ACAS Review (Bulletin)



Reflections on Mahmood Mamdani’s ‘Lessons of Zimbabwe’

By | March 2009

Mahmood Mamdani, a university professor of anthropology at Columbia University in New York City remains one of the pre-eminent scholars of African Studies in the West. He also remains prolific, often taking the lead in unpacking controversial debates. For example, this month he has a new book out on the Darfur crisis, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (Knopf, 2009). And few can disagree about the impact of his previous two books. Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War, and the Roots of Terror (Pantheon, 2004) certainly contributed—especially in popular media—to our understanding of the historical roots of the “War on Terror”: to the United States’ engagement in proxy wars in Southern Africa, Latin America and Afghanistan and the antecedents of “collateral damage.” A decade earlier, his Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton, 1996) became a must-read in universities. So when, in early December 2008, the London Review of Books published a long essay by Mamdani on the ongoing political and economic crises (at least for a decade now) in Zimbabwe, it was inevitable that it would provoke debate. As one critic of Mamdani’s concedes in this issue, “…whatever Mamdani writes he is always brilliant and provocative.”

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 82
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Why we said ‘No’ to A.I.D. (1977)

By | February 2009

In 1977, Congress authorized the expenditure of one million dollars for “the preparation of a comprehensive analysis of development needs of southern Africa to enable the Congress to determine what contribution United States foreign assistance can make.” AID was instructed to present specific proposals on how to spend this one million dollars. AID seems to have approached several groups of scholars heretofore critical of U.S. policy in southern Africa on the possibility of serving as “consultants” to draft this analysis. AID in late November approached the four of us as scholars in contact with persons knowledgeable about the region (and not ostensibly because of our links to the Association of Concerned African Scholars)** to meet with them to discuss what kind of work ought to be done, could be done, and might be done by us. We agreed to meet with them in December in Washington.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



Southern Africa and Liberal Interventionism (1977)

By | February 2009

The Carter administration has been asserting of late that it is seeking to bring about majority rule in southern Africa. It has put forward an image of liberal interventionism-on the side of the Africans. Yet Joshua Nkomo and Sam Nujoma have insisted that all they want is for the US not to help the white regimes. Liberal interventionism stands forward as the most dangerous enemy of African liberation movements in southern Africa, and the Africans know it.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



Draft Statement of Principles (1977)

By | February 2009

We are a grouping of scholars interested in Africa and concerned with moving U.S. policy toward Africa in directions more sympathetic to African interests. For political and practical reasons, our emphasis for the foreseeable future will be on southern Africa

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



Summary of the Founding Meeting of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars, Houston, Texas, November 3, 1977

By | February 2009

The meeting was chaired by Prof. Edris Makward, University of Wisconsin, Madison, who introduced the two main speakers: Prof. Immanuel Wallerstein and Mr. Edgar Lockwood, who spoke concerning “American Scholars and the Political Economy of Southern Africa” and “The Carter Administration and Southern Africa an Overview,” respectively. (See summaries elsewhere in newsletter.) A motion was made, seconded, and passed unanimously to establish the Association of Concerned African Scholars (ACAS).

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



ACAS Puts Health on its Agenda

By | February 2009

At the 1991 ASA meeting in St. Louis, ACAS members made a number of decisions designed to move the organization forward to a new level of activism in the decade of the 1990s. ACAS established thirteen issue working groups: US Aid and US Foreign Policy; Scholar Activists; Academic Freedom in Education; Regional and Pan-African Linkages; Why Africa has fallen off the Policy Map; US Support for Authoritarian Regimes; Democratization: a Guise for Destabilization; Environment; Africa’s Economic Crisis; South Africa’s transition; Post-apartheid Development in Southern Africa; and the Financial Intellectual Complex. Doe Mayer and I coordinated group number 8, “Health: Whose Agenda?” (see ACAS Bulletin 35). Issue Working Group papers (including ours) appeared in Bulletin 38/39, “Proposed agendas for scholars of Africa” in 1993.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



Origins of the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (ACAS) as a pro-Africa voice among American Scholars

By | February 2009

The major U.S. scholarly caucuses for “Third World” regions emerged on the national stage in the 1960s and 1970s at the height of the Cold War. Under the cover of a liberal ideology of “democracy and freedom,” the hidden, and sometimes not so disguised, hand of U.S. and other Western intelligence agencies eventually was comprehended by the scholarly community. The result was significant movements to mobilize scholarly opinion and action with the work of area specialists to oppose much of U.S. Cold War foreign policy toward Latin and Central America, Asia, the Middle East, and, beginning in 1977, Africa.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



A Brief Note on the Beginnings of ACAS

By | February 2009

As I recall, it was David Wiley’s idea to convene a group of us at a meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA) in, I believe, Houston to discuss what we could do to promote an activist position on African questions. The context was double. On the one hand, the situation in Africa was difficult: deteriorating politics of the countries that had achieved independence (military coups, etc.); and blockage of liberation in southern Africa, aided and abetted by the U.S. government. On the other hand, there had just been the 1968-inspired split among Africanists, with the crisis at the 1969 Montreal meeting of ASA, and the creation of the African Heritage Studies Association (AHSA).

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



ACAS Thirty Years On

By | February 2009

In 2008 the ACAS Bulletin celebrated its thirtieth birthday. ACAS emerged at a moment when radical African movements were capturing international headlines, inspiring activists around the world, and were firmly opposed by the US government. As national liberation movements in the early and mid-1970s scored signficant victories against white minority and colonial rule, US overt and covert intervention across Africa accelerated. Blocked by traditional academic organizations from supporting and mobilizing on behalf of these struggles for majority rule, progressive scholars of Africa came together to form ACAS.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin), Bulletin 81



Zimbabwe: MDC Had to Get In Or Change Course

By | February 2009

I was not surprised to see the MDC joining the Government of National Unity. In fact, I concluded so the moment that party president Morgan Tsvangirai decided to go home from Botswana earlier in the month. When an opposition party takes the option of armed struggle off the table and vests all its energies in an internal solution after all nonviolent strategies have failed, there is indeed no choice other than to participate in the GNU or sink into oblivion. The MDC National Council’s decision to participate in the GNU—whether an elopement with Zanu (PF) or traditional marriage where the festivities of a church ceremony are not the main issue but paying lobola—was merely a coup de grace. My verdict is that Mugabe had already tactically and strategically outwitted the opposition, from the very moment that the MDC agreed to participate in the talks. When you plunge into a crocodile-infested pool, make sure you know how to swim.

Filed under: ACAS Review (Bulletin)
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