The product of a double legacy – on the one hand area studies, on the other a non-scholarly preoccupation with applied understanding of its subject – the contemporary study of Africa at Columbia is marked by shallow historical depth and a restricted areal vision.
Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology
The faculty of the Columbia-based colloquium Ifriqiyya, led by Professor Mamdani, will partner with Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda, to launch a new network of research – drawing together scholarship on the Indian Ocean with inquiry on trans-African slaveries (trans-Saharan and trans-Indian ocean).
The larger ambition is to rethink area studies by historicizing the notion of an ʻareaʼ – a contemporary unit of study whose configuration is the result of a post-Second World War and Cold War geopolitical preoccupation of colonial and foreign offices. Mamdani will hold two meetings, one at Columbia, the other at Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, Uganda. The idea is to bring together 8 to 10 scholars in each field (Indian Ocean Studies and Intercontinental Slavery Studies) for two day workshops that will detail intellectual content and chart a three-year program of research and colloquia. He will also set up a website with sections dedicated to these themes.