ASCL Newsletter December 2015 - January 2016

African Studies Centre Leiden Newsletter, No. 13, December 2015 - January 2016
ASCL Highlight

African Studies Centre integrates with Leiden University

On Wednesday 16 December, the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL) and Leiden University will sign an agreement that arranges the integration of ASCL within the University as of 1 January 2016. After many years of working closely together, the unofficial ties between the two institutions will now become formal.

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Education news

MA African Studies accredited for next five years

The Leiden Master African Studies (one-year programme) has seen several changes in the last two years, particularly focused on the interdisciplinary profile of the programme and the mandatory internship in Africa. This work has been rewarded on 4 December: the Vice-dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Dr. Joost Agusteijn, and the Head of the MA African Studies Programme, Dr. Daniela Merolla, got the great news that the QANU/NVAO assessment panel ('visitatiecommissie') found the Master African Studies corresponding to all internationally required standards.

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Research news

High-spirited first meeting Leiden African Studies Assembly; university invests in Africa research

Africa scholars of Leiden University and the ASCL met on 8 December for the first ‘Leiden African Studies Assembly’ Meeting. It appeared a very encouraging meeting for the new Africa strategy that Leiden University is developing alongside the integration of the ASCL into the University as an interfaculty institute.

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Seminar and interview with Wijnand Klaver, retiring researcher of food security and nutrition in Africa

On the occasion of the retirement of researcher Wijand Klaver, the ASCL is organizing the seminar 'Nutrition in Sustainable Development: Africa on its way from undernitrition to obesity?' on Tuesday 15 December. We also interviewed Wijnand about the challenges Africa will face within the next 35 years concerning food security and nutrition.

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New research project on regional trade in West Africa

The ASCL has recently started a scoping study focusing on regional trade integration in West Africa: ‘Improving the perspective for regional trade and investment in West Africa: the key to food security, economic development and stability in the region?’. The study has been commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Evaluation of the 'epicentre' strategy of The Hunger Project (Benin)

The ASCL has evaluated the ‘epicentre’ strategy of The Hunger Project in Bétérou, Benin. Epicentres can be described as ‘dynamic centres where communities are mobilized for action to meet their basic needs’. In this evaluation the PADev approach (Participatory Assessment of Development) was used.

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New publications

African Roads to Prosperity: People en Route to Socio-Cultural and Economic Transformations


This book, edited by the ASCL's Akinyinka Akinyoade and Jan-Bart Gewald, brings together the results of studies of the various cultural, social, economic and historical aspects that are formative in African societies’ experiences of how people negotiated the spaces and times of being in transit on the road to prosperity. It has been published in the African Dynamics series. 

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The Forge and the Funeral: The Smith in Kapsiki/Higi Culture


Walter van Beek's The Forge and the Funeral describes the position of the smith in the culture of the Kapsiki/Higi of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria, based upon the author’s four decades-long involvement with the Kapsiki/Higi. Situated in the Mandara Mountains and straddling the border of these two countries, Kapsiki culture forms a specific and highly relevant example of the phenomenon of the smith in Africa.  

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Working paper: From billions to trillions: Is the Financing for Development Agenda universal and inclusive?


This working paper by Marion Eeckhout focuses on the financial means of implementation generated since the Monterrey Conference for attaining the Millennium Development Goals in Sub-Saharan African countries. It explores whether the Monterrey Consensus in 2002 constituted an inclusive action agenda, thus creating an equal chance for all developing countries to benefit from the additional financial resources mobilized. 

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Homegrown or Imported? Frugal Innovation and Local Economic Development in Zambia


Innovation and entrepreneurship have the potential to stimulate economic growth. Yet it remains unclear whether top-down or bottom-up innovations are more likely to lead to local economic development. In this article in Southern African journal of policy and development, Iva Peša looks at three cases of frugal innovation on the Zambian Copperbelt, in the spheres of housing, water and energy.

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Library news

New web dossier: Africa-Asia relations

On the occasion of the Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture 2015, given by Howard French on 10 December, the ASCL Library compiled a web dossier on the Africa-Asia relations. The relationship between Africa and China and other Asian powers features heavily in the Library's collection, and is a subject well represented in ASC research, including in the research collaborative group ‘Africa in the world’.

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Library Highlight: Le Mali Contemporain

According to the editors of  Le Mali contemporain, the lack of information on the socio-political, economic and demographic changes that Mali has witnessed since its independence in 1960 has diminished an understanding of what is actually happening in Mali considerably. This collective work, with contributions by Malian and European researchers, aims to remedy this knowledge deficit.

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Guided tours of the ASCL Library

The ASCL Library offers guided tours to groups of students, employees, school children or other interested parties, taylored to their specific demands.

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ASCL Community news

New publications by ASCL community members

Prof. Susan Booysen, University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), has written a book about the Zuma-led administration and its impact on the ANC. Bruce Mutsvairo, Northumbria University (UK), has edited a volume of articles about the role of citizen journalism in railroading social and political changes in sub-Saharan Africa.

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marieke on RTL
ASCL in the media

Ton Dietz in Nederlands Dagblad about giving money to entrepreneurs in stead of investing in projects

ASC director Ton Dietz was interviewed by Nederlands Dagblad about a Worldbank programme in which money was give directly to entrepreneurs in stead of invested in large-scale projects.

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Article in Mare about the ASCL becoming an interfaculty institute of Leiden University

Mare, Leiden University's weekly, published an article about the ASCL becoming an interfaculty institute of Leiden University.

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Ton Dietz quoted in oped about reaching disabled persons with development work

Ton Dietz was quoted in an oped by Dicky Nieuwenhuis, the coordinator of the Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development, in Reformatorisch Dagblad. Dietz concludes on the basis of research that development initiatives usually have no effect on very poor and vulnerable people, a group in which disabled persons are overrepresented. 

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Seminars and conferences

15 December: Round table: An African precariat? Africa’s informal workers and inclusive development

The ASCL, in cooperation with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, will be hosting the third Roundtable on Labour Issues and Trade Unions in Africa on Tuesday 15 December 2015. Title of this year’s Roundtable: 'An African precariat? Africa’s informal workers and inclusive development.' 

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14 January: Entrepreneurs by the grace of God: Rethinking policies to promote entrepreneurship among the poor

Merel van 't Wout, winner of the Africa Thesis Award 2015, will take a closer look at efforts to promote entrepreneurship as a development strategy, based on the stories of seamstresses in Bolgatanga (Ghana). She argues that there is a huge discrepancy between the theoretical arguments underlying efforts to advance entrepreneurship among the poor and the everyday realities that people portrayed as 'entrepreneurs' are facing on a daily basis.

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28 January: Forged in War: the Establishment of Colonial Rule in Zambia, 1890-1920

In contrast to historians who argue that the colonial state nearly collapsed during World War One, Prof. Jan-Bart Gewald in his latest book Forged in the Great War: People, transport, and labour, the establishment of colonial rule in Zambia, 1890 – 1920 claims that the establishment of effective colonial rule in Northern Rhodesia only came about on account of the unique conditions that developed in the First World War. At this seminar, Gewald will elaborate on his discoveries.

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Other news

Missed the Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture by Howard French? Watch the video!

The Annual Lecture on the China-Africa encounter, given by Howard French on 10 December, was a huge success. If you missed it, take a look at the video.

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Blog Ton Dietz: Co-create South Africa? Co-create access to universities!

In his latest blog post Ton Dietz writes about the explosive situation at South Africa’s universities. He detects four layers of anger among students and staff in different places in the country.

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News from INCLUDE

Very poor women need a more intensive package of services to break out of subsistence production. This is one of the conclusions of the INCLUDE working conference ‘What works to promote employment prospects for women and youth: policy-knowledge interactions for inclusive development in Africa’. In the conference dossier you’ll find a report, a video and the keynote speakers’ presentations.

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Guest lectures Marcel Rutten on conflicts around land, water and wildlife-based tourism in Kenya

Within the framework of the CoCooN Initiative Kenya project, that focuses on conflicts around land, water and wildlife-based tourism in Kenya, ASCL senior researcher Marcel Rutten will give a lecture at the University of Salzburg on 14 December, the last in a series of four at European universities.

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Highlight Africa

28 January: The 8th Ecassa Social Protection Policy Makers Conference

The East and Central Africa Social Security Association (ECASSA) organizes a conference in recognition of the rampant challenges facing youth and other workforce in the active age due to high levels of un/(der)employment in the region, that ultimately denies the majority of the people access to social security.

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