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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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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 (

Program and Affiliate News

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

Dr. Jennifer Brass, Associate Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, has earned the Outstanding Book Award in Nonprofit and Voluntary Action Research for her publication, "Allies or Adversaries: NGOs and the State in Africa," from the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA).

The Journal of African History (Cambridge University Press) has published Dr. Marissa Moorman's article, Guerilla Broadcasters and the Unnerved Colonial State in Angola (1961-74), which explores the relationship between Angolan guerrilla broadcasts and their effects on the Portuguese counterinsurgency project in their war to hold on to their African colonies. Dr. Moorman is an Associate Professor of History.

Upcoming Events ♦ Announcements

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!

Lecture: Urban displacement and the limits of post-war politics: Imagining the future in Monrovia

February 14, 2019 | 4:00pm - 6:00pm | GISB GA 3067
Dr. Daniel J. Hoffman, Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington. "A decade after the official end of Liberia’s long war, a large population of ex-combatants and internally displaced persons remained adrift in the urban fabric of Monrovia. Though they had lived for years in the city’s ruins, these urbanites were largely unable, even unwilling, to make a place-based claim to rights to the city." Download full abstract here.

Friday Colloquium Series

February 15, 2019 | 10:30am - Noon | GISB GA 1112

Our next colloquium features Dr. Daniel J. Hoffman, Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington: Thinking Photo-ethnography: Approaches to the Still Image.

*A full series schedule is coming soon, so please check our Friday Colloquium page for updates!*

African Music and Dance Showcase

February 25, 2019 | 6:00pm - 8:00pm | Monroe Country Public Library
Experience performances in languages from West Africa (Akan, Bamanankan, Wolof, and Yoruba), East Africa (Kiswahili and Kinyarwanda), and South Africa (IsiZulu)! Participate in drumming, songs and dances, and learn about clothes, riddles, and proverbs.

Film Series: Cinéma Sans Frontières

Through February 25, 2019 | Various Locations

The French and Italian department presents Cinéma Sans Frontières: Beyond Francophone ‘Realities,' including two films set in Africa:

Download the full series schedule here. Sponsored by the Department of French and Italian, the FACE Foundation, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Institute for European Studies, the Black Film Center/Archive, the Cultural Studies Program, and IU Cinema.

Contemporary African Seminar Speaker Series

March 4 and 25, 2019 | 4:30pm - 6:00pm | WH 101
The Contemporary Africa Seminar Speaker Series for Spring 2019 features two intriguing talks center around the AFRI-A 731 discussion of Biopolitics and Postcolonial Discourse. Professor Timothy Brennan opens the series on March 4, and Professor Kristin Peterson joins us on March 25. Full details and abstracts can be found here.


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