Universiteit Leiden

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Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture: Spirituality, Culture & Political Power in Early Independent West Africa

Tuesday 3 December 2019
Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden

Please register for this lecture.

Emmanuel Akyeampong is the Ellen Gurney Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, and Oppenheimer Faculty Director of the Center for African Studies at Harvard University.

In this memorial lecture named after Stephen Ellis, Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong draws on his insights to explore the nexus of spirituality, culture, and political power in the connected lives of three first-generation African nationalist leaders: Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sekou Touré of Guinea, and Leopold Senghor of Senegal. Mission-educated (Catholic) in the cases of Nkrumah and Senghor, with the former even considering a priestly vocation and the latter deeply influenced by his Catholic faith, the exigencies of political power and nation-building necessitated reaching out to different religious constituencies. Imagining the African nation-state opened doors to various ethnic cultural influences. These processes were not unambiguous, unsurprisingly, and this first generation of nationalist political leaders – in their experiments with secular, modern African nation-states – would bequeath multiple registers that continue to shape modern politics in contemporary Africa.

Read the web dossier 'African leaders of independence' made by the ASCL Library.

The Stephen Ellis Annual Lecture is organized in honour of our late ASCL colleague who died in 2015. Gerrie ter Haar, Stephen Ellis’ widow, will be our guest of honour.

Prof. Emmanuel Akyeampong is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK). He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and sits on the Advisory Council of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellows Program. He also serves as the president of the African Public Broadcasting Foundation (US), a partnership of academic researchers, African broadcasters and African producers dedicated to the production of development-oriented programs for broadcast on television, radio and the Internet.

His research interests are social history, comparative slavery and the African diaspora, environmental history, the history of disease and medicine, economic and business history.

More information and registration.

On the photo: In the middle: Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana) and Sekou Touré (Guinea).

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