other area-studies programs, international centers, professional schools, and departments inside and outside Indiana University. All of our activities are conducted in accordance with our values stressing integrity, excellence, diversity, community, collaboration, and creativity.

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Program and Affiliate News

New York Times bestselling and award-winning author John Prendergast visited the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies to talk about his compelling book Congo Stories: Battling Five Centuries of Exploitation and Greed". Mr. Prendergast is also the founding director of The Enough Project. (Left to right: Ph. D. student and Kinyarwanda instructor Simon Pierre Munyaneza, John Prendergast, Ph. D. student and ASP graduate assistant Jennifer Lund, and Ph. D. student and Swahili instructor Susan Kavaya)

Bloomington area school-aged children can learn introductory IsiZulu through the Bridges: Children, Languages, World program. Grades K -6, Fridays through April 19, 4:00pm - 6:00pm, at Clear Creek Elementary. Download the flyer here and learn more about other opportunities by visiting our Outreach page.

The African Studies Program is excited to be included among eleven international centers and programs in the IU School of Global and International Studies to receive Title VI funding. This is a record number of SGIS centers to receive funding totaling $18.8 million. Read the full story here.

Dr. Bárbaro Martínez-Ruiz, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, and Tanner-Opperman Chair, will present "Ma Kisi Nsi: A Quest for Kongo Art" at the Journal of Southern African Studies (JSAS) Annual Lecture on October 5, 2018, held at the Brunei Gallery SOAS, University of London, UK. Abstract: "The lecture will focus on agency in Kongo society, exploring a complex state of social development in which legal, political, religious and visual systems motivate responses to and interpretations of Kongo cultural principles in the Atlantic world. Martinez-Ruiz will argue that the myriad forms of communication known as Ndinga i Sinsu seamlessly integrate into a wide range of audio and visual communicative techniques that he terms ‘graphic writing systems’." Read full abstract here. Martinez-Ruiz was recently appointed the Tanner-Opperman Chair of African Art History in honor of Roy Sieber which was made possible by a recent $1.5 million anonymous donation

Faculty, Student, Alumni, and Staff News

Congratulations to Jenny Parker on her appointment as Director of the West Africa Research Association! Jenny is also completing an African Studies Program minor as a Ph. D. candidate in the IU Department of Anthropology. We wish her the best on her new endeavor in Boston, MA!

IU ASP alumna Dr. Joanna Grabski (Art History) was nominated for the African Studies Association 2018 Herskovits Prize for her book, Art World City: The Creative Economy of Artists and Urban Life in Dakar (Indiana University Press). The annual award is for the best scholarly work on Africa, published in English, during the previous year.

IU alumna Kathleen Bickford Berzock (Ph. D., Art History) will curate an exciting new exhibition at the Northwestern University Block Museum of Art: Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa. The exhibition runs January 26, 2019, through July 21, 2019. Find full details by downloadng the press release here.

African Studies Program Senior Lecturer Dr. Betty Dlamini has been selected as a member of the Faculty Academy on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) Class of 2018! She is one of 20 distinguished members who participated in Summer 2018 retreat where all were inducted. Dr. Dlamini teaches IsiZulu language courses as well as culture classes such as Gumboot Dance: Beauty from Pain and Drama for Development. Congratulations, Dr. Dlamini, and thank you for your dedication to our students! Dr. Dlamini was also recently highlighted in a a story about IU In Rwanda where she led an intensive three-day workshop as part of the English as a Second Language teacher training.

It is with great sadness that we share that our friend and colleague, Cynthia Fati Kanko, passed away on Sunday, October 28, at her home in Bloomington after a long illness.

Cynthia was surrounded by family and close friends, and was at peace at the end. Her calm courage, optimistic spirit, warmth, and generosity were evident throughout, and offer us all inspiration.

ASP Director Dr. John Hanson wished to share the following, “Cynthia would want us to know that her faith sustained her. Cynthia also valued community, and she included all of us in that circle. She mentioned our kindness and support in what turned out to be my last conversation with her. Let us remember the vibrant, caring, and joyful Cynthia, and let us draw on her perseverance. Cynthia was an exceptional person, and our lives have been enriched by knowing her.”

Cynthia was a PhD student in French and Francophone Studies, and the Managing Editor of the African Studies Program’s journal Africa Today. She was also embedded in the larger Bloomington community, and thus her loss is felt widely and deeply.

Cynthia leaves to the world her beloved daughter, Jerusha. Donations in support of Jerusha’s care and education may be made out to “St. Paul Catholic Center’s H.O.P.E Fund,” specifying “Jerusha’s Scholarship.” Checks may be sent to St. Paul’s at 1413 E. 17th St., Bloomington, IN 47408. For more information about the fund, please contact Valli Youngs (

Upcoming Events ♦ Announcements

African Studies Program Spring Student Awards Reception

April 24 4:30-6:30pm GISB Ground floor reception area Students, faculty, staff and friends of the African Studies Program are invited to attend our year-end celebration honoring outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in African Studies. Awards will be presented at 5:00 pm. Sudanese appetizers and desserts will be provided by Nesrin Omer. We hope to see you there!

Take a Study Break at ASP this week!

April 22-April 25, 9:00am-4:00pm Daily, African Studies Program Offices, GA 3072 Whether you are needing sustenance to study for upcoming final exams, or just want to take a break, head over to African Studies this week! We'll have coffee, tea, sodas, and snacks waiting for you. Good luck on exams and have a great summer! Congratulations to those graduating!

Early Registration for Summer and Fall 2019

Summer: March 20 - 27 | Fall: April 1 - 26
View Fall 2019 AFRI course listings and cross listings with other programs, departments, and schools here and Summer 2019 here. The list will be continuously updated so please check back often or contact the African Studies prorgam at

Swahili Summer Language Workshop

Application deadline May 7, 2019

Swahili Level 1 (Elementary) and Swahili Level 2 (Intermediate) will be offered through the Language Workshop. Find full details and application here.

STARTALK Summer 2019

STARTALK returns this summer with Swahili instruction for middle and high school students. Find out more here!

The African Studies Program 2017-2018 Newsletter

Program news and activities, notes about retirements, remembrances of those who have recently passed, information about students, alumni, faculty, emeriti faculty, and staff, as well as other items (including photos). Download the PDF here!

Learn Swahili with IU CIBER and ASP!

Check out this video series about Swahili language and culture featuring African Languages Coordinator Alwiya Omar and Swahili instructor Susan Kavaya on YouTube, and find out more about IU CIBER here!

The African Music & Dance Showcase at the Monroe County Public Library introduced various languages and cultures to all in attendance. Pictured here are students of Zulu with instructors Betty Dlamini and Mpolo Lesetla. See more photos on our Facebook page.


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