Blog: ALMA Reviews
About this blog series
The ABI is one of many institutions working together with partners across regional boundaries, in the Global South and between the Global South and Global North, to undertake joint projects, and to co-produce knowledge. Yet even those partnerships that explicitly seek to challenge cross-regional inequalities exist within, and are thus themselves often structured by, the same power relations that they might seek to undermine. These inequalities can include opportunities to seek funding, control over resources, access to existing knowledge, divisions of roles and responsibilities, and academic authorship, as well as interpersonal hierarchies that run along intersecting lines of gender, race, location and citizenship, among others.
One persistent problem within this broader issue is that scholarship from the Global South is often not cited or engaged with in debates based in, or dominated by, research in the privileged Global North. This is in addition, of course, to the multiple barriers to publication that many scholars in the Global South face. This blog series aims to discuss, highlight, and engage with scholarship from the regions of Africa, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia (ALMA) that ABI staff and associates have particularly enjoyed reading. With this blog they aim to start new conversations, explore interesting themes and topics as well as highlight excellent scholarship.
The reviews are written in recognition of the (differentiated) forms of privilege that many of the contributors may hold, but with a determination to both challenge the hierarchies of academia in the Global North, and create more equal partnerships with our colleagues in the Global South.
Learning from Student Dissertations: Lessons from Kenya
Rather than reviewing one academic piece for the ALMA Reviews Blog, in this post I wish to draw attention to the value of university dissertations written by African students at African universities. I propose that engaging with such underused literature offers scholars access to precious local perspectives while also supporting African students by helping them to develop their international visibility. Read more.
Egyptian Environmentalism and Urban Grassroots Mobilization
Noura Wahby, American University in Cairo
Published in 2019 in The Right to Nature: Social Movements, Environmental Justice and Neoliberal Natures
Noura Wahby’s chapter on “Egyptian environmentalism and urban grassroots mobilization” provides an exciting discussion of the fragmented environmental scene in Egypt and the Egyptian state’s role in this. All those interested in a counter-hegemonic re-thinking of environmental politics will find the edited volume, which this chapter is a part of, of immense value. In her chapter, Wahby argues that “localized grassroots forms of contention against state damage and negligence in Egypt are undermined by a particular definition of nature put forth by the new bourgeois classes and co-opted civil society movements”. Read more.
Kuxlejal Politics. Indigenous Autonomy, Race, and Decolonizing Research in Zapatista Communities
Mariana Mora; Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS)
University of Texas Press
Available at: https://utpress.utexas.edu/books/mora-kuxlejal-politics
At first glance, Mariana Mora’s book may seem to be a conventional anthropological study of a highly popular movement: the Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Southern Mexico. From 1994 onwards this movement, as an example of indigenous organising practices and their success in pressing for autonomy, has been the object of much anthropological enquiry. The Zapatista uprising occupied several towns in 1994 and later established autonomous municipalities with their own education and health services. Mora’s book differs from most, however, because of her decolonial and historicised approach. Read more.
Deviant Destinations: Zimbabwe and North to South Migration
Rose Jaji, Harare University, Zimbabwe
Published in 2019 by Rowman & Littlefield
In her recent book “Deviant Destinations: Zimbabwe and North to South Migration,” Rose Jaji, senior lecturer in Sociology at Harare University, pays attention to an unusual type of migration journey. Unusual not necessarily in the frequency it occurs, but regarding the attention received in academic studies: she analyses journeys from the Global North to Zimbabwe, a country which has experienced “political violence, poverty, suffering and despondency” (p.60) in the last two decades. Zimbabwe has long become an archetype of a country from where people emigrate. To illustrate, Crush and Tevera note that “given the ruinous state of the country’s economy, it remains a puzzle as to who, why, and indeed how, anyone could stay” (p.2) in their edited volume aptly named “Zimbabwe’s Exodus.” Rose Jaji`s book gives an entirely new reading of Zimbabwe, showing how studying migration from the Global North to the Global South can give new insights into the common elements of migration motivations, the place of migrants in a host society and the pitfalls of a containerized understanding of the nation-state. She interviewed 35 people between 2015 and 2017 – most from Germany and the US – moving to Zimbabwe both in the pre-crisis period (1980-1996) and in the crisis period (1997-present). The group includes expats, spouses of expats and Zimbabweans as well as missionaries who live in Harare and a rural field hospital (see Introduction). Read more.
Writing/righting Palestine studies: settler colonialism, indigenous sovereignty and resisting the ghost(s) of history
Rana Barakat, Birzeit University, Palestine
Published in 2018 in Settler Colonial Studies 8(3), pp. 349-363
In this excellent and thought-provoking article, Rana Barakat interrogates the application of a settler colonial framework to understand Palestinian history. Settler colonialism is a form of colonialism that - as a structure, not an event - seeks to disavow the presence of indigenous ‘others,’ and to “ultimately supersede the conditions of its operation” through (a combination of) the erasure, expulsion, elimination, and assimilation of the native population (Veracini, 2011:3). Bringing an insistence that scholarship is, and must be, part of a broader political project, she asks “how can a settler-colonial analysis be part of a deeply political scholarly mode of indigenous resistance in Palestine?” (p.350) In this piece, Barakat argues that, the “writing/righting” of Palestinian narratives demands that an analysis and understanding of settler colonialism must be embedded within an indigenous framework. Read more.
Editor of this blog series: Franzisca Zanker
Foto: ©Cynthia Matonhodze, Harare, Zimbabwe