Dr. Albert Schweitzer of Lambaréné and the United States of America: Philanthropy, Networks and Medicine in the 20th-Century

Albert SchweitzerDr. Hines Mabika, “Dr. Albert Schweitzer of Lambaréné and the United States of America: Philanthropy, Networks and Medicine in the 20th-Century”

Date: 13 August 2015
Time: 12-1pm
Location: IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute (4th floor of the IUPUI University Library, Room UL 4115P)
Free Registration (see below)

In 1949, the German-born Dr. Albert Schweitzer traveled to the United States. Famous for establishing a hospital in Lambaréné (Gabon) in the African rainforest, Life magazine had recently named him “The Greatest Man in the World.” And, in just a few years, he would receive the Nobel Prize. This trip to the United States was vital to Schweitzer’s larger project of building an international network of philanthropy that could sustain his work in Africa. Dr. Mabika’s talk will explore these transnational relationships and connections, revealing networks of individuals and institutions that included the Unitarian Church, prestigious universities, and pharmaceutical companies which provided him and his hospital with medicines.

Dr. Hines Mabika is Senior Research Associate of the Faculty of Medicine at Bern University, Switzerland. He has taught the history of medicine, colonial and postcolonial historiographies, and health network management. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Aix-en-Provence, France and an MBA in Health Network Management from Paul Cezanne University, France. He has served on the Faculties of Medicine at the University of Aix-Marseille, France and the University of Lausanne, Switzerland as well as the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Basel and University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bessie House-Soremekun reveals “The Africa the World Seldom Sees”

Bessie House-Soremekun

Bessie House-Soremekun

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun analyzes the production of knowledge about African Societies by interrogating the multifarious stereotypical images of Africa often presented by network television, radio, popular media, movies and novels. These images often encapsulate static narratives and encoded messages that diminish Africa’s historical and contemporary contributions to the world. In many cases, Africa is still projected as a static “other” that has not embraced change and development. Dr. House-Soremekun compares these interpretations to earlier conceptualizations of African people and their cultures which were depicted by the Europeans during the era of imperialism and colonialism. She also probes the various ways in which peoples of the African Diaspora are continually affected by these images and are marginalized in the era of globalization when modern technologies daily project these images to many countries of the world.  This lecture supplements “The Africa the World Seldom Sees” Art Exhibition, which is on display at the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery in February 2015.

Dr. Bessie House-Soremekun is the Director of Africana Studies, Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies, Public Scholar in African American Studies, Civic Engagement, and Entrepreneurship, and the Founding Executive Director of the Center for Global Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Development at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She has published 6 books and numerous scholarly articles and book chapters.

February 19, 2015 | 12:00-1:00
IUPUI Library, Room UL 4115P

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IUPUI professor provided key testimony in Nigerian oil-spill case settled for $83 million

Scott Pegg treks through mud, dead mangrove trees and previous oil spill residue to get to the site of a new oil spill in 2012.

Scott Pegg treks through mud, dead mangrove trees and previous oil spill residue to get to the site of a new oil spill in 2012.

In an out-of-court settlement announcement Wednesday, Shell Petroleum Development Co. of Nigeria agreed to a compensation package of 55 million pounds — about $83.4 million — for a Nigerian farming and fishing community damaged by massive oil spills in 2008 and 2009. An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professor had been among witnesses for the residents of Bodo, Nigeria, in their three-year legal battle.

According to a statement by Leigh Day, the London-based law firm representing the community of Bodo, 15,600 individual claimants will received a total of 35 million pounds, with the remainder of the settlement going to the Bodo community as a whole. Shell has also agreed to clean up the Bodo Creek, Day said.

Scott Pegg, chair of the Department of Political Science in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, has been actively involved in the life of Bodo for more than 14 years. As someone who has worked in Bodo for years and as an honorary chief in the village, Pegg said it was the least he could do to provide a detailed witness statement on behalf of the Bodo plaintiffs.

Pegg first visited the community in 2000 and returned a year later with his wife, Tijen Demirel-Pegg. The then newlyweds donated $2,800 of their wedding gift money to the Bebor Model Nursery and Primary School in Botor Village, Bodo. This money finished a roofing project and funded a cement floor for a five-classroom primary school building at the school that now serves more than 300 children.

The couple continued to raise money for the school, and in 2002 their work was formally incorporated into the work of the Indianapolis-based charity now known as Timmy Global Health. The Peggs’ work with the school in Bodo now includes providing boreholes for drinking water; boys’, girls’ and teachers’ toilets for better sanitation; and a pilot health program providing immunizations, health exams and deworming treatments to students at the school.

In 2002, the Bodo Council of Chiefs named the Peggs honorary chiefs in recognition of their contribution to the community’s educational development. In August 2005, Botor Village in Bodo dedicated the “Chief Prof Scott Pegg Road.”

Pegg’s written testimony, filed in the case before the High Court in London, used numerous pictures to document the story of Bodo’s transformation after the oil spills from a vibrant fishing community to a land of “environmental devastation as far as the eye could see.”

Of particular interest to the British lawyers representing the Bodo claimants were the many photographs Pegg had from earlier visits to Bodo before the 2008-09 oil spills. Pegg and people who visited with him often would go down to the waterfront and paddle out into Bodo Creek on a traditional fishing canoe for recreation. Pegg said he never envisioned that his “tourist photos” along the waterfront would actually be used to help document how green and verdant the mangrove forests in Bodo were before the oil spills.

Pegg, who holds a doctorate in political science, described himself as “sort of a perfect storm” as a witness in that the combination of his academic training and interests and his track record of publications on the oil industry in Africa, plus his local status as a chief in the village, made his testimony hard to discredit. At IUPUI, Pegg primarily teaches courses on international relations, war and conflict, U.S. foreign policy, globalization and African politics.

The IUPUI professor is proud of the fact that the Bodo case is the first major legal settlement where compensation has been paid directly to individual Africans and not just done through chiefs or community leaders. He believes the success or failure of the promised environmental cleanup of Bodo Creek will ultimately be even more important than the compensation itself. He also hopes the case will set a precedent and establish benchmark standards for oil companies to follow in dealing with other oil spills throughout the Niger Delta.

“Bodo has suffered and continues to suffer horribly because of the two massive oil spills that hit the community in 2008-09 and for which any kind of clean-up effort has still not yet started,” Pegg said in an email message to Timmy Global Health supporters and other friends. “Even if everything goes well with this settlement, the community faces a daunting list of challenges and problems.

“Still, this is a great day for the people of Bodo. As people who have supported them in various ways, I hope you can savor and enjoy this news as well.”

African Studies Association panel discusses our response to ebola-related stigma and violence targeting Africans and first responders

indexThe African Studies Association will be holding its 57th Annual Meeting in Indianapolis next week. As part of our Annual Meeting, the Association will host a pre-conference workshop, “Responding to Ebola-Related Stigma and Violence Targeting Africans and First Responders” on Wednesday, Nov 19, 9:30 am-12:00 pm at the JW Marriott Indianapolis, Room 105. This workshop is being organized by a member of the African Studies Association Board of Directors, Dr. Sheryl McCurdy.

This workshop seeks to bring together interdisciplinary experts to discuss the Ebola crisis and possible ways forward, as well as the development of possible responses and resources for future teach-ins and forums. Current panelists include Dr. McCurdy, Dr. Pamela Scully, Emory University, Dr. Mary Beth Riner, Indiana University, and Dr. Ruth Stone, Indiana University.

The School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is a sponsor of this year’s meeting, and as part of your sponsorship benefits, we would like to open the workshop, free of charge, to interested students and faculty from the School.

Interested students and faculty can sign up to attend the workshop via this form.

Registration will be granted on a first come, first serve basis, and will remain open until the workshop hits capacity.

IUPUI researcher to host international conference exploring China’s ancient links to Africa

Ian McIntoshIan McIntosh, associate director of the Confucius Institute in Indianapolis and director of international partnerships at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, has been awarded a $17,800 grant from the Confucius Institute Headquarters Division of Sinology and China Studies to host a conference, “Exploring China’s Ancient Links to Africa.”

The conference will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in October. It will be attended by some of the world’s leading archaeologists in this field, including Sada Mire, director of antiquities in Somaliland, Felix Chami of Dar es Salaam University, Tanzania, and Qin Dashu of Peking University, China. IUPUI’s strategic partner in China, Sun Yat-sen University, will be represented by two leading archaeologists, professors Zhu Tiequan and Wensuo Liu.

“This conference will help to shed light on this early movement of peoples, especially Chinese navigators and traders, and their relationship with African merchants, especially from the Axumite Empire,” McIntosh said.

An Australian anthropologist, McIntosh is a co-founder of the Past Masters, an international team of heritage specialists, historians, anthropologists and archaeologists. The Past Masters received widespread media attention with their expedition to uncover the significance of medieval African coins from the long-abandoned Swahili settlement of Kilwa discovered in Tanzania on a remote island in northern Australia.

Participants at the conference will speak to connections between China and Africa, as far back as the Han Dynasty in the first century of the Common Era. Chinese coin and pottery finds from along the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa and also in East Africa, dating to the Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties, will also be discussed.

For more information, contact Ian McIntosh.

Virologist presents lecture on the emergence of the AIDS epidemics

Wednesday March 19, 2014
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Emerson Hall, Room 304
545 Barnhill Drive

Professor Preston Marx will deliver a presentation entitled, “Emergence of the AIDS Epidemics: Transition from SIV to HIV.”

The sudden emergence of the AIDS pandemic in the 20th century raised questions about AIDS origin(s), including the timing and root causes. Research led to understanding that HIV/AIDS is not one pandemic, but rather a combination of multiple epidemics and failed outbreaks, alongside the well known pandemic. The sources of all HIVs are simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) on the African continent. Finding SIV and the evolution of SIV to HIV will be presented, along with prevailing theories on why AIDS emerged in the 20th century.

Marx is Professor of Tropical Medicine and Chair of the Division of Microbiology at the Tulane National Primate Research Center of Tulane University. A virologist with over 40 years of experience in research on non-human primate models of AIDS vaccines and the origins of the AIDS epidemics, Dr. Marx’s research contributions include finding Simian Immunodeficiency Viruses (SIV’s) in sooty mangabeys in West Africa, showing this particular mangabey monkey sub-species as the source of HIV-2. Dr. Marx has conducted research projects in Sierra Leone, Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. He recently published research in Science magazine showing that the SIV family of viruses is hundreds of thousands of years older than previously believed.

Co-sponsored by the Medical Humanities and Health Studies Program and the Indiana University School of Medicine Center for AIDS Research.

Pizza will be served. Questions? Please email ticarmic@iu.edu.

IUPUI receives NEH grant for study of origins of HIV/AIDS

An international team of historians and anthropologists, including two Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis professors, will spend the next three years hunting down the origins of HIV/AIDS.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a $290,000, three-year grant to IUPUI for the project titled “An International Collaboration on the Political, Social, and Cultural History of the Emergence of HIV/AIDS.”

Under the leadership of IUPUI professor William H. Schneider, six humanities scholars assisted by three medical research consultants will study evidence supporting the most frequently offered explanations for the emergence of the global AIDS pandemic.

“It is a clear and a worthwhile goal: figuring out the origin of AIDS,” said Schneider, a historian of medicine who teaches in the history department and directs the medical humanities and health studies program, both part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. “The emergence of new diseases, such as avian flu and swine flu, is one of the most important health concerns in recent decades.”

The new study could prove invaluable to those working in global health by providing information about how other new diseases emerge, the principal investigator said.

“It can offer a model for medical science and public health researchers who recognize that their studies need to account for the larger historical, political, economic, social and cultural relations and processes that shape disease emergence.”

Three prominent HIV/AIDS researchers — virologists Preston Marx and François Simon and epidemiologist Ernest Drucker — will serve as medical research consultants. The collaboration began 10 years ago and was recently assisted by the IUPUI Office of Vice Chancellor for Research, which provided $15,000 in seed money for the project.

Scientists widely agree that immune viruses have existed in the African simian population — chimps and monkeys — for tens of thousands of years. Some of these evolved and adapted into viruses that were devastating to the human population less than 100 years ago.

HIV/AIDS study collaborators and scientists during a planning workshop.

HIV/AIDS study collaborators and scientists during a planning workshop.

Through DNA sequencing, scientists have identified a dozen human immunodeficiency virus strains, two of which, HIV-1 and HIV-2, are responsible for the current AIDS pandemic among humans.

Because there were several adaptations, most scientists agree that the transfer was not a random incident, and they point to colonial rule of Africa as the circumstance permitting the adaptations.

The question is how and why?

Until now, explanations have focused on finding a “smoking gun,” i.e., the first case of human immunodeficiency virus. But that scholarship has lacked a critical humanities approach to the wide array of available field and archival resources.

Schneider’s team will address those shortcomings.

“This project is meant to place the medical, public health and biological dimensions of the origin of (HIV/AIDS) in its historical context in sub-Saharan Africa — bringing attention for the first time to the details of the specific social and cultural consequences of the introduction of (Western) medicine which was followed in short order by the appearance of the HIV epidemic,” Drucker said.

The research team will focus on the three most feasible explanations: changes in great ape and monkey hunting; social transformations during colonial rule including urbanization, prostitution and human mobility; and new medical interventions, specifically injection campaigns and blood transfusions, that facilitated transfer of viruses.

Schneider, an expert in the history of blood transfusions in Africa, along with Guillaume Lachenal of the University of Paris, will study the role of blood transfusions and vaccination campaigns, health interventions unheard of in Africa before colonial rule.

Ch.-Didier-Gondola_B

IUPUI professor Ch. Didier Gondola, chairman of the history department, is also a member of the research team.

IUPUI professor Ch. Didier Gondola, chairman of the history department, is also a member of the research team. He is an authority on the history of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the two neighboring African cities considered to be the place where the HIV-1 epidemic began, which is responsible for 85 percent of today’s AIDS cases. Gondola will investigate the impact of equatorial African urbanization, migration and gender on the emergence of AIDS.

The team will conduct field research and consult several archives and colonial and medical service records in Africa and Europe. Beginning with an IUPUI meeting in February 2014, the scholars will meet periodically to review the research, which will conclude with the publication of a book in 2016.

The HIV/AIDS project was one of four Indiana awards among the 173 NEH grants announced in July for a total of $33 million.