How can those in African, Africana, and African American Studies strengthen their disciplinary ties? What do these connections have to do with Kwasi Konadu’s recent study The Akan Diaspora in the Americas (Oxford 2010)? How can the scholarship produced in African, Africana, and African American Studies serve the interests of people of African descent across the globe? Indeed, how can the history of the Akan people help us to better understand slavery and the history of the Americas? What does it mean for a scholar who is the descendant of Ghanaians, born in Jamaica and reared in America to make his life work about African history? And how does that scholar feel about his personal role in the legacy of the Diaspora, about a being a Black father in the U.S.? Kwasi Konadu speaks about all of this and more in his New Books in African American Studies interview.
Konadu’s intellectual commitment to uncovering and explaining the Akan people, their language, culture, and performative practices is inspiring. In fact, he seeks to encourage his colleagues in Africana Studies–broadly construed to include African American and African studies–“to get the story straight,” that is, to cultivate a rich appreciation for the narrative histories of the peoples of the African Diasporas (plural) and to explore what those narrative histories mean for our teaching and even our lives. I am persuaded by Konadu and personally plan to take up his call in my own teaching and research. I ask myself, “How could I not after talking to him, especially since he gives suggestions that are easy to implement?” I bet that after listening to him that you too will become a believer. Enjoy the interview, and let us know what you think!