Letter from the President

Dear Colleagues,

The 56th Annual Meeting of the ASA in Baltimore was a remarkable event. Thousands of participants were treated to hundreds of stimulating and thought provoking panels and roundtables; special film screenings which included interactive sessions with the directors of the films; an exhibit hall with over 40 exhibitors; major addresses by Iris Berger, Ngwarsungu Chiwengo, Salah Hassan, and Abdi Samatar; a policy forum with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams; a current issues plenary with Charles Rotimi; art by Helina Metaferia featured throughout the conference hotel; a grand gala-style award ceremony, and concluding with a Saturday night dance party with music by Sitali. Most of the major events were live-streamed to the world, and the interactive event app “Grupio” was available for those more comfortable using smart devices rather than paper programs to manage their schedules. 

 

Much thanks is due to the ASA Board of Directors for their diligent work on the many committees that sustain the organization.  Thanks also to Program Chairs Jaime Monson and Dianna Shandy for transforming the torrent of abstracts submitted back in March into the intellectually vibrant program we experienced in November. Thanks also to Local Arrangement Chairs Pier Larson and Paul Landau for the opening and closing events, and everything in between that made Baltimore feel like home.  But an especially sincere thanks is due to the ASA Secretariat, Suzanne Moyer Baazet, Funmi Elise Vogt, and Kathryn Salucka.  It is absolutely incredible that these three individuals, working together for the first time, were able to construct such a highly polished, well organized, innovative and stimulating program.  They have set a high bar and left us with high expectations for future meetings.

This issue of ASA News will feature highlights from the Baltimore meeting.  It contains the Women’s Caucus Lecture given by Ngwarsungu Chiwengo, an interview with the 2013 Herskovitz winner Derek Peterson, and the last two Presidential Lectures given by Aili Tripp and Abdi Samatar.  It also contains the first Service Award Citation, photographs from the recently concluded Annual Meeting and a tribute to Nelson Mandela.  I especially call our readers’ attention to a series of pieces on the changing and challenging funding landscape for African Studies.   We invite continuing commentary from the membership on this matter, as the board will dedicate significant time and energy in the coming year to plotting our course through this difficult terrain.

Finally, I call your attention to the Call for Proposals for the 57th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association: Rethinking Violence, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation. The deadline for abstract submissions is March 15th, 2014. The meeting will be held November 20-23 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis Hotel, Indianapolis, Indiana.  For those unaware, note that Indianapolis has been selected by the New York Times as one of the 52 Places to Go in 2014, and one of only eight US Cities to make the list of Global Hot Spots.  So register early and book your rooms soon!


James A. Pritchett
President African Studies Association