Category: Center News

Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs Open Houses

September 17th, 2021 in Center News

Interested in graduate study focused on a specific topic?

Want to learn more about  the different fields within International Affairs and Policy?

Attend virtual open houses throughout September, October, and November, hosted by the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA). Hear from a few schools that offer topic-focused programs in a more intimate setting and get your personal questions answered.

Attend any or all of the following themed open houses:

  • Global Communications and Public Diplomacy – Sept 9 at 4:00PM ET
  • Diplomacy and International Cooperation I- Sept 16 at 4:00PM ET
  • National Security and Global Threats I – Sept 21 at 4:00PM ET
  • Energy, Sustainability, and Climate – Sept 28 at 12:00PM ET
  • Development and Conflict Resolution – Oct 5 at 4:00PM ET
  • Regional Studies: Africa – Oct 7 at 6:00PM ET
  • National Security and Global Threats II – Oct 13 at 12:00PM ET
  • Diplomacy and International Cooperation II – Oct 19 at 12:00PM ET
  • Regional Studies: Asia – Oct 21 at 8:00AM ET
  • Science, Technology, and Cyber – Oct 25 at 12:00PM ET
  • Regional Studies : Middle East – Oct 27 at 4:00PM ET
  • Women, Peace, and Security – Nov 2 at 4:00PM ET
  • Mid-career Programs – Nov 4 at 6:00PM ET
  • Online and Part-time Programs – Nov 10 at 12:00PM ET
  • Human Rights and Law – Nov 16 at 4:00PM ET
  • Dual Degrees – Nov 18 at 6:00PM ET

Welcome Back from ASC Director Mike Woldemariam

September 3rd, 2021 in Center News

Dear Colleagues and Friends of the BU African Studies Community, 

I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you back from what I hope was a restful summer. This is the first such note I am writing as ASC Director, having taken over the role in July. As BU returns to all in-person classes this fall, the ASC is working hard to facilitate a safe and productive return to normal operations. Towards that end, we appreciate in advance your adherence to all of BU’s Covid-19 related protocols. While these are still uncertain times, I genuinely look forward to seeing students, faculty, and staff around the Center in the coming days, weeks, and months. Please do say hello when you see me. 

At this early stage, there are a few events I want to draw to your attention and encourage you to attend. On Thursday, September 9th at 5pm the Pardee School will hold its annual welcome event at Towers Lawn. The ASC’s Rodney Seminar is slated to continue, with Professor Mai Hassan of the University of Michigan joining us via Zoom as our first speaker on September 13th. Those interested in the Sudanese revolution, and the study of contentious politics in Africa more broadly, will find this first lecture to be particularly rewarding. You can register for free here. Finally, the ASC will host a mixer for faculty, affiliated and visiting researchers, and graduate students at 5pm on Thursday, September 23rd, which will give many of us an opportunity to greet old friends and welcome new faces. Stay tuned for more information. Other events for the fall are in the pipeline, and as details become available they will be announced in our Weekly Brief and posted to our calendar.

I’ll have more to say about my strategic vision for the ASC once I’ve had time to learn the lay of the land and tap the collective wisdom of our vibrant community. But for now, I can say this: the ASC has been a leading African studies institution for decades and I am committed to keeping it that way. The strong standing of the ASC is testament to many who came before me, including my immediate predecessors Professors Tim Longman and Fallou Ngom, who have led the Center in stellar fashion since I joined the BU faculty a decade ago.

A special thanks also goes to the wonderful ASC staff, Eric Schmidt, Natasha Patel, Elsa Wiehe, Michael DiBlasi, and Sandi McCann—their hard work and institutional memory have been vital in bringing me up to speed these last few weeks. My appreciation also extends to our faculty members, especially Zoli Mali and the African Language Program, who are eagerly gearing up for a new semester in the classroom. Beth Restrick, Gabe Adugna, and Rachel Dwyer of the African Studies Library deserve recognition for their efforts as well. And finally, a thank you to our students, whose passion for African studies has been, and will continue to be, the foundation of the ASC.

 See you soon. 

Mike Woldemariam

Director of the African Studies Center

WORK STUDY OPENING: Undergraduate Student Assistant Role Open

July 20th, 2021 in Center News

The African Studies Center at Boston University is looking to hire a student assistant for the Fall 2021 semester with the potential to continue into the Spring 2022 semester. The required shifts for this role are Wednesday 1:30-4pm and Thursday 9:00-11:00am. Only applicants that can staff both shifts will be considered.

The role earns a salary of $15.00/hr and will start in during the week of  September 6, 2021, and student staff members will be expected to attend a one-time student staff orientation and welcome on August 30th or 31st.

Responsibilities will include:

  • Welcoming visitors to the ASC and directing them to the office or event they are looking for
  • Designing event posters or graphics for the ASC social media accounts
  • Monitoring the general email account and forwarding inquiries to the relevant parties, or responding to inquiries
  • Occasionally helping the faculty and staff with simple office tasks like event set-up/clean-up, scanning/photocopying jobs, inventory or watering plants

Required experience:

  • Friendly and comfortable chatting with others
  • Timely and detail-oriented
  • Prior experience using Canva, Photoshop or InDesign
  • Prior customer services experience is a plus
  • Prior knowledge of Trello is a plus

If you are interested in applying for this job please send your resume and your availability to the ASC Program Administrator Natasha Patel (she/her/hers) at Applicants are welcomed and encouraged to include preferred pronouns or names in your email. You are welcome to attach any graphic design work samples with your resume if you would like!

Cynthia Becker Recognized with ACASA Innovative Teaching Award

July 7th, 2021 in Center News

Cynthia Becker, Associate Professor in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, was recognized with the inaugural Innovative Teaching Award by ACASA (Arts Council of the African Studies Association). The award was created for candidates at various stages of their careers whose pedagogic practice, course design and contributions to curricula reflect a range of creative teaching methods and encourages inclusive socially-responsive scholarship.

As the selection committee wrote: "Cynthia Becker's impressive teaching portfolio focused on a series of courses involving both multimedia expression and community engagement. She introduced two examples of her outstanding teaching record at Boston University: From Morocco to Timbuktu: Art and Architecture at the Saharan Crossroads and African Art in the City. These courses show collaborative, student-centered, imaginative teaching methods, blending classic in-class discussions with out-of-classroom artist studio visits, practical hands-on demonstrations by artists, along with visits to museums and other sites in Boston. It was a pleasure to see well-crafted webpages created by students about cities like Accra, Lagos, Marrakech, Nairobi and Johannesburg. Cynthia also collaborated with a colleague at the University of Massachusetts, making the learning space diverse. Through the use of peer review mechanisms and community engagement strategies, she introduces a culture of collaborative thinking. She has made significant contributions in developing new curricula at Boston University and at the University of St. Thomas where she taught between 2000 and 2005."

Note that “From Morocco to Timbuktu: Art and Architecture at the Saharan Crossroads” will be offered this fall.

Forthcoming: Land and the Mortgage

May 21st, 2021 in Center News

The ASC Working Group on Land Mortgage is pleased to announce a new book, Land and the Mortgage: History, Culture, Belonging, co-edited by Daivi Rodima-Taylor and Parker Shipton (forthcoming in January 2022). The book argues that the mortgaging of land, a risky practice usually treated as just an economic and legal contract, needs a broader set of perspectives for a fuller, more humanist understanding. The collection examines mortgaging as a social and cultural phenomenon to show its origins, variation, and effects on human lives and communities. Here anthropologists, historians, legal scholars and economists explore origins, variations, and meanings of the land mortgage, and the risks to homes and livelihoods. Combining findings from archives, printed records, and live ethnography, the collection describes the changing and problematic assumptions surrounding mortgage. It shows how mortgage lending affects people on the ground, where local forms of mutuality mix with larger bureaucracies. Tracing origins of land titling, pledging, and mortgaging over millennia, this book explores effects of colonial policies, state impositions, and locally rooted understandings. Situating mortgage lending in sociopolitical relations, it examines the outcomes of mortgage in Africa, Europe, Asia, and America that challenge economic development orthodoxies, calling for a human-centered exploration of this age-old institution.

The book includes chapters by scholars from Boston University African Studies Center and Law School, Tufts University, University of California (Irvine), Aarhus University, University of Roskilde, Francisc I. Rainer Institute of Anthropology, Institute for Agricultural Economics (Bucharest), Goldsmiths, University of London, University of Missouri (Kansas City), and Johns Hopkins University.


Farmland in northwest Tanzania. Photo: Daivi Rodima-Taylor

JOB OPENING: Program Assistant for the Africa Program at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S. State Department

May 7th, 2021 in Center News

This is a full-time, contractor position (with GAPSI) working at the Foreign Service Institute. While the position is currently remote, the position is based in Arlington, VA, and the person who fills this position will be expected, when we return to the office, to live in the region and work in the office.

The Program Assistant will provide general administrative and logistical support to the Africa program and the Areas Studies Division, support the running of quarterly courses, and conduct research. Administrative support will include logistical arrangements for in person and virtual classrooms; correspondence; scheduling; data entry; compiling administrative records and reports; and other administrative duties as needed. In addition, the Program Assistant will conduct research and analysis in support of the production of a variety of written and multi-media materials on a range of topics in Africa.

This position is ideal for someone with the following:

  • BA or MA degree in relevant field
  • Strong analytical, research, and writing skills
  • Strong oral communication skills
  • Familiarity with Africa, both history and current issues
  • Strong ability and willingness to perform project management and administrative support
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software)
  • Comfortable working independently and as a member of a team
  • Ability to pay close attention to detail while keeping larger project goals in mind
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Excellent time management skills with the ability to handle and prioritize multiple competing priorities under time constraints
  • Ability to obtain and maintain a Secret security clearance

Deadline: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, and the position will be filled as soon as possible.

To apply, please go to


Call for Papers – 54th International Conference of Humanistic Studies

April 29th, 2021 in Center News

54th International Conference of Humanistic Studies

June 28, 2022 - July 2, 2022

Music in Africa and Its Diffusion in the Early Modern World

Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance - Tours, France

Call for Papers

The Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance of Tours will devote its 54th International Colloquium to the theme of music in Africa and its diffusion from the 14th to the 17th centuries.

While the historiography of African music in the field of Renaissance studies has often viewed it as an art form without history or sources, rudimentary, or at worst, non-existent, recent revisionist studies demonstrate not only the richness of a multifaceted musical heritage on the African continent but also the active role of Africans in developing or influencing musical cultures in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the New World. By focusing on the musical traditions of Africa (North and Sub-Saharan), the dissemination of African musical traditions, the circulation of African musicians, composers and musical instruments in other continents, this conference aims to bring together archaeologists, ethnologists, ethnomusicologists, historians, art historians, philosophers, theologians, anthropologists, and musicologists to explore in a multidisciplinary perspective African musical art and its influence on other cultures, from the late Middle Ages to the modern era.

Topics of interest

Several sessions will be devoted to the presentation of musical practices in Africa concerning, for example, musicians, composers, musical instruments (how they are made, instruments remaining in excavations and those preserved in museums, manufacturing traditions, etc.) and their uses, ritual and ceremonial practices, banquets, military music, music regulating work, music in the family sphere, music in texts of philosophy, religion, medicine, descriptions of musical facts in chronicles and travel diaries, iconography with musical subject-matter in African visual art (illuminations, sculptures, frescoes etc.), architectural spaces where music was performed, and musical encounters in Africa combining indigenous and foreign musical practices.

A second axis of reflection will concern the presence of African music outside Africa, for example: the circulation of musical instruments and the transfer of their manufacturing techniques and uses; the presence of African musicians and their impact on other cultures; the transfer of musical traditions specific to African worlds; the representations of Africa and race in visual art (frescoes, paintings, illuminations, etc.), in musical compositions, and in other surviving sources.

The fields concerned are archaeology, visual arts, ethnography, ethnomusicology (related to history), history of food, history, history of science, medicine and religion, iconography and iconology, musicology, organology, philosophy.

The contributions will be published in a handsome volume of the series Études Renaissantes co-edited by Camilla Cavicchi (CESR) and Janie Cole (University of Cape Town, South African College of Music) and published by Brepols.

Proposal format

Abstracts for papers (350 words max) accompanied by a short bio-bibliography (80 words max) should be sent in word or PDF format to both: and

Deadline for submission of proposals: 1 May 2021

Response from the Scientific Committee: 30 May 2021

The languages of the conference will be English and French.


Camilla Cavicchi, CNRS-CESR of Tours, France

Janie Cole, University of Cape Town, South African College of Music, South Africa and Renaissance Society of America founding Discipline Representative for Africana Studies

Scientific Committee

Francesca Alberti, CESR of Tours-Villa Medici, Rome, History of Art.

Zdravko Blazekovic, Research Center for Music Iconography, CUNY, New York City.

Camilla Cavicchi, CNRS-CESR of Tours, Musicology.

Janie Cole, University of Cape Town, South African College of Music, Musicology.

Bruno Laurioux, CESR of Tours, History and History of Food.

Concetta Pennuto, CESR of Tours, History of Sciences.

Intisar el-Zein Soghayroun, University of Khartoum, Sudan, Archaeology.

Nico Staiti, Università di Bologna, Ethnomusicology.

Ethiopian Literature Discussion List

Hiring Now! Student Position Open for Applications

March 31st, 2021 in Center News

Student position open for application flyer


The BU African Studies Center Outreach Program aims to promote teaching about Africa and African-related studies in U.S. schools.

In this 10hr/wk position, student assistants will assist all program activities, including helping manage the Teaching Africa Teacher certificate program, communicate with teachers, review curriculum, research Africa-related topics, and support the Teaching Africa library, and clerical responsibilities. Students will be responsible for handling orders of educational products that our office sells to teachers and educators (posters, DVDs, and country kits) and keeping track of billing. Other tasks include:

  • designing flyers as promotional tools for selling posters and DVDs
  • sending out announcements to mailing lists using MailChimp
  • maintaining our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • You will also serve as a library assistant, which will entail cataloguing new books and following up with overdue books. The position can run throughout the summer and remote work may be an option. Knowledge of pedagogy and/or Africa is preferred. Spring, Summer, or Fall 2021 start. Send CV and a short letter of interest to 

Adam Matthew’s AM Explorer trial with BU Libraries

February 18th, 2021 in Center News

The African Studies Library is running a pilot program for Adam Matthew’s AM Explorer. Check it out and let the African Studies Librarians know your thoughts at

Adam Matthew’s AM Explorer is a cross-collection search of the entire corpus of Adam Matthew's digitized arts and cultural heritage material in subjects including, area studies, cultural studies, empire and globalism, ethnic studies, gender and sexuality, history, politics, literature, theatre, and war and conflict. It may also be a useful tool for students seeking primary documents. In this pilot program the BU community will have access through May 8. Please take time to explore the collections and share your feedback with us at

The Explorer allows keyword searches across all included collections, but here are a few collections that may be of particular interest:

  • Apartheid South Africa 1948-1980: British government files from the Foreign, Colonial, Dominion and Foreign and Commonwealth Offices.
  • Confidential Print - Africa, 1834-1966: Government documents from the National Archive, UK
  • Confidential Print - Middle East, 1839-1969: Government documents from the National Archive, UK
  • Foreign Office Files for the Middle East, 1971-1981
  • Ethnomusicology - Global Field Recordings: With material from the Ethnomusicology Archive, UCLA and the University of Washington, featured collections include: Jean Borgatti, Jacqueline DjeDje, Nicholas England, Verna Gillis, Larry Dennis Godsey, Donald Kachamba, Robert Kauffman, Cheryl Keyes, Bernard Lortat-Jacob, Darius Thieme, Jim Rosellini, Klaus Wachsmann.
  • Food and Drink in History: Includes cookbooks published in Africa, from the collection of Michigan State University.
  • Leisure, Travel & Mass Culture: The History of Tourism






World Music Institute Internship: Social Media, Marketing & Research Intern

February 5th, 2021 in Center News

Overview:  This unpaid internship position is for social media savvy students who are passionate about (world) music, eager to learn more about non-profit management and event promotion, and looking to gain real-life, remote work experience with a friendly and creative organization. 

Responsibilities: Interns will work with the Marketing Director on effectively marketing the organization and its programs incl. about-to-be-launched podcasts - to pertinent audiences. This includes social media content creation, research on community groups and organizations, and assistance writing the bi-weekly e-newsletter that goes out to 16,000 subscribers.


  • In-depth knowledge of social media (especially Facebook, Twitter and Instagram)
  • Video editing skills
  • Experience in conducting online research (on demographic facts, trends and/or music-related content)
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Interest in world music and dance and different cultures
  • Foreign language skills a plus


  • Hands-on work experience in the non-profit and artistic sector
  • Exposure to cross-cultural and multi-cultural marketing
  • Gaining experience in non-profit marketing

About WMI: Founded in 1985 as a not-for-profit, World Music Institute (WMI) has served as one of the leading presenters of world music and dance within the United States. WMI is committed to presenting the best in traditional and contemporary world music and dance to enrich lives through the arts, promote awareness and appreciation for the worlds rich cultural traditions, and foster cross-cultural dialog and exchange.

Contact:  Kate Winn Interim Marketing Director,