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From the President

Dear Colleagues,

As I write this letter, plans for the 59th annual meeting of the African Studies Association in Washington DC are being finalized. And what an exciting meeting it will be: under the umbrella of the theme “Imagining Africa at the Center: Bridging Scholarship, Policy and Representation in African Studies,” the program features a vibrant menu of panels, roundtables, keynote lectures, professional development workshops, live-streaming sessions, and more. We are grateful to Program Chairs Benjamin Lawrance (Rochester Institute of Technology) and William Moseley (Macalester College) and Local Arrangement Committee Chairs Eve Ferguson (Library of Congress), Alem Hailu (Howard University), and Carl LeVan (American University) and their committee members for their tireless work to create an engaging and enjoyable meeting.

Meanwhile, as you can see from the Summary of Board Decisions below, the Board and Secretariat have been busy developing programs to meet our strategic goals. These include: the new AfricaNow! category for the annual meeting to showcase sessions on late-breaking events, including memorials; our first ever Advocacy workshop for members, in collaboration with the National Humanities Alliance; planning for the next Africa-based conference to be co-sponsored by the ASA and the American Political Science Association; and support of a named “African Studies Association” panel at the next annual meeting of the World History Association.

Two key initiatives are:

1) The Call for Editors for the African Studies Review, one of the ASA’s two prestigious journals. The current ASR co-editors, Elliot Fratkin (Smith College) and Sean Redding (Amherst College), have worked with their editorial team and Cambridge University Press to build ASR into a premiere interdisciplinary journal. We now seek a new editor or group of editors (and supporting institutions) to further strengthen the reach and reputation of the journal. Interested? Then please attend the workshop for potential editors at the ASA annual meeting.

2) The launch of our 60th Anniversary Campaign Fund (yes, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the ASA at the 2017 annual meeting in Chicago) to support existing and new ASA initiatives. Our current financial stability ensures the continuation of core programs, but we have ambitious plans to increase the number of Africa-based scholars who participate in our meetings, co-sponsor smaller meetings on the continents on a regular basis, engage in more substantive ways with our coordinate organizations, and provide needed financial and professional support to our emerging scholars. Watch for more details and information about how to donate very soon.

As this is my last President’s letter, I want to say what an honor and privilege it has been to serve the Association as President and Vice President. The success of the ASA depends on the labor and commitment of its small staff, active Board members and other leaders, and diverse membership. Throughout this time, I have been in almost daily contact with the ASA’s remarkable Executive Director, Suzanne Moyer Baazet, who constantly dazzles me with her professionalism, innovative ideas, and passionate commitment to the Association. She is supported, in turn, by two remarkable Program Managers, Renée DeLancey and Kathryn Salucka, and Sonja Madison (Executive Assistant) and Mark Fiala (Financial Manager).

I have enjoyed working with and learning from our fabulous Board officers and members. James Pritchett (Past President when I started as Vice President) provided calm guidance and mentorship in my first months. Toyin Falola (current Past President) shared sharp questions and a sense of humor in all proceedings. Anne Pitcher (current Vice President) undertook the relentless work of leading the Nominations Committee and Annual Meetings Committee with grace and goodwill. And I am thrilled that my friend and colleague, Jean Allman, will soon take over Vice President. I cannot list all of the Board members with whom I have had the pleasure of working over the past two years, but I do want to thank those who are leaving this year (Ousseina Alidou, Peter Lewis, and Peter Little) and welcome those who will soon be joining the Board for their three-year terms (Nwando Achebe, Cyril Obi, and Derek Peterson).

I look forward to seeing all of you in Washington, DC in December.


Dorothy L. Hodgson
President of the African Studies Association

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