20April2014

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Good Greetings!  

I would like to take a moment to welcome you to the African Studies Association blog.  I have had the honor of serving the ASA in a number of capacities, and I am now proud to serve as the organization’s vice president.  

Since its inception in 1957, the African Studies Association has blossomed into the leading association of scholars of African Studies in the Western Hemisphere.  Througout its long life, the association has worked to promote excellence in African Studies in a variety of ways.  It has provided unparalleled opportunities to distinguished and up-and-coming scholars through its myriad awards and fellowships. Through those recognitions, it has brought valuable scholarship to the attention of the wider African Studies community.  It has further worked to facilitate scholarship through the publication of two journals, African Studies Review and History in Africa: A Journal of Method.  Most important of all, the ASA has provided a meeting place for dedicated students of Africa—from graduate students to professors' emeriti—to come together and benefit from a vast array of perspectives and insights.  It is to this last achievement that I believe the ASA blog will contribute.

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Category: March, 2014

Training in Less Commonly Taught Languages for the 21st Century

Fallou Ngom, PhD

Associate Professor of Anthropology Director, African Language Program  Boston University
Board Member of the African Studies Association


The distinction between language learning and acquisition in the field of applied linguistics is not fortuitous. While the former is construed as artificial, the latter is understood as natural and deeply embedded in the socialization process. From the times of the Grammar Translation Method, the Silence Way, the Audio-lingual Method, to our era of the Learner-centered Communicative Teaching Approach and Computer-assisted Language Learning (CALL), the central challenge in language teaching and learning remains the same. It is about how to make the artificial learning experience mirror the natural acquisition process so that learners gain knowledge of the language and culture in ways that mirror the native speakers’ experience. Put in another way, the age-old challenge in language teaching and learning has been about how to make the classroom mimic the target language context in which naturally occurring language is entwined with the local culture.

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Category: March, 2014

Believing in the Strength of a Woman: Can Central African Republic (CAR) finally be saved?

Patricia Nangiro 

This article was first published in Strife, the blog page of King's College London's Department of War Studies. It is being re-published here with the Author's permission.


Gone are the days when the thought of a woman in public leadership sent doubt signals to men and women alike. More so, in a conflict-affected context like Central African Republic (CAR), her (the woman's) capacity to lead and make critical decisions on behalf of the people would automatically be put to question or dismissed. But when Ms. Catherine Samba-Panza was announced interim President of CAR in January 2014, following the resignation of President Micheal Djotodia who took over power after Islamist Seleka rebels staged a coup against Francois Bozize in March 2013, many people expressed hope and relief, but importantly thought it right, in time of crisis for a woman to lead the war ravaged country to peace and stability. Samba-Panza becomes the third African woman to become head of state during a critical moment in the evolving security of the country.

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Category: March, 2014

Thoughts from the ASA Distinguished Africanist Award Winner (2013)

Allen Isaacman, PhD

Regents Professor of History, Universitsy of Minnesota
Extraordinary Professor,  University of Western Cape


I am deeply honored to be selected for the ASA Distinguished Africanist Award. The African Studies Association and all of you mean so much to me. It is humbling to be in the company of such distinguished scholars as:

My former teacher, advisor and long-term friend, Jan Vansina. Jan’s pioneering research inspired generations of scholars and opened up so many areas of research. Without his support at critical junctures in my graduate career, I doubt that I would have completed my Ph.D., and I certainly would not be the scholar I became.

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African Studies Association
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