Week of October 21, 2019
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In This Newsletter

  • SASA Oct. 23
  • Baraza Oct. 25
  • Upcoming Events...
  • Spotlight Feature: Kimberly Ledger
  • Last Week's Recap
  • Spring 2020 Courses in African Studies


View our Spring 2020 Course Offerings in African Studies in this Newsletter!
On Left- Dr. Chalfin at Florida House, Makerere University, Uganda

Join us at the Center for African Studies

This Week...


October 23 | 11:45am | 471 GRI
"Effects of Biodiversity Loss on Tick Species Diversity and Abundance in a southern Africa Savanna"
Kimberley Ledger, University of Florida


October 25 | 3:30pm | 404 GRI
"Currency Terms and National Identity in East Africa"
Nancy Kula, University of Essex.

Upcoming Events...

Natural Resource Management WG

October 31 | 12:45am | 471 GRI
"Scales, Fur and Bone: Situational Factors in the Illegal Supply Chain of Pangolins and Big Cats in Zambia"
Jessica Kahler, University of Florida.


November 1 | 3:30pm | 404 GRI
"Insincere Peace? The Political Autonomy of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Peace Rapprochement"
Kjehi Tronvoli, International Law and Policy Institute.

Institutions and the State WG

November 4 | 3:00pm | 471 GRI
"Legislatures and Democratic Consolidation in Africa"
Ken Opalo, Georgetown University.


November 6 | 11:45am | 471 GRI
"Human-Wildlife Coexistence outside North Luangwa National Park, Zambia"
Leandra Merz, University of Florida.


November 8 | 3:30pm | 404 GRI
"From Guy Senghor to Masalik al-Jinaan: Murid Struggle for a Place in Urban Senegal."
Cheikh Babou, University of Pennsylvania.

Natural Resource Management WG

November 14 | 12:45pm | 471 GRI
"Challenging Ecological Paradigms: Insights from a Model Savanna Ecosystem."
Michael Anderson, Wake Forest University.

Center for African Studies Community News 

Spotlight Feature

Kimberly Ledger  

Nearly everywhere on Earth, humans are changing the landscape and biodiversity is in decline.  Habitat modification and loss of biodiversity play a key role in infectious disease risk and alter the ability of ecosystems to regulate prevalence of important human, livestock and wildlife diseases.  Ticks are the most important vector of livestock disease and rank second only to mosquitoes as vectors of human infectious
disease globally. I am integrating approaches from landscape and community ecology to understand how land use and defaunation contribute to tick abundance and diversity, and how that translates to prevalence of significant human and livestock tick-borne diseases.  In Eswatini, I study how habitat composition and savanna fragmentation drive differences in tick communities and alter the risk of disease for livestock and dogs.  In South Africa, I use long-term large mammal exclosures in Kruger National Park to better understand the context and mechanisms of how large wildlife loss has cascading impacts on tick populations and tick-borne pathogen prevalence.  By identifying how changes to ecosystems affect ticks and tick-borne diseases, we can better use integrated vector management to minimize future detrimental impacts. 
Kimberly Ledger is a PhD student in the Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department at the University of Florida.  She received a B.S. in Biology from the University of Montana in 2014.  After spending several years working on projects related to evolutionary ecology, wildlife genetics, and science education in Central America and the U.S., she is now studying how land cover change and defaunation influences arthropod vectors and vector-borne diseases in southern Africa.

Accomplishments and Awards

Please send information about awards or other accomplishments by UF Center for African Studies community members to for their inclusion in the news bulletin.


Please send citations for your recently published articles, book chapters, book reviews, or op-ed pieces to for their inclusion in the news bulletin.

Last Week's Recap

On October 15, the Islam in Africa Working Group hosted a lecture by Ikram Getachew (University of Florida). Her presentation, “A Religious Entrepreneur and Female Migration: A Case Study on Muslim Religious Leader in Masqan Wereda, Ethiopia,” centered on her dissertation research. She began collecting data from fieldwork in 2014, and her most recent visit was in 2019. She used participant observation of male religious leaders and informal interviews/conversation with women to better understand Jilale Liqa gatherings that celebrate the saint, Abdul Qadir al-Jilani.

Ikram’s research centers specifically on a religious leader in Masqan Wereda who took on the role of hosting Jilale Liqa. This leader knew little about Islam and had no connection to Sufi Sheiks, which made him an unusual candidate for the role. Jilale Liqa gatherings typically have various rituals throughout the day, including Darama, which was added in 2007 by this religious leader. Darama is when people contribute money or gifts to the shrine of al-Jilani in exchange for a blessing by the religious leader. It is important to note that the offerings are received and utilized by the religious leader for his own economic benefit. Although participants in Jilale Liqa are aware of this, and recognize the religious leader’s lack of faith, they still continue to participate in Darama and believe in the power of the blessings they receive in exchange.

Participants in Darama are often women dealing with health or fertility problems, or who are facing economic challenges which force them to migrate to the middle east. Ikram found that women migrants felt they can only receive support for their visa process and journey through the blessings of al-Jilani and because of this, the religious leader has addressed a vacuum in the society. This vacuum is due to lacking state support in protecting Ethiopian migrant laborers and the psychological need for protection that women seek when leaving. The leader used the opportunity to help himself while also addressing the needs of the community that were not being met. Her paper is forthcoming in Africa Today.
On Friday October 18, Ben Mendelsohn gave a Baraza lecture titled, “Urban Coastal Archives: Visual Culture and the Land-Water Divide in Lagos, Nigeria.” Dr. Mendelsohn is a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in environmental humanities at University of Pennsylvania and earned his PhD from New York University. His publications include: “Making the Urban Coast: A Geosocial Reading of Land, Sand, and Water in Lagos, Nigeria.” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (2018).
Dr. Mendelsohn’s Baraza had two parts—first he discussed his research on the intersections between land and image making in coastal Nigeria through visual media culture, highlighting the connections between coastal and creative ecologies. Lagos, a coastal mega-city, has a host of infrastructure problems including flooding, traffic jams, deteriorating coastlines, and increased need for land as populations boom. Dr. Mendelsohn is interested in projects of ‘earth moving’ where landscapes are dredged, sand is filled, and land is made. Eko-Atlantic City is one of many land-making ventures in Lagos, but it is the most fantastic—structures have been built to trap sand on a reconstructed peninsula that had previously washed away due to colonial-era development which had reduced coastal protections. In exchange for the construction of the ‘Great Wall of Lagos’ sea barrier, developers were allowed to create luxury waterfront real estate on the reconstructed peninsula. He connects projects like Eko-Atlantic City to creative and visual production in Lagos, where luxury waterfront developments are used as the sites of music videos, photographic series, newspaper and magazine features, viral dance videos, and art festivals. The aspirations of developers and creatives alike are mirrored in the imagery of these coastal sites, in which Lagos is promoted as a ‘center of excellence’ where land can be made and luxury lifestyles are right at the edges of sea and city, just within reach.

The second part of his Baraza was an 8-minute preview of his essay film, Building Lagos. The film began where Nigerian filmmaker, Remi, left off in documenting Eko-Atlantic development and Lagos infrastructure. Remi set out to film this development but soon after had to end the project due to fear of retaliation and push back from the company. Dr. Mendelsohn and a former crew member of Remi sought to complete the project and record the continuing story of Eko-Atlantic.

For Students

Spring 2020 Graduate Courses in African Studies


AFS 6905 - Design and Methods in Sustainable Development Practice
Glenn Galloway (Friday 3-5, 3 credits)

This core Master of Sustainable Development Practice (MDP) course is for MDP students and for other students who plan to carry out practical fieldwork related to sustainable development in the future. The primary goal of this course is to prepare students for their summer field practicum, for which they will develop a quality proposal approved by both their respective supervisory committees and the host organization with which they will work. The course utilizes a combination of teaching techniques and approaches and student participation will be encouraged. Broad faculty support provides strong conceptual and methodological underpinnings to the course.


AFS5061 - Africana Bibliography

Survey of advanced reference, specialized research tools (including variety of electronic databases, published paper indexes, and bibliographies), and methods for graduate-level research in all disciplines of African area studies.

ARH6597 - African Art Seminar

Research seminar focusing on a topic or topics in the study of African art. Prereq: graduate standing in art history or consent of instructor.

CPO6206 - Seminar in African Politics

Study of African politics in comparative perspective.

AFS6905 - Individual Work in African Studies: POST-COL FR AFRI LIT


Spring 2020 Undergraduate Courses in African Studies


AFS2002 - The African Experience: An Introduction to African Studies

Introductory study of African society and culture that examines the richness, diversity, and time-depth of African civilizations.

AFS3352 - Culture, Health and Arts in Sub-Saharan Africa

Explores Sub-Saharan African cultures, health issues and belief systems related to health and the arts. Also provides a framework to better understand health and health care systems in other cultures.

AFS4911 - Undergraduate Research in African Studies: RESEARCH AFRI. STUD

Provides firsthand, supervised research. Projects may involve inquiry, design, investigation, scholarship, discovery, or application.

AFH2000 - Africa in World History

One-semester introduction to African history for undergraduates. Links the history of African societies with other world civilizations by focusing upon major historical themes.

AFH3200 - Africa Since 1800

End of the slave trade and the growth of legitimate commerce; Islamic renewal and revolution; the European partition and the colonial era; the growth of nationalism and the reemergence of independent Africa.

AFH 3931 - Francophone West Africa
Frédérick Madore

Introduces the history of Francophone West Africa from 1850 to the present. Topics include the advent and demise of French colonial rule; the challenges faced by independent African states; the Cold War; the wave of “democratization” in the 1990s; and the rise of new religious movements. The course will explore a series of case studies, including lesser-known countries such as Benin and Togo, to highlight both the similarities and differences of the historical development of the region.

AFH4930 - History Research Seminar: Africa

Through rotating content, this seminar has two distinct goals: historiography of a specific topic and production of a substantial research paper based on primary source evidence.

CPO3204 - African Politics

African nationalism, political movements and governments in the African states

DAA2331 - West African Dance and Music

Introduces traditional West African dance and music. Focuses on the learning of material emphasizing practice and performance with application to classroom and outreach-oriented projects.

ECS4111 - African Economic Development

Deals with the most pressing issues facing Sub-Saharan African countries in their quest for socio-economic development. Although the main focus is on contemporary issues and forthcoming challenges, we will also turn to more or less recent historical facts whenever necessary to shed light on the present. Main topics are economic growth, politics and institutions, international trade, agricultural and industrial development, poverty and inequality, access to basic social services, the environment and gender issues.

FRW4770 - African and Caribbean Literatures

The production of Sub-Saharan African writers from its inception to the present through examination of representative works and figures, genres (epics, poetry, drama, novels), discourses and critics that inform the productions. Particular attention is paid to historical, political and cultural issues that figure in the development and orientation of African literature in French. Occasional inclusion of Caribbean literature for purpose of comparison.

GEA3600 - Geography of Africa

Comprehensive and systematic survey of the population, natural resources, geographic regions and potentialities of Africa and the significance of this region in the economic and political affairs of the world.

LIT4194 - African Literature in English: African-European Lit & Cult

Critical and analytical study of representative Black-African authors writing in English, notably Achebe, Awoonor, Ngugi, Aidoo, Soyinka, Armah, Ekwensi, Mphalele and p'Bitek'. 

SST4502 - African Oral Literature

An overview of African oral literature, introduces methodological and theoretical problems, and examines the sociopolitical and cultural relevance of the literature.

SSW4713 - African Women Writers

Examines texts written by African women in order to understand how they address issues about race, ethnicity, gender, colonialism and religion.

AFS4905 - Individual Work: AFRICA IN GLOBAL ECON
AFS4905 - Individual Work: Beginning Swahili 2
AFS4905 - Individual Work: Intermediate Swahili 2
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: AFRICAN WOMEN WRITERS
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: AFRICAN ORAL LITT
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: YORUBA CULTURE-CUSTOM
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: Special Topics
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: China & Africa: Pol. Eco. Cul.
AFS4935 - African Studies Interdisciplinary Seminar: Culture and Poli. North Africa
SSA4930 - Special Topics in African Studies: YORUBA CULTURE AND CUSTOMS

Curated by Riley Ravary 
Programs and Communications Officer
Center for African Studies, University of Florida
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