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Comparative and Regional Studies | SIS

Upcoming Events

4th Annual Ron Walters Memorial & Symposium: Celebrating the Activism & Legacy of Nelson Mandela

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 | 9:30 AM - 1 PM, Abramson Family Founders' Room

When world-renowned scholar and activist Dr. Ronald Walters (1983-2010) passed away, he left a critical legacy of scholarship that examined the relationship between race and politics domestically and internationally. The annual symposium in Dr. Walters' name is meant to examine contemporary issues through the same lens. This year's event is dedicated to the life and work of former South African President Nelson Mandela, whose impact on Africa and the world make him one of the most important activists of the last century.

Comparative and Regional Studies is honored to host a truly remarkable line-up of speakers, including:

  • The Hon. Ebrahim Rasool, Ambassador of South Africa
  • The Hon. John Conyers, Jr., United States House of Representatives
  • Nicole Lee, Esq., President of TransAfrica
  • The Hon. Ron Dellums, former Congressman and Visiting Fellow at the Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center at Howard University
  • Dr. James Mittelman, University Professor at the School of International Service

We hope you will be able to join us for this spectacular event. The schedule of events is available here. Please note that this event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please click here to register for the symposium.

Yoruba Orisha Rituals: Burying the Dead, Identifying the Living

Josiah Olubowale, University of the West Indies at St. Augustine

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | 12-1:30 PM, SIS 233

From 2009 to 2012, Olubowale conducted ethnographic research on the funeral rituals of various Orisha groups living in Trinidad. Please join Comparative and Regional Studies for a lecture on his data and findings, centering on the interplay between the concepts of citizenship, religion, and the afterlife. Read an abstract for this project here.

Past Events

Maori in New Zealand: Voting with Their Feet?

Dr. Guillem Riambau, Yale-NUS College

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | 2-3:30 PM, SIS 300

Guillem Riambau is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. He also conducts research on electoral patterns and ethnic voting behavior. Among his recent work is an analysis of strategic voting by Maori in New Zealand.

Maori in New Zealand have the option to choose every five years whether they want to vote in a General Electorate (with all other citizens) or in a Maori-only Electorate. Under a mixed-member proportional electoral system like the one in New Zealand, this enrollment choice affects only who they vote for local representative, and not the party vote. At SIS, Dr. Riambau discussed his hypothesis that Maori voters opt to register where their vote can be more pivotal. 

The Tension between Individual and Group Rights in Nigeria

Dr. Victor Adefemi Isumonah, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 

The CRS Africa Research Initiative and the Student Organization for African Studies hosted Dr. Victor Adefemi Isumonah for a discussion regarding the intersection of group and individual rights in Nigeria. Dr. Isumonah is a Senior Lecturer in Political Science and Fellow of the Program on Ethnic and Federal Studies at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. He has been a Cambridge/Africa Collaborative Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, and a Nelson Mandela Fellow at the Irish Center for Human Rights of the National University of Ireland. His main research interests are civil society, democratization, ethnicity, and minority rights. His recent published works include "Armed Society in the Niger Delta" in Armed Forces & Society (2012) and "Imperial Presidency and Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria" in Africa Today (2012). 

Read Professor Isumonah's newly released paper, "The Ethnic Language of Rights and the Nigerian Political Community," which was the topic of his talk, here

The Gap From Parchment to Practice: Ambivalent Effects of Constitutions in Democratizing Countries

May 28-29, 2013

Government Professor Todd Eisenstadt and School of International Service Professor Carl LeVan received a grant from the Mellon Foundation and the Latin American Studies Association to sponsor a conference in May, bringing together experts on some 15 political systems worldwide to present research on the relationship between new constitutions and continued political opening in nations which achieved intermediate levels of democratization before promulgating their new constitutions.  Eisenstadt and LeVan presented their findings,  that constitutions fail to improve levels of political opening more often than not, in their 130-plus cases from the 1970s to the present. Other presenters addressed a range of cases, including Bolivia, Kenya, Malawi, and Venezuela. Faculty from several American universities, including Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as from Latin America - as far away as Bolivia - were among the dozen paper presenters at the conference.  

Several American University professors and graduate students presented papers at the conference.  Among them, Government Department doctoral students Tofigh Maboudi and Ghazal Nadi Poshtkouhian discussed their original findings, that after political parties and groups in Egypt agreed to boycott the constitutional assembly, acceptance by framers of citizen-proposed changes to the draft constitution dropped significantly.  The conference was sponsored by the School for International Service and the Department of Government of the School of Public Affairs at American University.  The conference co-coordinators expect an edited book and a couple of journal articles will result from their collaboration.

For more information on the conference, please visit www.american.edu/spa/gov/democratization-conference-2013.cfm

America and Global Capitalism

Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, The Making of Global Capitalism

October 17, 2012

Authors Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin talked about their new book, The Making of Global Capitalism, and were joined in a panel discussion by Comparative & Regional Studies Professors Dr. Randolph Persaud, Dr. James Mittelman, Dr. Steve Silvia, and Dr. Carl LeVan. The panel addressed the historical significance of the rise of capitalism and the role of the United States in that process, including its status as an "informal empire" in the global political economy.

3rd Annual Ron Walters Memorial & Symposium: "The Global Impact of African American Culture and Politics"

November 13, 2012 

Speakers: Dr. Elsie Scott, Dr. Sujatha Fernandes, Dr. Theresa Runstedtler, Mr. Willard Jenkins, Dr. Clarence Lusane, Ms. Camee Maddox, and Dr. Gisele-Audrey Mills.

Dr. Ronald Walters (1938-2010) left a legacy of scholarship that examined the relationship between race and politics both domestically and internationally. Dr. Walters (SIS/MA, '66, Ph.D. '71) was the former chairman of Howard University's Political Science Department and director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland. As an advisor to political leaders from Jesse Jackson to activists in South Africa, Brazil, Australia, and the United Kingdom, he wrote extensively on the politics of the African Diaspora, as captured in his award-winning book, Pan-Africanism in the African Diaspora: An Analysis of Modern Afrocentric Political Movements.

This year's symposium will focus on the influence of African American culture and politics around the world, from music to sports to political campaigns. The event will be organized in two panel discussions, focusing first on Hip-Hop and Jazz Music, then on Sports and the Global Obama Culture. Lunch for attendees is also included in the event.

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