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MASU presents: Abye Assefa

341 Eggers Hall

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Abye Assefa on Africa: “Country” of Women

Abye Assefa,Associate Professor of Sociology, St. Lawrence University

When we hear fairly well educated people depict Africa as “a country,” we are not only shocked by their lack of knowledge, we are mortified by the absurdity of their mistake. Upon closer examination, however, there may be more to consider. This lecture reviews the arguments of World Systems Theory, which posits that historical capitalism is in terminal crisis and headed to its ultimate undoing. Within this theory, Africa as a whole faces one of two possible near-futures: continuing in a vicious cycle of chaos propelled by the globalized knowledge and decisions of supposedly benevolent institutions, or salvaged by the local and regional continuities of its own social structures. The lecture considers the position of women across Africa to demonstrate how Western tools of social and political analysis mis-read women’s positions and possibilities across the continent. A proper reading suggests instead that African women are positioned to help their societies emerge triumphantly from the coming demise of the capitalist world system.

Abye Assefa is a sociologist focusing on world historical change. His research interests include historical nomadism, the formation of the Horn of Africa region in the modern world. His intellectual background includes world-systems analysis, social theory, sociology of economic change, structures of knowledge, and the peopling of Africa. In August 2012, Dr. Assefa was honored for his commitment to St. Lawrence’s students and outstanding service.

Sponsored by Maxwell African Scholars Union at the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs

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