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Is That All Your Hair?

by Kelley Reardon

As part of the Wednesdays at the Center series, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies welcomed Bibi Gnagno, J.D. for a conversation on her new documentary project, “Is That All Your Hair?”

 

The John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies (DUCIGS) sponsored this event, which discussed beauty in the context of identity, belonging, and power for African and African-American women. Bibi Gnagno is a graduate of Smith College with an M.A. in French Language and Civilization from New York University Graduate School of Arts and Science in Paris and a J.D. from North Carolina Central University. She is the founder and owner of a company called OMG I Love Your Hair and is now working on a documentary film focused on her experiences in western Africa, specifically Côte d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast.

 

Gnagno was born in California, but she spent about twelve years of her life growing up on the Ivory Coast before her parents moved back to the U.S. When she returned to the Ivory Coast for a policy fellowship, she had mixed feelings about her identity. Would she be considered an insider or an outsider by the local people? Gnagno expected that more women would wear their hair natural in Ivory Coast, but in fact, she observed the opposite—most women there did not wear their hair natural. Instead, the local women followed trends that were “imported” from places like the United States and consumed media highlighting African-American women with straight hair.

 

 

Gnagno wanted to explore the power of beauty, especially hair, and how it related to women’s lives and access to resources in Ivory Coast. Since West Africa is run by a patriarchal system, Gnagno noticed that women there felt pressure to look good for men. In both the U.S. and the Ivory Coast, Gnagno observed women who felt they had to look a certain way to advance their career or gain acceptance from others. Gnagno also realized that capitalism played an important role in beauty standards. She noticed that this culture of commodity was built on a sense of losing one’s identity, urging people to buy products in order to look a certain way and feel a sense of belonging.

 

The idea that women could not be confident, comfortable, and accepting of themselves in their natural state bothered Gnagno. When she wore her hair natural on the Ivory Coast, women were constantly asking her, “is that all your hair?” They wanted to know how she styled it so well. Gnagno brought together groups of women and taught them how to style their natural hair with healthy products that were local to the Ivory Coast like shea and cocoa butter. Unfortunately, these products were hard to come by because so many were being exported to other countries. Yet, health was another major motivation for Gnagno—many women end up damaging their hair and scalps with products like hair relaxer, which is a chemical formula that can burn the skin if not used properly.

 

Gnagno’s definition of beauty has evolved, and she says that “beauty, for me, is character. As I’ve gotten older, looks fade… beauty is what’s on the inside, but a lot of times we don’t encounter that first.” Gnagno realizes that changing society’s perception of hair and beauty is a massive project, but that doesn’t stop her. She praises women in positions of high power who have chosen to make a statement by wearing their hair natural. Gnagno hopes to return to the Ivory Coast in the near future to create more content for her documentary so that she can share her film, “Is That All Your Hair?” with the world.

Introduction to African Studies – Spring 2019

Course Number: AAAS 103, CULANTH 105, HIST 129, POLSCI 108, ICS 110

Course Attributes: ALP, CCI, CZ

Course Description:

This course offers a broad introduction to the archaeology, history, politics, language, culture, aesthetics, and religion of African peoples. With the help of a variety of sources—scholarly works by historians, anthropologists, literary figures, filmmakers, and journalist—we will explore the ways in which Africans, across a massive and incredibly diverse continent, have responded to and engaged with the slave trade, colonial overrule, transnational markets, and to other more recent experiences and challenges after political independence.

Faculty Biographies:

Samuel Fury DalySamuel Fury Childs Daly specializes in the history of twentieth-century Africa. His research bridges West and East Africa, and it combines legal, military, and social historical approaches to the study of the past. His current project considers the history of the Biafra War (1967-1970). This book manuscript entitled Sworn on the Gun: Law and Crime in the Nigerian Civil War draws a connection between the crisis conditions of the war and the forms of crime that came to be associated with Nigeria in its wake. Using an original body of legal records from the secessionist Republic of Biafra, it traces how technologies, survival practices, and moral ideologies that emerged in the context of the fighting shaped the practice and perception of crime after Biafra’s defeat. Connecting the violence of the battlefield to violent crime, it provides a new perspective on the discursive relationship between law and disorder in the African postcolony. His other areas of interest include customary law in the British Empire, the history of vigilantism in Tanzania, and the methodologies of postcolonial African history.
 
Anne-Maria MakhuluAnne-Maria Makhulu is an Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies and Core Faculty in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Duke University. Her research interests cover: Africa and more specifically South Africa, cities, space, globalization, political economy, neoliberalism, the anthropology of finance and corporations, as well as questions of aesthetics, including the literature of South Africa. Makhulu is co-editor of Hard Work, Hard Times: Global Volatility and African Subjectivities (2010) and the author of Making Freedom: Apartheid, Squatter Politics, and the Struggle for Home (2015). She is a contributor to Producing African Futures: Ritual and Reproduction in a Neoliberal Age (2004), New Ethnographies of Neoliberalism(2010), author of articles in Anthropological Quarterly and PMLA, special issue guest editor for South Atlantic Quarterly (115(1)) and special theme section guest editor for Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (36(2)). A new project, South Africa After the Rainbow (in preparation), examines the relationship between race and mobility in postapartheid South Africa.

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Development and Africa – Spring 2019

Course Number: AAAS 307, CULANTH 307, PUBPOL 207, ICS 308

Course Attribute: CCI, CZ, SS

Course Description:

This course addresses the vexed issue of economic development in Africa with its many failures and occasional successes from the early colonial period to the present. Course materials focus especially on the transition from the 1960s “modernizing” moment to the millennium projects and humanitarian aid of the present. Students will read the works of development experts, World Bank executives, anthropologists, and historians, asking why this massively financed project has experienced such failure and exploring what can be done.

Charles PiotFaculty Biography:

Charlie Piot, Ph.D. University of Virginia 1986, Chair and Professor of Cultural Anthropology and African and African American Studies, does research on the political economy and history of rural West Africa. His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999), attempted to retheorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and the global. His recent book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War (2010), explores shifts in Togolese political culture during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over the biopolitical, reorganizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His current project is on Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa Lottery. 

 

Development and Africa

African Economic Development – Spring 2019

Course Number: ECON 347

Course Attributes: R, SS, W

Course Description: 

Today, Africa presents two seemingly contradictory faces. As a continent, the economy has been growing briskly. It is in process of transformation with modern infrastructure and glittering megacities. Investors from Europe, China and elsewhere flock to Africa. Yet, in the South of Sahel, about 40% of the population remains in stinging poverty, deprived of many basic needs such as education, healthcare, and electricity. Ethnic and religious contestations continue to create an undercurrent of social and political instability, and malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases take an unacceptably large number of lives. While the African economy is still small relative to the rest of the world, Africa’s future – the “last frontier” of the global economy – cannot be ignored. This course studies economic development in sub-Saharan Africa since independence, with a focus on challenges that the continent faces at present in shaping an inclusive future. It will be taught from the perspectives of policymaker and practitioner, supported by the relevant academic literature.
Hiro HinoFaculty Biography:
Prof. Hiroyuki Hino, a native of Japan, began his professional career as an economist in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 1975, after receiving his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Rochester. At the IMF, he held various positions, including Division Chief and Assistant Director in the Policy Development and Review Department; Resident Representative to the Philippines; Assistant Director and Senior Advisor in the African Department; and finally, Director of the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. During his tenure at the IMF, he participated in the formation of IMF policies on the external indebtedness of developing countries and the establishment of the IMF lending facility for low-income countries. In addition, he took part in negotiations of the IMF financial assistance program with a number of countries, including Thailand, India, China, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Nigeria. He retired from the IMF in 2006 and returned to Japan.
Back in Japan, Hino joined Kobe University as Professor of Economics at its Research Institute of Economics and Business Administration (RIEB). He was commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2007 to undertake a large-scale, interdisciplinary study of “Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa”. He established a team of prominent scholars in economics, history, political science, and anthropology from Africa, Europe, the US, and Japan to undertake this task. The study’s main findings were published as a collective volume (Hino et al, Ethnic Diversity and Economic Instability in Africa: Inter-Disciplinary Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, 2012). He was also commissioned by JICA in 2011 to conduct a comprehensive study on the Challenges of Youth and Employment in Africa as the background for the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD) in 2013. The report’s summary was presented as a Policy Brief in a TICAD high-level panel discussion; the panelists consisted of the Presidents of three African countries (South Africa, Tanzania, and Gabon) and three development agencies (the World Bank, African Development Bank and JICA), as well as the Executive Director of J-PAL at MIT. The papers prepared for this study were published as a collective volume (Hino and Ranis, Youth and Employment in Sub-Sahara Africa: Working But Poor, Routledge 2013). Hino retired from Kobe University in 2015 and continues to hold an honorary position of Research Fellow.
Hino was the Economic Advisor to the Prime Minister of Kenya during 2009–2013 and the Senior Advisor to the Presidency of Kenya for Strategic Initiatives and Economy during 2013–2014 on special assignment from Kobe University and as a JICA expert. During these periods, he was involved in a wide range of economic policy issues, including unemployment, devolution, drought emergency, promotion of renewable energy, sustainability of natural resources, and others. In addition, he carefully studied the issues of ethnicity, horizontal inequality and social cohesion in Kenya, supporting a major study by the Kenya Institute of Public Policy, Research, and Analysis (KIPPRA).
After completing his assignments in Kenya, Hino moved to Yale University as a Visiting Professor (2014–2015), where he taught a course on the challenges of Africa’s economic transformation. He subsequently moved to the University of Cape Town (UCT) as a Visiting Professor at the Southern Africa Labour & Development Research Unit (SALDRU), a position he still holds. At UCT, he took part in its Poverty and Inequality Initiative (PII) and engaged in research on poverty, inequality and social cohesion in South Africa and, more broadly, in sub-Saharan Africa. His most recent work in this area is presented in a SALDRU working paper, “Identity, Inequality and Social Contestation in the Post-Apartheid South Africa”, for which he is a co-author: http://www.opensaldru.uct.ac.za/handle/11090/946(link is external). This paper will be published as a chapter in Hino et al, From Divided Pasts to Cohesive Futures? Reflections on Africa, Cambridge University Press, 2019.
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Alsarah visits with Duke students

Alsarah of Alsarah and the Nubatones visited with Duke students during her artist residency with Duke Performances. She met with students from Refugee Lives (AMES 320S, DOCST 321S) and Strategic Storytelling (PUBPOL 646S) to discuss her influences and her personal migration story.

 

 

Africa’s ‘Scramble for Europe’

by Angela Griffe
As part of the Wednesday at the Center series, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies and the Duke Africa Initiative welcomed Dr. Stephen Smith to speak about Africa’s changing “human geography.”

 

Smith addressed a packed room on how shifting African migration patterns are changing the European continent demographics. Comparing the colonial “scramble for Africa” to Africa’s current migration flows towards Europe, Smith asserts that Africa’s growing young middle-class will immigrate to Europe looking for economic prosperity.

 

Since the 1930s, Africa has seen the most significant population growth, the fastest urban growth, and the largest concentration of young people. As the population booms and young people migrate, Africa is seeing mass “rural exodus and urban drift.” Smith explained there is a “quest for modernity,” with young people, especially women, running away from oppressive social structures and seeking a better life.

 

Smith argues that there are three factors in African migration to Europe: global awareness, a preexisting diasporic community, and monetary resources. With many vibrant communities of Afro-Europeans already present, and a growing young middle class attuned to Western popular culture, the setting is ripe for mass migration.

 

By 2050, Smith estimates there will be 5 young Afro-Europeans (two of whom under the age of 15) to every aging European. Analyzing this migration pattern cannot be decided in a “void,” for borders are “spaces of negotiation.” Smith concluded that in the age of globalization and shifting demographics, there are winners and losers; but, “we will all be losers if the winners do not take care of the losers.”

 

Stephen W. Smith teaches African Studies at Duke University. Until 2013, Smith also held an adjunct lecturer position at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. Smith holds a Ph.D. in semiotics from Berlin’s Free University and is a graduate of the Anthropology department at the Sorbonne (Panthéon) in Paris.

Blackness Unmoored

by Angela Griffe

As part of the Wednesday at the Center series, the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies welcomed Dr. Daphne Lamothe to speak about “blackness unmoored” through an analysis of the lyrics and music video for the song,”Formidable” by Belgian musician, Stromae.

 

The John Hope Franklin Center and the Humanities Writ Large program co-hosted the event, which focused on the displacement of black bodies, and how this is represented in art. Lamothe explored the dialectic between the “interior” black being with exterior spatial and social relations, arguing that “Formidable” represents an “unmoored” and displaced black body set “adrift in the European Union’s capital.”

Lamothe Questions

Using video angles that invoke a feeling of spying or staring, Stromae implicates the viewer in observing the unbelonging of his “disorderly black body” in a public space. Lamothe notes the white gaze is both practiced by and reflected back onto the viewers via a sense of unfamiliarity and disorientation. Lamothe argues that this interrogation of blackness in a public arena is a form of structural violence in displacing and erasing black being. By exploring the identity of the black migrant and critiquing the white gaze, Stromae is making visible black life. Stromae’s “Formidable” is an example of the new black aesthetic in a post

Stromae’s “Formidable” is an example of the new black aesthetic in a post-soul age. By challenging European hostility towards black migrant consciousness, Lamothe argues that Stromae is opposing the idea that “formidability is some property of whiteness.”

Racial Justice in the 20th Century United States and South Africa – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AAAS 346S, HISTORY 396S, ICS 351S, POLSCI 336S, PUBPOL 326S

Course attributes: CCI, R, W, CZ, SS

Course description:

In 1966, Robert Kennedy gave a speech to thousands of University of Cape Town students.  He began with something of a history lesson.  “I came here because of my deep interest and affection for a land settled by the Dutch in the mid-seventeenth century, then taken over by the British, and at last independent; a land in which the native inhabitants were at first subdued, but relations with whom remain a problem to this day; a land which defined itself on hostile frontier; a land which has tamed rich natural resources through the energetic application of modern technology; a land which once imported slaves, and now must struggle to wipe out the last traces of that former bondage.”  Kennedy paused before delivering the punch-line – a punch-line that drew laughter of self-recognition.  “I refer, of course, to the United States of America,” Kennedy concluded.

Scholars, pundits, and historical actors have long drawn parallels between the United States and South Africa – two countries founded on the premises of racial inequality.  In this course, we will explore the machinations of race from the quickening of industrial development to the present.  We will consider the benefits and pitfalls of thinking comparatively, as well as cover such topics as segregation, transatlantic religious and cultural exchanges, living apartheid and Jim Crow, struggles for liberation, the American anti-apartheid movement, memory and the struggles for social change, and the notion of “post-racial societies.”

Professor biography:

Professor Shapiro studies American social and southern history, as well as South African history. She is now engaged in three distinct projects. The first consists of a biography of Archbishop Walter Khotso Makhulu, archbishop of Central Africa between 1980 and 2000.  A graduate of the same seminary and a direct contemporary of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who served as Archbishop of Cape Town,

Second, explores South Africa’s apartheid-era emigration policy and its relationship to notions of citizenship and state formation, as well as the ways in which passports and other kinds of travel documents formed part of the oppressive apparatus of the successive National Party governments.

Third, Professor Shapiro is researching the transnational careers of seven influential South African medics who came to North Carolina in the 1950s and ‘60s to work at Duke and UNC, Chapel Hill. Primarily epidemiologists and family and community medicine doctors, this cohort adopted a “social medicine” approach. These pioneering doctors generally left South Africa when the National Party introduced apartheid in the late 1940s/1950s. Several ended up in North Carolina, where they had long and illustrious careers.

Introduction to African Studies – Fall 2017

Course numbers: AAAS 103, CULANTH 105, HISTORY 129, POLISCI 108, ICS 110

Course attributes: CCI, ALP, CZ

Course Description:

A range of disciplinary perspectives on key topics in contemporary African Studies: nationalism and pan-Africanism, imperialism and colonialism, genocide and famine, development and democratization, art and music, age and gender.

Professor biography:

Charlie Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where he has a joint appointment in African and African American Studies.  His area of specialization is the political economy and cultural history of rural West Africa.  His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) attempted to re-theorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and global.  His recent book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War (2010), explores shifts in Togolese political culture during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over biopolitics, organizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His current project is on Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa lottery.

 

 

Apartheid South Africa and the Struggles for Democracy – Fall 2017

Course number: AAAS 316S, POLSCI 336S, PUBPOL 326S, HISTORY 396S

Course attributes: CCI, EI, R, CZ, SS

Course description: 

Working through an array of diverse organizations – including the African National Congress, the Pan African Congress, the Black Consciousness Movement, a host of liberal organizations, the churches, the trade union federations, and countless more – black and some white South Africans fought against apartheid from its inception.  In 1994 they achieved a multi-racial democracy led by President Nelson Mandela.  This seminar explores key themes in post-World War II South African history, paying special attention to the plethora of anti-apartheid struggles, while giving voice to some pro-apartheid proponents.

The readings are arranged both chronologically and thematically.  Over the course of the term, we will discuss how apartheid affected people’s daily lives, the ideological and programmatic opposition to apartheid, and the internecine struggles between and within the anti-apartheid organizations and movements.  We will conclude the course with contemporary reflections on life during apartheid.

Professor biography:

Professor Shapiro studies American social and southern history, as well as South African history. She is now engaged in three distinct projects. The first consists of a biography of Archbishop Walter Khotso Makhulu, archbishop of Central Africa between 1980 and 2000.  A graduate of the same seminary and a direct contemporary of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who served as Archbishop of Cape Town,

Second, explores South Africa’s apartheid-era emigration policy and its relationship to notions of citizenship and state formation, as well as the ways in which passports and other kinds of travel documents formed part of the oppressive apparatus of the successive National Party governments.

Third, Professor Shapiro is researching the transnational careers of seven influential South African medics who came to North Carolina in the 1950s and ‘60s to work at Duke and UNC, Chapel Hill. Primarily epidemiologists and family and community medicine doctors, this cohort adopted a “social medicine” approach. These pioneering doctors generally left South Africa when the National Party introduced apartheid in the late 1940s/1950s. Several ended up in North Carolina, where they had long and illustrious careers.

 

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