Monday, November 19, 2012

November has been my month

If there is a month that has allowed me to smile and be grateful it is November 2012. I am not talking about my personal life, no, that has been very good, my family is healthy and doing well in their various activities. I thank God for that. It is my professional side that has been really good. It started with my last few days of my time in Senegal where I was directing an institute on research on children and youth in Africa where the laureates were so kind and said how much they had learned from me and how I had shown them humanity. I was just trying to be myself and yet that seemed to touch a nerve for many of them who said I treated them as colleagues, something that they are not used to in their own universities. There were 14 laureates representing Senegal, DRC, Benin, Togo, Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, and Cameroon (3 had their PhDs, 10 were PhD candidates, and 1 was an MA candidate). You can see the whole team on the picture on the left where I am with the laureates and the staff members from CODESRIA.
The other highlight came a few days later when I received news that a proposal I had prepared along with a colleague seeking funding for a conference I am hosting at Calvin College in Internationalizing Christian Higher Education had been funded. You can see the conference announcement here:
At the American Anthropological Association meetings this past week (November 14-19) I was grateful to receive an award for "Outstanding Leadership and Scholarship in Africans Studies and Anthropology" (see trophy on the left) and then an honorable mention for my book "Reversed Gaze" from the Elliott Skinner Book Award for 2012, meaning my book was second to the winner (see certificate on right above and the cover of book below it). You can also read excerpts from the book here
This has been a good month indeed. I am a very grateful person!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

AAA in San Francisco

I am in San Francisco to attend the 111th annual meeting of the American anthropological Association. I have been attending these meetings regularly now since 2003 and I am kind of getting meeting fatigue. When I started attending I was all excited about listening to paper presentations and learn what new trends there are in our discipline. Today that excitement has dwindled and when I arrived yesterday and picked up my registration material I went through the program and there was nothing that struck me as exciting except the meetings I am involved in as president of our association (Association for Africanist Anthropology). As I was lying in my bed in my room I remembered an invitation to attend the inaugural AAA panel organized by the program chair Dr Carolyn Rouse of Princeton. I am glad I was able to attend because the panelists talked about the language of race in the just concluded electioneering process in the US. Thereafter I joined fellow members of the executive program committee for this year's meetings at a small reception in Carolyn's suite and met new folks and learned a little more about humans including the intriguing projections of what would happen if New York was flooded and the Japanese nuclear reactors failed. These scenarios were margined and presented publicly but when the actual disasters hit nothing had been done to prepare for them. I also learned about the complex lives of hunter gatherer societies that were involved in agriculture and trade in earlier centuries before reverting to hunting and gathering. This approach of course challenges what had been assumed in the pad about hunter gathering as the relics of our Stone Age economic practices. It is exciting to be at the AAA after all but I am finding that excitement outside of the regular paper presentations. I will try to go to a few presentations especially the ones where the presenters talk about issues relating to children and youth in Africa. So more next time.