Home / Action Plan / What will the Sahel look like in 10 years? A research initiative on the Sahel region and call for papers

What will the Sahel look like in 10 years? A research initiative on the Sahel region and call for papers

https://www.msafropolitan.com/2017/10/the-sahel-region.html

I’m pleased to share the news that I have joined the Editorial Board of the Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Sahelwhich is an initiative of The International Consortium for Geopolitical Studies of the Sahel – a collaborative international research team of experts focusing on the security, socio-political and ecological complex of the Sahel, of which I also am a member.

Joining the Editorial Board of the Interdisciplinary Journal for the Studies of the Sahel is of great meaning to me as an advocate of decolonial feminism through the power of the written and spoken word. In order to secure a safer and more peaceful Africa, it is of high priority that we reframe the rhetoric about the Sahel from a Eurocentric to an Africa-centric one. To quote from the consortium’s pages:

“A research project on the Sahel is necessary and urgent. The region is getting more and more unstable, as is the risk of seeing the number of failed and failing states increase. The sources of instability are complex. They include poverty, the effects of climate change and political violence. There are growing terrorist activities in the region. Great powers’ interventions tend to put emphasis on military solutions and counterinsurgency as exemplified by the creation of the US Africa Command in 2008 and France’s military presence in the region. The Global War on Terror, pursued as Contingency Operation under the current US Administration, has lasted for a decade now. But peace is still elusive and development insufficient to mitigate the needs of a growing population. Counterinsurgency, by its very nature, distorts relationships among people, as it tends to create mistrust in social interactions. Thus, traditional values such as trust, negotiation and collaborative problem solving embedded local cultures are being challenged and replaced by a culture of violence. If we don’t want to see the Sahel look like today’s Somalia or Afghanistan, it is urgent to find a different approach to the problems of the region. This is the raison d’être of the International Consortium for Geopolitical Studies of the Sahel.”

I know that many of you share the above concerns and I urge you to either contribute to the journal if you are able to, and/or share our first call for papersHopefully in 10 years time the Sahel will be a region of great wealth, stability and inspiration in Africa, but to make that happen the narrative needs to be reframed. The journal is a specialised section of Africology: The Journal of Pan African Studies (www.jpanafrican.organd it will be an on-line, open access, and peer reviewed scholarly journal devoted to research and analysis of policy, economic, social and political experiences of the Sahel region. Submissions from all disciplinary fields of academic inquiry, including the arts, humanities, social sciences and STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) are welcome. To read more, please click on the links below.

Call for Papers-IJSS

Authors’ Guidelines-Harvard Style

 

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‘The Crown’ Season 2 Review: Despite Focusing on Relationships, Netflix’s Drama Turns Too Dreary and Cold

http://www.indiewire.com/2017/11/crown-season-2-review-netflix-series-1201899737/

There are far worse ways to study history than watching “The Crown” — high school history class comes to mind, especially at schools with misplaced teachers like Mr. Kraz. But there are better ways, as well, even in television’s incomplete, sensationalized fashion. Pertinent period details frame series like “The Americans” and “Mad Men,” or there are meaningful tales told of specific historical figures like “John Adams,” the “Band of Brothers,” and “The Young Pope.” (Hey, the future will one day be historical, too, and Lenny will be pope.)

What separates these programs from Netflix’s new crown jewel is an opinion; a stance, one way or another, on what all this means; a personality of its own making rather than a suffocating allegiance to facts. And in a darker second season about the most personal problems of Queen Elizabeth’s life, this voiceless neutrality breeds an even colder, more distant, and altogether less engaging set of historical accounts.

Those who enjoyed Season 1 won’t likely be overly upset, as these shifts are subtle and easily overshadowed by an onslaught of prestige. Scripts are well-crafted. Images are opulent in texture and scenery. Acting remains a top attribute, especially Matt Smith and Claire Foy who are even more front-and-center this year than last. Favorite figures like Jared Harris and John Lithgow are missed, as are their heartfelt characters (Harris’ kingly father figure) and episodes (most notably, “Assassins”), and Peter Morgan’s second season fittingly opens on a bleak, rainy day in February, 1957.

Queen Elizabeth (Foy) and the newly crowned Prince Philip (Smith) are at a crossroads. Sitting in the shadows, reluctant to face each other, the married couple’s allegiance to one another is being questioned in the public, and the two must decide how to move forward. Before an answer is given, the series shifts back in time five months to examine how the royal pair ended up in such a state.

The Crown Season 2 Episode 2 Matt Smith Netflix

Mercifully, this isn’t a framing device for the entire season — Morgan catches up to this scene in the third episode — but it does draw attention to the predominant themes of marriage, equality, and progress. Episodes focus on Philip’s frustrations with his position, his tragic childhood, and his perceived dalliances with women other than Elizabeth. The series doesn’t go so far as to show Philip with another woman, but it strongly implies casual couplings during his time away from the city and depicts a budding vanity that often distracts from his duties.

Smith builds a character who’s easy to dislike without being totally alien: It’s both a challenging and enviable development to take on, and Smith progresses Philip quite well. The kind of presumptive sexism displayed will make him an even more hated figure given current cultural context, but he’s not a monster or a predator; he’s merely a powerful man doing what powerful men did at the time.

The latter point is more of the show’s stance than an absolute interpretation. Morgan makes some bold choices in what he’s willing to include, but bold choices do not equate to bold positions. “The Crown” only goes so far, after all, even with its principal subject. Though Elizabeth is often made into a pitiable object, she’s more reactive than declarative in Season 2.

The Crown Season 2 Claire Foy Matt Smith Netflix

Characters often bring up the queen’s obligation to the crown, and they almost always frame her allegiance to tradition in contrast to personal desires. Last season saw Elizabeth deny her sister the love of her life because their marriage would embarrass the family. Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) is still smarting from that decision — she’s quite the drunkard in Season 2 — but Elizabeth has moved on; she’s accepted her duty and is entirely possessed by it.

The show seems to have followed suit, and the fifth episode illustrates the underlying problem of hiding behind history. Based around Lord Altrincham, an unknown newspaperman and failed politician, “Marionettes” focuses on how the writer’s scathing opinion of a speech made by the queen gains traction. At first, her advisers tell Elizabeth not to worry about it. They think it will be dismissed outright because of the subjects’ undying loyalty to her office.

But when Altrincham appears on television to defend his articles, the tide turns. He’s not a crackpot or an attention-seeker. He genuinely loves the monarchy and wants to help it transition into the 20th century. He’s speaking for the people, and the people are behind him. The episode ends with a footnote, saying the royal family eventually adopts every one of Altrincham’s suggestions, and this final word successfully shifts the episode from its original position — the condemnation of a crackpot vs. the queen — to its ultimate message: that one man speaking truth to power can sway the course of history.

The Crown Season 2 Dogs, corgis, running Netflix

It’s a strong episode on its own, but “The Crown” lacks the same courage overall. Morgan’s drama only feels comfortable taking a stance when its got historical precedent behind it: The condemnation of the royal family’s stuffy policies is included because someone actually condemned it and they listened, whereas when the family’s outdated and inhumane beliefs are brought up — like their disgusted intolerance of homosexuality — “The Crown” seems to shrug and say, “Well, that’s how it was back then.”

Whereas “Mad Men” and “The Americans” provide context to indicate how the audience should react (think about the opposing marketing firm throwing piss balloons on black protesters, or Philip’s struggle to follow through on certain missions), “The Crown” is content to just depict what happened. When the queen is forced to think about homosexuality, she collapses and her hand is shown grasping the window, like Kate’s in “Titanic” — except Elizabeth isn’t in the midst of passionate backseat sex, she’s just passionately unhinged at the idea of a man kissing another man. Such a simple point could’ve been made without the grandiose bombasticity that lends the series a coldness that’s hard to come back from.

It doesn’t condemn these ideas just as it doesn’t condemn Philip’s actions. Of course, it doesn’t support them either. While very good at instructing the audience how Philip and Elizabeth are feeling, rarely does it evoke the same level of feeling from viewers. The series is so diligent to the history books — “There was a meeting and, as best we can tell, this was discussed, so they probably reacted like this…” — there are more frustrations than surprises and more acceptance than understanding.

Some viewers may look for exactly this in their television: a beautiful recreation of historical events, connected by safe assumptions about the people who lived through them. But television is capable of so much more, and whether you like “The Crown” or not, its medium evokes stronger, richer feelings elsewhere.

Grade: B-

“The Crown” Season 2 premieres December 8 exclusively on Netflix.


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