CAS News Bulletin: Week of March 27th, 2017
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Independence Day Parade, March 6th 2013, Ghana. Photo provided by Jennifer Boylan.
March 27th, 2017

Talks This Week

Mon. 03/27- Social Change & Development Working Group, Chesney McOmber, UF: "The Feminization of Rural Space: Exploring the Politics of Male Absence in Kenya and Morocco." 12:45pm in 471 Grinter

Wed-Fri 03/29-03/31- Congo-Kinshasa Meets Gainesville, UF: A gangster film @ the wooly, a comics workshop @ the Harn, and the history of masculinity in Kinshasa (more below)

Fri. 03/31- Baraza, Didier Gondola, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis: "Buffalo Bills in Kinshasa: Westerns, Masculinity, and Violence in the Tropics." 3:30pm in 404 Grinter

Next Week:

Wed. 04/05- Migration Dreams: Africans in China Talks (CAS China Working Group)- see below

Wed. 04/05- Film Showing: "Guangzhou Dream Factory" with Filmmaker Christiane Badgley. 6:00pm, Room TBA.

Thurs. 04/06- NRM in Africa, Thomas Smith,
UCLA: "Importance of Preserving Environmental Gradients in a Changing World." 3:30pm in 404 Grinter

Thurs. 04/06-
Lecture on North African Islamic Saints, Medicine, and French Colonialism, Ellen Amster, McMaster University: "A Doorway to the Divine: Islamic Bodies and the Sufi Saints as Connecting the Living to the Dead." 5:30pm in Smathers Library 100

Fri. 04/07- Baraza, Noah Saloman, Carleton College: "For Love of the Prophet: The Art of Islamic State-Making in Sudan." 3:30pm in 404 Grinter

Sun. 04/09- Turkish Food Fair,
Kanapaha Veterans Memorial Park, Freedom Community Center, All donations sent to Syrian Refugees via 'Mercy without Limits' (US-based non-profit), 12:00-7:00pm

In this issue:








Awards and Publications


(1) Jessie-Leagh Seago (PhD candidate, Political Science) was awarded a US Fulbright Research Grant to conduct dissertation research for 9 months in Namibia, beginning in 2017.
Please send citations for your recently published articles, book chapters, book reviews, or op-ed pieces to for their inclusion within the news bulletin.

3rd International Conference of the Dakar Institute of African Studies (DIAS)

Theme: "Valorizing African Cultural Heritage and Thought III: Colonial fantasies/Decolonial Futures"
Dates: July 7-8, 2017
Location: Dakar, Senegal

Abstract Deadline: April 1st, 2017

The organizers of the International Conference on “Valorizing African Cultural Heritage: Colonial fantasies/Decolonial Futures”, convened by The Dakar Institute in collaboration with Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), and the West African Research Center (WARC) welcome papers, presentations, and performances that revisit the actual condition of Africa, Africans, and African knowledge production from a decolonial perspective. We are particularly interested in papers and performances that address possible radical transformation in African knowledge-making and pedagogies through theoretical and/or practical inquiries from any angle in the humanities and the social sciences. Papers that tackle particular issues in Africana Studies from a multidisciplinary, an interdisciplinary, or a transdisciplinary perspective, or from the particular disciplines of education, literature, sociology, history, philosophy, dance, music, linguistics, law, religion, anthropology, economics, political science, and psychology, etc., are welcome. 

Submit proposals (no more than 250 words) that explore or challenge any perspective on the symposium’s major theme. Please send your title, abstract, and a short author bio with the subject "conferenc2017" to

French Institute for Research in Africa- call for Applications for 2017 Fieldwork Grants

IFRA-Nairobi is offering fieldwork grants to masters and doctoral students to conduct their research in 2017 in one of the five East African countries covered by the Institute: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda.

IFRA’s main research themes include: political dynamics, culture and society, economy and land issues.

The following topics are IFRA’s priority areas:

  • Elections in Kenya (2017) : mobilization, devolution, culture & technologies
  • Violence & security : police violence, daily security practices
  • Informal trade and rural-urban linkages
  • Social inequalities, morality and authority

Note that all applications will be reviewed and that some of the grants will be given to students of non-priority topics.

The duly filled application forms should be sent to by April 4th April 2017

For more information, please visit:

Women's History Month

In the U.S., March is Women's History Month. Please enjoy this story:

1) "Johns Hopkins has first black female neurosurgeon resident", March 22, 2017, WGN Chicago.
-Nancy Abu-Bonsrah comes from Ghana and hopes, "to be able to go back to Ghana over the course of [her] career to help in building sustainable surgical infrastructure". Only 2 to 5 residents are selected each year.
Congo-Kinshasa meets Gainesville

Event 1: Wednesday March 29th, 6-10pm @ The Wooly: a screening of Djo Munga's award-winning 'sexy crime flick', set in Kinshasa. Screening to be followed by a discussion with the preizewinning filmmaker, Djo Munga.

Event 2: Thursday March 30th, 3-5pm, @ Smathers Library (East), rm. 100: an interactive archival & Exhibition workshop focused on the Special Collections' newest manuscripts collection, the Papa Mfumu'eto comic archive, ca. 1985-2007.

Event 3: Friday March 31st, 3:30-5pm, @ 404 Grinter, Baraza with Prof. Ch. Didier Gondola, "Buffalo Bill in Kinshasa: Westerns, Masculinity, and Violence in the Tropics."

Migration Dreams: Africans in China

“The History of African Trading Communities in
Guangzhou, China”
Dr. Heidi Østbø Haugen, University of Oslo
“The Bridge is not Burning: Transformation and
Resilience within China’s African Diaspora Communities”
Dr. Adams Bodomo, University of Vienna
April 5th, 404 Grinter Hall 11:45 AM— 2 PM
Lunch will be provided
April 5th 6:00 PM, Room TBA
Film Showing: Guangzhou Dream Factory
With Filmmaker Christiane Badgley.

Dr. Rudolf Gaudio

Last Week's Recap

On Friday March 24th, Rudolf Gaudio gave a Baraza presentation titled, “Islam in Africa, Africa in Islam: The Sexual Politics of Religion and Race.” Dr. Gaudio is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the State University of New York (SUNY)- Purchase College. The talk focused on stereotypes of race, religion, and sexuality in Nigeria, and how place or country/region/city of origin is used to connote and assign different informational and stereotypical labels.
Dr. Gaudio opened the talk framing the colonial, pre-Sharia law, and post-Sharia law environs of Northern Nigeria as it related to homosexuality and sexual stereotypes. Colonial sources and other literatures widely promoted the idea that Africans and black people do not engage in homosexuality or homosexual lifestyles. Yet, within Nigerian communities, fingers were pointed at certain regions or classes of people who were cast as more unbridled in pursuits of sexual pleasure, such as the elite or those in the north. A perspective sometimes offered in defense of the north is that gay culture had not been prevalent in Kano but was imported by Arabic traders and British colonists. The degree to which these belief systems are true is not nearly as important as that they are believed and thus become powerful.
Similarly, Dr. Gaudio highlighted cultural activities involving ‘feminine men’ who were not perceived as related to homosexuality, historically speaking. These ‘feminine men’ would perform in public spaces, dancing in feminine ways or (rarely) wearing female clothes. Though parties which feminine men had participated in during the pre-sharia law era took place in open spaces, after sharia law was introduced these sorts of social gatherings became harder to organize, had to occur in private spaces, or had to occur deep in the bush where they could occur in secret.
Dr. Gaudio also used a variety of vignettes from novels, music videos, and online forums which play on the notion of sexuality, what is permissible and how place is used as a marker of moral behavior. For instance, in some ways Northern Nigeria under Sharia Law is conceptualized as existing in a moral space between more conservative Arab cultures and the more morally permissible southern Nigeria. Gender norms applied to the case of ‘Kannywood’ actress Rahama Sadau, where she was expelled from the Kano-based movie industry for her role in a music video with ‘southerner’ ClassiQ (who is of northern origins but who exudes a southern sense of morality) exemplify the differences in moral space. Arguments defending these moral spaces propose that ‘this is how things work here’, which suggests an impermeability despite evidence of ongoing cultural change and renegotiation.

Graduate Student Spotlight

Chesney McOmber is a PhD candidate in Political Science. Her dissertation is titled, “The Feminization of Rural Space: Exploring Gender, Power, and Demographic Change in Africa.”

Demographic change is an important driver of social and political change throughout the world. Mass migration due to political, economic, or environmental instability continues to displace power within both macro and micro structures of society. While demographic change has historically been an impetus for political transformation, greatly lacking from contemporary discussions of this issue is an attention to the ways in which gendered demographic changes can be politically important.  Furthermore, it is critical to understand why these gendered changes are important for the stability or transformation of political norms. 
McOmber’s dissertation seeks to fill this void in the literature by asking the following question: How is women’s empowerment affected by male absence? This question is explored by investigating the specific political importance of gendered demographic change in rural communities in the Abda region of Morocco and the Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces of Kenya. In each of these cases, men have become increasingly absent due to the primary factor of climate change, which has caused male urban migration.  These comparative case studies demonstrate that gendered demographic changes have important implications for what it means for women to participate politically in their rural village communities.  Where power vacuums are created, opportunities for social structures to change and new leadership emerges.  This study shows that while men may become absent from political spaces, the formal positions of leadership they once occupied remain essentially vacant. Instead, women overwhelmingly look to their own informal institutions as ways for expressing political agency and advocacy. Evidence from these case studies shows that, in the absence of men, women are able to make informal institutions more politically relevant and responsive to shortcomings of patriarchal governing structures to serve women’s needs within the community.
Curated by Jennifer C. Boylan, Programs and Communications Officer,
Center for African Studies, UF.
Copyright © 2017 Center for African Studies, All rights reserved.


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