Category Archives: Africa

The Soft Spot

Part of the problem in South Africa right now is that public universities all over a neoliberal world are paradoxically the most vulnerable part of an invulnerable system. This was even true in the 1960s, but it’s especially true now. … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Africa, Politics | 2 Comments

#Prefectus Must Fall: Being a True History of Uagadou, the Wizarding School

So there’s been a spot of disagreement about how to think about state systems in Africa in relationship to J.K. Rowling’s world-building for her Harry Potter novels. I feel a bit bad about perceptions that I was being unfair, but … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Sheer Raw Geekery | 8 Comments

On Uagadou, the African Wizarding School

I have a good deal to say on the plausibility of a wizarding school in J.K. Rowling’s fantasy world, and the first would be that I should know better than to send Twitter to do a blog’s job, I guess. … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Africa, Sheer Raw Geekery | 10 Comments

Technologies of the Cold War in Africa (History 90I) Syllabus

I saw last year that some smart academics were using Piktochart to design more graphical, visual syllabi, so I took a stab at it. Loading…

Posted in Academia, Africa, Swarthmore | Comments Off on Technologies of the Cold War in Africa (History 90I) Syllabus

The Potential Condescension of “Informed Consent”

Many years ago, I was involved in judging an interdisciplinary grant competition. At one point, there was an intense discussion about a proposal where part of the research involved ethnographic research that concerned illegal activity in a developing country. We … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Africa, Oath for Experts | 1 Comment

King of Pain

As Jackson Lears and many other scholars and observers have noted, many Americans throughout the cultural history of the United States have accepted that the circumstances of life are inevitably determined by luck, that economic life is a matter of … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Miscellany, Politics | 9 Comments

Now I’m In For It

So I’ve overhauled my survey course on the history of the Atlantic slave trade in West Africa this semester as an experiment in “flipping the classroom”. I’m not quite flipping the way that some do, with lectures as homework and … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Africa, Defining "Liberal Arts", Swarthmore | 5 Comments

Be Nelson Mandela

It is 1981 and I am writing my first long research paper ever in my high school government class on why the U.S. government and U.S. institutions need to commit more aggressively to fighting apartheid. I am citing a report … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Politics | 34 Comments

A New Approach To My Honors Seminar

Swarthmore’s Honors program is one of its claims to distinction. I’ve always enjoyed teaching the seminars, with their close-knit and ambitious discussions, but I have also found the whole program somewhat frustratingly in its eccentricities and emphasis. Essentially the program … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Africa, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Swarthmore | 5 Comments

Moore’s Law (Munitions Edition)

Let’s say twenty years ago I’d written a science fiction novel about how a futuristic nation has a massive force of flying robot bombs that are programmed with some target parameters and just fly around 24/7 on patrol looking for … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Generalist's Work, Politics | 21 Comments