September 29, 2010

Call For Papers: Reframing Knowledge Production on 1970s Uganda*

Edgar Curtis Taylor

*CFP: Reframing Knowledge Production on 1970s Uganda*
February 5, 2011; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
Hosted by the African History and Anthropology Workshop

Scholars of Africa regularly cast Uganda in the 1970s as a
transitional period in the country's history as well as a symbol of
Africa's postcolonial ruination and failed struggle for cultural and
economic independence. Transnational mythologies of Idi Amin in film,
music, and literature have produced a rich, if highly questionable,
body of knowledge on his rule. However, the 1970s have produced
remarkably little scholarly consensus. Scholars struggle to move
beyond worn-out chronologies and seemingly contradictory
generalizations of social fragmentation, state collapse, and economic
decline alongside cultural self-assertion, national pride, and
economic empowerment. This state of affairs can be partly attributed
to the assumed dearth of written sources for this period (though the
recent openings of personal and government records in Uganda and Great
Britain are exciting developments). It may also be related to
scholars' difficulty reckoning with the ideological potency of the
1970s in contemporary political discourse, as activists of all sorts
seek to draw contrasts or parallels between their situation and a
constructed past.

However, Ugandans had remarkably diverse experiences in and of the
1970s that they have documented, commemorated, and remembered in
different ways. Recent work has shown that the 1970s saw novel
opportunities for Ugandans to re-imagine gender relations, conjure
political constituencies, develop trading networks, and reframe racial
knowledge. These works have equally shown the challenges Ugandans
faced toward such ends as well as the violence that characterized so
many spheres of social life during these years. Likewise, Ugandans
have constructed the 1970s as an object of knowledge through a
multiplicity of forms that contribute to an array of competing
historical projects.

This conference will consider creative work Ugandans have pursued in
and on the 1970s. We welcome papers from faculty and graduate
students that examine issues pertinent to this important period,
including those that may not be strictly bounded temporally or
geographically to 1970s Uganda but that consider how we have come to
know about this decade. Scholars from all disciplines and those
working across disciplinary boundaries are encouraged to apply.

Please submit a one page abstract by November 8th to
. (Include your name, email, and institutional
affiliation). We may have funds available to assist graduate student
presenters with travel expenses. Please indicate whether you would
like to be considered for travel assistance.


International Conference on India's Investment in Agriculture in Africa

sudha tiwari

International Conference on India's Investment in Agriculture in Africa
University of Mumbai, on 10-11 January 2011.*

*South- South Cooperation*
*India**, Africa and Food Security: Between the Summits*

Abstracts of about 500 words and a CV of two pages with contact details
should be sent as a single word file to: **

*Funding*: Local hospitality will be provided to all the participants for
the duration of the conference. Limited amount of travel grants will be made
available on request.

*Important dates*
Submission of abstracts - 15 October 2010
Notification of acceptance- 17 October 2010
Submission of completed papers – 10 December 2010
All queries should be addressed to Ms. Sudha Tiwari, Research Investigator,
at: **

*Overview and Topics*
In his closing remarks during India-Africa Summit in April 2008, the
President of United Republic of Tanzania and Chairperson of the African
Union Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete said one of the major concerns for Africa is
food security and urged India to invest in capacity building in the
agricultural sector. He stated, “Currently Africa's agriculture is peasant
agriculture, traditional, plagued with low levels of production. If we are
able to increase productivity in African agriculture, Africa would not only
be able to feed itself, but have huge surpluses to sell to the world. India
has the technology and the skills, which if made available to Africa;
certainly it will help implement the African Green Revolution” (India-
Africa Summit, 2008).

The widening levels of inequality and poverty globally, coupled with sharp
increases in the prices of agricultural products have aggravated the
challenges of food security. Moreover, the diversion of land for the
production of fuels (bio-fuel) in the face of environmental degradation as a
result of climate change has aggravated the food crisis The recent
debilitating economic slowdown has adversely impacted the situation on the
African continent that is faced with a largely unsuccessful approach to
agricultural production and food security and thus heavily reliant on
imports and aid to meet its food requirements.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) has identified
agriculture as a ‘sustainable solution to hunger and poverty in Africa’ and
emphasized the role of agriculture as an ‘engine of growth.’ African
countries are thereby seeking to become self sufficient in food grain
production by 2015. The continent has vast stretches of cultivable lands
that can collectively cater to local and global demands. Indian engagement
in Africa is significant in this context, particularly in the area of
capacity building of the agricultural sector in Africa. The Indian green
revolution in 1960s made her a food-surplus country and can be adapted on
the continent. Given its good track record India can provide low cost
appropriate technology to increase agricultural productivity for food and
raw materials in Africa.

The Indian engagement for capacity building in the agriculture and related
sectors is perceptible. The 2008 India-Africa summit facilitated this
engagement at multi- levels- government to government, public-private
partnerships and at the level of civil society and academia. In the
aftermath of the summit, India has become a key source of financing and
concessional lines of credit for agricultural projects in Africa. Instance
may be cited of Tanzania that received a line of credit of US $40 million
for financing the export of agricultural equipments in 2008-2009. Building
close institutional links and developing a process to share the knowledge in
agro-processing and related sectors will also help add value to agricultural

While analyzing the current scenario prospects of closer interactions and
related challenges too need to be looked at. How can we strengthen genuine
attempts to promote South-South Cooperation and avoid neo-colonial
maneuvers for exploiting African resources for India’s own benefits? How
can we strengthen a new and different cooperation model for South-South
cooperation and avoid repeating the same mistakes of traditional

The interregnum period between the 2008 India-Africa Summit and forthcoming
2011 Summit provides us with an opportunity to deliberate on all these

Within this broad remit we expect papers that will explore key areas related
to Indian engagement in African agricultural and related sectors. The themes

- Indian private companies (case studies)
- Exim Bank’s engagement
- Indian public sector engagement
- Food security, democracy and good governance
- Role of civil society and media
- Role of regional organizations
- Food security and gender
- Food security and conflict
- Importing Green Revolution
- Bio-fuels and Food security
- Need for a legal framework
- Capacity building and technology transfer
- India-Africa South-South Cooperation framework

The conference will be of an interdisciplinary nature.
Empirical case studies are particularly welcome.

*Conference coordinator*
Renu Modi (Director), Centre for African Studies
University of Mumbai, India


September 19, 2010

Conference: Islam in Contemporary Ethiopia

Won't be able to make this, but it looks interesting!

Transforming Identities and New Representations of Muslims in Contemporary Ethiopia

Date: 22-23 September 2010
Venue: UiB Global (University of Bergen), Jekteviksbakken 31

This workshop aims to analyse the transformation of Muslim identities and the production of new representations and imaginations of Islam and Muslims in Ethiopia. Integrated in the research questions are how recent socio-political dynamics have shaped new patterns of integration and translocal entanglements, while at the same time contributing to new practices of boundary-making. Such reciprocal and dynamic processes explain how new trajectories of communications may trigger old as well as new possible lines of conflict. Overall, the workshop seeks to fill a neglected aspect of Ethiopian Studies. It intends to collocate recent research on Islam in contemporary Ethiopia, as well as to identify areas in need for further investigations. Current trends within the Muslim community will be treated in relation to contemporary political, economical, social and cultural developments. This is both related to discourses within the Muslim community and with reference to the wider Ethiopian society.

The workshop is organized by Patrick Desplat (University of Cologne) and Terje Ostebo (University of Florida), and is co-sponsored by the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Christian Michelsen Institute, University of Bergen, and NLA University college.

September 22:

A. Ethiopian Muslims and the Horn of Africa
(Discussant: Dr. Nefissa Naguib)

"Genealogies of Somali Islamic Politics: The contribution of 'Ethiopian' Somalis" (Dr. Cedric Barnes)
"Islam, War and Peace in the Horn of Africa" (Dr. Haggai Erlich)
"The ideologies of Al-Shabaab" (Dr. Stig Jarle Hansen)
"Ahlu Sunnah wal Jama'a and Somali Sufism in the Horn of Africa" (Dr. Roland Marchal)

B. Capacities and Constrains: Muslim Representations in the Ethiopian Public Sphere
(Discussant: Dr. Lovise Aalen)

"Islam in Contemporary Ethiopia: New Possibilities and Enduring constraints" (Dr. Dereje Fayissa)
"Living Across Digital Landscapes: Indian Guru, Hadrami Diaspora and Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia" (Samson A. Bezabeh)
"The production of social and territorial boundaries in a context of increasing external influences: Adaptation and resistance to change among Muslim Afar pastoralists" (Dr. Simone Rettberg)
"Youth, Islam, and Ethno-nationalism in contemporary Bale" (Dr. Terje Østebø)

C. Transforming Muslim Identities: Reform, Appropriation and Resistance
(Discussant: Dr. Benjamin Soares)

"The Sacralization of Space: Islamic Shrines, Place-Making and the Heritage Industry in Harar" (Dr. Patrick Desplat)
"Identity, Islam and Ethnic Politics among the Siltie of Ethiopia" (Zerihun A. Woldesellassie)
"The Formation of a Muslim Regional Cult in Eastern Ethiopia - Sitti Momina and the Faraqasa Connection" (Dr. Minako Ishihara)
"Islamic Literary Heritage in Ethiopia: Change and Continuity" (Hassan Muhammed Kawo)


September 16, 2010

Swahili Proverb of the Day

"Ungeenda juu, kiboko, makazi yako ni pwani"

("Even though you go up-country hippopotamus, your real habitation is the coast")

This proverb has a connotation of reminding coastal people of their true identity. Lyndon Harries cites it in "The Arabs and Swahili Culture" in relation to a discussion of Swahili language and its transistion from being the language of Islam and coastal culture to being a national lingua franca.


September 13, 2010

Mawlid al-Habshi Mambrui, Kenya 2006

More people need to see this! SubhanAllah, so beautiful.


Eid al-Fitr in Doha

Qatar is making moves to be the major cultural, economic and educational destination in the Gulf. They're no Dubai (which is a good thing) but they are poised to be a major player and a destination for job-seekers in the education sector. Northwestern University recently expanded here and other universities are following suit. Georgetown is already established here. Qatar Foundation's vision is to bring the best departments and schools from a diverse group of American universities, and since this is a growth industry, American universities struggling at home are only too happy to expand into a market thirsty for the skills and expertise of job-hungry American academics. So Doha is an interesting place for these and other reasons. I.M. Pei designed the Islamic Art Museum here, chock full of paintings, tiles, carpet, Quranic inscriptions, glass lamps, illuminated books, carved doors and thousands of items from the Mughals, the Safavids, the Fatimids, the Mamluks, Timurlane's empire, and more.


More of Cairo: Taha Hussein's grave, the Maqam of Imam Shafi'i, and Ibn Ata Illah

"I arrived at length at Cairo, mother of cities and seat of Pharaoh the tyrant, mistress of broad regions and fruitful lands, boundless in multitude of buildings, peerless in beauty and splendour, the meeting-place of comer and goer, the halting-place of feeble and mighty, whose throngs surge as the waves of the sea, and can scarce be contained in her for all her size and capacity." -Ibn Battuta


September 12, 2010

The Pyramids

On a hot dusty day in Cairo, I jumped on a bus heading west to the suburb of Giza and the pyramids. Its quite a revelation to find that the Pyramids are smack in the middle of a bustling suburban area of Cairo, even more so when you encounter their stark beauty and sheer size. As for the relentless atmosphere of tourism, the scantily clad Italian and German tour package retirees...well it doesn't take away from the silent beauty of these monuments to the afterlife.

I also had the opportunity to see a much smaller less spectacular pyramid called the Step Pyramid. It is the oldest stone monument in existence, designed by the legendary architect, doctor and sage Imhotep. As always, enjoy the pictures!


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