The Director's Message

Welcome to the Institute of African Studies (IAS). The 2019-2020 academic year marks more than three decades since the creation of IAS as one of the country’s leading centers for the study of Africa. Our faculty and current and former students continue to amaze. Very recently, both Nathan Suhr-Sytsma and Susan E. Gagliardi were awarded tenure. Susan has received fellowships from the Camargo Foundation and from the Clark Institute, while Kristin Phillips is enjoying a multi-year grant from the National Science Foundation. Devaka Premawardhana recently edited and introduced a special issue of the Journal of African Religions on East African and Indian Ocean approaches to the study of Africana religions. Titled “Orienting Africana Religious Studies: East African and Indian Ocean Perspectives,” this special issue aimed at redressing the relative lack of attention, within Africana studies scholarship, to transnational and transoceanic dynamics on and beyond Africa’s eastern shores. Bayo Holsey has joined the editorial team of the influential journal History in Africa. Last spring, Miriam Kilimo was awarded fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and Wenner-Gren. I could continue—fellowships, new books and articles, and a quite extraordinary record of placing our graduate students in tenure-track positions.

The Research Seminar, now the longest continuous seminar in the country, kicks off on September 19 with Julie MacArthur from the University of Toronto. In October, IAS is organizing an intensive workshop on religion, with presentations by Butch Ware, David Amponsah, and Lauren Jarvis. And, in early December, IAS is hosting a major conference on slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade. “Archival Lives” is the brainchild of Adriana Chira, who also is responsible for organizing the IAS spring workshop on “Sovereignty, Law, and Emancipation in the South Atlantic, 1850-1900.” These are just a few of the events IAS has put together for the coming year. Stay tuned for more.

October 23 newsflash!  Kristin Phillips’ An Ethnography of Hunger (Indiana, 2018) is a finalist for the 2019 African Studies Book Prize.  If this isn’t fantastic news, Thabiti Willis’ Masquerading Politics (Indiana, 2017), is also a finalist!!!  (Literally, this means that Emory represents something like a third or half of all the finalists.)  Please join me in a hearty round of applause for Kristin and Thabiti.  I am so very thrilled about this news, yet more evidence of the enormous dynamism, intelligence, and creativity of African Studies at Emory University.

Clifton Crais