Watch the videos of Africa Knows, new research group on the social history of Southern Africa, and 4,000 Africa photos donated to Wikimedia Commons

ASCL Newsletter December 2020

Africa 2020

Watch the videos of the start of Africa Knows!

The Africa Knows! conference kicked off on 2-4 December, with words of welcome by Carel Stolker (Rector Magnificus of Leiden University), Rajash Rawal (Vice President of The Hague University of Applied Science), and Tijmen Rooseboom (Ambassador for Youth at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Many impressive keynote speeches were given, which can now all be watched on YouTube. The conference will be resumed on 18 January, registration is still possible!

Web dossier: Africa Knows! 

To mark the Africa Knows! conference, the ASCL Library has compiled a web dossier on knowledge production, its decolonisation, and innovation in Africa. The dossier includes titles from the ASCL Library collection, extended with sources available through the broader Leiden University Library collection. The introduction is by Ton Dietz and David Ehrhardt. 

Clingendael Spectator: Africa sixty years after colonisation: success or failure? 

Like the ASCL, Clingendael Spectator also reflected on 60 years of independence in Africa. A dossier has been published containing seven articles (a number of which have been written by ASCL researchers) and a synthesis by Kiza Magendane, as well as an overview of the activities and knowledge products of the ASCL in 2020 (in Dutch).

Research news

New CRG: Patterns of Living in Southern Africa, 1780s to the present

Southern Africa has a rich tradition of social history, one inspired by the tumultuous changes since the 1780s. Scholars have sought to understand what these changes meant for everyday life and emphasised a perspective of marginal groups, how these people themselves made history, and how this history made them. This Collaborative Research Group intends to engage with the social history of the region and incorporate insights and perspectives from other regions and disciplines.

Linking short- and long-term social protection for greater poverty reduction

INCLUDE’s platform meeting on social protection on November 16 examined the large increase in social protection measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. The session identified the need to fund and implement programmes domestically and to link disaster responses to structural social protection, in order to provide more complete and consistent coverage to those in need. 

Harnessing clean energy from bio-waste in quest of reducing Kenya’s carbon footprint

The innovation histories research project of the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa Kenya Hub documents in-depth information on the conception, commercialisation, adoption and impacts of bottom-up frugal innovation products. Read the case study of a company in Kenya that produces a substantially high-energy, non-carbonized and environmentally friendly alternative to firewood and charcoal in the form of low-cost briquettes.

ASCL publications

Essays on African languages and linguistics in honour of Maarten Mous

This book celebrates Maarten Mous, Professor of African Linguistics at Leiden University. For many people working in the field of African linguistics (and beyond), Maarten has been a teacher, an engaged colleague, and an inspiration. On the occasion of his 65th birthday, this volume offers essays written by his former and current PhD candidates.

Philosophers beyond borders

Philosophers beyond borders, by Saskia Pfaeltzer and Maria van Enckevort, celebrates an array of philosophers hailing from Africa and the African diaspora, South America, South Asia, the Caribbean, and beyond. Succinct biographies are accompanied by characterful black and white portraits of each individual philosopher. The biographies contain thought-provoking quotations and direct the reader to the philosophers’ selected works. (Portrait Sophie Oluwole by Saskia Pfaeltzer).

Strijd om Angola (1975-1978) – mijn leven als dokter in tijden van Koude Oorlog

This book is in Dutch. In 1974 is Jarl Chabot net klaar met zijn specialisatie public health als hij besluit als arts Angola te gaan helpen een progressief gezondheidssysteem op te bouwen. In december 1975 wordt hij uitgezonden door het Medisch Komittee Angola (MKA). Het Angolese ministerie van Gezondheid stuurt hem eerst naar Cabinda, later naar Huambo, net bevrijd van de bezetting door UNITA en het Zuid-Afrikaanse apartheidsbewind. In dagboeken schrijft hij over zijn leven in de Koude Oorlog.

Publications by ASCL researchers

Library news

4,000 Africa photographs donated to Wikimedia Commons 

The ASCL Library has been uploading Africa photos to Wikimedia Commons since 2015. The ASCL collection now contains well over 4,000 images, and consists of several collections that have been donated to us over the years. For example: collections of the Nederlands Studenten Afrika Gezelschap, Roel Coutinho, Sjoerd Hofstra, Fred van der Kraaij, Aart Rietveld, Angeline van Achterberg and Wouter van Beek (photo). Intriguing collections!

Web dossier: COVID-19 in Africa 

A vast body of literature is developing on the COVID-19 outbreak in Africa and its social, economical, and political consequences. This ‘growing’ web dossier keeps track of new scientific publications on this subject. Also links to relevant web resources will be included.

Library Highlight: A trilogy by Tsitsi Dangarembga

In her latest book This Mournable Body (shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize), Tsitsi Dangarembga returns to the protagonist of her first novel Nervous Conditions (1988) and its sequel The Book of Not (2006). Her debut novel dealt with the girl called Tambu who grew up in a Shona family in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in the 1960s. In the third part of the trilogy, Tambu is middle-aged.

Note that the library will be closed for the festive season (25 December up to and including 3 January). Read more


Africa Knows! Blog 

The Africa Knows! Blog complements the current conference. In it, challenges and opportunities in the African knowledge landscape are discussed, for example related to new technologies, COVID-19, privatisation, or the decolonisation of the Academy. Latest post is by Birgit Meyer (Utrecht University): ‘Studying Religion in and from Africa’ (photo: Birgit Meyer). 

In the media

Jan Abbink about the conflict in Tigray, Ethiopia: several interviews

Jan Abbink has been interviewed by newspapers, websites and radio stations in several countries, such as Deutsche Welle, Knack, Trouw and NOS. The interviews deal with the conflict between the Tigray region armed forces and the Ethiopian federal army.

Ton Dietz on Radio 1 about Africa Knows

Ton Dietz, co-organiser of Africa Knows!, was interviewed by Radio 1 about the conference and its themes. He said that still, in joint European/African research projects, the Northern scholars (and the research funders) are usually at the controls. The way of doing things is still determined from the North.