Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies

Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Established in 1954, the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern Universit
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The Herskovits Library is located on the 5th floor, East Tower of the Main Library on Northwestern University's Evanston campus. Contact us at [email protected], and read our blog at http://sites.library.northwestern.edu/africana.

For the past two weeks we have been delighted to host two of our Travel Grant recipients: Dr Tendayi Sithole (L, South A...
04/24/2024

For the past two weeks we have been delighted to host two of our Travel Grant recipients: Dr Tendayi Sithole (L, South Africa) and Dr Andrea Brigaglia (R, Italy). Here they are, posing with a cookbook that happens to unite their two home countries-- Cucina in South Africa: 70 Original Italian Recipes with a Local Twist, by Cecilia Di Cecco, Werner Adendorff, Andrea Giampiccoli (Auckland Park, South Africa: Staging Post, 2018). Andrea and Tendayi have been (metaphorically) burning though our collections, making amazing discoveries and being wonderful colleagues.

Our own Gene Kannenberg, Jr. recently guested on a podcast and discussed his work here!  "Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr. book a...
04/01/2024

Our own Gene Kannenberg, Jr. recently guested on a podcast and discussed his work here! "Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr. book artist, cartoonist and Research & Media Assistant at the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University , visits Blockhead to celebrate the release of his wonderful new Pop-Up book from Abrams Books, “Here Comes Charlie Brown!: A Peanuts Pop-Up Book”. In this first part of the interview, Gene introduces the Blockhead audience to the extensive comics holdings of Northwestern University and the famous Herskovits Library of African Studies! This episode is a true eye-opener!"

Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr. book artist, cartoonist and Research & Media Assistant at the Herskovits Library of African Studies at Northwestern University , visits Blockhead to celebrate the release of his wonderful new Pop-Up book from Abrams Books, “Here Comes Charlie Brown!: A Peanuts Pop-Up Bo...

From NU's Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa - ISITA: On Wednesday,  February 21 from 12-1 pm, histori...
02/14/2024

From NU's Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa - ISITA: On Wednesday, February 21 from 12-1 pm, historian Rémi Dewière of Northumbria University will give a talk on "Writing Power in 19th Century Islamic Africa: Norms and Adaptations in Borno Chancery and Diplomacy," followed by a roundtable discussion from 1:30 to 3:30 pm, titled "Sources, Heritage, and Experimental History in Premodern Africa. New Tools, Old Debates."

The Pan African Student Organization notes: "We are excited to share that we shall be starting a speaker series beginnin...
01/25/2024

The Pan African Student Organization notes: "We are excited to share that we shall be starting a speaker series beginning this coming Friday. We are honored to be hosting Dr Lwazi Lushaba, a dedicated scholar and philosopher who will be guiding us in tackling the overarching theme for this quarter is Which way, Africa?

When: Friday 26th January, 2024
Where: 620 Library Place Conference Room
Topic: A historical examination of Africa’s underdevelopment malaise"

Today from 5 pm to 7 pm! "Another series of Afrisem with two of our graduate students, Elikplim Kuto and Semiu Adegbenle...
01/25/2024

Today from 5 pm to 7 pm! "Another series of Afrisem with two of our graduate students, Elikplim Kuto and Semiu Adegbenle." Located at The Program of African Studies.

The Northwestern University Libraries blog posted this overview of "Wakanda as a Window to the Study of Africa," a talk ...
11/22/2023

The Northwestern University Libraries blog posted this overview of "Wakanda as a Window to the Study of Africa," a talk given here on Nov. 8 by our Research & Media Assistant Dr. Gene Kannenberg Jr and which was co-sponsored by The Program of African Studies. The presentation discussed how interest in popular culture can lead to research into genuine African histories and cultures using a wide variety of materials found throughout the Herskovits Library's collections. This blog post also includes a link to a video recording of the entire one-hour event on YouTube, which you also can find in the comments below.

The Afrofuturist superhero prowling library stacks Posted November 21, 2023 by Drew Scott The road to real research can begin in the most popcorny corners of pop culture — even a blockbuster comic-book movie, said Gene Kannenberg, Jr., research assistant for the Melville J. Herskovits Library of A...

On Saturday we hosted some of the participants in this past weekend's Afrobeats symposium, accompanied by co-convenor Pr...
10/24/2023

On Saturday we hosted some of the participants in this past weekend's Afrobeats symposium, accompanied by co-convenor Prof. Dotun Ayobade. The participants spent nearly an hour examining some of our specially selected materials but also exploring the library and engaging in wide-ranging conversations.

Here's a nice article from The Daily Northwestern on last weekend's “Afrobeats: Lower Frequencies of Contemporary Africa...
10/24/2023

Here's a nice article from The Daily Northwestern on last weekend's “Afrobeats: Lower Frequencies of Contemporary African Sounds” symposium, which "included a series of presentations on Afrobeats, a pop and dance music style largely credited to West African artists primarily in Nigeria and Ghana." The symposium even included a visit to the Herskovits library - see our next post!

Presenters from around the world gathered at Louis Hall Friday and Saturday for a symposium on contemporary African music. Titled “Afrobeats: Lower Frequencies of Contemporary African Sounds,”  the symposium included a series of presentations on Afrobeats, a pop and dance music style largely cr...

Last night our Curator attended an event of the Chicago Humanities Festival: Zadie Smith, interviewed by The Program of ...
09/20/2023

Last night our Curator attended an event of the Chicago Humanities Festival: Zadie Smith, interviewed by The Program of African Studies' own Chris Abani. See comments below for our holdings on these two monumental authors.

Today marks Enkutatash, the start of the Ethiopian New Year (2016, a leap year; usually the New Year falls on September ...
09/12/2023

Today marks Enkutatash, the start of the Ethiopian New Year (2016, a leap year; usually the New Year falls on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar). These liturgical images come from the book ETHIOPIA: The Living Churches of an Ancient Kingdom, an oversized volume filled with stunning photography. Find it in our open stacks!
FOLIO NA 6086 .F58 2017

Please note: Herskovits Library Staff will be working remotely due to construction from Tuesday, July 25 through approxi...
07/25/2023

Please note: Herskovits Library Staff will be working remotely due to construction from Tuesday, July 25 through approximately Friday, August 4. For questions, please email [email protected]. We apologize for this temporary inconvenience.

For a program associated with our Spring exhibit on Arabic Calligraphy back in May, our colleague Marcia Tiede, who cata...
07/12/2023

For a program associated with our Spring exhibit on Arabic Calligraphy back in May, our colleague Marcia Tiede, who catalogs some of our rare items, graciously loaned us two Qur’anic writing boards she acquired while in residence in the village of Lataha, north of Korhogo, Côte d’Ivoire, in 1985. One still betrays traces of use, while the smaller bears a magic square created especially for her. Thanks again, Marcia!

This weekend we were delighted to host visitors from the Chicago Printers Guild. They eagerly examined and discussed a w...
07/10/2023

This weekend we were delighted to host visitors from the Chicago Printers Guild. They eagerly examined and discussed a wide range of special materials we put on display for them, including artists' books, print portfolios, zines, pop-up and other movable books, examples of provisional and final ballots from the 1994 South African Presidential election (along with a Yellow printing plate!), and much more, including recently acquired items such as a stunning late 19th C Ge'ez manuscript on vellum and an elegantly illustrated diary. Lots of excellent conversations all around!

Continuing our look back at a busy quarter of programming for our "Augmented Curiosities" exhibit: In May we hosted a ta...
06/06/2023

Continuing our look back at a busy quarter of programming for our "Augmented Curiosities" exhibit: In May we hosted a talk by Augmented & Virtual Reality innovator John Russick, Interim President & CEO of Levine Museum of the New South and one of the creators of The Chicago 00 Project. After a fascinating talk about some of his past projects, he was joined by Prof. Antawan Byrd from NU Art History (Northwestern University Department of Art History) for a wide-ranging discussion on the possibilities of AR & VR for education.

It’s  ! As part of our AR/VR “Augmented Curiosities” exhibit, 3D prints were created of two statues for display in the e...
05/26/2023

It’s ! As part of our AR/VR “Augmented Curiosities” exhibit, 3D prints were created of two statues for display in the evening, after we've removed the original objects for the day. Learn more about the exhibit, open thru mid-August, at libguides.northwestern.edu/augmentedcuriosities

We've had lots of interest in our exhibit "Augmented Curiosities: Virtual Play in African Pasts and Futures," curated by...
05/25/2023

We've had lots of interest in our exhibit "Augmented Curiosities: Virtual Play in African Pasts and Futures," curated by Anthropology PhD student Craig Stevens. Here we see some photos from a "Lunch and Learn" opportunity with fellow members of the Anthropology Department. To learn more about the exhibit, which runs through mid-August, visit https://libguides.northwestern.edu/augmentedcuriosities

For her latest film, documentary filmmaker Emily Branham '02 spent 15 years chronicling the unconventional story of drag...
04/04/2023

For her latest film, documentary filmmaker Emily Branham '02 spent 15 years chronicling the unconventional story of drag performer Marshall Ngwa, aka BeBe Zahara Benet, an immigrant from Cameroon and the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2009. BEING BEBE, which Branham directed, wrote and produced, premiered in 2021, and was recently screened here at The Block Museum. Branham visited the Herskovits earlier that day and met with our curator. Learn more about her and BeBe in this article from Northwestern Magazine.

For her first feature-length film, Being BeBe, documentary filmmaker Emily Branham ’02 spent 15 years chronicling the unconventional story of drag performer Marshall Ngwa, aka BeBe Zahara Benet, an immigrant from Cameroon and the first winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Being BeBe premiered at the Tr...

Behold this stunning new acquisition: EXTINCT: THE WESTERN BLACK RHINOCEROUS. Published by Lone Oak Press, the book feat...
03/23/2023

Behold this stunning new acquisition: EXTINCT: THE WESTERN BLACK RHINOCEROUS. Published by Lone Oak Press, the book features a poem by Don McKay and engravings by Abigail Rorer. This "deluxe edition comes in a special clamshell case covered in gray Cave Paper with cloth sides and a stamped leather label; it includes the book, a set of the prints in a portfolio, and a unique recessed well with a trap door called the 'Cache of Curiosities.' Contained within are seventeen small engravings and ephemera." The western black rhinoceros was declared extinct in 2011.

We're honored that The Program of African Studies Director and Professor of English Chris Abani  chose the Herskovits Li...
03/10/2023

We're honored that The Program of African Studies Director and Professor of English Chris Abani chose the Herskovits Library as the location to record this brief promotional video for Northwestern Research while highlighting some of our wonderful collection items.

The world is constantly shifting, with challenges and opportunities arising every day. Yesterday’s solutions may no longer be effective in today’s environmen...

Last week Rebecca Shereikis, Associate Director for the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa - ISITA, in...
03/03/2023

Last week Rebecca Shereikis, Associate Director for the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa - ISITA, in collaboration with MENA: Middle East and North African Studies at Northwestern University faculty members Ragy Mikhaeel and Rana Raddawi, brought students to the Herskovits library to read and learn more about our Arabic manuscript collections. See https://libguides.northwestern.edu/arabic-manuscripts

Jan. 27, 2023 / 10:00am - 5:00pm / Kresge Centennial Hall 1515. Brought to you by the Program in Comparative Literary St...
01/19/2023

Jan. 27, 2023 / 10:00am - 5:00pm / Kresge Centennial Hall 1515.
Brought to you by the Program in Comparative Literary Studies, the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa - ISITA, the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Northwestern University, and the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities.

Comparative Literary Studies presents Translation Practices Across Institutional Borders: From the Scholar to the Public An all day symposium featuring Mukhtar H. Ali university of…

Our Curator, Esmeralda Kale, writes: “Last week while at Yale University I was able to find some free time to pop into Y...
12/19/2022

Our Curator, Esmeralda Kale, writes: “Last week while at Yale University I was able to find some free time to pop into Yale University Art Gallery to see the new exhibit “Bámigbóyè: A Master Sculptor of the Yorùbá Tradition.” It’s a stunning collection of work by this little-known Nigerian sculptor. My only regret is that I won't be able to see it again.

“Shown here are masks created and used for Epa festivals in his lifetime. The photograph of Moshood Olúṣọmọ Bámigbóyè comes from the University of Birmingham’s E.H. Duckworth collection, a companion to our own.” See the comments below for relevant links.

"Chasing the Ball," our new exhibit in honor of the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar, was curated by Northwes...
11/17/2022

"Chasing the Ball," our new exhibit in honor of the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar, was curated by Northwestern University Presidential Fellow & History PhD Candidate Bright Gyamfi w/ Herskovits staff. Check out books! See a selection of objects from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa! Hear a vuvuzela! Now thru January 2023. More World Cup resources in the Library: https://bit.ly/MJHL-WorldCup

Our thanks to Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan (see post below) who kindly donated this item for our collection!
11/01/2022

Our thanks to Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan (see post below) who kindly donated this item for our collection!

On October 12 we welcomed Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan, Director of Natural History Museum at the Obafemi Awolowo University,...
10/26/2022

On October 12 we welcomed Prof. Adisa Ogunfolakan, Director of Natural History Museum at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in Osun State, Nigeria. He was visiting Northwestern to give a talk on Oriki (a kind of praise poetry) as a vehicle for identification, analysis, and interpretation of historical landmarks & materials in settlements & archaeological sites in Yorubaland. He popped into the Herskovits to examine at some of our materials on Yoruba history and archaeology.

Here's a brand-new donation, sent to us Dr. David William Cohen. Dr. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of History and Anthropolo...
10/25/2022

Here's a brand-new donation, sent to us Dr. David William Cohen. Dr. Cohen, Emeritus Professor of History and Anthropology at the University of Michigan, previously taught at Northwestern, where he was Professor of Anthropology and History and Director of The Program of African Studies from 1989-1993. We received two copies, one for our circulating collection and one for our Rare Books. Our thanks to Prof. Cohen!

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Evanston, IL
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