Faculty Publications

Congratulations to Elizabeth C. Parsons, director of contextual learning at the School of Theology and affiliated faculty of the African Studies Center, on the publication of her book, What Price for Privatization?: Cultural Encounter with Development Policy on the Zambian Copperbelt.

Congratulations to Tim Longman, director of the African Studies Center and associate professor of political science, on the publication of his book, Christianity and Genocide in Rwanda (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

As described in the front matter of the book, “Although Rwanda is among the most Christian countries in Africa, in the 1994 genocide, church buildings became the primary killing grounds. To explain why so many Christians participated in the violence, this book looks at the history of Christian engagement in Rwanda and then turns to a rich body of original national and local-level research to argue that Rwanda’s churches have consistently allied themselves with the state and played ethnic politics. Comparing two local Presbyterian parishes in Kibuye prior to the genocide demonstrates that progressive forces were seeking to democratize the churches. Just as Hutu politicians used the genocide of Tutsi to assert political power and crush democratic reform, church leaders supported the genocide to secure their own power. The fact that Christianity inspired some Rwandans to oppose the genocide demonstrates that opposition by the churches was possible and might have hindered the violence.”

Melissa Graboyes recently published a paper through the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future (Learning From the Past: The Future of Malaria in Africa). Melissa is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Boston University, currently writing her dissertation about the history of medical research in East Africa. She has master’s degrees in public health and history. Luckily, despite nearly three years working in Africa in five different countries, she has yet to get malaria.

Congratulations to Drs. Linda Heywood and John Thornton on their book, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585–1660 (Cambridge University Press).

Congratulations to Parker Shipton, professor of anthropology, on his book The Nature of Entrustment: Intimacy, Exchange, and the Sacred in Africa (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007). For this book, Parker Shipton received the 2007 Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the Best Book in African Studies from the African Studies Association.

(From the jacket) Drawing on extensive research among the Luo people in western Kenya and abroad over many years, Parker Shipton provides an insightful general ethnography with a new theme and theoretical approach. In particular, he focuses closely on nonmonetary forms of exchange and entrustment, moving beyond anthropology’s traditional understanding of gifts, loans, and reciprocity and taking into account not just movements of inanimate goods and services but also exchanges and offerings of animals and humans. He proposes a rounder view of the social and symbolic dimensions of economy over the full life-course, encompassing transfers between generations. He shows why the enduring cultural values and aspirations of East African people—and others around the world—complicate issues of credit, debt, and compensation.

James C. Scott of Yale University states: “Shipton’s concept of entrustment is artful, engaging, and intellectually powerful. He moves us from quotidian observation to high theory with beguiling prose and rigor. If I could press this book on every World Bank economist, every formal theorist of political economy, every practitioner of cost-benefit analysis, and everyone who wants to understand how social ‘structure’ is created and sustained, I would be very happy.”

Congratulations to Cynthia J. Becker, associate professor of art history, on her book Amazigh Arts in Morocco: Women Shaping Berber Identity (University of Texas Press, Austin, 2006). The University of Texas Press writes, “In southeastern Morocco, around the oasis of Tafilalet, the Ait Khabbash people weave brightly colored carpets, embroider indigo head coverings, paint their faces with saffron, and wear ornate jewelry. Their extraordinarily detailed arts are rich in cultural symbolism; they are always breathtakingly beautiful—and they are typically made by women. Cynthia Becker spent years in Morocco living among  these Ait Khabbash women and, through family connections and female fellowship, achieved unprecedented access to the artistic rituals of the Ait Khabbash. The result is more than a stunning examination of the arts themselves, it is also an illumination of women’s roles in Islamic North Africa and the many ways in which women negotiate complex social and religious issues.”

Congratulations to Jim McCann, professor of history and recipient of the 2006 George Perkins Marsh Prize, American Society for Environmental History and also Honorable Mention 2006 Melville J. Herskovitz Award, African Studies Association. His book is Maize and Grace: Africa’s Encounter with a New Crop, 1500–2000 (Harvard University Press, 2005).

Maize and Grace shows how a New World crop contributed to the emergence of modern-day Africa. Some parts of Africa now have higher maize consumption per capita than Mexico and Guatemala, where the crop originated…Rather than describing sweeping historical currents, the book offers the reader a series of vignettes that provide opportunities to appreciate the paradoxes of maize development policy and to contemplate some enduring themes in agricultural history.” —Robert Tripp, Nature. See poster.