African Studies Workshop

ASW Poster

Mondays from 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Please sign up to the African Studies Workshop listserv to stay updated and receive the weekly papers.

The remainder of the Fall 202 African Studies Workshop will be held virtually via Zoom.

Register to join the virtual workshop series here.

Sign-up HERE to join the Harvard African Studies Workshop listserv and receive presentation papers electronically before event.

The African Studies Workshop at Harvard continues this year with a new and exciting schedule of presenters. The presenters' papers explore Africa’s changing place in the world - and the new economies, legalities, socialities, and cultural forms that have arisen there. We shall also interrogate the claim that the African present is a foreshadowing of processes beginning to occur elsewhere across the globe; that, therefore, it is a productive source of theory and analysis about current conditions worldwide. At each workshop, a scholar presents a paper on one facet of the rapidly changing position of Africa in the global political economy and the impact of that change on global distributions of wealth, well-being, and power. Then a discussant provides commentary followed by an open discussion, in which students are given the floor first, followed by anyone else in attendance. Workshop presenters are scholars of high international repute as well as up and coming Africanist intellectuals.

The Workshop runs, simultaneously, as an undergraduate/graduate seminar, a professional apprenticeship for doctoral Africanists-in-training across the disciplines, and a laboratory for international scholarly exchange. The intellectual theme for the Workshop is: Africa Rising? New African Economies/Cultures and their Global Implications.  Under this theme, three major topic foci are addressed:

  • Changing Economies, Changing Politics, Changing Faces of Capitalism

  • State Transformations, Social Order, and the Problem of Crime

  • Health and Crises of Reproduction

At each Workshop, a paper, pre-circulated a week in advance through a mailing list, will be presented for critique and discussion. Students, post-docs and workshop attendees are then invited to engage in discussion, under the moderation of the Workshop Chair Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong.

View previous workshops here:



Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong
Oppenheimer Faculty Director, Center for African Studies Ellen Gurney Professor of History and of African and African American Studies (Faculty of Arts and Sciences)




September 19: Paul Landau
Paul Landau Photo

Presenting: Mandela’s ANC: Pan Africanism, a United Front, and Mass Insurgency

Paul S. Landau is the author most recently of Spear: Mandela and the Revolutionaries (2022). He is a professor of history at the University of Maryland at College Park and a fellow in History at the University of Johannesburg. His two prior books, The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (1995) and Popular Politics in the History of South Africa, 1400–1948 (2010), were finalists for the African Studies Association Herskovits Prize. Landau is interested in visual culture, religion, and popular politics. He lives with his family in Washington, DC.

Professor Landau's most recent publication, Spear: Mandela and the Revolutionaries is available from Ohio University Press. Use promo code 'SPEAR' for 31% off the paperback and 40% off the hardcover through Sept 23.

Discussant: Evan Lieberman is the Total Professor of Political Science and Contemporary Africa at MIT.


September 26: Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

Paul Zeleza

Presenting: Africa and the Decentering of the Global North

Paul is Professor at Case Western University, and 2022/23 Harvard Hutchins Fellow. Previously Paul was the Vice-Chancellor, United States International University-Africa in Nairobi, Kenya. He was also Vice President of Academic Affairs at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, USA. Previously he was Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts and President’s Professor of History and African American Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He also served as head of the Department of African American Studies and the Liberal Arts and Sciences, Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, taught at the Pennsylvania State University, and was Director of the Center for African Studies and Professor of History and African Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 2006 he is Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. In 2015, he was a fellow at Harvard University.

Discussant: Mamadou Diouf is the Leitner Family Professor of African Studies and the Director of Columbia University’s Institute for African Studies.


October 3: Birgit Meyer
Birgit Mayer Photo

Presenting: Idols’ in the Museum: Legacies of Missionary Iconoclasm

Birgit is Professor of Religion at Utrecht University. Birgit Meyer (PhD anthropology, 1995) is professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University. She has conducted anthropological and historical research on missions and local appropriations of Christianity, Pentecostalism, popular culture and video-films in Ghana. Trained as a cultural anthropologist, she studies religion from a material and postcolonial angle, seeking to synthesize grounded fieldwork and theoretical reflection in a multidisciplinary setting. Recent book publications include Sensational Movies: Video, Vision and Christianity in Ghana (2015), Figuration and Sensations of the Unseen in Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Contested Desires (2019, coedited with Terje Stordalen), and Refugees and Religion. Ethnographic Studies of Global Trajectories (2021, coedited with Peter van der Veer). She directs the research program Religious Matters in an Entangled World (

Discussant: Jacob Olupona is Professor of African Religious Traditions, Harvard Divinity School and Professor of African and African American Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.


October 17: Nate Plageman
Nate Plageman Photo

Presenting: Concretizing an Urban Public?: Sekondi’s Optimism Club and Collective Life in a Colonial City

Nate is Associate Professor of History at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina, USA. His research focuses on Ghana and uses social historical approaches, popular music, and written and oral source materials to understand the fluid fabric of Ghanaian urban life. The author of Highlife Saturday Night: Popular Music and Social Change in Urban Ghana (2013), Nate is currently writing a social history of Sekondi-Takoradi from c. 1890-1965.

Discussant: Kay Shelemay is is the G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music at Harvard University.


October 24: Afyare Elmi
Afyare A. Elmi Photo

Presenting: Building a Democratic State in Somalia: Pitfalls and Prospects

Afyare is the executive director of the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies in Mogadishu. Prior to this, Elmi was an academic and he taught political science and international relations at universities in Canada, Qatar, and Somalia. In addition to his book, “Understanding the Somalia conflagration: Identity, political Islam, and peacebuilding published by the Pluto Press, he authored/co-authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications and a dozen policy papers. Afyare Elmi has a BA in Public Administration from Ryerson University, an MA in Political Science from Brock University, a second MA in Education Policy from the University of Toronto, and an interdisciplinary Ph.D., specializing in political science from the University of Alberta. He has also provided commentaries and published opinion/editorial articles in some of the leading international media outlets.

Discussant: Abdi Samatar is a Professor in the Geography department at University of Minnesota.


October 31: Aalyia Sadruddin
Aalyia Sadruddin Photo

Presenting: Old Bodies, Young Lives: Aging Worlds in Rwanda

Aalyia is an Assistant Professor of Cultural and Medical Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill. She conducts research on care, death, and kinship in postconflict Central and East Africa. Sadruddin’s current book project, “After-After-Lives”, is an ethnographic examination of aging, creative modes of expression, and intergenerational experiences of time in the decades following ethnic and political violence in Rwanda. Her research has been supported by various grants and fellowships, including the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, Brown University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Yale University. She has published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Medical Anthropology, Anthropology Now, and Social Science & Medicine.

Discussant: Darja Djordjevic is a graduate from Harvard Medical School/Department of Anthropology and an American Psychoanalytic Association Fellow.


November 7: Uchenna Okeja
Okeja Photo

Presenting: The Irony of Esteem: Humanities Scholarship and the Future

Uchenna is a professor and chair of philosophy at Rhodes University. His research interests are in moral and political philosophy. His book Deliberative Agency: A Study in Modern African Political Philosophy was published in March 2022 by Indiana University Press".

Discussant: Stanley Uche Anozie is Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College.


November 14: Seye Abimbola POSTPONED
Seye Abimbola black and white photo

Presenting: Gaze – Ethics and the Knowledge Practices of Global Health

Seye is a health systems researcher from Nigeria. He is a senior lecturer at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, in Australia, where he teaches and studies knowledge practices in global health, health system governance, and the adoption and scale up of innovations. He is the editor in chief of BMJ Global Health, and the 2020-22 Prince Claus Chair in Equity and Development at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where he is working on epistemic dignity and justice.

Discussant: Gene Richardson is Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.


November 21: Nana Akua Anyidoho
nana akua anyidoho photo

Presenting: From Makola to Insta: Changing narratives of Ghanaian women traders

Nana is Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Social Policy Studies (CSPS) at the University of Ghana. Her research is in the areas of social policy, with a focus on the ways in which people interact with the policy process. She is interested, in particular, in how young people and women, as marginalized social groups, attempt to construct better lives for themselves within globalizing and neo-liberal policy structures.

Prof. Anyidoho has a BA in Psychology from the University of Ghana and a PhD in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University. She has published in development studies, gender studies, and African studies journals, and is on the editorial boards of African Affairs, African Review of Economics and Finance, Ghana Studies and Policy Studies.

Prof. Anyidoho serves on the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association (ASA-USA), the Executive Committee of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), and the Governing Council of the University of Ghana. She is the immediate past President of the Ghana Studies Association (GSA).

Details of her projects, publications and professional service can be found at

Discussant: Gracia Clark is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington.


November 28: Ahmed Kabel
Ahmed kabel Photo

Presenting: African futures and the politics of language

Ahmed is an associate professor at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. He has written widely on language policy, political economy, language ideologies, the politics of English and global linguistic coloniality.

Discussant: John Mugane is the Professor of the Practice of African Languages and Cultures at Harvard University and the Director of the African Language Program.