Virginia Tech Africa Coalition to host Southeast Regional Seminar for African Studies

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 1, 2009 – This weekend, the Virginia Tech Africa Coalition (VTAC) will host the Southeast Regional Seminar for African Studies (SERSAS) in its first meeting at Virginia Tech since 1976.

VTAC is composed of more than 70 faculty, staff, and students with research, teaching, and/or activist interests in Africa. Brett Shadle, assistant professor of history in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, who helps coordinate VTAC, said that members come “from across the disciplines and gather to share information, research, and teaching strategies.”

The seminar kicks off on Friday night at Cranwell International Center where keynote speaker Karim Abdul Bangura of Howard University will present a lecture entitled, “Creating a United States of Africa: The New Pan-African Push.”

Registration, which is open to the public, is from 8-8:45 at the Graduate Life Center, Room G, on Saturday, Oct. 3. Sessions will explore economic opportunities and social advancement in contemporary Africa, transnational and national challenges, and constructing narratives in African history.

Three sessions will be chaired by Virginia Tech faculty including P.S. Polanah, assistant professor of sociology; Heather Switzer, who just successfully defended her dissertation in planning, governance, and globalization in the School of Public and International Affairs; and Shadle.

Virginia Tech presenters include Sophia Anong, assistant professor in the Department of Apparel, Housing and Resource Management, who will discuss “Mobile Banking and the Unbanked in Africa.”

Emily Van Houweling, a Ph.D. student in policy governance and globalization from Bend, Ore., will present “Gates and Keys: A Model for Understanding the Pathways Taken to Improve Livelihoods in Rural Mali.”

Seniors Brittany Anderson from Forest, Va., and Caroline McCabe-Marcell from Fredericksburg, Va., both political science majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will present on “HIV/AIDS Organizations in Voi, Kenya.”

Matthew Heaton, assistant professor in the Department of History, will present on the “History and Politics of Nigerian Psychiatry: The Case Brain Fag Syndrome.”

Kenly Greer Fenio, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Political Science, will present “Human Trafficking in Southern Africa: The Role of Neoliberal Policy, Kinship Networks, and the Impending 2010 World Cup.”

This meeting of SERSAS is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; Department of Sociology; Africana Studies Program; Department of Political Science; Department of History; Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management; Institute for Policy and Governance; and the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought; the NIH-Post Baccalaureate Research and Education Programs; and the Initiative to Maximize Student Diversity.

Questions can be directed to Shadle.