Contact: Adrianne
Tucker
802-443-5629
satucker@middlebury.edu
Posted: February 20, 2003

MIDDLEBURY,
VT
- The ninth annual Middlebury College African Symposium, titled
“Power and the State in Africa: Negotiating the Future,” will
be held on Thursday, Feb. 27-Saturday, March 1. The symposium, which is
free and open to the public, will feature three lectures, a drumming and
dance workshop, a student-moderated panel and a performance by the Senegalese
song and dance group Gokh-bi System.

“In
previous years, these symposia have tackled topics important to the understanding
of Africa, such as ‘brain drain,’ pluralism, and gender and healthcare.
This year, we wanted to address politics, democracy and the future of
government in African states,” said Alice Quist, a symposium student
organizer. “Our speakers will be able to shed some light on the issues,”
she said.

According to the symposium faculty advisor, Assistant Professor of Sociology
and Anthropology David Eaton, organizers of this year’s event wanted to
bring scholars to campus to focus on some of Africa’s most pressing problems
of governance today-ethnic conflicts, struggles over resources and vulnerabilities
in profoundly unequal international systems-and how they can be addressed
more fairly and effectively in the future.

“Capacities
for solutions to these problems lie not only within African states but
also beyond them,” noted Eaton. “Each of our guests is uniquely
qualified to speak to how such states function in relation to other institutions
and domains of power,” he said.

On Thursday, Feb. 27, from 4:30-6 p.m. the opening lecture, titled “The
Future of Africa Through the Lens of the Past,” will be presented
by John Spencer, Middlebury professor emeritus of history and College
trustee, in the conference room of the Robert A. Jones House on Hillcrest
Road, off College Street (Route 125 W). Refreshments will be served.

Before pursuing his doctorate in African studies from Columbia University,
Spencer lived and worked in Africa in several capacities over a period
of five years: he served as a fellow with the Institute of Current World
Affairs in East Africa, a research associate for the University of Nairobi,
and a program officer at the Ford Foundation for eastern, northern and
southern Africa. In 1967, he spent six weeks as a Peace Corps evaluator
in Gambia, Senegal and Mauritania, and in 1994, was an official election
observer in the South African elections. His book, “The Kenya African
Union” (1985), remains the standard work on the subject. As an historian
of Kenya’s political landscape in the years leading to independence, Spencer
has shown how broad-based and sometimes ethnically identified popular
movements shook the colonial state and laid foundations for post-colonial
national identity.

On Friday, Feb. 28, two lectures, “West African Conflicts and Prospects
for Resolution,” by William Reno, Northwestern University associate
professor of political science; and “Rethinking the African State
in Pan-African Perspective,” by Guy Martin, visiting lecturer of
political science at Georgia State University and adjunct professor of
political science at Spelman College, will follow back to back from 4-6
p.m., both in the Jones House conference room on Hillcrest Road. Refreshments
will be served.

William Reno has taught at the University of Wisconsin, the University
of Iowa, Hamilton College, Florida International University and, since
1999, Northwestern. His areas of expertise cover such topics as African
politics, ethnicity and nationalism, democratization, comparative politics
and the politics of revolutions. He is the author of “Corruption
and State Politics in Sierra Leone” (Cambridge, 1995), and “Warlord
Politics in African States” (Lynn Rienner, 1998). His current projects
focus on the politics of vigilantism in Nigeria and what he terms the
“mysterious” absence of revolutionary or reformist organizations.
Another project is a broad comparative study-taking him throughout Africa
and the newly independent republics of the former Soviet Union-that seeks
to explain why some communities and groups refrain from fighting when
conditions are thought to promote conflict. According to Eaton, Reno’s
influential work on warlord politics and weak states in West Africa shows
that the terrible conflicts that have recently wracked parts of this region-especially
in Liberia and Sierra Leone-have not been chaotic but instead have followed
a clear logic: the exploitation of local resources and the pursuit of
international commerce by coalitions of strongmen, business people and
local fighters.

Guy
Martin, who will give the second of the two talks on Friday, earned his
doctorate in 1982 from Indiana University. He has taught African politics
and international relations at various advanced diplomatic training institutions
in Africa, such as the International Relations Institute of Cameroon,
Yaounde; Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies, University
of Nairobi; University of the Western Cape, South Africa, and in the United
States at Clark Atlanta University; The American University; the University
of Virginia and New York University. Martin has written widely on African
politics and international relations. His book “Africa in World Politics:
A Pan-African Perspective” was published by Africa World Press in
2002. Martin’s extensive studies of the African nation-state in crisis
propose Pan-African alliances and regional integration as a way forward
in a global economic system dominated by other powers.

On Saturday, March 1, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., a student-led panel discussion
will be held in the Jones House conference room, on Hillcrest Road. Introduced
by Visiting Assistant Professor in Sociology/Anthropology Michael Sheridan
and moderated by Middlebury College senior Kudzai Zvoma of Zimbabwe, a
panel comprised of Spencer, Reno, Martin and three students-sophomore
Anywhere Sikochi of Zimbabwe, and juniors Leah Okollu of Kenya, and Paul
Opare-Addo of Ghana-will further discuss themes brought up at the previous
two days’ events. Lunch during the panel discussion will be offered on
a first-come, first-served basis.

On Saturday afternoon, from 2-3:30 p.m., a drumming and dance workshop
will be offered by Gokh-bi System, a Massachusetts-based Senegalese performance
group that combines traditional and contemporary music and dance forms,
in Ross Lounge on the third floor of the Milliken Dormitory, off Route
125 W.

From 8-10 p.m. that evening, the Gokh-bi System will conclude the 2003
African symposium with a performance in the Social Space of the McCullough
Student Center on Old Chapel Road, off Route 30. The five-person group’s
performances reclaim the African roots of hip-hop, bringing together the
ancient tradition of the troubadour storytellers known as “griots”
with politically savvy, uniquely Senegalese rap traditions. With members
from the Jola, the Serer and the Wolof peoples, the Gokh-bi System-literally
meaning, “neighborhood system” in the Wolof language-performs
globally aware music in five languages. Their performance style, which
they call “Ekonting Rap,” combines traditional drums, ekonting-a
string instrument from southern Senegal-and urban and village dance styles.

All
events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact
symposium student organizer Alice Quist at 802-443-6800, or by e-mail
at aquist@middlebury.edu.


A listing of symposium events follows:

African
Symposium “Power and the State in Africa: Negotiating the Future”
Event Listing
Thursday, Feb. 27 through Saturday, March 1
All events are free and open to the public.

Thursday,
Feb. 27
4:30-6 p.m. Opening lecture - refreshments will be served
“The Future of Africa Through the Lens of the Past,” by John
Spencer, Middlebury professor emeritus of history and College trustee.
An historian of Kenya’s political landscape in the years leading to independence,
Spencer has shown how broad-based and sometimes ethnically identified
popular movements shook the colonial state and laid foundations for post-colonial
national identity.
Robert A. Jones House conference room, on Hillcrest Road, off College
Street (Rte 125).


Friday,
Feb. 28
4-6 p.m. Two lectures, back to back - refreshments will be
served
“West African Conflicts and Prospects for Resolution,” by William
Reno, Northwestern University associate professor of political science.
Reno’s work on warlord politics and weak states in West Africa shows that
recent conflicts in parts of this region followed a clear logic: the exploitation
of local resources and the pursuit of international commerce by coalitions
of strongmen, business people and local fighters.
Robert A. Jones House conference room, on Hillcrest Road, off College
Street (Rte 125).

“Rethinking
the African State in Pan-African Perspective,” by Guy Martin, visiting
lecturer of political science at Georgia State University and adjunct
professor of political science at Spelman College. Martin’s studies of
the African nation-state in crisis propose Pan-African alliances and regional
integration as a way forward in a global economic system dominated by
other powers.
Robert A. Jones House conference room, on Hillcrest Road, off College
Street (Rte 125).


Saturday,
March 1
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Student-moderated panel discussion - lunch
on a first-come, first-served basis
Panelists John Spencer, Middlebury professor emeritus of history and College
trustee; William Reno, Northwestern University associate professor of
political science; Guy Martin, visiting lecturer of political science
at Georgia State University and adjunct professor of political science
at Spelman College; and four Middlebury College students from Ghana, Kenya
and Zimbabwe will further discuss themes brought up at the previous two
days’ symposium events.
Robert A. Jones House conference room, on Hillcrest Road, off College
Street (Rte 125).

2-3:30
p.m. Workshop - Senegalese drumming and dance
The Massachusetts-based Senegalese performance group Gokh-bi System, which
combines traditional and contemporary music and dance forms, will offer
a drumming and dance workshop.
Ross Lounge on the third floor of the Milliken Dormitory, off College
Street (Rte 125).

8-10 p.m. Senegalese song and dance performance
The Massachusetts-based Senegalese song and dance group Gokh-bi System
will offer a song and dance performance. With members from the Jola, the
Serer and the Wolof peoples, the group’s performances reclaim the African
roots of hip-hop, bringing together the ancient tradition of the troubadour
storytellers known as “griots” with politically savvy, uniquely
Senegalese rap traditions.
Social Space of the McCullough Student Center on Old Chapel Road, off
Rte 30.

For
more information, contact symposium student organizer Alice Quist at 802-443-6800,
or by
e-mail at aquist@middlebury.edu.