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Africa Forum

Lectures and Events

Fall 2016 

3 October
Ambassador Reuben Brigety, George Washington University: "The New Pan-Africanism: Implications for U.S. Foreign Policy in Africa."

Ambassador Reuben E. Brigety II most recently served as the appointed Representative of the United States of America to the African Union and Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Economic Commission for Africa on September 3, 2013. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Brigety served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of African Affairs from November 14, 2011 until September 3, 2013 with responsibility for Southern African and Regional Security Affairs.

From December 2009 to November 2011, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. In this capacity, he supervised U.S. refugee programs in Africa, managed U.S. humanitarian diplomacy with major international partners, and oversaw the development of international migration policy.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Ambassador Brigety previously served as Director of the Sustainable Security Program at the Center for American Progress from January 2008 to November 2009 and as a Special Assistant in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at the U.S. Agency for International Development from January 2007 to January 2008. From November 2008 to January 2009, he also served as a senior advisor for Development and Security to the U.S. Central Command Assessment Team in Washington and in Doha, Qatar.

Prior to his work in the policy arena, Ambassador Brigety served as an assistant professor of government and politics at George Mason University and at the School of International Service at American University between August 2003 and April 2009. In addition, Ambassador Brigety was a researcher with the Arms Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW) from August 2001- May 2003, where he conducted research missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Before joining HRW, Ambassador Brigety was an active duty U.S. naval officer and held several staff positions in the Pentagon and in fleet support units.

Ambassador Brigety is a 1995 distinguished midshipman graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a B.S. in political science (with merit), served as the Brigade Commander and received the Thomas G. Pownall Scholarship. He also holds an M.Phil. and a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Cambridge, England. Ambassador Brigety is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a recipient of the Council’s International Affairs Fellowship.


October 6, 2014

Dr. Steve Emerson, Independent Researcher: "The Struggle Continued: Mozambique at War, 1976-1992." 
Dr. Stephen Emerson is from a US Navy family in San Diego, California. His father was a career naval aviator and Steve grew up on various naval air stations from California to Florida, as well as in northern Virginia when his father was serving at the Pentagon. He has over 30 years experience working on African political and security issues as both an academic and US government employee, including civilian service with the Department of Defense, National Defense University's Africa Center for Strategic Studies and the US Naval War College. Steve is the author of more than 100 classified and unclassified publications over the years. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations/Comparative Politics from the University of Florida.

October 8, 2014

Mr. Ronald Hawkins, Department of State: "Combating Violent Extremist Groups Through Public Diplomacy."

Mr. Ronald Hawkins, Department of States Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Embassy Khartoum, will speak to midshipmen and faculty on the use of public diplomacy to counteract violent extremism. As a Foreign Service Officer he has served in Algeria, Bosnia, and Iceland. He brings to the table years of experience of employing ‘soft power’ to fight extremism. Mr. Hawkins worked for six years throughout the Islamic world and through his lecture he fine-tuned the definition of extremism as, in effect, radical Islam. He has firsthand experience with violent radical groups while posted at the Embassy in Khartoum most notably the attack on September 2012 led by a mob supposedly angry over that film which purportedly mocked the Prophet.

October 22, 2014

Dr. Rebecca Shumway, Georgetown University: "African Captives as Commodities: Africa and the Slave Trade."

Rebecca Shumway is a faculty affiliate in the Center for African-American Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) for the 2013-2014 academic year. Dr. Shumway received her Ph.D. in 2004 from Emory University, where she specialized in the precolonial history of West Africa and Atlantic history. She has held academic appointments at Appalachian State University and Minnesota State University Mankato. Before joining Carnegie Mellon University, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

She is the author of The Fante and the Transatlantic Slave Trade (University of Rochester Press, Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora, 2011) which was selected as a finalist for the African Studies Association’s Herskovits Award (for the best book on Africa published in the previous year in the fields of History, Political Science, Art History, Anthropology and Literature) in 2012. Shumway provides a fresh look at the complex web of players involved in a trade that uprooted approximately one million Africans from their homeland into enslavement in the New World.

Her current book project, tentatively titled West African Roots of Pan-Africanism: Fanteland, 1800-1875, builds upon the first by examining how Gold Coast society transformed during the period between the end of the transatlantic slave trade and the imposition of formal British colonial rule on the Gold Coast in 1874. It will be the first historical monograph written since Ghana’s independence in 1957 to treat Fante history throughout the crucial period between the end of the slave trade and the onset of formal British colonial rule, and will contribute to historical understanding of Africa in the nineteenth century, particularly with regard to abolition, European imperialism and the formation of African ethnic identities.

March 12, 2015

Dr. Douglas Johnson: “South Sudan: Legacies of War.”

Douglas H. Johnson, a historian of South Sudan and North East Africa, is a graduate of Haverford College and UCLA and a fellow of the Rift Valley Institute.  He worked with various agencies during Operation Lifeline Sudan and was a resource person at the 2003 Sudan peace talks at Keren, Kenya.  He later served as an international expert on the 2005 Abyei Boundary Commission, and since 2007 has been working with the Ministry of Culture in the government of South Sudan and the Rift Valley Institute in restoring the South Sudan National Archive in Juba.  He is the author, editor, or co-editor of eleven books including The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil Wars and When Boundaries become Borders: the Impact of Boundary-Making in Southern Sudan’s Frontier Zones.  He has published over sixty articles on the history and politics of the region and is currently completing a short history of South Sudan.


Fall 2015

October 20, 2015

VADM Charles Leidig: "Al-Qaida and Counter-Terrorism in Africa."

In August 2013, Vice Admiral (Ret) Joe Leidig returned to the U.S. Naval Academy as the Class of 1962 Corbin A. McNeill Endowed Chair in Engineering. In addition to teaching in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Leidig mentors midshipmen nuclear–related capstone projects, develop seminars and workshops centered on nuclear energy, and pursue sponsorship for faculty and midshipmen research. Leidig graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1978 with a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and is an honorary graduate of the Naval Academy Class of 2008. Leidig previously served at the Naval Academy as an instructor in the Weapons and Systems Engineering Department from 1982-1985 and later as the 80th Commandant of Midshipmen from 2003-2005.

Leidig’s Navy operational tours included service in both attack and ballistic missile submarines culminating with assignment as Commanding Officer of USS Cavalla (SSN 684) where his crew earned two Meritorious Unit Commendations and the Navy Battle Efficiency E. Leidig’s other command tours included service as Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 5;  Commander, Naval Forces Marianas and  Navy Region Marianas, and Commander Submarines, Allied Naval Forces South (NATO) / Commander, U.S. Submarine Group 8. Leidig’s final assignment before returning to the Naval Academy was as Deputy Commander, U.S. Africa Command.  During his tour, U.S. Africa Command led U.S. combat operations in Libya and provided combat support for French and African military operations in Somalia and Mali.

October 30, 2015

Dr. Jennifer Coffman, James Madison University: "Moving beyond meta-aid: How can NGOs do more than help themselves in East Africa?"

As Associate Executive Director (AED) of the Office of International Programs and Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Science and Technology, Dr. Coffman focuses on cross-disciplinary collaboration, hands-on problem-solving, and outreach.  Her duties as AED include internationalizing JMU curricula; grant-writing, outreach, and research project leadership; scholarship and faculty support to elevate the academic profile of oIP; and analyzing and implementing “sustainability” practices at oIP and in oIP programs abroad. 

Dr. Coffman earned her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Political Science from Duke University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Her research and teaching focus on environment and development from a political ecology perspective.  She has studied land and wildlife resource management and sociocultural change among Maasai in Kajiado District, Kenya; participatory development and ethnic politicking in rural and urban Kenya; local land and food production issues in the Shenandoah Valley; and other, related topics.  She continues to present and publish on these topics, as well as serves as PI or Co-PI on grants related to her research.  She also established and directs JMU’s Kenya Field School, an intensive summer semester program.

Spring 2016

Dr. Scott McDonald, Hohenheim University, Germany: "Assessing the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam."

Prof. Scott McDonald has been involved in projects in four areas: Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) Modelling, international trade and development, Social Accounting Matrices (SAM) and climate change. His research has resulted in the development of a series of single country and global CGE models which have been used, inter alia, in research with the Joint Research Centre of the European Union, the governments of Egypt and South Africa, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Resources for the Future. With respect to international trade and development, Prof.McDonald's research has explored the impacts of changes in trade and development policies, with a particular emphasis on the income distribution and poverty implications of different trade and development policies in southern South Africa, Botswana), Ethiopia and India. Other projects have concentrated on the development of data collation and estimation for SAM, and the impact of climate change on economic well-being, such as carbon trading and mitigation strategies. Scott has undertaken consultancy for and research with a number of institutions and government departments, including the World Bank, Joint Research Centre of the European Union, Resources for the Future, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, South African Department of Agriculture.

March 4, 2016

Dr. Karisa Cloward, Southern Methodist University: "When Norms Collide: Local Responses to Activism against Female Genital Mutilation and Early Marriage."

Dr. Karisa Cloward gave a thoughtful and spirited overview of her research in Kenya surrounding local responses to International NGOs attempting to change the traditional practices of female genital mutilation and early marriage. Most noteworthy during her lecture was the level of practical field experience evident throughout her trips to Africa. Combing academic underpinnings with practical knowledge gained through experience in working with local Maasai tribes, midshipmen were able to bridge the gap between lessons in the classroom and reality in the field.

The lecture was made possible through contacts made by Professor Janet Lewis's, Department of Political Science, extensive work in African Studies. Professor Lewis created an outstanding program through selecting midshipmen well versed in issues surrounding Africa to attend a coffee klatch and lunch with Dr. Cloward before and after the lecture, providing an opportunity for midshipmen to engage in more in-depth discussion regarding their own research. 

March 8, 2016

Dr. Patrick Manning, University of Pittsburgh: "Africa Yesterday and Today: Education and City Life."

On 8 March 2016 Professor Patrick Manning of the University of Pittsburgh spoke to midshipmen and faculty on the history of West Africa from the precolonial period to present day. As a historian on the economics of Africa, specifically the slave trade, he provided the academic underpinnings necessary for midshipmen to better understand the trajectory of African development from that of an exploitative economic system to one with a ray of hope for the future. Prof. Manning brings a perspective of West African development that spans a forty year career with many years of field research. He is also President of the American Historical Association.

CDR Derek Handley, Director of Africa Forum, was able to tie into the discussion works of literature ranging from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart as a parallel to the development of Africa throughout that two hundred and fifty year period.

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