Saturday, December 31, 2016

USA Africa Dialogue Series - Re: Claiming democracy


            This is indeed an active schedule. Instead of the purely online publication of your commentaries on Nigeria, you should consider a hard copy version, too. 

I would like to know more about the  summit on Ethiopia,  at Stanford.

Have a wonderful 2017


From: <> on behalf of Toyin Falola <>
Sent: Friday, December 30, 2016 3:53 PM
To: dialogue
Subject: USA Africa Dialogue Series - Claiming democracy

                                                                   Claiming Democracy

Richard Joseph


The world enters 2017 with a heightened sense of uncertainty. We respond to the challenges by strengthening our engagements. In my case, the core concerns are social justice, inclusive growth, democracy, and human rights. "Claiming democracy", a concept introduced by Michael Bratton and Carolyn Logan, embrace these concerns.[1] Laying claim to democracy involves constantly struggling to safeguard and advance it.

My political education began in the period, 1955-1958, that is, from age 10 to 13. I attended rallies led by Dr. Eric Williams and the People's National Movement (PNM) in my native Trinidad and Tobago.[2] The PNM guided our country to independence from Britain, while Dr. Williams influenced many of his counterparts throughout the Caribbean. In September 1958, I migrated to the United States as a member of the third wave of my family to do so since about 1919.

Jumping ahead two decades. At the end of the academic year 1966-67, at the age of 21, I traveled to Ruleville, Mississippi, to spend several weeks working closely with Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP).[3] I had spent most of the previous two years as a graduate student in France and Britain.

My Dartmouth classmate, Andrew E. Newton, Jr. has provided a unique collection of letters saved from my itinerant student-activist years, including the summer of 1967 spent in rural Mississippi. It was a defining experience. Much wealth had been extracted from these lands and from African-American labor over centuries. Poverty was pervasive.

Here are my engagements for the first half of 2017, all conceivable under the rubric of Claiming Democracy.

Summit on Ethiopia, Stanford University, January 21-22[4]

"After the Obama Presidency: The Struggle Continues". Talk, Association for the Study of African-American History (ASALH), Sarasota-Manatee, January 27[5]

Solutions Forum, Research Alliance Partners (REAP), Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, February 10. [REAP aims to collaborate with Black Chicago Tomorrow, a comprehensive civic initiative.]

Democracy and Insecurity in Africa – Panel discussions at Northwestern, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the University of Chicago, March 6-8. [The Sixtieth Anniversary of Ghana, and the persistence of democracy amid distress in Nigeria, will be featured topics.][6]

Democracy in Thought and Action – Talks and  Colloquia, University of Ghana, Legon and the Shehu Yar'Adua Centre, Abuja, Nigeria, March 13-23

Thinking Across Borders: Engaging African and Western Political and Philosophical Thinking, Neubauer Collegium, University of Chicago, April 27-28

 "Democracy, Autocracy, and Disorder" and "Governing Fractured Nations", courses to be taught at Northwestern, April- June

Essays and Commentaries on Nigeria, 1977-2017, to be published in an online volume.[7]


Peace and Solidarity,

Richard Joseph




[1] "Voters But Not Yet Citizens: Democratization and Development Aid", in R. Joseph and A. Gillies, eds., Smart Aid for African Development (Lynne Rienner, 2009). See also

[2] Eric Williams obtained his doctorate from Oxford University and is the author of the path-breaking book, Capitalism and Slavery (1944).

[3] I first met Mrs. Hamer as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College. The summer after graduation, 1965, I joined a group that conducted research and lobbying in Washington, DC on behalf of the MFDP, itself an outgrowth of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

[4] "Is Ethiopia Democratic? Oldspeak vs. Newspeak," Journal of Democracy, (October, 1998).

[5] "Obama's Uncertain Legacy: Peace, Justice, and Democracy", Public lecture, Dartmouth College, Oct. 26, 2016 and Winston-Salem State University, Nov. 3, 2016,

[6] A conference on African Renewal was convened at MIT, March 6-9, 1997. Commemorated on that occasion was Ghana's 40th anniversary. An edited volume followed: State, Conflict, and Democracy in Africa (Lynne Rienner, 1999)

[7] Previous online volumes available from the Northwestern Library are Africa Demos (1990-1994) and African Democratic Perspectives (1997).

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