Thursday, 06 Dec 2018
12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Room 201, International Center
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About the Talk:

Diaspora Identity, the unhomely and the politics of belonging in Indian East African novels

Novels by African writers of Asian descent construct Asian experiences in the western Indian Ocean (East Africa) as counter-narratives that seek to provide alternative and more nuanced accounts of Asian presence in the region. The novels plot complex webs of mobility, exchange and transnational affiliations that unfold against the backdrop of the transition from colonialism to political independence, and the consequent disintegration of the region into postcolonial nation states. Representations of these processes in Peter Nazareth's In a Brown Mantle (1972) and M. G. Vassanji's The Gunny Sack (1989) foreground the nation as a site where nationalist politics and diaspora consciousness jostle for the determination of Asians' subjecthood and legitimacy in the emerging post-independence nation-states. Representing the tensions between diaspora (cultural) identities and postcolonial citizenship, Nazareth and Vassanji remind us that Asian identity in East Africa is structured by the rift between filiation and affiliation, which, as Werner Sollors argues in his reading of modern identity, has more to do with the fact of being a minority than with ancestral origins. The two authors problematize the pioneering approach that Bahadur Tejani takes in Day After Tomorrow of imagining national integration through romance by offering, instead, a model of post-independence citizenship based on Asians' evident participation in nation-building. Their protagonists represent markedly different options for relating to the nation-state – options which, I argue, foreground local historical and political realities that produce the novels.  

About the Speaker:

James Ocita is a lecturer in the Department of Literature, and until recently a Research Associate in the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), Makerere University, Uganda. He obtained his Ph.D from Stellenbosch University, South Africa in 2013. He also holds an MFA from the University of Maryland at College Park and MA from Makerere University. Dr. Ocita is currently a 2018 African Studies Association (ASA) and American Council of Learned Societies Presidential Fellow. He is also a co-contributor for a narrative bibliography, The Year's Work in English Studies from 2018 – 2021. Recently, he completed an African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowship and he is finalizing his book monograph, based on his doctoral thesis, provisionally titled Diasporic Imaginaries: Memory and Negotiation of Belonging in East African and South African Indian Narratives. His teaching and research interests include Ugandan literature, African literature, postcolonial theory, Indian African diaspora literature, African diaspora and Caribbean literatures, contemporary African popular culture, and creative writing. His recent publications focus on narratives of Indian experiences in East and South Africa, and explore ideas such as mobility, memory, home, cultural identity, transnationalism and global mobility of postcolonial subjects. Currently, he is exploring the coast and the hinterlands of East Africa as metaphors for various dualities and the cultural dynamism of the Indian Ocean world.

Thursday, 17 Jan 2019
12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Room 303, International Center
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Talk Title: Same Sex Marriage In The Constitutional Court Of South And The U.S. Supreme Court**
About the Speaker:
On turning six, during World War II, Albie Sachs received a card from his father expressing the wish that he would grow up to be a soldier in the fight for liberation. And so he did. In May of 2018, Judge Sachs was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Law from MSU College of Law. In between, he has had a remarkable life and career.
His career in human rights activism started in 1952 at the age of seventeen, when as a second year law student at the University of Cape Town, he took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign. Three years later he attended the Congress of the People at Kliptown where the Freedom Charter was adopted. He started his law practice as an advocate at the Cape Bar at age 21. The bulk of his work involved defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws. Many faced the death sentence. He himself was raided by the security police, subjected to banning orders restricting his movement and eventually placed in solitary confinement without trial for two prolonged spells of detention.
In 1966 he went into exile. After spending eleven years studying and teaching law in England he worked for eleven years in Mozambique as law professor and legal researcher. In 1988 he was blown up by a bomb placed in his car in Maputo by South African security agents, losing an arm and the sight of an eye.
During the 1980s while in exile, he worked closely with the ANC's Oliver Tambo to help draft the organization's Code of Conduct as well as its related statutes. After recovering from the bomb blast he devoted himself full-time to preparations for a new democratic Constitution for South Africa. In 1990 he returned home and as a member of the Constitutional Committee and the National Executive of the ANC took an active part in the negotiations which led to South Africa becoming a constitutional democracy. After the first democratic election in 1994, he was appointed by President of South Africa – Nelson Mandela – to serve on the newly established Constitutional Court from which he retired in October 2009. As one of 11 green-robed judges, Justice Sachs has been at the center of some of the Courts landmark rulings.
Many of his best-known judgments cross a variety of areas of law: fighting against discrimination, providing HIV-positive pregnant women with drugs to reduce the risk of transmission to their newborn babies, setting labor laws in place, helping to overthrow South Africa's statute defining marriage as between one man and one woman, all with the common theme of the promotion of an individual's right to equality and dignity.
He has been heavily engaged in the fields of art and architecture, playing an active role in the development of the Constitutional Court building and its art collection on the site of the Old Fort Prison in Johannesburg. In addition to his work on the Court, he has traveled to many countries sharing South African experience in healing divided societies. He is currently engaged in writing a series of four books on the writing of the South African Constitution and Bill of Rights with his co-author, noted South African historian, Dr. Andre Odendaal.
**This special Eye on Africa is part of a unique 1-credit course offered during the first 3 weeks of Spring semester January 2019 co-sponsored by MSU African Studies and MSU Law College. To enroll: MSU Graduate Students & MSU Honor Students go online and search for LWG 849C: Special Topics in Comp Law, section 001, section ID 97MZXR, 1 credit, pass/no grade [MSU Honor Students may be asked to get an 'over-ride' from the Graduate School]; MSU Law Students go online and search for
LAW 549C: Special Topics in Comp Law, section 001, section ID 97MZXN, 1 credit, pass/fail


Thursday, 16 May 2019
All day
Kellogg Center, MSU
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MSU's Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) is collaborating with the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) to host the second annual Youth Leadership Summit in East Lansing from May16-18, 2019.

Background At present, 1.8 billion of the world's population are youth between the ages of 10 and 24. Eighty seven percent of these young people live in less developed countries. The energy and innovative capacities of these young people, especially concentrated as they are in countries whose overall populations are more youthful, offer potential for economic prosperity, if invested in. The unprecedented levels of unemployment and disenfranchisement is a critical challenge, one that is no longer a concern for the future. It is here, staring at all of us in the face and worsening the longer we wait to act. Today, it no longer matters where you live, the burdens of unemployment, migration, rising inequality, and decreasing democratization is affecting all of us. For too many, being young means being unemployed, excluded from decision-making, limited in their access to productive resources such as financing and land – and, as a result, more vulnerable to unemployment, poverty and sometimes violence and acts of extremism.

It is in response to this crisis that MSU's Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) is collaborating with the Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN) to host the second annual Youth Leadership Summit in East Lansing from July 13-15, 2018. The inaugural Youth Agribusiness, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship Summit on Innovation summit (YALESI) occurred in Dakar, Senegal in 2016. While the summit was very successful, with over 250 youth in attendance from over 30 countries, one of the major critiques of the event was that the summit did not provide enough opportunities for the youth to operate as full contributors and to fully show-case and express themselves. Young people are asking for a place at the table and have some common recurring requests that the 2018 summit is seeking:

• Infrastructure, such as youth innovation labs and technology hubs to promote skill acquisition within countries

• An enabling environment that promotes youth livelihoods in the agri-food system and other sectors in the broader economy

• A medium to effectively advocate for access to finance, electricity, land, training, and other resources necessary for them to succeed

Goal To create an environment for young leaders to brainstorm, question, challenge, innovate and collaborate on a range of global issues.


● To provide a venue for young people to exchange ideas and innovative practices that support the scaling and replication of successful youth-led enterprises.

● To provide a forum for young entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative products and services

● To provide young people with a platform to pitch their business ventures to investors

● To facilitate and equip young people with the tools and networks they need to work together to collectively define their future

● To build the capacity of nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to enable young women and men to be involved in policies and programs that affect their lives and their livelihoods.