Aligning African Worlds
For the 2020-2021 academic year, CSAAD implemented two new rubrics within which to place all of its virtual programming: Aligning African Worlds and Diasporic Africa in Dialogue.
In concert with NYU-Abu Dhabi’s Office of Inclusion and Equity, on February 24, 2021, CSAAD hosted the forum, African Worlds in Conversation: Blackness without Borders: The Intersection of the Black Experience in the Middle East/North African (MENA) and Muslim World. The speakers included Professors Eve M. Troutt Powell, Chouki El Hamel, and Rogaia Mustafa Abusharaf, and was a wide-ranging conversation about the notion of “blackness” and “anti-blackness” in this part of the world.
African Worlds in Conversation: COVID-19, Africa, and the African Diaspora, held on October 16, 2020, was a discussion with Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Dr. Yvonne Commodore-Mensah, and Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe. These doctors discussed African-descended communities and the several factors that contribute to health disparities that place black people at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19. They also pondered public health infrastructures, the “global health advantage,” and problematized the question of “developing” countries. They also addressed high-risk factors determined by poverty, crowded living areas, and lack of healthcare access, as well as the global effect of Covid-19 on Africa, exploring why Africa (at the time of the session) seemed to have been less affected than western countries. Additionally, they explored how people of African descent could potentially respond to the vaccine.
On September 23, 2020, the series African Worlds in Conversation: Black Lives Matter, Globally hosted a discussion between scholars based in North America, Germany, and France: respectively, Dr. Ben Talton, Dr. Mauren Maisha Auma, and Dr. Maboula Soumahoro. These scholars highlighted mainstream media’s contribution to the Black Lives Matter Movement’s popularity and its global implications. They examined the impact of protest on calling out institutionalized racism and the issues of racism and citizenship in the Diaspora. For these scholars, the Black Lives Matter Movement is forcing the United States and European governments to reconcile with notions of police brutality and racism that still exists. These scholars concluded that protests matter as symbols and transformative agents, while also commenting on the implications of the “Defund the Police” strategy.
African Worlds in Conversation: African Artifacts and the Politics of Repatriation was a discussion held on January 22, 2021 with panelists Dr. Rashida Bumbray, Dr. Ciraj Rasool, and Dr. Delinda Collier, and hosted by Dr. Ben Talton. This panel of scholars, activists, and artists discussed the restitution of African art and artifacts to Africa and, more specifically, restoring looted items and cultural relics from the continent. They also discussed restitution movements, confronting colonial histories, agency, and authorship of African and diasporic actors. They tackled the spiritual aspect of objects that have been divorced from their reality and explored multiple “colonialism,” including mercantile colonialism and internal colonialism with respect to South Africa. Finally, the panelists explored museums as gatekeepers and how museums were embedded in the process of colonial violence.
African Worlds in Conversation: Whither Ethiopia? The Implications of Intervention in Tigray Province, hosted on April 9, 2021, featured Professors Adom Getachew, Ruth Iyob, and Semahagn Abebe. The event was a critical discussion of the conflict primarily between Ethiopia’s federal government in Tigray Province. The panelists underscored that questions of accountability should be directed to the governments and their armies. They also highlighted that this is happening in a digital era, while discussing the design of ethnic federalism versus an imperial impulse that goes back centuries while continuing into the present. One conclusion was that responses to the crises should involve broader questions about Ethiopia’s political future.