Monday, November 23, 2015

Writing about the mundane?

I am thinking about maybe trying to write something for commercial publication about my life and work in Ghana. I am not sure if there would be any interest by any periodicals in such a piece or not. Certainly, articles on life in Africa as normal rather than exotic are rather lacking in the US and other Western countries but, maybe such a piece would be different enough that I could sell it? I mean there has been some writing and film showing work and life in South Africa in this manner. Of course South Africa especially in cities like Johannesburg is much more economically developed and prosperous than Ghana. Nonetheless, in many ways Ghana even at its most mundane probably appears more exotic to many Americans than South Africa. In large part this is because there is not any settler population here with a standard and way of life comparable to North America or Europe. The population here is almost entirely black and the vast majority of them are not living nearly as well as most white people anywhere in purely material terms. On the other hand the stereotype of extreme poverty that many westerners have of Africa is for the most part not applicable to Ghanaians living in urban and especially exurban areas. If anybody has any suggestions leave them in the comments please.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Blogging for one

At this point the main function of this blog is to provide notes to myself so I don't lose them. It really is just a private journal in cyberspace.  It is true that theoretically people other than myself can read it. But, in reality except for a very few exceptions such as my parents I don't think I actually have to worry about other people actually ever reading it. I once thought I could get a dozen regular readers for this blog. But, after more than a decade I am pretty sure now that is an impossible goal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Africa of course is the continent of eternal hope and optimism. But, today I have a strange feeling that eventually Babylon will fall. It will not fall tomorrow or the day after, but my instinct tells me its days are numbered. I will outlive Babylon and be freed from its chains.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

End of Semester Update for Fall 2015

I have now finished all my lectures for the semester. Classes went fairly well. I have now gotten to the point where I don't have to put in a lot of preparation to teach them. I have been teaching the same classes for almost five years now. I now have some time between now and February to catch up on some writing. These are the types of things I have been writing about for the past decade. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be anybody in the world willing to fund my research and writing about such things. Yet alone attending conferences. So far I have come up with nothing in my search for research funding. If you know of any possible sources of funding I might be eligible to receive please let me know. Given that due to the collapse of the cedi in 2014 and again this year my salary is now less than $900 a month any additional funding would help enormously. Even grants of only a few hundred dollars would greatly assist me.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Demonstrations at SOAS

I did both my MA and PhD at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Nobody in the US has ever heard of the place, especially not American academics, but it is very well known in the former British colonies throughout Africa and Asia. It was at one time the premiere institution of higher education in the English speaking world for the study of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Now the administration is seeking to cut 184 courses and the students are protesting. The local unions, most notably Unison have been in full support of the students over this issue. This has been happening at the same time as a major labor dispute at SOAS over the pay and conditions for the cleaning staff. This has led the administration to retaliate by suspending Unison branch secretary Sandy Nicoll from his IT job at the university. Cutting the courses at SOAS is stupid. Nicoll should not have been suspended and should be reinstated. I actually knew Sandy Nicoll. I can recall a conversation with him where he strongly argued with a third person that the advances in medical care and education in Cuba since 1959 in no way justified its political dictatorship and repression of dissidents. It was a very low bar. After all even the capitalist UK had state provided medical care and at that time still education. I bring this up because it is the only conversation I can remember having with Sandy Nicoll although I am sure there were a couple of others and it demonstrated to me that he was a morally serious person.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Some very good news (Centre for the Study of Asia at University of Ghana, Legon)

Today I got a letter from the Dean that the proposed Centre for the Study of Asia would encompass all of Asia and not just the Pacific rim. This means that Central Asia will be part of the mandate of the centre. This is very good news. It means that I will potentially be able to use the facilities and resources of the centre to assist in my research, writing, and teaching on the area. It remains to see how this plays out in practice. But, my initial fear that Central Asia was going to be deliberately, permanently, and completely excluded from the mandate and mission statement has now passed. The centre will be dedicated to the study of all areas of Asia including Central Asia. Since a lot of my work deals with Central Asia I am very happy about this outcome.