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Syracuse Professor Addresses African Studies Association Women’s Caucus Nov. 22

Meredith Professor Micere Githae Mugo to discuss ‘Women Embracing Creativity and Utu as Tools to Combat Violence and Find Healing’

Nov 20, 2014 | Article by: Sarah Scalese

Photo of Micere Githae Mugo

Micere Githae Mugo

Micere Githae Mugo, a Meredith Professor for Teaching Excellence and professor of African American studies (AAS), will deliver the keynote address at this year’s African Studies Association (ASA) Women’s Caucus Luncheon on Saturday, Nov. 22, in Indianapolis, Indiana. The luncheon is part of ASA’s 57th annual four-day meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Rethinking Violence, Reconstruction, and Reconciliation.”

Mugo’s address, “Women Embracing Creativity and Utu as Tools to Combat Violence and Find Healing,” will examine how women have historically been targets of warmongers, warlords, and perpetrators of violence.

“In the face of violation, women have often emerged with narratives of creativity to combat violence and find healing—not just for themselves, but also for their communities,” she says. “I will explore such examples, ranging from slave narratives by women; to women’s ‘healing’ projects during liberation struggles; to Congolese women’s current use of orature [i.e., oral literature]; as a humane way of addressing the outrage of rape as a weapon of war.”  

An accomplished poet, playwright, and literary critic, Mugo will conclude her address with an analysis of systemic exclusion of women from peace negotiations, given their demonstrated ability to provide counter narratives to ruling males’ wanting notions of “reconstruction and reconciliation.”
Photo of Micere Githae mugo being honored

Mugo is an internationally sought-after speaker. In 2012, she was honored as a distinguished lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (Africa).

“I will demonstrate that, in rethinking violence, reconstruction, and reconciliation, women’s narratives are not only essential, but also imperative to fostering critical solutions,” she says.

Mugo joined the Syracuse faculty in 1993, following appointments at Cornell and St. Lawrence universities, as well as at the universities of Nairobi (where she was Kenya’s first female dean) and Zimbabwe. She has held a number of prominent roles at Syracuse, including chair of AAS; director of AAS’ Graduate Studies Program; co-founder of the M.A. in Pan African Studies, which she helped develop and launch; and the first long-term director of the campus wide Africa Initiative.

Mugo has written or edited 15 books—including her acclaimed collection of speeches and essays, Writing and Speaking From the Heart of My Mind (Africa World Press and Red Sea Press, 2012)—all of which draw on indigenous African cultural traditions and address women’s rights and education.  She is also founder and former president of both the Pan African Community of Central New York and the United Women of Africa Organization.

Established in 1957, ASA is a membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With nearly 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the U.S.-based organization encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present. ASA supports understanding of an entire continent in each facet of its political, economic, social, cultural, artistic, scientific, and environmental landscape. Members include scholars, students, teachers, activists, development professionals, policymakers, and donors.


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Sarah Scalese