Africa Past and Present: The Podcast about African History, Culture, and Politics

Africa Past and Present PodcastPodcasts continue to gain popularity in both social and academic realms, becoming a routine part of Internet lingo. Africa Past and Present offers podcasts that center on the history, culture, and politics of Africa and the African Diaspora. The types of podcasts range from personal interviews, to discussions on current events, to hot topics in African history.

Peter Alegi, associate professor in history at Michigan State University (MSU), and Peter Limb, adjunct associate professor in history at MSU and Africana bibliographer, host each program. “Our mission,” they explain, “is to broaden the availability and accessibility of cutting-edge knowledge relating to African experiences and to do so in a down-to-earth and informed manner.”

The web site receives funding from MSU and MATRIX, the Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online at Michigan State University, the latter of which is also responsible for production.

The following synopses are taken from the Africa Past and Present website and will give an idea of the types of podcasts available. Then, return later this week to read a Q & A post with Dr. Peter Alegi.

Africa and the Indian Ocean
Episode 32: September 30, 2009

Historian Ned Alpers (UCLA) discusses changing trends in Indian Ocean history and Africa’s centrality within it. Drawing from over three decades of research and a recently published book, Alpers discusses east African views of the Indian Ocean; slavery and the slave trade; resistance and agency. He concludes by reflecting on the daunting challenges and exciting opportunities facing Indian Ocean historians today. With guest host Laura Fair.

African Identities and Genocide Studies
Episode 25: August 15, 2009

Professor Abebe Zegeye, Chair of Genocide and Holocaust studies at the University of South Africa, discusses Africans’ multiple identities and genocide studies in Africa.  Is there a need for a different model than that of Holocaust studies to analyze political violence in colonial and post-colonial Africa? Zegeye closes with thoughts on his recent appointment as Director of Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research in Johannesburg.

Slavery in West African History
Episode 20: January 30, 2009

Our first anniversary episode! Historian Martin Klein, Emeritus at the University of Toronto reflects on African history and historiography and his life’s work on slavery in West Africa. Klein then sheds light on his ongoing research in cooperation with leading Africanists on African slaves. He concludes with observations about the state of historical research in Senegal, Mali, and Guinea.

Atlantic History
Episode 12: August 30, 2008

Walter Hawthorne, Associate Professor at MSU History Department, is an expert on Africa and the Atlantic World in the era of the slave trade.  We talk with him and Joseph Lauer about the history of rice farmers on the Upper Guinea Coast and the vigorous debate over Judith Carney’s “Black Rice” thesis. Hawthorne closes by describing his book Forging a Creole Atlantic: Africans on the Upper Guinea Coast, in Portugal and in Amazonia, 1650-1830.

Amadu Bamba and the Muridiyya of Senegal
Episode 1: January 15, 2008

The inaugural episode of Africa Past and Present introduces the podcast and features an interview with University of Pennsylvania Professor Cheikh Anta Babou. In the second segment, MSU University Distinguished Professor David Robinson joined Peter Alegi for an interview with Cheikh Babou, the Senegalese historian and author of Fighting the Greater Jihad: Amadu Bamba and the Founding of the Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853-1913 Professor Babou hopes his book will encourage readers to “understand that Islam is diverse; not to see Islam as an essence, not to confuse it with Arab culture or Middle Eastern Culture.” Robinson stresses the importance of learning about religious diversity in a post-9/11 world and to appreciate that “what some people say is Islam is really a distortion of that main tradition.”

Check back later in the week to read a Q & A post with Dr. Peter Alegi.

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