Theme Groups

2011-2012 Thematic Groups

The CAS Theme Groups Initiative aims to expand the Council’s capacity to develop innovative research, learning, and collaborative opportunities at Yale while bringing contemporary African realities into sharper focus. Situated at the intersection of social science, humanities, and policy-related disciplines, each multi-year thematic cluster draws upon the research specialties of CAS faculty to focus on analytically pressing sets of issues through a combination of lectures, reading groups, workshops, colloquia, or collaborative research projects.

Conflict and Its Aftermaths
Project leaders: Mike McGovern, Ato Onomo, David Simon

The Conflict and its Aftermaths working group focuses on understanding the causes and meanings of conflict in specific African settings, as well as attempts to transform and redress these causes in post-conflict situations. Activities to date have focused on transitional justice in Central Africa, relations between pastoralists and agriculturalists in the Sahel belt, and the relations between crops and conflict in West Africa. Members of the group work in all regions of the continent and are interested in an interdisciplinary approach to conflict and reconciliation that takes seriously the lived experience and micropolitics of these dynamics as well as their broader political, economic, and strategic contexts.

Health, Environment, and Governance
Project leaders: Catherine Panter-Brick and Robert Bailis

This theme group focuses its activities at the intersection of global health, the physical and social environment, and political governance in the African region. In Africa, perhaps more than other world regions, wellbeing is intimately linked to the ecology: examples are risks posed by climate change, struggles over access to natural resources, and issues of food security, all of which create challenges for governance. Furthermore, rapid urbanization and other forms of economic development present both threats and opportunities for the health and welfare of marginalized populations. Our theme group explores these issues by engaging with experts invited to speak at Yale, and by engaging students in a new course entitled 'Contemporary Environmental Challenges in Africa.'

African Languages and Literatures
Project leaders: Ann Biersteker, Jean-Marie Jackson, Sandra Sanneh Nathan Suhr-Sytsma, and Kiarie Wa’Njogu

This working group focuses on current issues in the study of African languages and literatures, engaging with the work of Yale students and faculty as well as visiting scholars and writers. In events ranging from panel discussions to book talks to an interdisciplinary conference, we explore the relationship between literary production and the study of African language arts both on and beyond the continent. Speakers represent a diverse array of geographic regions and historical periods, allowing for an appreciation of difference while teasing out what concerns might unify the study of Africa within the humanities.

Transnational Connections
Faculty leaders: Kamari Clarke and Narges Erami

The Transnational Connections working group explores the dynamic transregional linkages and movements between African peoples and various commodities, labor formations, ideas, objects, economies, and socialities. Within this working group a number of projects are underway. They are: Networks and the Muslim World which examines the ways that Muslim peoples and groups connect across national and regional boundaries—including trade, labor migration, the movement of texts across borders, and the transformative effects of advancing technologies; the New Africa-Asia Relations project - its components include new course development, a collaborative and inter-institutional working group, and other activities focused on the history, recent expansion, and global implications (economic, political, strategic) of East Asian involvement in Africa, with particular attention to China. And in a truly “global” effort that crosses disciplinary and geographic boundaries, the final subgroup of the Transnational Connections working group - The Afterlife of Objects - represents an interdisciplinary reading group that explores the ways that recycling and refashioning objects such as clothing and utensils move within and between communities multiple times through cycles of production,circulation, and consumption.