With the inclusion of the following commentaries, “Africa in the Age of Obama,” the African Studies Review breaks one of its cardinal rules of not accepting opinion pieces on current issues for publication. However, there is always an exception to any rule.These three articles, originally presented at the Plenary Session of the 51st Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, present ideas of sufficient significance and centrality to Africanist intellectual discourses at this historical juncture to warrant this exception. Both individually and as a collection, these informative and provocative articles decenter common shibboleths of twenty-first century Africanist scholarship and replace these with suggestions for new paths and new ways of seeing and constituting “Africa” in the world today.
As ASR editors, we have been grappling with some of these issues over the past decade while putting together a “mission statement” for the journal, and we are pleased to see these subjects and perspectives presented so eloquently in this coUection.Two perspectives from these narratives are of special interest to the mission of the ASR. First, they encourage a view of “Africa” not as an isolate, but rather as a nexus of complex global relationships in which Africa and Africans, as well as African ideas, practice, and voice—whether as subjects or objects of analysis—are the primary focus. Second, they give voice to, and encourage contributions from, an increasing number of scholars whose primary work, scholarship, and identity are on the continent. Implicitly they call upon these scholars to publish in the ASR and other journals and use these as a two-way conduit, whereby scholarship from the continent may continue to become a significant and integral part of twenty-first century global Africanist discourses.
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