CAS News Bulletin: Week of November 7th, 2016
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Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Photo provided Victoria Gorham.
November 7th, 2016

Talks This Week

11/09- SASA lunch talk, Jessie-Leigh Seago, University of Florida: "Race and Politics in Southern Africa: A Comparative Look at South Africa and Namibia." 11:45pm in 471 Grinter

Next Week:

11/14- Roundtable- Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) as a Dilemma for African Muslims: Sue O'Brien (History, UF),
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim (Political Science, UF),
Terje Ostebo (Religion, UF). Moderator: Leo Villalon (Dean, Center for International Studies). 1-3pm in 404 Grinter

In this issue:




·  A LESSON IN ISLAM- Terje Ostebo




Awards and Publications

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

David L. Boren Awards

The application for the 2017 Boren Awards is now open at Boren Awards fund undergraduate and graduate language study and research abroad in world regions critical to US national interests (including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East). These awards provide up to $20,000 for undergraduate students and up to $30,000 for graduate students. Both require language study as a program component; click here for a list of preferred foreign languages. For more information, contact or call Boren Awards staff directly at 1-800-618-NSEP. 

Obama's Legacy in Africa

Check out this New Republic blog post, featuring commentary from our own Lina Benabdallah, on Obama's Legacy in Africa, his Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), and China's targeting of future leaders. 

A Lesson in Islam

Dr. Terje Ostebo was recently interviewed for a CBS News 4 Gainesville story on Islam
Bernadette Cailler (right) pictured with Souleymane Bachir Diagne (left), at FSU on Oct. 21, 2016.

1)  In what years did you graduate from Cornell? The University of Paris? The University of Poitiers? I know you arrived at UF in 1974. Did you teach anywhere else prior to that ?

Yes, I hold degrees from Cornell: a PhD in Comparative Literature, with a minor in Cultural Anthropology, 1974, and a M.A., 1967; also, from Paris: 1968, and Poitiers: 1964, 1961. Prior to taking my position at UF, in 1974, I had taught in various capacities, as a T.A. or a lecturer in London or at Cornell, or as a full-fledged Lycée teacher in France. And I had spent two summers teaching respectively at Hampton Institute (VA), and Alfred University (NY).

2)  Can you describe how your research on French-Language Studies and Literatures and Cultures connects with Africa and the African diaspora?

Quite young, I understood how morally wrong slavery and colonialism had been, and how horrific racism was/is. I was born during WWII, and lived through the post-war decolonization years. I remember the day when Dien Bien Phu “fell” to the Vietnamese patriots, and the talks going on in my hometown. I remember many events linked to the Algerian war of Independence. I heard about La Question by Henri Alleg, when I was 17, during my first year at the university. It had just been published. I started reading Frantz Fanon and other seminal figures quite early.

My first degrees were actually in British, US, and Irish Literatures. In my early twenties, in France, I had written a Diplôme d’Etudes Supérieures thesis on W.B.Yeats, at a time when I had already become aware of many aspects of the colonial and post-colonial situations. Eventually, I became interested in authors from the French overseas departments, mainly Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana, in some authors from Haiti, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, and also sub-Saharan Africa, such as Cheikh Hamidou Kane and Valentin Y. Mudimbe. In my work, I tend to focus on close reading of specific texts. I often analyze how a creative writer relates to the past in collaboration and in contrast with historians. Concomitantly, I concentrate on the irreplaceable (poetic) ways through which the literary text “gives birth to upheavals that change us” (Edouard Glissant), that is, modifies our visions, feelings, and, potentially, behaviors. This coming June, in Martinique, I will present a paper that deals largely with an outstanding writer and scholar, Michaël Ferrier, whose ancestral background spreads from hexagonal France to the Indian Ocean, and who has lived in Japan for many years. At FSU, recently, I participated in a conference on The Performance of Pan-Africanism, with a paper titled: “Between blindness and clairvoyance: Malraux and Césaire revisited (Dakar 1966)”.  

I would need several pages to explain why the popular dichotomy between French and Francophone Studies does not hold water. Whoever is interested in French Studies cannot ignore Africa, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, some areas in the Pacific, the Middle East, Canada… I could go on. At Cornell, I met enlightened professors, such as David Grossvogel, William Kennedy, Saunders Redding, Philip Lewis, and some others, who understood that important trends of contemporary thought were due to the work and talents of a number of so-called Francophone writers. There, I was given extraordinary freedom to explore my interests, from one department to the other, from one independent study to the other. I shall for ever be grateful to Cornell and its people, fellow graduate students included. Not to mention the fact that, at Cornell, I lived through many events linked to the US involvement in Vietnam, and also to the African-American and Gay liberation movements.

3)  Do you still reside in Gainesville?. Are you still active in the UF community ? Do you have an update that you can provide the broader CAS community with?

Yes, I still reside in Gainesville, the place where I met my husband, violinist Elwyn Adams, who died in November 1995. He has remained a great source of inspiration and strength for me. I never make any important decision without thinking about what his opinion would be. An “update”?: just a note to remind us all that, as neuroscientists are now teaching us, privileging the so-called “scientific” mind over the “poetic” mind is a scientific impasse (cf.: Lorand Gaspar’s work). The complexity and importance of literary/artistic creativity and scholarship ought to be highly honored in any research university. Regarding UF, of course, I still attend selected events.

Riley Ravary

Last Week’s Recap

On Friday November 4th, Riley Ravary gave a talk titled, “Impacts of Transboundary Protected Areas Governance on Gender at Mount Elgon National Park” for the Social Change and Development in Africa Working Group.  Ravary is a graduate student in the Department of Anthropology at UF.  Her talk focused on the experiences of residents within or near a transboundary protected area that lies between Uganda and Kenya, through gender, conservation, and governance frameworks.
In June 2016, Ravary conducted 68 semi-structured interviews and engaged in participant observation within two communities, Sipi and Bududa, in Uganda. Through this preliminary research, Ravary has identified a number of areas of potential future exploration. First, there is a significant disconnect between communities and the park rangers due to communication gaps, a short and tumultuous history of the park, and the practice of paying bribes to access the park. In Sipi, community members had different understandings about whether or not it was legal to collect firewood from within the park and, if legal, on what days the park was open to access. In Bududa the residents were more certain that it was illegal to go in the park to collect firewood. In both communities, bribes were still routinely paid for access to the park. Second, men and women experience different risks in relation to the park, park rules, and park rangers. Overall, there is a theme of violence as a consequence of resource extraction from the park but men and women experience that violence in different ways. Third, the rules surrounding the park appear to be flexible in relation to campaign periods, where local politicians promise and sometimes allow increased access rights for grazing, farming, and extraction of firewood and medicinal plants.
Dr. Anita Spring (right) introducing Dr. Carlton Jama Adams (left).
On Friday November 4th, Carlton Jama Adams gave a Baraza talk titled, “Adaptive Ambivalence: African Workers in China and the Struggle for Recognition and Agency." Dr. Adams is Chair and Associate Professor of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at The City University of New York (CUNY). He is trained in Psychology and the talk focused on the experiences of peoples of African descent living and working in China.
Utilizing themes of suzhi (good, as in proper character or behavior) and eating bitterness (bad, as in enduring and/or overcoming hardships), Dr. Adams traces where migrants come from/how they come to be in China, different experiences of individuals of African descent from different parts of the globe, and immigrants and foreign workers’ relationships with China juxtaposed to their ‘home’ countries. He analyzes the multiple layers of different groups or classes of workers’ experiences. For instance, racism against people of color in China is related to individuals’ region-of-origin and English speaking skills, with black Americans less denigrated as compared to Afro-Caribbeans or sub-Saharan Africans. In general, there is a heightened sense of the way one presents themselves. Still, in comparison to the US, race is presented as a more approachable trait that can be overcome in personal interactions.
Outside of region-of-origin, there is also a difference in experiences between immigrants and foreign workers, with the latter being workers who, with increasing likelihood, will not be allowed to live in China permanently. Receiving the Chinese version of a green card is increasingly uncommon and it is very difficult to become a citizen if you are not born of a Chinese parent and do not have a Chinese name. From a psychological or perhaps even a sociological point of view, Dr. Adams eloquently presents the psychological effects of being an immigrant in China, including the often melancholy conception of ‘home’ and internal debates about which life (i.e. in China versus a ‘home’ country) would be better. Finally, as the social safety net falls back in China (as it has done in the US but without the space for NGO watchdogs and public protests) individuals in China are collectively ‘eating bitterness’ but migrants of African descent are particularly vulnerable given their other status.

Graduate Student Spotlight

Oumar Ba is a PhD candidate in the department of political science, studying International Relations.  His research interests lie at the intersection between the politics of international justice, states’ interests, and the global governance of atrocity crimes. His dissertation titled “Outsourcing Justice: Africa and the Politics of the International Criminal Court (ICC)" argues that although African states have been socialized in engaging with international courts and integrating human rights normative discourse and practices, a careful analysis of the engagement with the ICC shows that such socialization is embedded in strategic calculations from the states. These strategic calculations take into consideration the cost and benefits of such engagements in deciding the extent of and the limits to compliance and cooperation with the ICC and the adoption of norms of international criminal justice.

His study focuses on four main issues that stem from the functioning of the ICC and its relationship with states: self-referrals, complementarity, compliance, and domestic politics.  To do so, he conducted an in-depth analysis of four ICC situations in Africa, each one of them particularly highlighting one issue area: Uganda (self-referrals), Kenya (compliance), Libya (complementarity), and Côte d’Ivoire (domestic politics).  

Oumar has conducted fieldwork research in the Netherlands, Kenya, and northern Uganda.  His research has been funded by the Department of Political Science, the Center for African Studies, the UF Graduate School, and a David L. Boren fellowship.
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