ASC Newsletter September 2015

African Studies Centre Leiden Newsletter, No. 10, September 2015
ASC News

Stephen Ellis, 1953 - 2015

‘We mourn the loss of a prominent scholar and an inspiring colleague. But it is more in keeping with Stephen’s spirit to celebrate his legacy and to continue asking irreverent questions, pursue unlikely leads and publish the outcomes', ASC researcher Ineke van Kessel wrote in her obituary of our beloved colleague Stephen Ellis. Stephen died at home on 29 July 2015. He had leukemia, a disease that manifested itself three years ago. With great admiration we have seen how he coped with his illness, and until very recently worked on a book manuscript about a history of Nigerian organized crime, which is virtually ready. We are thankful for having received so many expressions of sympathy.

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Education news

Research Masters in African Studies 2015 has started!

During the next two years, these students (and more to join them in February!) will follow an interdisciplinary programme that combines in-depth study of a particular theme and region in Africa with fieldwork. The Research Masters in African Studies is offered in cooperation with Leiden University.

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Research news

International Conference in Critical Management Studies; report by Agnieszka Kazimierczuk

Agnieszka Kazimierczuk, PhD candidate, visited the international Conference in Critical Management Studies last July. She presented a historical overview of policies and institutions on productive employment in Kenya and the Netherlands, highlighting the strong link between the Dutch state and the private sector, especially regarding policies towards private sector development in developing countries.

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'Connecting Africa's Conflicts'

The Broker, in collaboration with the ASC, has launched a new web dossier: 'Connecting Africa's Conflicts'. The dossier provides insight into the conflict dynamics throughout the Sahel-Sahara and Central African regions. It builds on the workshop 'Governance and Connections in Africa's Contemporary Conflicts' held in March at the ASC. Mirjam de Bruijn and Han van Dijk are among the contributors to the dossier.

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News from INCLUDE

Just before the summer break, INCLUDE, together with the Food & Business Knowledge Platform and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organized an expert meeting with Dr Bekele Shiferaw, executive director of ‘Partnership for Economic Policy'. The session generated a discussion on the various strategies to overcome barriers for employment generation in inclusive value chains.

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New publications

New ASC/Brill book: David Livingstone and the myth of African poverty and disease


After a close examination of Livingstone's writings and comparative reading of contemporary authors, Sjoerd Rijpma has been able to draw cautious conclusions about the relatively favourable conditions of health and nutrition in Southern and Central Africa during the pre-colonial period. The surprise awaiting travellers in and also before 19th century Africa was that the inhabitants of the interior, even the 'slaves', were healthier and better fed than many Europeans. Sadly, Sjoerd Rijpma died on 6 February of this year. 

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Walter van Beek (ed.): Evil in Africa: encounters with the everyday


This volume of essays seeks to understand how Africans have confronted evil around them. Grouped around notions of evil as a cognitive or experiential problem, evil as malevolent process, and evil as an inversion of justice, the essays investigate what can be accepted and what must be condemned in order to evaluate being and morality in African cultural and social contexts. 

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Contribution Marcel Rutten and Maru Shete Bekele to new book on Africa's 'land rush'


ASC researcher Marcel Rutten and PhD candidate Maru Shete Bekele have contributed to the new book Africa's Land Rush: rural livelihoods and agrarian change. Their chapter deals with large-scale land acquisitions in Ethiopia and the implications for agricultural transformation & livelihood security, by taking an Indian agricultural company in Ethiopia's hinterland as an example.

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New article by Jan Abbink: 'The Ethiopian revolution after 40 years (1974-2014): plan B in progress?'


In this article in the Journal of Developing Societies, Abbink reflects on the sociopolitical impact and memory construction of the Ethiopian revolution of 1974. Decades have passed and a new political leadership has reshaped Ethiopian society after the demise of the Ethiopian revolutionary regime in May 1991, but the effects are still felt.

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Library news

Acquisition Highlight: The courage of ǁkabbo

This book relates to the famous archive of ǀxam and ǃkung texts created by Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd in 19th century South Africa. ǁkabbo was the oldest of the speakers of the ǀxam language in their household, and he wanted his stories to be known through books. Lucy Loyd managed to have 'Specimens of Bushman Folklore' published in 1911. By then, the ǀxam language was extinct.

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Conference of European Librarians in African Studies: report by Heleen Smits

On 7 July, 33 librarians from 8 countries gathered in the Bibliothèque Universitaire des Langues et Civilisations (BULAC) in Paris. Jos Damen, Elvire Eijkman and Heleen Smits represented the library of the African Studies Centre in Leiden. Theme: special collections.

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marieke on RTL
ASC in the media

Obituaries of Stephen Ellis published worldwide

An overwhelming amount of obituaries of Stephen Ellis has been published worldwide. To quote Lansana Gberie in Africa Confidential: 'He was undoubtedly the most productive and accomplished Africanist of his generation (....).' We made an overview of the obituaries on our website.

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Volkskrant-Afrikablog about Voice4Thought Festival

Sophie van Leeuwen wrote about the Voice4Thought Festival for the Volkskrant-Afrikablog. She interviewed Croquemort (slammer/doctor from Chad) and Smockey (protest leader from Burkina Faso). 

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Excellent review of Van Walraven's 'The Yearning for Relief: A History of the Sawaba Movement in Niger'

'The Yearning for Relief: a history of the Sawaba movement in Niger' by ASC researcher Klaas van Walraven received an excellent review in Africa Spectrum. It's called a 'groundbreaking and deeply engaging historical study of Sawaba in Niger'. 

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The Spiritual Highway: Religious World Making in Megacity Lagos

This seminar on 17 September accompanies the new exhibition at the ASC of photographs taken by Akintunde Akinleye. Since the late 1980s, numerous Christian and Muslim prayer camps have sprung up along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Subsequently, this highway has grown into a stage for the performance of public religiosity. Speaker: Dr Marloes Janson (SOAS, London).

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Underground Politics in Turbulent Times: Social Dynamics of Gold Mining Projects in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is a young but prolific terrain for industrial gold mining projects, with ten mines built in the last ten years. Only now are the effects of industrial gold mining on local populations becoming clear. Resistance to mining is growing rapidly. Dr Sabine Luning (Anthropology, Leiden University) will examine this subject during the seminar on 24 September.

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Other news

PhD Defence Margot Leegwater: Sharing Scarcity: Land Access and Social Relations in Southeast Rwanda

On 16 September, Margot Leegwater will defend her PhD at the VU University Amsterdam. Her study examines the effects of land policies on local community relations, including ethnicity, and land conflicts in post-conflict rural Rwanda. Promotor: ASC researcher Prof. Jan Abbink. In the morning, also at the VU, Leegwater will organize a seminar about Rwanda.

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Highlights Africa

World Social Science Forum, Durban, 13-16 September

WSSF2015 is a global event of the International Social Science Council and is hosted by the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). Theme: Transforming global relations for a just world.

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African Studies Association of Africa Conference, 13-17 October

The African Studies Association of Africa (ASAA), which was launched at the University of Ghana in October 2013, is holding its first international conference at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan, 13-17 October.

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