Into Africa

Composite image of three Boston University Graduate Students in Africa

Into Africa

Three Fulbright Scholars, three countries, three perspectives on a changing region

For many decades, Boston University’s African Studies Center (ASC) has produced top scholars in the field. Now part of the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, the ASC trains students in multiple African languages and academic disciplines. In the last two years, eleven BU doctoral students have conducted field research in Africa through the ASC, with eight of them funded by Fulbright or Fulbright-Hays grants. This report introduces three of these student researchers who traveled to three southern African countries in 2015.

Art historian and curator Lynne Cooney settled in Johannesburg to study post-apartheid art at a major urban museum. In tiny Lesotho, environmental historian Christopher Conz probed the history of the exchange of information on land use. And cultural historian Lilly Havstad lived in the Mozambican capital Maputo to research foodways and the colonial legacy. Their combined inquiries shed light on patterns of growth and change in parts of a vast and complex continent that remains often misrepresented and misunderstood.

The writer’s travel for these stories was supported in large part by the BU African Studies Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s International and Foreign Language Education Programs.

In this series

  • Part 1 Johannesburg: Works in Progress

    At an urban pop-up market on a winter evening, young hipsters and families converge in a former warehouse to forage from quirky food carts (half a VW bus, a paella pan the size of a wading pool), peruse contemporary paintings, prints, and artisan clothing with elusive labels like “Vintage Zionist,” and break bread at a […]

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  • Part 2 Lesotho: Life on the Edge

    Christopher Conz (GRS’13,’17) cuts a conspicuous figure as he pads along the tracks connecting the mountain villages of tiny, landlocked Lesotho. Tall, pale, and bearded, in windproof zip-up and cargo pants, he pauses to speak with cattle herders and market women in the singsong rhythms and clicks of their local language, Sesotho. The country has […]

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  • Part 3 Mozambique: Market-Driven

    When historian Lilly Havstad haggles with a Mozambican fish vendor for a kilo of tiger prawns at a downtown market, it’s a lively, timeless encounter layered with assumptions about culture and class. Once she has her prawns in hand, she engages in a spirited bidding war with the proprietors of the acre of open-air cafes […]

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