Richard A. Elphick (History) Nominated for the Herskovits Award

Our very own Professor of History, Richard A. Elphick, has been nominated for the African Studies Association’s Melville J. Herskovits Award for his book, The Equality of Believers: Protestant Missionaries and the Racial Politics of South Africa (Charlottesville, and London: University of Virginia Press, 2012). The Award honors the most outstanding book published in African Studies in the previous year. The winner will be announced at the annual conference this weekend.

For more information: http://www.africanstudies.org/publications/asa-news/november-2013-56th-annual-meeting/276-2013-melville-j-herskovits-award-finalists

Campus Event: Africa in China

Colloquium – Su Zheng, Li Yinbei, Ma Chengcheng, Sun Yan

Exploring Music in China’s New African Diaspora—An Innovative U.S.-China Team Research Project

This Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Location: Freeman Center for East Asian Studies

Time: 4:15 p.m.

Since the 1990s, African traders and investors have made their way to China as a result of the rapid surge of China-Africa trade. There are now somewhere between 30,000 and 200,000 African migrants living in Guangzhou. Su Zheng led a research team of threegraduate students from Shanghai Conservatory to explore music in Guangzhou’s African communities. They will present their research on various African diasporic music scenes in Guangzhou and discuss the theoretical and methodological issues that arose in this innovative cross-cultural, cross-national team research process.

Su Zheng is associate professor of Music at Wesleyan University. LI Yinbei, MA Chengcheng, SUN Yan are graduate students in ethnomusicology from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China.

Brittany Spears is a Weapon of Mass Destruction

Best news of the day: the British Navy is using Brittany Spears songs to scare off Somali pirates.

Kevin Heller reports on Opinio Juris:

This is an unconscionable tactic, one that does not befit a country that considers itself civilized. Need I remind the British Navy that torture is illegal under both international and UK law?
The British Navy should also be aware that international law does not completely forbid belligerent reprisals. If the Somali pirates begin to fight back by blaring One Direction at oncoming British ships, the Navy will have no one but themselves to blame.

Event: ‘Leo Africanus’ Discovers Comedy: A Mediterranean Adventure

‘Leo Africanus’ Discovers Comedy: A Mediterranean Adventure
From Wesleyan’s Website:
Sep. 15, 2013 by Ann Tanasi
This talk stages a dialogue between two theatrical traditions at the end of the Middle Ages: the popular theater of the Arabic and Islamic world and the theater of Christian Europe. It does so through the adventures of Hasan al-Wazzan (“Leo Africanus”), a Moroccan traveler and diplomat, who was captured by Christian pirates in 1518 and spent several years in Italy as a seeming convert before returning to North Africa. The talk reflects on possible limits to cultural exchange and on the continuing vigor of alternate cultural traditions.
Natalie Zemon Davis has received honorary degrees from numerous universities in the United States and Europe. In 1987 she served as President of the American Historical Association.  In recognition of her path breaking historical work, in 2010 she was awarded the Holberg International Memorial Prize, and in 2012 she received the National Humanities Medal.

wpid-Davis-239x300-2013-10-11-15-55.jpgNATALIE ZEMON DAVIS

Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita

Thursday, October 17 – 4:15 pm – Beckham Hall

SPONSORED BY THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT

“Behavioral International Law”

Opinio Juris is hosting a discussion of the “behavioral” approach to international law, beginning with a post by Tomer Broude. As he begins to describe it,

the behavioral research agenda aims to explore the characteristics of real decision-making processes of different types of actors, under different circumstances.

This approach might be useful for some of my International Law students who are currently working on drafts of their research papers (hopefully!).

Noted: AidData has updates

Update: AidData has a rejoinder to Brautigam. Available here and worth the read: http://blog.aiddata.org/2013/05/a-rejoinder-to-rubbery-numbers-on.html

An email I received yesterday has the following highlights:

Updated AidData Database: AidData

New China Aid Database: china.aiddata.org

However, Deborah Brautigam has some very, very important critiques of this database: “Rubbery Numbers on Chinese Aid”. For instance, she comments one of AidData’s papers based on their new data:

Table 2 in the paper provides a good example of the problems. It contains 20 Chinese “megadeals” totaling over US$38 billion. But only 6 of these 20 projects — less than a third — reflect actual deals (Ghana $3 bn CDB credit; Equatorial Guinea $2 bn credit; Angola Phase 1 $1.5 bn, CDB loan to Angola for agriculture $1.2 bn; Cameroon Memve’ele Dam $674 million; Nigeria light rail $673 million). That’s around $9 billion.

That said, I appreciate what AidData is trying to do here. Hopefully, they clean some of this up. My own sense is that each iteration of their general database gets better.

Here is their email:

Dear Colleague:

My name is Brad Parks. I am the Co-Executive Director of AidData, a research and innovation lab that tracks more than $5.5 trillion dollars from 90 donor agencies, creates decision support tools for development finance institutions, undertakes cutting-edge research on aid distribution and impact, and oversees efforts to geocode and crowdsource aid information.

Given some of your previous work, I thought you might be interested in a new dataset that AidData will soon release. At 4PM Eastern Standard Time on April 29th, at an event hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD), AidData will release a dataset that tracks the known universe of Chinese official development finance flows to Africa from 2000 to 2011. The dataset relies on an innovative media-based data collection (MBDC) methodology, which has helped uncover nearly 1,700 Chinese-backed projects amounting to over $75 billion in official commitments. Our hope is that that publication of the data will provide a stronger empirical foundation for analyzing the nature, distribution, and impact of China’s overseas development finance activities in Africa. Along with the methodology and the dataset, several AidData and CGD staff and faculty affiliates are releasing a CGD Working Paper entitled China’s Development Finance to Africa: A Media-Based Approach to Data Collection.

Additionally, in the next 24 hours, we will launch a live, interactive database platform at china.aiddata.org that is accessible to journalists, researchers, policymakers, development practitioners, and the general public. The online interface not only makes it possible to filter, manipulate, and visualize the data, but also provides tools that enable users to vet and help improve the data. To enhance the accuracy of project-level data, the china.aiddata.org platform allows users to provide additional information about specific projects, such as media reports, documents, videos, and photographs, as well as suggest new projects not previously identified.

Please feel free to spread the word to colleagues who might be interested in this work. Also, if you would like to do something interesting with the data and blog your findings on The First Tranche (http://blog.aiddata.org/), let me know. We’d like to get as many people as possible to use — and potentially help us improve — the data.

Finally, if you are in the DC area on Monday afternoon and you are interested in attending the event at CGD, please register here.  It starts at 4PM. I hope to see you there.

Best,
Brad

Brad Parks
Executive Director, AidData
The College of William and Mary
bcpark@wm.edu; bparks@aiddata.org