Africa’s current and future roles in the international arena will be the focus of a week-long symposium at Grinnell College, Apr. 9-13, sponsored by the college’s Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights. A former ambassador to Ethiopia, scholars of African politics and economics, and a recent leader of Africare will share first-hand experiences about the continent.
“Africa is a continent of contrasts that has tremendous importance for the rest of the world—international relations, economic growth, cultural affairs,” said Sarah Purcell, director of the Rosenfield Program. “We want to get at that importance by taking a look at Africa’s regional issues, as well as its effective relationships with the rest of the world.”
The week-long symposium will include the following free, public events to be held in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center on the Grinnell campus (unless otherwise noted):
- Mon., Apr. 9, 8 p.m.: Lahra Smith, assistant professor in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, will discuss “Old Trade-Offs and New Realities: Challenges of Economic Development and Political Reform in Africa” in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.
- Tues., Apr. 10, 4:15 p.m.: Boniface Dulani, a member of the faculty at the University of Malawi, will consider recent political movements in “Neither Consolidating nor Fully Democratic: The Evolution of African Political Regimes, 1999-2008.”
- Wed., Apr. 11, 4:15 p.m.: Africa’s place in the arts world will be the topic for Kelly Askew, associate professor of anthropology and Afroamerican/African Studies at the University of Michigan, in “Poetry and Politics along the Indian Ocean Littoral.” Askew is also director of Michigan’s African Studies Center.
- Wed., Apr. 11, 8 p.m.: Ambassador David Shinn, former U.S. ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, will compare “China and Africa: An Evolving Relationship.” Shinn is adjunct professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University.
- Thurs., Apr. 12, 11 a.m.: Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow Julius Coles will deliver the Scholars’ Convocation on “Prospects for Africa in the 21st Century.” Coles, the former president of Africare, is director of Morehouse College’s Andrew Young Center for International Affairs.
- Thurs., Apr. 12, 4:15 p.m.: The role of women will be the topic of a talk by Pearl Robinson, associate professor of political science at Tufts University, in “African Muslim Women and Civic Islam.”
- Fri., Apr. 13, noon: The symposium will close with a lecture in South Lounge of the College Forum by Assefa Mehretu, professor of geography at Michigan State University. Mehretu, who is also director of the Center for Integrative Studies in Social Science at Michigan, will discuss “The Rise and Decline of America's Soft-Power in Africa: The Case of Ethiopia.”
The African and Caribbean Students Union will host a film festival in connection with the symposium, offering “Umkhungo” at 8 p.m. on Apr. 12; “Teza” at 7 p.m. on Apr. 14; and “Ties that Bind” at 4:15 p.m. on Apr. 15. All films will be shown in Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302.
For more information about the symposium, contact Sarah Purcell, purcelsj[at]grinnell[dot]edu, 641-269-3091. Grinnell welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information on parking and accessibility is available on the college website. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or calendar[at]grinnell[dot]edu.