The Center for Historical Research (CHR) in association with the OSU Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) will present a two-year program of lectures and seminars in 2019-21 on the problems facing contemporary global democracy. There are concerns that democracy, whatever form it may take, is under stress around the world. This CHR-IDEA series will examine what is meant by democracy in various regions and countries, how these meanings are changing, and the extent to which democracy is changing and/or under sustained and serious attack. Leading scholars from a variety of disciplines began to address those issues last year in a series that will run through Spring 2021.
Abstract: Scholars routinely measure democratization in Africa by peaceful transitions of power, frequency of free and fair elections, and the freedom to organize. But just as some #BlackLivesMatter activists contend that justice must be measured by its accessibility to society’s most marginalized, ought we not also assess African democratization by its availability to society’s most disenfranchised. Taking as a methodological basis the usefulness of the exceptional, the aberrations (see Lawrance & Stevens 2015), this talk examine narratives of refugees from among Africa’s most celebrated democracies – Senegal, Ghana, and Benin – for evidence of the inaccessibility of justice that forces citizens to claim asylum abroad.
Benjamin N. Lawrance is Professor of History at the University of Arizona and Editor-in-Chief of the African Studies Review. He is the author and editor of eleven books and is currently completing a history of contemporary African refugee mobilities. His newest collaborations include a critical new edition of the masterpiece of apartheid-era novelist, Dugmore Boetie, Familiarity is the Kingdom of the Lost (Ohio 2020), and an essay, forthcoming in the American Historical Review, exploring Boetie’s abortive refuge in Tanganyika, both with South African historian, Vusumuzi R. Kumalo.