Deciphering South African Rock Art by Mallory Bernstein

Photographed by David Coulson/ Trust for African Rock Art (africanrockart.org)

All along the ridges of the Drakensburg Mountains in the highlands of KwaZulu-Natal, there are cliffs with paintings- people, giraffes, elands, ‘boks’ of all sorts (springbok, rooibok, etc.). In 2013, I was hiking through the Drakensburg with my university class-mates studying abroad in Durban, South Africa. We were hiking near Cathedral Peak, 3 hours in, going up steep terrain with a barely navigable trail and bracing ourselves for sunburn in the late summer sun. Suddenly, our professor pulled aside and gestured towards the wall of the cliff. On it, images dripped with colour as multiple eland and human figures in a circle danced about the rock. It looked as if they were painted yesterday, the detail and colour was preserved so well.

These were the work of the San (Bushmen) – long before the incoming of Europeans to South Africa.

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Unpacking Gendered Trajectories and Wellbeing in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso By Mallory Bernstein

In the second African Studies Lunchtime Seminar, (27th October 2016) Dr Sara Randall from UCL Anthropology presented original research into wellbeing and ageing in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Her work combines anthropology and demography and revealed a number of nuances in demographic surveys about how marriage responsibilities dictate life trajectories of the elderly.

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Reviewing ‘Children of the Mountain’: A Ghanaian film on disability, cosmology and medicine By Vanessa Ansah-Pewudie

On the 5th of November, 2016, I attended the second screening of Children of the Mountain for the African Film Festival in London, a film directed and written by Ghanaian-born Priscilla Anany.

children-of-the-mountain

When I first read the description of the film I was quite excited and surprised to see an African film on this topic, disability generally being something rarely touched on in film, media and literature. Yet, I was slightly worried that the plot would run along the lines of a child being born with a nameless ‘mysterious’ disability, in an attempt to emphasise the presence of an abnormality and trivialise health diagnoses. Children of the Mountain was particularly interesting for me because I could relate it to my Medical Anthropology module, which I am taking for my ‘African studies with health’ course.

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Narratives of Imperialism: alive,well and living on BBC Iplayer By Catherine Hodge

A silver lining of commuting to lectures at UCL from Birmingham is the amount of time I have at my disposal to feed my insatiable documentary habit whilst travelling on public transport. I frequently spend time in the early morning scrolling through Iplayer ( other online multimedia platforms are available) to find and download programmes that might prove to be relevant to my studies, as well as those which are of more general interest. Last week I stumbled across BBC Scotland’s series The Last Explorers. I decided to watch their episode on David Livingstone and, admittedly, went into viewing it with a lecture on outsider representations of Africa and their frequent weaknesses from Kevin MacDonald fresh in my mind.

david-fighting-a-lion

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‘From ‘Youth Bulge’ to ‘Youth Dividend’: A discussion of the role of Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Sub-Saharan Africa by Catherine Hodge

The inaugural Interdisciplinary African Studies Seminar at UCL was delivered by Professor Moses Oketch, Professor of International Education Policy and Development at the Institute of Education, on 20th October 2016. Professor Oketch presented an overview of his ongoing research into the role of Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Sub-Saharan Africa and its relationship to employment.

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African Scientists and Global Health by Jakob Glibstrup

As a part of the UCL’s African Voices series of events (see:http://bit.ly/21eEkyG), Dr Peter Waiswa, a Ugandan medical doctor trained in Public Health, delivered an interesting, important, and thought provoking talk on ’how African scientists struggle to contribute to innovation in the global health arena’. As a student of African Studies with Health, the topic was naturally of great personal interest, but I think everyone attending the talk left with numerous self-reflective questions that were in many ways difficult to answer.

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African Civilisations, by Tomos Evans

On the 6th of November this year, a symposium was held at UCL revolving around three particular African civilisations: the Mande, Kongo and Yoruba peoples. The symposium was highly multidisciplinary with anthropologists, archaeologists, art historians and others each bringing with them their own distinctive disciplinary paradigms in providing a range of insights into the pasts and presents of these diverse African peoples. In spite of the theoretical and methodological diversity implicit in the various disciplines represented, I noted several key, common themes that gained more and more clarity throughout the symposium.

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Development Culture in Tanzania by Jakob Glibstrup

Recently I had the pleasure of attending the presentation ’Development Culture in Tanzania: The Effects of Aid’ by Maia Green, Professor of Social Anthropology at Manchester University. The event was held at UCL’s African Studies Research Centre in the Institute of Advanced Study in conjunction with the British-Tanzania Society. The presentation – and following open discussion session – had Maia Green’s newly published book ‘The Development State – Aid, Culture and Civil Society in Tanzania’ as starting point. I had little knowledge about Tanzania, let alone the development efforts in the country, before this event. Therefore, I was very pleased with the highly informative nature of the presentation.
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