In the past week, I have sounded a few notes of pessimism on DC Think Tank coverage of African affairs items and I critiqued one of the city’s more prominent African development experts for the manner in which he argued for an Obama energy focus in Africa. I also promised a weekend post on the absence of dialogue on the Ivory Coast in the capital city of the US.
Nonetheless, in regards to the DC Africanist community, I still find reason for optimism. I wrote about a great event at CSIS earlier this week, and I’ve also recently heard some excellent stuff at SAIS. Expounding on that, I would say that the local university community in general (faculty and students) does a highly commendable job in stepping up where the prestigious think tanks often fall short. In particular, I have seen Dr. Peter Lewis of SAIS work tirelessly to provide a forum to wide array of Africanists.
Since moving to DC, I have attended great Africanist events at SAIS, GWU, and AU. I have also seen interesting things at George Mason. I have to confess to being painfully ignorant of what is going on at Howard, the school with the most storied African studies heritage in the area (here’s to hoping that will change in 2013).
This week I got two flyers in my inbox about movies being screened at AU (I have to confess to having attended neither). I had just seen (and reviewed) When China Met Africa, which AU’s Council for International Economic Relations screened this evening and was unavailable for yesterday’s screening of Crisis in the Congo (disclaimer: I know nothing about this movie at all) which was hosted by a variety of student organizations.
Although I am not too far out of college myself, it is exciting to see student organizations hosting these events and promoting them to the extent that the flyers eventually find their way to my inbox. I recently sounded a note of pessimism in covering the Johnnie Carson tribute event, as I felt that it was lacking in outreach.
However, it appears that outreach and intellectual curiosity from DC students is alive and well. If student groups continue to tackle issues of injustice, without regard to the extent they are dominating the mainstream international affairs headlines or are on the fringe, there is good reason to be optimistic about the future direction of US African policy.