The African Studies Association was founded in 1957. This association was to be a non profit organization in which students, individuals, and institutions are welcomed to participate in. The mission “is to bring together people with a scholarly and professional interest in Africa. The ASA also provides information and support services to the African community.”
The people that are involved with this organization do not just participate in the study of the culture and society. The people here are also trying to make the life of the people in Africa a better place. This particular organization is very prominent on defending human rights and making sure that people are receiving them as well as making sure the members are following the guidelines.
Government (all of the information is from the ASA website.)
There are a number of committees with in the African Studies Association. There are about eight different committees that are run by various board members. Within the board members there are a president, past president, vice president, treasurer, and executive director. There are also any where from six to nine directors. These directors are split to for three to work the current year, three working until the following year, and finally three to work until two years after the current year. The terms are all about two years long.
The current president is Paul Tiyambe Zeleza; he will be serving until the end of 2010. Mr. Zeleza’s responsibilities include being part of the Executive Committee. This is where the current, vice, and past president, executive director, treasurer, and chair, Finance/Investment are all together for making decisions on behalf of the entire board. These meetings are ongoing between the biannual meetings. The past president, who will be serving until 2009, is Aliko Songolo. Mr. Songolo’s responsibilities are of the Prize Committee. This is where he would review recommendations, and gives out recommendations for the committee members. The vice president is Charles Ambler. Mr. Ambler’s job is in the Annual Meeting Committee, this is to plan the annual meetings, the policies, the location, and the chairs for the meetings. He also would head up the Nominations and Membership Committee. Then there is the treasurer, Scott D. Taylor. The executive director is Carol L. Martin.
There are four more committees which are all head up by a Board Member. One would be in charge of the Institutional Partnership Committee, which recommends institutions that the ASA should associate with to promote itself. Another would be in charge of the Ethics Committee, the Publications Committee, Finance/Investment Committee, and finally the Institutional Partnership Committee.
Ethical Conduct Guidelines
This section is an extremely important section of the ASA. The importance of this section in the ASA, allows for all of its members to work under the same rules. These rules are meant to protect the people that are being researched, protect the people doing the research, and finally allows for the association to be professional. These guidelines also give more credibility behind the research work that is being done, because of the guidelines.
Guidelines and brief description:
Do not harm – should be able to conduct the research needed with the conscious of the risks involved and be able to minimize the risks, if any. The researcher also needs to be well informed of all things included in society of the area that they are studying. Things such as political, cultural, economic, religious, and social contexts.
Open and Full Disclosure of Objectives, Sources of Funding, Methods, and Anticipated Outcomes - This section basically describes that the researcher is to openly provide all the information that they have collected regarding their research. This information is to be available for anyone that is interested in the study to be able to look at it.
Informed Consent and Confidentiality - This guideline shows how that the person that the researcher is to be studying is allowed to voluntarily sign a consent form. This form is to inform the people that are being researched what the researcher is exactly going to be doing.
Reciprocity and Equity – All members are to support and encourage all the professional activities of African collaborators and colleagues. This is in order for the members and the other professionals in the study to work together to gather information.
Deposition of Data and Publications – This is where after the research is done, the people involved in being researched are to be provided information that had been found by the researcher. The next step is to also provide the people the information in a way that they can understand as well as being in their language. Further the finalization of the data collected, after it has been analyzed, a full copy of the information is to be sent back to the country that had been studied.
Professional Misconduct – Here the ASA follows the policy of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Preservation of Cultural Heritage – This is where the members are to be very respectful of the cultural heritage of the peoples that they are studying. They also need to follow policies and procedures if they need to remove cultural artifacts, ownership information, and so on.
Academic Freedom – The researcher has rights and obligations to their citizens.
Policy Statement Concerning Human Rights – The ASA is dedicated to the defense of human rights and bringing attention to the acts and events that violate the rights. The ASA follows the policy of the United Nations “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”
Policy Statement Concerning Academic Freedom – Promotes the teaching, research, and professional endeavors, in respect of Africa, with possible freedom of inquiry and dissemination of findings. (africanstudies.org)
African Studies Review three times a year; (can access full articles online without membership)
This is a journal that is dedicated to multiple scholarly works that encourages debates among the academic and international communities. The entire journal focuses its reviews only on books that have issues that are directly related to Africa.
Example: Slavery in Great Lakes Region of East Africa reviewed by Suzanne Miers
This article states that the book is about slavery’s impact to the region and the slave trade. Suzanne Miers discusses how the topic for the book had come about at a conference. The debate in this case focuses on the actual time period when slavery was introduced into the region. The authors Henri Médard and Shane Doyle, use information that they had gathered to support their idea that slavery existed prior to the nineteenth century. Miers continues on in her article to discuss the high points in the book from the introduction and through the chapters.
History in Africa only in September (cannot access full articles online without membership)
In this journal there are articles that are introduced that have specific correlation to anything that had happened historically in Africa. There are also articles that are adding on to past articles about the same topic.
Example: Exotic Plants of Western Africa: Where they came from and When by Stanley B. Alpern
This article discusses the author’s view that there are more than just maize and cassava that should be talked about. Stanley B. Alpern discusses his research that elaborates more on a past article that was published in this journal.
This is a print out that is mailed to all members of the ASA. This is basically an informative newsletter that is stating things that are in interest to the ASA. This includes the Annual Meeting, membership, awards, and so on. The current editor is also the executive director, Carol L. Martin.
ASA Accomplishments, Awards, Involvement
Aid for Africa
This is an organization in which the ASA donates to. This organization provides help to families, children, and communities throughout Africa. The things that they focus on are healthcare, food, wildlife protection, and so on. This is one way that the ASA is doing humanitarian work.
Local Arrangements Committee (LAC)
In 2007, the ASA held the 50th Anniversary meeting of the ASA in New York City. Here they had put together a day long professional workshop for educators of k-12 and librarians. There were two main goals that they hoped to have accomplished.
One: Help the educators with resources and ideas to help educate their students about Africa.
Two: Provide a forum of networking for the scholars and educators working in the African Studies in the New York area.
The NSEP is the National Security Education Program. They provide funding to students and places of higher education. The ASA had stepped in to make an argument against the NSEP. The main argument that they had addressed was that the NSEP was not promoting education but security instead. This is based off since the department is located in the Department of Defense and is funded by them and the CIA. There is a call for the NSEP be transferred and run by the U.S. Department of Education. In 2008 the ASA reaffirmed its motion to endorse the 2001 resolution of the Directors of Title VI National Resource Center for Africa.
Book Donation Award
This is where the ASA is providing donation money to places that are shipping books overseas to African schools. A few examples of the donations that have been made in the year 2007 from the ASA:
$450 to ship books to Ghana, $750 to ship books to communities around the Kibale National Park in Uganda, $700 to ship books Zimbabwe, $500 to ship books to Tanga, and $600 to ship books to WIN affiliated communities.
The Outreach Council
This is a council in which the ASA is involved in. This council is where the goal is to provide resources throughout Africa. This group involves people from different universities in the United States. Places such as the Boston University to Yale University. At each university there is an outreach division, which gathers the resources needed to accomplish this goal. The Africa Access is one of the main organizations that are receiving help from the ASA. This is where they take all the book donations and dispersing them across the continent of Africa.
Arts Council of the African Studies Association
This is another program that is run by the ASA. This organization gives away a Leadership Award. This award is for an individual that shows excellence in the study of African and/or African Diasporic arts. There are certain criteria that one must have to be a choice in the award.
This is also a place where there is a push for educating students and educators on African culture, society, arts, and so on. This is a non profit organization as well as the ASA is. This organization also has meetings that cover all topics in Africa regarding art.