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Perspectives on the Central African Republic

Making Sense of the Central African Republic

Despite its position at the center of a tumultuous region that has drawn substantial international attention over recent decades, the Central African Republic is often overlooked when discussions turn to questions of postcolonial development, democracy, and change in Africa. Making Sense of the Central African Republic seeks to remedy that oversight, bringing together the foremost experts on Central Africa to offer the first in-depth analysis of the nation's recent history of rebellion, instability, and international and regional intervention.

Gathering contributions from nearly every scholar and practitioner who has written on the Central African Republic, the book presents a close look at the two major coups of the past twenty years, the successes and failures of international intervention, the ongoing series of United Nations and regional peacekeeping efforts, and the potential for peaceful, democratic change in the nation’s future. A book review in the International Peace Institute’s Global Observatory applauds the “breadth of authors and subjects consulted, incorporating policy analysts, former humanitarians, peacekeepers, a diplomat, and even a former shop owner.”

Coedited by Tatiana Carayannis, deputy director of the Conflict Prevention and Peace Forum, with Louisa Lombard, Yale anthropologist and International Dissertation Research Fellowship fellow (2009), Making Sense of the Central African Republic was developed in the course of CPPF’s work with the UN in and on Africa and through its partnership in the Justice and Security Research Programme, an international consortium based at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Contributors include former program associate Nathaniel Olin, whose chapter on “Pathologies of Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding in CAR” is cited in a Foreign Policy feature on the evolving ground situation.

Available now from Zed Books and the University of Chicago Press, this timely volume provides critical evidence-based context for this month’s papal visit to the Central African Republic as well as for the country’s imminent presidential and parliamentary elections. Rebecca Hardin recommends it as “a boldly executed and timely corrective to much recent media and policy analysis,” and Alex de Waal terms it “the essential book on CAR.” Book launches have been held in London, New York City, Brussels, Madrid, and Washington, DC.

In Council News

In a new APN Working Paper, “The ‘Chief’ and the New Baraza: Harnessing Social Media for Community Policing in Kenya,” African Peacebuilding Network Individual Research grantee Duncan Omanga (2014) details the methodology and results of his APN project investigating information and communication technologies at the local level [PDF available].

Measure of America marked the launch of DATA2GO.NYC with a visualization challenge. Competing for a top prize of $2,000, information designers are invited to use the DATA2GO dataset to create visualizations that illuminate strengths or challenges in New York City neighborhoods (deadline: January 18). Local media coverage calls DATA2GO.NYCgroundbreaking” and “the NYC data map to end all data maps.”

Findings from the recent Measure of America study Zeroing In on Place and Race: Youth Disconnection in America’s Cities provided context for a Century Foundation issue brief looking at apprenticeships as a method for curbing youth unemployment in the United States. Opportunity gaps identified in the program’s 2014 human development report A Portrait of Sonoma County are animating a comprehensive effort in that California community to identify and address factors driving disparities.

The SSRC’s comprehensive 2011 study Media Piracy in Emerging Economies served as a key source for the “Piracy” episode of Copy-me, an animated web series that seeks to assemble and make accessible information about knowledge sharing, copying, and copyright.

Politics and the New Machine,” a New Yorker piece looking at what polls and data science mean for democracy in the United States, cited a 1949 report produced by the SSRC’s Committee on Analysis of Pre-election Polls and Forecasts that investigated inaccurate predictions made by pollsters concerning the 1948 presidential election.

The Anxieties of Democracy program hosted a lecture and dialogue on “Equality in a New Age of Inequalities” with inaugural Democracy Fellow Collège de France professor Pierre Rosanvallon at Roosevelt House in New York City. President Ira Katznelson moderated the event [full video available].

The Education Research Program held a summit in Washington, DC, with presentations by program director Richard Arum and president Ira Katznelson, to reflect on the first two years of its Measuring College Learning Project, which engages faculty and the broader higher education community in an effort to develop tools to understand and improve discipline-specific outcomes.

The African Peacebuilding Network partnered on several events in both Africa and the United States. A new APN seminar series on “Conflict, Peace, and Regional Economic Integration in Southern Africa” was launched with a seminar in Zambia on “Bridging the Knowledge Gaps and Addressing the Policy Challenges” that included presentations by Individual Research grantees Pamela Machakanja (2015), Terence Mashingaidze (2014), and Gladman Thondhlana (2014) of their APN project results. A research proposal development and writing workshop was held at the University of Ghana in Accra, with facilitators including APN advisory board members Ismail Rashid and Thomas Tieku and Individual Research grantee Audrey Gadzekpo (2014). And panel discussions on “Present & Future Trajectories of Terrorist Groups and Armed Non-state Actors in Africa” presented at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC, featured program director Cyril Obi, Individual Research grantee Fredrick Ogenga (2014), and Collaborative Working Group grantee Charles Ukeje (2014) [video available].

By Our Fellows

A number of SSRC fellows have recently published books drawing on their supported research: Abe Fellowship Program fellow Akihiro Ogawa (2009), Lifelong Learning in Neoliberal Japan: Risk, Community, and Knowledge (State University of New York Press); International Dissertation Research Fellowship fellow D. Asher Ghertner (2006), Rule by Aesthetics: World-Class City Making in Delhi (Oxford University Press); IDRF fellow Edin Hajdarpasic (2003), Whose Bosnia? Nationalism and Political Imagination in the Balkans, 1840–1914 (Cornell University Press); IDRF fellow Courtney Handman (2004), Critical Christianity: Translation and Denominational Conflict in Papua New Guinea (University of California Press); New Directions in the Study of Prayer grantee Anderson Blanton (2012), Hittin’ the Prayer Bones: Materiality of Spirit in the Pentecostal South (University of North Carolina Press); and Transregional Research Postdoctoral fellow Nancy Kwak (2012), A World of Homeowners: American Power and the Politics of Housing Aid (University of Chicago Press).

As an outcome of their Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship research and DPDF Alumni Initiative work, 2008 fellows Daren E. Ray and Joshua Gedacht coedited and authored articles for a special issue of the Muslim World on “Muslim Modernities: Interdisciplinary Insights across Time and Space,” which includes contributions by cohort research directors Charles Kurzman and Bruce B. Lawrence as well as cohort members Dunya D. Cakir and Timur R. Yuskaev.

Drugs, Security and Democracy fellow Thomas Grisaffi (2013) coauthored a working paper for the Andean Information Network based on his DSD ethnographic assessment of Bolivia’s approach to coca control: “Supply Control or Social Control? Coca, Eradication and Development in the Andes” [PDF available].

From Our Forums

At The Immanent Frame, historian Todd Weir writes on the disjuncture between critical theory of political secularism and what he terms “worldview secularism.” Sociologist Jana Glaese considers whether conversions can uncover and unsettle racialized religion. And in a joint project, Austin Dacey, contributing editor of Religion Dispatches, has authored a series of Religion Dispatches posts furthering the discussion series on Christian Human Rights.

On Deadline

Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellowship
Applications Due: December 1

African Peacebuilding Network
Applications Due: January 15

DATA2GO.NYC Visualization Challenge
Entries Due: January 18

Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology
Applications Due: January 25