My Summary Schedule for the AS-AA conference in Accra 12-14 Oct, 2017

On Thursday, the Second Biennial African Studies Association of Africa (AS-AA) conference is taking off here in my academic home, the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana Legon.

It is a three-day conference with the subtheme that almost reads as my tagline: African Studies and Global Politics.

Together with my colleague Kafui Tsekpo I am presenting a draft paper on social media in Ghanaian elections. Is it a new form of democratic participation? What are the opportunities and limitations? It is presented at the very last session of the conference, Saturday at 5 pm in the School of Law Examination Room. The collaboration comes out of a discussion at the Ghana Studies Conference last summer. I’ll also be the chair for one session. It’s a big deal for me as it is the first time I am chairing an academic session!

The program for the AS-AA conference is long and winding (find in full here PDF) so I made my own cheat sheet, in brackets are notes on the panel sessions (PS) I might attend.

Hope to see you there!

Thu 12

8.30-9.00 arrival great hall

9.00am program starts

11.45-1.15 pm PS 1 (1.2 decolonial edu)

1.15-2.15 Lunch, IAS

2.15-3.45pm PS 2 (2.4 Regina Fuller gender, examination room, school of law)

4.00-5.30pm PS 3 (3.1 Nketiah Conference hall)

7-8.30pm Akwaaba night with Chief Moomen, IAS quadrangle

 

Fri 13

8-9 reg

9.00-10.30 Keynote, Prof Gordon, Prof Allman, Dr Wa Goro (ADB), Nketiah Hall

10.30-10.50 break

11.00-12.30 PS 4 (4.4 Prof Adomako Ampofo tomorrows leaders  4.5 roundtable)

12.30-1.30 Lunch IAS

1.30-3.00pm PS 5 (5.1 African Agency George Bob Milliar in Nketiah or 5.6 panafricanism Leciad)

3.15-4.45 PS 6 (6.3 Democratic condo in Seminar room ias, 6.6 edu with Millicent as chair in leciad)

5.00-6.30pm PS 7 (7.1 citizenship in Nketiah, 7.2 Millicent in Senior common room ias)

7-8.30 AASA Business meeting

8.30-10 film

 

Sat 14

9-10.30 Keynote  Professors Yao Graham, Takyiwaa Manuh, Seth Asumah (Nketiah hall)

10.30-10.50 break

11-12.30 PS 8

12.30-1.30 lunch

1.30-3.00pm PS 9 (9.2 decolonizing edu)

3.15-4.45 PS 10 (10.5 publish that article)

>>5.00-6.30 PS 11 (11.4 Role of Social media in School of law examination room)

7.30-10.00 Closing banquet Great Hall

The Role of Social Media in Ghana’s 2016 Elections

On Thursday, I was a guest on the radio program Interrogating Africa discussing what the role of social media is in Ghana’s upcoming elections.

Interrogating Africa is an initiative by the Institute of African Studies and broadcast on University of Ghana’s Radio Universe 105.7 FM every Thursday 2-3PM. I was interviewed by my former class mate in the PhD program, Dr. Edem Adottey.

We talked about what social media is ( a revolution), how Ghanaians debate and engage online, how many Ghanaians have access to the Internet (about one third), Post-Truth Politics and false news, what the Kalyppo Challenge really was all about (that’s another post!), and how social media will impact on elections (more research is needed!).

You can see the interview here:

Hopes for African Studies Association meeting, ASA 2015, in San Diego

So by this time next week, I’ll be on my way to the big African Studies Association 58th Annual Meeting, ASA2015, in San Diego, California, USA. The conference has the theme: The State and the Study of Africa and will be happening 19-22 November. It is an enormous event which attracts over 2000 scholars! I am terribly excited and have the following hopes:

  1.  getting some feedback on my research. I am presenting a paper in a panel called: Rethinking Decolonialization: Institutions, Archives and Identities (Session VII- D1, Fri 20th, 2-3.45pm). My paper is how university students in Ghana and their narratives can help decolonializing migration studies.
  2. meeting with other researchers, both interested in Ghana (as under the Ghana Studies Association meeting scheduled for Fri 20th at 7.30pm) and in migration and higher eduction.
  3. tweeting (follow me on @kajsaha) and Periscoping!
  4. learning more about publishing and post-doc opportunities.
  5. finding books and initiatives in the exhibit that accompanies the conference.
  6. experiencing some art and maybe good food in the world-reknowned Balboa Park in San Diego.
  7. meeting up with other African Studies tweeps, see my list below.

Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana – Now on YouTube!

My home department, the Institute of African Studies (IAS) at University of Ghana has taken a big leap forward this semester by broadcasting all of its famous Thursday seminars on Skype and uploading them on YouTube!

Last year, I suggested the institute should have a presence on social media and set up a Facebook account and a Twitter handle @IASUG (at the time, I could not believe my luck to get such an appropriate 5 letter handle!). I managed the accounts over the 2013 African Studies conference  (keynotes also available on YouTube) and then handed it over to the institute.

Now, however you can get more than photos and 140 character snippets – Thanks to new seminar coordinator Dr. Obádélé Kambon – you can experience IAS from the comfort of any place with Internet!

Research Update – Winning Choices or Hacks for PhD Productivity

Research collage

As readers of this blog knows well, I am a PhD candidate with the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana currently doing my data collection for my dissertation. My research moves very slowly, but this semester, I can see I have gotten over the “what is it really that I am doing?”-stage and entered “this is what I am doing!”-stage of my research degree. The feeling is swell. Some of the winning choices I have made this year includes:

  1. taken help from research assistants Ibrahim and Esther (and maybe Seth). They need to learn about the research process, I need admin help. They could use some extra cash, I could use some more hours in my week. Win-win.
  2. spent many more hours in the UG Balme Library as graduate students now have a lovely Research Commons there. The space is just so beautiful, I am collecting for a photo post on the sublime building that is Balme library.
  3. transferred my research library onto Zotero (finally! it took me three full days and it is not 100% yet, but just going through my readings was useful!)
  4. thinking about my research every day. In the car, the first 30 minutes in my office in the morning or after dinner. Solutions only come after much thinking.
  5. grabbed every opportunity to publish or present. I decided to do this as the main purpose of doing a PhD is to learn the craft of research, however when feeling slightly overwhelmed with just your regular work – extra stuff seems…crazy! But it is not, in new constellations, be it with conference participants, abstract reviewers or a taxi driver, I have learned more about the craft.

What good choices have you made in your career this year?

 

 

International Conference on African Studies #ICAS13 at Legon, Ghana

You have the mic.This week, my department, the Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana is organizing a major conference on the theme: “Revisiting the first international congress of Africanists in a globalised world”. The three day conference is apart of the institute’s 50th anniversary celebration and also links to the 1963 convention for Africanists opened by Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah. This conference will be opened by the current president, John Dramani Mahama!

Key note speakers are Kenyan professor and writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, professor Fatou Sow, specialist in gender studies and Dr. Carlos Lopez from the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Almost all the big names in the world of African Studies seem to be in the program, framed by exhibits, cultural performances and receptions.

I will be involved in two capacities – as a PhD candidate of the institute obviously I have to present a paper. Mine is a slight deviation from my PhD research project – concerned with migration aspirations among university students in Ghana –  instead this paper is on the future of graduate school in Africa. My presentation time is just after the conference opening on Thursday afternoon (Session A, Panel 3, Computer room of the INstitute at 12.20-2.00 PM to be exact). In addition to being a presenter, I have volunteered to handle social media for the conference. So you can follow the institute account for proceedings on Facebook and Twitter or follow the hashtag #ICAS13.

I will be posting here on my blog during the conference as well.

So let’s wish  all international participants welcome and while we are at it, please wish me luck!

Photo from an earlier post on AiD.

Free and Open Source Software for Academics

This afternoon, I went to an inspiring lecture by Joshua Kwesi Aikins as a part of a two-day lecture series for graduate students at Institute of African Studies at University of Ghana. These were some of the free and open source softwares that were recommended. I have ordered them in what I feel is the order of importance to my research endeavor.

1. Zotero. Keep all you references handy. Add more by “harvesting” bibliographic info from websites (like Amazon, Google Scholar etc.). Insert references into any document and by the click of a button add bibliography or change referencing format. Just as all open source software, there is plenty of information online on how to get started, see for instance this Zotero guide. Amazing!

2. LimeSurvey. A free tool you can use to create online surveys (they can also easily be printed). The basic results are immediately visible, and if you want to do regressions etc. LimeSurvey exports to the most common statistics programs (also as free and open software). Fantastic!

3.RQDA. A software that enhances and facilitates qualitative research.  RQDA lets you work with text documents (for instance transcribed interviews) and code them. Then you can sort your coded text fragments and analyze or even make a quantitative analysis of them. Wonderful!

These were just a few of those mentioned, but on my top list to download (I am already using Zotero).

Update: The Academic Productivity blog has more software tips.

What free and open softwares would you add to the list?

My Spring Semester

Finally Monday!

Today I start teaching this semester’s course, still at Ashesi University College. I will be teaching one course, Social Theory, to two cohorts of 50 students each. Last year, I did a blog for my class the Social Theory Blog…although it went great and was much fun, this year, I think I will do something else. I believe in doing new stuff and developing as a lecturer. I got some inspiration from Ken Bain’s book “What the best college teachers do” (courtesy of my mother) over Christmas. Will keep you posted.

My classes will take place on Mondays and Wednesdays, one in the morning, one just after lunch. On Tuesdays I will be in my office for administration (read: grading) and office hours.

I also guide three final year students towards their final thesis. This is challenging and fun and I hope I also get to see them almost every week until April when their paper is due.

The other part of my work is research. This year, I hope to be able to spend most of Thursdays and Fridays at Legon/Institute of African Studies working towards my PhD. Thursday mornings is graduate seminars, and the rest of the time I’d spend in the library or in meetings. I am aiming for building a strong relationship with my three (3!) supervisors and putting together a questionnaire to be able to collect my quantitative data by the end of the semester. I have no idea if that is feasible, but I feel like I have been reading forever and now would like a grip on the empiry!

So, there you have my spring and my aspirations.