Leiden University logo.

nl en

Weekly Lectures

The NVIC organises weekly Thursday lectures on a variety of subjects. The lectures start at 6 pm sharp. The doors open at 5.30 pm. Please note that seating is limited. The lectures start as scheduled and late admissions are not allowed. After the lecture refreshments will be served in the hall of the Institute.

Would you like to present your own academic research at NVIC? We are looking for professionals who would like to give a lecture about their research findings. Please email info@nvic.leidenuniv.nl for more information.


Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more information about our program.

The Black Spring and Thomas Sankara

Thursday 3 May

Thomas Sankara was one of the most important and yet under-analyzed anti-imperialist leaders of the 20th century. His project for holistic socio-political was grounded on an insistence that people be intellectually and materially empowered to emancipate themselves—this grassroots energy drove the 1983 Revolution in Burkina Faso and resurfaced in the country’s popular uprising in 2014 (known colloquially as “the Black Spring”). Sankara’s approaches to food, debt, resource sovereignty, and gender justice offer original and insights for understanding social change across the African continent, including the countries of North Africa. At the same time, the neo-imperial responses to the 1983-1987 Revolution are instructive in understanding the operations of power and the re-drafting of history.

This conversation between Dr. Amber Murrey (Sociology, AUC The American University in Cairo) and Professor Aziz Fall (McGill University in Canada) draws from Dr. Murrey’s recently published edited volume, '“A Certain Amount of Madness”: The Life, Politics & Legacy of Thomas Sankara' (Pluto Press, 2018) in order to reconsider Sankara’s political philosophies, projects for justice and socio-political relations in the West African region.

Dr. Amber Murrey is a political geographer and anti-racist scholar. For the last decade, her research has elaborated the connections between resource extraction, race and international development and the knowledge-development nexus in contemporary African societies. She has published a dozen chapters, articles and reviews, some of which have featured in the pages of Political geography, Human geography, Third World Quarterly: journal of emerging areas and more. Amber has previously held faculty positions at Jimma University in Ethiopia as well as Boston College and Clark University in the US. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo.

Professor Aziz Salmone Fall teaches political science, anthropology and international relations at McGill University and at UQAM | Université du Québec à Montréal in Canada. Aziz is the President of the Internationalist Center (CIRFA), former coordinator of the Quebec anti-apartheid network and a founding member of GRILA (Groupe de Recherche et d'Initiative pour la Libération de l'Afrique). He coordinates the International Campaign Justice for Sankara (CIJS), a collective of lawyers that has set a legal precedent at the UN and is still leading the legal battle for justice for Sankara—a battle that has been 20-years long and continues. He directed the 2014 documentary film, 'AFRICOM: Go Home, Foreign Bases Out of Africa'.

Safwan M. Masri - Understanding the Tunisian Anomaly

Tuesday 8 May

Full lecture title:
"Understanding the Tunisian Anomaly: An Inquiry into a History of Reform"

The Arab Spring began and ended with Tunisia. In a region beset by brutal repression, humanitarian disasters, and civil war, Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution alone gave way to a peaceful transition to a functioning democracy. Within four short years, Tunisians passed a progressive constitution, held fair parliamentary elections, and ushered in the country's first-ever democratically elected president. But did Tunisia simply avoid the misfortunes that befell its neighbors, or were there particular features that set the country apart and made it a special case? How does the country consolidate its democratic gains as civil society and government priorities clash over issues of security, transitional justice, and economic reform?

Drawing on his recent book, 'Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly' (Columbia University Press, 2017), professor Safwan Masri will examine the factors that contributed to Tunisia’s experience after the Arab Spring, focusing on the country’s history of reformism in the domains of education, religion, and women’s rights. Masri will argue that the seeds for today's relatively liberal and democratic society were planted as far back as the middle of the nineteenth century. These factors have not only been missing in other Arab counties, but an opposite, regressive trajectory has been followed in much of the rest of the region.

Professor Safwan M. Masri is Executive Vice President for Global Centers and Global Development at Columbia University and a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). He joined Columbia University in 1988 as a member of the faculty of Columbia Business School and served as Vice Dean from 1993-2005. Masri is a scholar on education and contemporary geopolitics and society in the Arab world and is the author of 'Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly' (Columbia University Press, 2017). He previously taught engineering at Stanford University and was a visiting professor at INSEAD (Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires) in France.

Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo

Thursday 10 May

Book Presentation of 'Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910' by Joseph Ben Prestel (Oxford University press, 2017)

During the second half of the nineteenth century, contemporaries in Berlin and Cairo discussed urban change in remarkably similar terms. Authors in both places claimed that the transformation of their cities affected people’s emotions. They identified specific practices and neighborhoods, such as the entertainment districts around Friedrichstraße and Azbakiyya, as particularly destructive for the feelings of urban dwellers. Moreover, contemporaries also suggested corresponding projects for reform in the German and the Egyptian capitals. Several texts stressed the positive emotional effects of physical exercise and newly built suburbs, such as the neighborhoods of Lichterfelde and Helwan.

In his new monograph 'Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910', Joseph Ben Prestel traces these debates. The book sheds light on the similarity of arguments about urban change and emotions in the German and the Egyptian capitals. Drawing on this insight, Prestel questions the separation of Middle Eastern and European urban history. 'Emotional Cities' proposes a framework for a more global history of urban change in the nineteenth century.

Joseph Ben Prestel is assistant professor (wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) of history at the free University of Berlin. He is the author of 'Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910' and a co-founder and editor of the Global Urban History Blog (www.globalurbanhistory.com).