Skip to main content

The ASA at 60: Advocacy in an Age of Tyranny

  • M. Anne Pitcher

Although the sixtieth anniversary of the ASA’s founding offers an occasion to celebrate the association’s accomplishments, it also coincides with a historical moment of resurgent authoritarianism, growing intolerance, and renascent nativism. Democratic institutions in the United States and abroad are under attack; bigotry, injustice, and incivility have become re-energized. This article reflects on the discourses, spaces, and technologies employed by Africans to contest the multiple expressions of political exclusion on the continent over the last sixty years. It finds inspiration and lessons that might guide us as we develop our own forms of political advocacy in this illiberal age.

Même si le soixantième anniversaire de la Fondation de l’ASA offre une occasion de célébrer les réalisations de l’association, elle coïncide également avec un moment historique ou l’autoritarisme et le nativisme ont resurgit accompagnés d’une intolérance croissante. Les institutions démocratiques aux États-Unis et à l’étranger sont attaquées ; la bigoterie, l’injustice et l’incivilité sont redynamisées. Cet article se penche sur les discours, les espaces et les technologies employées par les Africains pour contester les expressions multiples de l’exclusion politique sur le continent au cours des soixante dernières années. Cette étude offre inspiration et des leçons qui pourraient nous guider alors que nous développons nos propres formes d’action politique dans cette ère d’intolérance.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The ASA at 60: Advocacy in an Age of Tyranny
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The ASA at 60: Advocacy in an Age of Tyranny
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The ASA at 60: Advocacy in an Age of Tyranny
      Available formats
Hide All

Editor’s Note: This article is a revised version of the Presidential Address given at the Sixtieth Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association, November 2017, Chicago, Illinois.

Hide All
Adomako Ampofo, Akosua. 2016. “Re-viewing Studies on Africa, #Black Lives Matter, and Envisioning the Future of African Studies.” African Studies Review 59 (2): 729.
African Art Centre. 2017. “Traditional Zulu Baskets.” Website. Accessed September 12, 2017.
African Union. nd. “In the Matter of Beneficiaries of Late Norbert Zongo, Abdoulaye Nikiema Alias Ablassé, Ernest Zongo and Blaise Ilboudo and the Burkinabé and Peoples’ Rights Movement v. Burkina Faso,” Application No. 013/2011. Judgment. African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Zongo Judgment- English.pdf. Accessed January 2, 2018.
Aina, Tade Akin. 2010. “Beyond Reforms: The Politics of Higher Education Transformation in Africa.” African Studies Review 53 (1): 2140.
Allman, Jean, ed. 2004. Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
American Association of University Women (AAUW). 2016. Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership. Washington, DC: AAUW.
American Council on Education. 2017. American College President Study 2017. Accessed January 2, 2018.
Berger, Iris, Redeker Hepner, Tricia, Lawrance, Benjamin N., Tague, Joanna T. and Terreta, Meredith, eds. 2015. African Asylum at a Crossroads: Activism, Expert Testimony, and Refugee Rights. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Besong, Bate. 1998. “Their Champagne Party Will End.” In Just Above Cameroon: Selected Poems (1980–1994). Np: Bate Besong, pp. 2223.
Blake, Aaron, Scott, Eugene, and Borchers, Callum. 2017. “Trump’s puzzling speech to African leaders, annotated.” The Washington Post. September 20. Accessed December 30, 2017.
Branch, Adam, and Mampilly, Zachariah. 2015. Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change. London: Zed Books.
Brody, Reed. 2017. “Victims bring a dictator to justice: The case of Hissène Habré.” Updated edition after the April 2017 Version. Analysis 70 (June). Accessed 5/10/2018.
Butler Beat. 2014. Interview Segment with Sean Jacobs. April 2. Accessed May 13, 2018.
Carter, Gwendolen. 1983. “The Founding of the African Studies Association.” African Studies Review 26 (3–4): 59.
Department of Homeland Security. 2017. “Approximate Active DACA Recipients: Country of Birth.” US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Website. September 4. Accessed November 3, 2017.
Department of Justice, 2017. “Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks on DACA.” Justice News. US Department of Justice. Washington, DC. September 5. Accessed January 11, 2018.
Dor, Gal, and Hofnung, Menahem. 2006. “Litigation as Political Participation.” Israel Studies 11 (2): 131–57.
Ekeh, Peter. 1975. “Colonialism and the Two Publics in Africa: A Theoretical Statement.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 17 (1): 91112.
Fanon, Frantz. 1967. Black Skin, White Masks. Originally published in French in 1952. New York: Grove Press.
Farrington, Dana, and Sprunt, Barbara. 2017. “Transcript: Trump Shifts Tone Again on White Nationalist Rally in Charlottesville.” NPR. Website. August 15. Accessed January 11, 2017.
#FeesMustFall. 2017. Accessed October 11, 2017.
Friedman, Susan. 1998. Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Gaines, Kevin. 2006. African Americans in Ghana: Black Expatriates and the Civil Rights Era. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Grant, Nicholas. 2017. Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945–1960. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Greene, Sandra. 1999. “Symbols and Social Activism: An Agenda for African Studies and the ASA for the 21st Century.” African Studies Review 42 (2): 114.
Hadfield, Leslie Anne. 2016. Liberation and Development: Black Consciousness Community Programs in South Africa. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.
Hagberg, Sten. 2002. “‘Enough Is Enough’: An Ethnography of the Struggle against Impunity in Burkina Faso.” Journal of Modern African Studies 40 (2): 217–46.
Haltiwanger, John. 2017. “Why is Trump Silent About Somalia? Hundreds were Killed in a Terrorist Attack in Mogadishu.” Newsweek. October 16. Accessed December 31, 2017.
Hassim, Shireen. 2006. Women’s Organizations and Democracy in South Africa: Contesting Authority. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press.
Isaacman, Allen. 2003. “Legacies of Engagement: Scholarship Informed by Political Commitment.” African Studies Review 46 (1): 141.
Jackson, Sandra, and Harris, Sandra. 2007. “African American Female College and University Presidents: Experiences and Perceptions of Barriers to the Presidency.” Journal of Women in Educational Leadership 5 (2): 119–37. Accessed January 2, 2018.
Jacobs, Sean. 2015. “Emergent African Digital Identities: The story behind ‘Africa is a Country.’” Journal of African Media Studies 7 (3): 345–57.
Kwayera, Mukalo. 2017. “Reporter’s Diary: ‘Cursed’ by Women who stripped before cameras.” Business Today. Accessed August 20, 2017.
Lawrance, Benjamin N. 2017. Website. Accessed December 31, 2017.
Lawrance, Benjamin N., and Roberts, Richard L., eds. 2012. Trafficking in Slavery’s Wake: Law and the Experience of Women and Children in Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.
Lawrance, Benjamin N., and Ruffer, Galya, eds. 2016. Adjudicating Refugee and Asylum Status: The Role of Witness, Expertise and Testimony. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lincoln University. 2017. “History.” Website. Accessed August 17, 2017.
Mama, Amina. 2007. “Is it Ethical to Study Africa?” Preliminary Thoughts on Scholarship and Freedom, African Studies Review 50 (1): 126.
Marques de Morais, Rafael. 2009–present. Maka Angola. Website. Accessed January 9, 2018.
Miles, Tiya. 2017. “This Is Not Just a War Of Words.” The New York Times. Sunday Review, October 22, pp. 1 and 3.
Mkandawire, Thandika. 1997. “The Social Sciences in Africa: Breaking Local Barriers and Negotiating International Presence.” The Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola Distinguished Lecture Presented to the 1996 African Studies Association Annual Meeting. African Studies Review. 40 (2): 1536.
Monroe Work Today. 2017. Website. Accessed 12/30/2017.
Moore, Booth. 2017. “White Nationalist Uniform of Polo Shirts Takes Center Stage in Charlottesville.” The Hollywood Reporter. August 14. Accessed December 31, 2017.
Moorman, Marissa. 2004. “Putting on a Pano and Dancing Like Our Grandparents: Nation and Dress in Late Colonial Luanda.” In Allman, Jean, ed., Fashioning Africa: Power and the Politics of Dress. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Moorman, Marissa. 2008. Intonations: A Social History of Music and Nation in Luanda, Angola, from 1945 to Recent Times. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Moshenberg, Dan. 2014. “The Burkinabé women’s spatula uprising.” Women in and Beyond the Global. Website. October 30. Accessed January 2, 2018.
National Humanities Alliance, 2017. “What the Administration Missed About Title VI and Fulbright-Hays.” Website. June 22. Accessed January 10, 2018.
Nkrumah, Kwame. 1957a. “Encounters with Racism.” Reprinted in Oscar Handlin and Lilian Handlin, eds. From the Outer World, 241–52. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.
Nkrumah, Kwame. 1957b. “Independence Speech-Kwame Nkrumah, March 6, 1957, Accra, Ghana.” Reprinted by Pan-African Quotes. Website. Accessed December 31, 2017.
Nkrumah, Kwame. 1963 “‘We Must Unite Now or Perish’ (Ethiopia OAU Speech).” Posted at Accessed January 2, 2018.
Odinkalu, Chidi, and Kane, Ibrahima. 2014. “The Killing of Norbert Zongo: African Court Stresses State Obligation to Protect Journalists.” Voices. Open Society Foundations. March 31. Accessed January 2, 2018.
Office of Management and Budget. 2017. “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.” Executive Office of the President of the United States. Accessed January 11, 2018.
Ogot, Bethwell A. 2009. “Rereading the History and Historiography of Epistemic Domination and Resistance in Africa.” African Studies Review 52 (1): 122.
Pithouse, Richard. 2016. “The turn to burning in South Africa.” Africa is a Country. Website. Accessed October 30, 2017.
Poe, Daryl Zizwe. 2003. Kwame Nkrumah’s Contribution to Pan-African Agency: An Afrocentric Analysis. New York: Routledge.
Presley, Cora Ann. 2002. “Gender and Political Struggle in Kenya, 1948–1998.” In Catherine Higgs, , Moss, Barbara and Ferguson, Earline Rae, eds. Stepping Forward: Black Women in Africa and the Americas, 173–88. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.
Ransby, Barbara. 2017. “Black Lives Matter Is Democracy in Action.” Sunday Review. The New York Times. October, 22: 67.
#RhodesMustFall. 2017. Accessed October 15, 2017.
Russell, Diana. 2003. Lives of Courage: Women for a New South Africa. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse. reprint. Originally printed by Basic Books, 1989.
Savage, Charlie. 2017. “Justice Dept. to Take on Affirmative Action in College Admissions.” The New York Times. August 1. Accessed January 11, 2017.
Soré, Ramata. 2008. “The Murder of Norbert Zongo: A history of investigative journalism in Burkina Faso.” Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper. University of Oxford. Michaelmas Term.
South African History Online. 2017. “A List of women involved in the women’s struggle in South Africa, 1900–1994.” Website.’s-struggle-south-africa-1900-1994. Accessed January 2, 2018.
Southern Poverty Law Center. 2018. “Hate Map.” Website., accessed June 11, 2018.
Tibbetts, Alexandra. 1994. “Mamas Fighting for Freedom in Kenya.” Africa Today 41 (4): 2748.
TracImmigration. 2017. “Immigration Court Backlog Tool.” Website. University of Syracuse. Accessed 31 December 2017.
United States Embassy in Sierra Leone. 2017. “U.S. Government Support for Mudslide and Flooding Disaster Response.” Press Release. Freetown. August 23. Accessed October 12, 2017.
UPenn Archives. 2017. “Kwame Nkrumah at Penn: A Digital Exhibition of the Penn African Studies Center.” University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center and University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center. Accessed August 20, 2017.
Wang, Cecilia. 2017. “Trump banned refugees on Holocaust Remembrance Day. That says everything.” The Guardian. January 28. Accessed January 11, 2017.
Webb, Chris. 2015. “Rhodes Must Fall Everywhere.” Africa Is A Country. Website. Accessed October 30, 2017.
Wolin, Sheldon. 2017. Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (1st edition, 2008.)
Young, Crawford. 1994. The African Colonial State in Comparative Perspective. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Younge, Gary. 2017. “Remember this about Donald Trump. He knows the depths of American bigotry.” The Guardian. September 26. Accessed January 11, 2017.
Zeleza, Paul. 1997. Manufacturing African Studies and Crises. Dakar: Codesria.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

African Studies Review
  • ISSN: 0002-0206
  • EISSN: 1555-2462
  • URL: /core/journals/african-studies-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed