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Mamadou Diouf, West African Scholar, Selected to Lead Columbia's
Institute for African Affairs

Bollinger hails Diouf's hiring as a critical step forward in University's work on Africa

Mamadou Diouf
Mamadou Diouf

Photo by Eileen Barroso

On December 7th, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger announced that Mamadou Diouf, a renowned West African scholar and historian, has been hired to lead Columbia's Institute for African Studies at the School of International and Public Affairs. Diouf will also become a faculty member in Columbia's Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures.

"We are delighted to have someone of Mamadou Diouf's extraordinary talents and admired scholarship to join us and take on the leadership of our Institute for African Studies," said Bollinger. "His hiring is an important step toward fulfilling our goal of making Columbia the foremost center for teaching and research, in both theory and practice, on Africa—its history and culture, its politics and economics, its challenges in public health and extraordinary human potential."

Diouf will join Columbia on July 1. He is currently a member of the faculty at the University of Michigan in the Department of History, where he also serves in the Center for Afroamerican and African Studies.

"I accepted Columbia University's offer to join with many colleagues who are working on Africa and engaging in the African debates in the global conversation," Professor Diouf said. "Columbia University is probably the best location to bring together very diverse groups involved with Africa--from the United Nations to Wall Street, from Harlem to migrant communities—with the participation of artist and cultural producers. I am excited to take up these challenges while contributing to the training of a new generation of Africanists, African experts, and academics."

"Mamadou Diouf is one of the finest historians of western Africa in the world today; his work on colonial and postcolonial history touches on subjects ranging from Senegalese brotherhoods to new theoretical tools for African historiography," said Nicholas Dirks, vice president of Arts and Sciences, who led the search. "Mamadou has a broad vision for the future of African studies at Columbia, encompassing a range of policy issues concerning political and economic development on the one hand, and the social and cultural dimensions of recent changes across the African continent on the other."

Columbia's Groundbreaking Work in Africa
Columbia University's efforts addressing African scholarship, policy and project related-efforts are multi-dimensional, cross-disciplinary and are conducted through several of its most prestigious academic centers and research-related institutes. These efforts include programs of the Earth Institute, the Mailman School of Public Health, and the Committee on Global Thought. Some examples include:

The Earth Institute
Among the major initiatives in Africa by the Earth Institute, led by Professor Jeffrey Sachs, are the Millennium Villages project, which incorporates a "Green Revolution" approach in utilizing technology aspects of agriculture to increase food production; and the Global Health Initiative which works with HIV-positive persons in Rwanda to obtain faster access blood tests and medicine.

The Earth Institute is also engaged in Africa through its Center for Sustainable Urban Development, led by Professor Elliot Sclar, a faculty member at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. The center's first project is addresses the development of Nairobi and Ruiru, Kenya. In collaboration with the Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, the center is also addressing air pollution in African cities. Air pollution has emerged as a key threat to health, the environment, and the quality of life of millions of African as development and economic activity increase across the continent.

The Mailman School of Public Health
In five countries in sub-Saharan Africa the Mailman School of Public Health is doing pioneering work on HIV and AIDS through its International Center for AIDS Care and Treatment programs. It is also investigating the social dimensions of HIV/AIDS in South Africa through its Center for Gender and Sexuality and Health. Other Mailman School initiatives in Africa are: a maternal mortality initiative; an effort to identify emerging infectious diseases; research on global environmental challenges; work on addressing health disparities; and the economic impact and policy implications of globalization.

The Committee on Global Thought Efforts on Africa
Next spring Columbia's Committee on Global Thought will hold a symposium on globalization with a special focus on Africa. "Effects of Globalization on the Countries of the South" will be led by Prabhat Patnaik, a professor with the Centre of for Economics and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India. President Bollinger announced the formation of the Committee on Global Thought in December 2005 "to enhance the University's engagement with issues of globalization." The group is led by Professor Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate and professor of economics.

"There is a wealth of pathbreaking work that Columbia's schools, centers and institutes are already doing on ideas and issues involving Africa," Bollinger concluded. "While we are as proud of these efforts as we are of Professor Diouf's decision to join us, we intend to do even more in the months and years ahead to ensure that a great, truly global university like Columbia provides an even wider array of meaningful opportunities for our students and faculty to work on the issues facing the people and societies of Africa."

For a copy of Professor Diouf's curriculum vitae or photograph, contact Tanya Domi at Columbia University's Office of Communications and Public Affairs.


Published: Dec 07, 2006
Last modified: Nov 14, 2007