Tag Archives: Journals

Colonial Economic History in West Africa

African Economic History

A special issue of African Economic History, “Colonial Economic History in West Africa: The Gold Coast and Gambia in Comparative Perspective,” reconsiders the comparative place of economic frameworks in British colonies in West Africa. One of the issue’s important aims is to emphasize the difference in divergent spaces, between the “profitable” colony of the Gold Coast and the “economic drain” of The Gambia colony. Edited by George M. Bob-Milliar and Toby Green, the issue is also characterized by new and distinctive archival research from archives in the countries considered; this empirical detail places the economic impact of colonialism in an important new light.

Browse the table of contents and read the editors’ introduction, freely available on Project MUSE.

Celebrating the Legacy of Monatshefte Editor Hans Adler

In August 2019 we approached colleagues and Weggefährten of Hans Adler and informed them of Hans’s retirement as Editor and Co-Editor of Monatshefte after nearly two decades of service. Along with good wishes for his retirement sent by Rüdiger Campe, Ritchie Robertson, Gerhard Sauder, and Ulrich Gaier, we received and collected these statements that celebrate Hans and speak to his work not only as an editor, but also his contributions to German Studies more generally.

With all good wishes,

Hannah V. Eldridge and Sonja E. Klocke, Editors, Monatshefte


From Rolf Goebel:

I have had the great pleasure of working with Hans Adler as editor of Monatshefte on several occasions, most recently in connection with publishing an article on Hölderlins Erinnerungsmusik (Hölderlin’s Music of Memory) in the journal. Under Adler’s experienced leadership, Monatshefte, one of the most respected and oldest, perhaps the oldest, venue for German studies in the U.S., has continued to offer a wide range of essays exploring themes in literary criticism, cultural studies, and media theory, exploring classical as well as lesser known or unjustly neglected writers while engaging in important debates on new methodologies. I really cannot think of anyone who did a more thorough copy editing job, responded more quickly to questions, was more patient with my tendency to submit yet another round of minor corrections, and, perhaps most importantly, succeeded in speeding up the peer review process to a degree that other journals would be wise to emulate. During the revise-and-resubmit phase, he knew how to use his admirable gift of academic diplomacy in adjudicating any disagreements between the reviewers’ suggestions and my own defenses. Hans Adler will be dearly missed after stepping down as editor, but I am sure he’ll enjoy the extra time for continuing to pursue his scholarly activities and whatever else he plans to do now! 

Dr. Rolf Goebel, Distinguished Professor of German, The University of Alabama in Huntsville


From John Ferguson:

I’ve had the privilege of working on every issue of Monatshefte with Hans since the fall of 2013. Always the professional, Hans always has time for a quick quip. I think the most valuable thing I learned from him is the value of scholarship and education. When he told me about being a young child in post-WWII Germany, it was made clear to me that he was eternally grateful for the opportunities given to him in his life—and that you can never take that for granted. I am positive you will continue to do great things, Hans, even in your “retirement.”

John Ferguson, University of Wisconsin Press, Journals Production Manager


From Sabine Gross:

The eighteen years of overlap between Hans Adler’s time as Monatshefte General Editor and my service as Book Review Editor were a period of enjoyable collaboration and of continued conversation about Monatshefte. As Hans took on the role of General Editor, he started thinking about new initiatives. He inaugurated the popular series “Neu gelesen – wieder gelesen” that Monatshefte featured for a number of years; he intensified outreach to guest editors who contributed exciting Monatshefte Special Issues; and he was happy to work with me when I began the practice of soliciting “review articles” for Monatshefte, a combination of book review/essay/Forschungsbericht that crossed the boundary between my responsibilities and his. But perhaps most importantly, he was firm in his stance that Monatshefte should represent the broadest range of scholarship in German, with no allegiance to specific subdisciplines, schools of thinking, or intellectual profiles. It is not least this breadth and the absence of dogma that has contributed to the continued success of Monatshefte. Thank you, Hans, for almost two decades of dedicated editorial leadership!

Dr. Sabine Gross, Professor of German at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Monatshefte Book Review Editor 


From Mike Lützeler:

9. August 2019, Langnau im Emmental – ein Gruß von Mike Lützeler

Lieber Hans,

Gerade bin ich, mit Sulzer zu sprechen, auf einer Berg-Reise durch einige Oerter der Schweiz, sitze hier im Sonnenschein mit dem Ferien-Blick auf das zerklüftete Emmental. Am Horizont strahlen die verschneiten Gipfel von Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau, weit weg und doch wie zum Greifen nahe. Das Wetter ist völlig aufgeklärt und so leuchten mir Deine Auslassungen über Horizont und Idylle, Synästhesie und Aisthesis, Anschauung und Synonymie, Utopie und Imagination, Moral und Eudaimonie noch unmittelbarer ein als beim ersten Lesen im Verlauf der Jahre. 

Sonja Klocke schrieb mir, dass Du die Edition der “Monatshefte” nach siebzehn Jahren jungen Kolleginnen anvertraust. So sind Dankesworte fällig. Wenn Du nichts anderes in Deinem Leben geleistet hättest, als die “Monatshefte” herauszugeben, würdest Du mehr als genug für unsere Profession getan haben. Du hast die Zeitschrift nicht lediglich fortgeführt, sondern auf eine höhere wissenschaftliche Ebene gebracht. Die nun 120 Jahre alten “Monatshefte” (die inzwischen längst zur “Vierteljahrsschrift” mutiert sind) gehören zu den allerbesten Periodika des Fachs. Du hast die Niveausteigerung ohne allen Lärm, ohne grässliche Reklame zustandegebracht, einfach durch das Bestehen auf hohen Maßstäben der Edition einer Fachzeitschrift. Verdienstvollerweise hast Du die regelmäßigen Information zur Profession beibehalten (über die einzelnen German Departments, die Dissertationen, die Beförderungen, Todesfälle etc.). Und das Schöne ist auch, dass Du sicher sein kannst, dass Deine beiden Nachfolgerinnen ihre Sache ausgezeichnet machen werden. 

Aber die Arbeit als ‘editor in chief’ war nur ein Teil Deines Beitrags zum Fach. Wir alle wissen, was wir Dir als Experten in Sachen Aufklärungsliteratur zu verdanken haben, denn wer heute über Ästhetiken und Kulturtheorien von Herder, Baumgarten, Kant, Schiller und Sulzer forscht, wird dankbar zu Deinen vorbildlichen Arbeiten greifen. Das gilt besonders für die Herderologen, denen Dein ‘Companion’ und die Studie zur “Prägnanz des Dunklen” eine willkommene Untersuchung mit neuen und anschließbaren Einsichten bedeutete. Und nun die große Sulzer-Edition, für die Du den Humboldt-Forschungspreis erhalten hast, und die Du gemeinsam mit der Kollegin Décultot herausgibst.

Wir lernten uns im unruhigen akademischen Jahr 1967/68 an der FU Berlin kennen. Damals leitete ich  (begleitend zur Emrich-Vorlesung über den modernen Roman) ein Broch/Joyce-Tutorium, in dem wir “Die Schlafwandler” und den “Ulysses” diskutierten. Du hast vor einigen Jahren einen Band mit dem Titel “Protest und Verweigerung” zusammengestellt. Der erinnerte mich (nur vom Titel her) an den Emrich-Band “Protest und Verheißung”, den wir damals (Mitte der 1960er Jahre) lasen. Ich verbrachte das folgende akademische Jahr 1968/69 als Fulbright-Stipendiat an der Indiana University. Das war eine Universität nach meinem Geschmack. Ich stellte mir die anderen US-Hochschulen von vergleichbarer Qualität  ähnlich vor, was sie ja waren, denn überall gab es eine gute Beziehung zwischen Lehrenden und Lernenden, und man brauchte nicht Assistent eines Ordinarius  zu werden, sondern konnte gleich nach der Dissertation seine Professorenlaufbahn beginnen. 

Wir hatten uns aus den Augen verloren, aber dann wurdest Du lange nach der Dissertation von 1980 (“Soziale Romane im Vormärz”), jedoch bald nach der Habilitation über Herder an der Universität Bochum Kollege am German Department der University of Wisconsin, die seit Bestehen des Fachs in Amerika eine Art Leuchtturmfunktion hat. Schon 1968/69 merkte ich schnell, wie wichtig die Deutschabteilungen im Mittelwesten waren: Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois – lauter Staatsuniversitäten mit exzellenten German Departments, die auch international bekannt waren und einen Austausch mit deutschen Kollegen und Kolleginnen pflegten. Unvergesslich der erste Wisconsin Workshop (“Die sogenannten Zwanziger Jahre”), den Jost Hermand und Reinhold Grimm im Herbst 1969 veranstalteten. Ich besuchte ihn und lernte dort auch Egon Schwarz kennen. Gerade bei den Wisconsin Workshops hast Du in den letzten Jahrzehnten aktiv mitarbeiten können und – gemeinsam mit Deinen Kolleginnen und Kollegen – Veranstaltungen mit internationaler Ausstrahlung zusammengestellt. Man darf das inspirierende Zusammenspiel von regelmäßigem Workshop und kontinuierlich erscheinender Zeitschrift nicht unterschätzen. Auch habe ich mich gefreut, dass wir acht Jahre lang im Vorstand der American Friends of Marbach kooperieren konnten.

Da wir nun beide Mitte siebzig sind, wünsch ich Dir noch viel produktive Zeit. Jetzt bleibt mehr Freiheit für Arbeiten auf Deinen Spezialgebieten. So solltest Du dafür sorgen, dass die Herausgeber anderer Zeitschriften mehr zu tun bekommen. Vor allem aber Gesundheit und Wohlergehen wünscht Dir Dein Mike.

Dr. Paul Michael Lützeler, Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities at Washington University, St. Louis, and Editor in Chief of the yearbook Gegenwartsliteratur


From Carsten Zelle, a document from the outset of Hans’s career:

Hans Adlers erstes Proseminar am Germanistischen Institut der Ruhr-Universität Bochum, das er als wissenschaftlicher Assistent (m.d.V.b. = mit der Vertretung beauftragt) im Kommentierten Vorlesungsverzeichnis im WS 1979/80 ankündigt:

Für Hans,

mit herzlichem Gruß aus Bochum.

Carsten Zelle (ehemaliger Herausgeber der Zeitschrift Das achtzehnte Jahrhundert)

19-09-19

Prof. Dr. Carsten Zelle, Ruhr-Universität Bochum


From John A. McCarthy:

Twenty years as editor of the Monatshefte is a very long time. Most academics find the task so demanding that six years proves, on average, to be the limit. During that extended period Hans Adler and the journal have become nigh synonymous. His tenure as editor was marked by a keen eye for excellence, a desire for consistency, and an eager thoroughness. What is even more astounding is the fact that editing the Monatshefte was but one of several oversight projects pursued simultaneously. The number of volumes he edited in those years is quite astonishing.

What I recall in particular was a project on “Measuring the World” for a special issue of the journal. He asked me to review the hundred-page typescript, catching me at an unusually busy time when I had said “yes” to too many solicitations for evaluation and was struggling to meet my own publishing deadlines. It really was not a felicitous moment for me. Yet, Hans had developed a powerfully persuasive, mellifluous style that is well designed to encourage potential reviewers to say “yes” when leaning toward “no.” I told him that, even if I were somehow able to fit the review into my schedule, I could not guarantee meeting his (and the Press’s) deadline, which was a mere 3–4 weeks away. A quick review revealed the eclectic contributions to be quite interesting with a common thread running through them. I explained further that I am in the habit of reviewing manuscripts meticulously, looking to see how each chapter of a monograph or each essay in a collection contributes to the sense of a cogent whole. If I only had four weeks, the best I could do is to give the manuscript a cursory review, too little to reveal potential problems. Hans confirmed that he wished to ensure the excellence of each contribution. That was more important. He subsequently persuaded the University of Wisconsin Press to extend the submission deadline by a couple of weeks, and I took on the task. The revised essays did, in fact, appear in September 2016 (108.3). Hans Adler’s management of the review process in this particular instance is surely representative of all his editorial actions on behalf of the Monatshefte.

To be sure, I was predisposed to assist him with the review of the special issue of the journal because of my prior experience of him (and of his work). Our paths first crossed in 1983. Our memories of the encounter diverge a bit, but the essence remains unchanged. He remembers our meeting in Minneapolis/St. Paul during his first trip to the USA, while I recall meeting him at the MLA conference in New York City. He gave me a copy of his Soziale Romane im Vormärz. Literatursemiotische Studie (1980), which I read immediately. It convinced me that Hans Adler is someone with whom I should remain in contact. Thus, our first meeting was a propitious start to a long association during which we ran parallel courses, interconnecting at various points. We share many intellectual interests in common, e.g., regarding the Enlightenment, science and literature, philosophy and literature, aesthetics, and individual writers (Leibniz, Baumgarten, Kant, Herder). His joining the German and Comparative Literature faculty at Wisconsin was one of the smartest moves Wisconsin has made for their already vigorous programs. His career trajectory since then (1990/91) has been stellar, marked, as noted, by his dedication to maintaining and enhancing the role of the Monatshefte as a primary venue for German Studies. He will be missed.

Dr. John A. McCarthy, Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature and Professor of European Studies, Vanderbilt University


Monatshefte Vol 111.3 Cover

Volume 111 #4 of Monatshefte, the final issue with Hans Adler as a coeditor, is now available. Browse the table of contents here.

About Monatshefte: Monatshefte has appeared continuously since 1899 and has been published at the University of Wisconsin–Madison since 1927. A quarterly journal devoted to German literature and culture, Monatshefte offers articles on topics from all periods of German literature and book reviews of current scholarship in German studies. Monatshefte also publishes extensive topic-focused review articles intermittently. The winter issue of each volume contains “Personalia,” a comprehensive listing of German studies faculty and departments in the United States and Canada, as well as a list of all PhD theses that have been defended in the preceding year.

Most Read Articles of 2019

As 2019 wraps up, we take a look back at the most read journal articles published this year. The following list presents the most popular article from each of our journals. Many are freely available to read until the end of January.

African Economic History: “The Politics of African Freehold Land Ownership in Early Colonial Zimbabwe, 1890–1930” by Joseph Mujere and Admire Mseba

Arctic Anthropology: “Farming in the Extreme—Animal Management in Late Medieval and Early Modern Northern Finland” by Maria Lahtinen and Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Contemporary Literature: “Don DeLillo, Madison Avenue, and the Aesthetics of Postwar Fiction” by Aaron Derosa

Ecological Restoration: “Five Decades of Wetland Soil Development of a Constructed Tidal Salt Marsh, North Carolina, USA” by Aaron Noll, Courtney Mobilian, and Christopher Craft

Ghana Studies: “Descendant Epistemology” by Ebony Coletu

Journal of Human Resources: “Teacher Effects on Complex Cognitive Skills and Social-Emotional Competencies” by Matthew A. Kraft

Land Economics: “Adaptation, Sea Level Rise, and Property Prices in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed” by Patrick Walsh, Charles Griffiths, Dennis Guignet, and Heather Klemick

Landscape Journal: “Core Knowledge Domains of Landscape Architecture” by William N. Langley, Robert C. Corry, and Robert D. Brown

Luso-Brazilian Review: “Os lugares do morto: O que faz Eça na literatura portuguesa contemporânea?” by Pedro Marques

Monatshefte: “Recent German Ecocriticism in Interdisciplinary Context” by Helga G. Braunbeck

Native Plants Journal: “Successfully Storing Milkweed Taproots for Habitat Restoration” by Melissa L. Topping, R. Kasten Dumroese, and Jeremiah R. Pinto

Reindeer and Arctic Cultures: A Holiday Reading List from Arctic Anthropology

To celebrate the holiday season, we browsed past issues of Arctic Anthropology to find articles featuring our favorite furry friends of the North: the reindeer! Reindeer have played an important role in Arctic cultures for centuries, from European Russia to Alaska, providing people with transportation, food, and livelihood. Below are a few selected articles, freely available until the end of January.


The monument for the reindeer fighting brigades (Dudeck).

“Reindeer Returning from Combat: War Stories among the Nenets of European Russia” by Stephan Dudeck (2018)

Dudeck studies the oral histories of the Nenets, an indigenous group of the northwestern Russian Arctic. The Nenets traditionally herded reindeer as part of their nomadic lifestyle, and from 1942 to 1944, Nenets herders used reindeer and sleds to transport supplies and wounded soldiers to and from the front in the Soviet war with Finland. In this article, Dudeck interviews Nenets elders about their personal experiences during the war.

“Towards a Multiangled Study of Reindeer Agency, Overlapping Environments, and Human-Animal Relationships” by Jukka Nyyssönen and Anna-Kaisa Salmi (2013)

Nyyssönen and Salmi discuss relationships between reindeer and humans, specifically with the Sámi, an indigenous people of northern Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. Through an examination of archaeological sites in Finnish Lapland, the authors describe Sámi religious rituals where reindeer were sacrificed, arguing that the reindeer were able to demonstrate their agency by feeling fear and resisting being killed.

“‘I’d Be Foolish to Tell You They Were Caribou’: Local Knowledge of Historical Interactions between Reindeer and Caribou in Barrow, Alaska” by Karen H. Mager (2012)

Mager studies the reindeer industry in Barrow, Alaska, which began to decline in the 1930s and 40s in part due to reindeer running away to join wild caribou herds. According to the oral histories collected in this study, to this day, locals can identify reindeer-like animals in caribou herds.

To learn more about Arctic Anthropologysubscribe to the journal, browse the latest table of contents, or sign up for new issue email alerts.

Land Economics and the history of “Sifting and Winnowing”

Land Economics journal founder Richard T. Ely and the battle for academic freedom

Richard T. Ely
Richard T. Ely

The founder of the field of land economics, and of the journal of the same name, played a pivotal role in the history of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He also scored a victory for academics everywhere when he defended his teaching and scholarship against charges that it promoted a subversive political agenda. Richard T. Ely taught economics at the University of Wisconsin from 1892 to 1925. His Progressivist ideas went against the current of the laissez-faire economic theory of the time, and his support for social reforms and organized labor earned him the scrutiny of the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction, Oliver E. Wells. Wells charged that Ely was promoting anarchism and socialism to his students, and that he encouraged labor union strikes and boycotts—charges that Ely denied. In fact, he had written articles and books that were critical of socialism. Under media scrutiny, the UW Board of Regents launched an investigation, and Ely was tried in a public hearing in August of 1894. The economics community, as well as other academics, spoke out emphatically in Ely’s defense, and he was acquitted by a unanimous vote. In their report of the hearing, the regents issued a strong statement in support of academic freedom, part of which now graces a plaque on the university’s main administration building. The plaque reads:

Whatever may be the limitations which trammel inquiry elsewhere, we believe that the great state University of Wisconsin should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found.

This idea of “sifting and winnowing” has become a cornerstone of the University of Wisconsin’s institutional philosophy, and in this phrase, proponents of higher education can recognize the imperative to preserve the freedom to teach and research without censorship.

Land Economics cover image

Ely went on to found the Institute for Research in Land Economics and Public Utilities in 1920, along with the Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics. In 1948, this journal was renamed Land Economics. For more on Ely, see this excellent history of “sifting and winnowing,” which appeared in September of this year to mark the 125th anniversary of the regents’ statement. Additionally, Ely’s legacy has been a recurring topic in the pages of Land Economics. He is profiled in this tribute from the year of his death, in the published proceedings of a 1948 symposium at UW–Madison on frontiers of housing research, and in the journal’s fiftieth anniversary issue.

The Archaeology of Northern Coasts

Arctic Anthropology Volume 56 Number 1

While northern Arctic coasts have long been important sites for the study of cultures on a regional scale, the latest issue of Arctic Anthropology, “The Archaeology of Northern Coasts,” focuses on what coastal peoples can teach us about topics of a global scale, particularly climate change.

The peoples of northern coasts have created some of the longest sustained cultural traditions on Earth. However, over time, they have faced threats to coastal and marine ecosystems as well as colonial pressures. The ways in which these cultures have developed and adapted over millennia holds lessons for our shared future, special issue editor Christopher B. Wolff explains:

The regions that many people view as the margins of human civilization are becoming more central to our understanding of the evolution and development of humanity and are providing information about directions forward in a world with increasing cultural interactivity and global climate unpredictability. Understanding the role that northern coasts and marine ecosystems play in this is crucial.

Articles in this issue open a window into the many different ways northern people have built thriving cultures along the Arctic and Subarctic coasts. Topics include a community-based archaeology project to preserve Yup’ik cultural heritage against the effects of climate change; the relationship between foxes and humans during the Late Holocene period on Kodiak Island, Alaska; and Medieval Norse peoples’ use of marine resources in Greenland.  We invite you to browse the table of contents for a full look at the articles in this issue, and read the editor’s introduction.

Ghana Studies Publishes Special Forum on First Ghanaian Archaeologist

Ghana Studies

The latest volume of Ghana Studies features a special forum in memory of James Kwesi Anquandah, who was a pioneer in the field of archaeology in Ghana. Forum editor Ebony Coletu chatted with the editors of Ghana Studies to describe Anquandah’s legacy and support for interdisciplinary research.


Ghana Studies Editors: For readers who may be new to Ghana Studies or to the field of archaeology, can you tell us why James Anquandah was such a towering figure in the field? 

Ebony Coletu: Professor Anquandah was the first student of archaeology at the University of Ghana in the sixties—and he went on to mentor five generations of archaeology students as a faculty member, along with countless others who were not working in archaeology or even students at the university. Because his research practice was deeply interdisciplinary, he attracted scholars beyond the department, many like myself just dropping in to his office to ask a few questions, but leaving with an exciting mandate to develop new approaches. You hear this in Kwasi Ampene’s article too, how conversations with Anquandah animated a speculative approach to researching musical practices in the Akan Stone Age and Early Iron Age. So Anquandah did not prescribe a method, he inspired methods, really from his energetic curiosity and commitment to telling new stories about the distant past. Also in this forum, Mohammed Mustapha and Wazi Apoh describe his “eclectic method”—which is a multi-disciplinary research protocol Anquandah used to answer complex questions. For him, it was not enough to write from a single discipline, or apply a single method consistently. Instead he wanted to synthesize history, policy, sociology, and art, to help reformulate and deepen the significance of a question and tell a better story about research findings, particularly for publics beyond the academy. 

GS Editors: What distinguishes this special forum commemorating the work and legacy of James Kwesi Anquandah (1938-2017)? 

EC: Soon after he passed, I circulated a call for papers that focused on mentorship as a way to map his influence across fields, thus “reframing the reach of archaeology.” The responses affirmed the call by capturing Anquandah’s marathon commitment to mentoring  (training five generations of archaeologists in Ghana) as well as the ongoing work of decolonizing disciplines. Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann addresses this directly in her essay, when she writes about autoarchaeology, a research practice that foregrounds direct descendants as researchers whose families have lived in or around the excavation site. She enlisted Danish-Ga descendants as researchers at Christiansborg Castle, unearthing artifacts and posing questions collaboratively. As a consequence of centering community-based knowledge production, the project inspires new pipelines for training in archaeology aimed at multilingual researchers who are gaining experience on site. She reframes the reach of archaeology by asking who can do this work and why? For Kwasi Ampene, Anquandah inspired a deep-time approach to Akan ethnomusicology, and in the process he challenges our dependence on sixteenth-century European traveler sketches typically used as evidence of musical practices. Questioning the explanatory power and the historical limits of these images, Ampene goes on to suggest a deep-time alternative: using archaeological research to speculate on the multipurpose use of agricultural instruments to make ancient music, inspired by those used for both purposes today.

GS Editors: You not only guest edited this special forum, you also contributed an essay to it in which you introduce the idea of “descendent epistemology.” Can you tell readers how your conversations with Anquandah helped you formulate this innovative methodology? 

EC: I was fortunate to meet Anquandah in the early stages of my research on Chief Sam, an Akyem merchant who led a diasporic return movement that recruited support from thousands of African Americans to purchase a ship that set sail from Texas, arriving in the Gold Coast in 1915. I had narrow interests in that first conversation. I wanted to reconstruct a fuller version of Sam’s family tree and identify a plausible link to the Sams of Anomabo, who are part of my family. Chief Sam’s life was far from conventional, leaving traces and descendants in multiple countries, including multiple wives and stepchildren. I sought Anquandah’s help to make sense of a more complex family tree. But after reading his interview notes with descendants and talking with him over several years, he began to reflect my questions back to me, noting that my concern with kinship had widened to include the technical matter of diasporic return: what was the status of African Americans who pledged to live, work, and die in African communities? Were they also, in some sense, part of Sam’s family? Sam had proposed to adopt them en masse to facilitate the process of landownership and repair a spiritual wound from separation by slavery. While mass adoption was unsuccessful, those who remained quickly integrated into indigenous communities through other means. I found Sam’s proposal, and colonial attempts to block it, an important antecedent to contemporary debates about diasporic right of return, evidence of kinship, and different routes to Ghanaian citizenship. 

GS Editors: Taken together, what does this collection of special forum essays tell us about the next generation of archaeological research coming out of Ghana? 

EC: The last essay says much on this point. Mustapha and Apoh tell a story about Anquandah’s decolonial legacy, which has shaped their own research itineraries instead of resting on a citational model that preserves what previous generations of Africanist archaeologists prioritized. For example, Apoh’s research builds new sources for the understudied topic of German missionionization and colonization in historical archaeology. While Mustapha pushes back against an exogenous theory of social complexity in the Mamprugu Traditional Area in Northern Ghana by investigating indigenous innovations that led to large scale ancient ironworking. Engmann’s work also sharpens this point by challenging value assessments in the literature, which can determine which places are considered critical to research while marginalizing others. Her work at Christiansborg Castle is groundbreaking for the sheer number of artifacts excavated in a short period of time on a site previously considered marginal. This despite the fact that it served as the seat of several administrations, from Danish governors to Flight Lieutenant John Jerry Rawlings. Though this forum began in a memorial spirit, it was exciting to edit because it features forthcoming interdisciplinary work in Ghana Studies encouraged by Professor Anquandah’s pathbreaking example.


Ghana Studies Volume 22 is available on Project MUSE. Browse the table of contents, which includes the special forum along with other articles and reviews. And if you’re attending the African Studies Association Conference this week, stop by the University of Wisconsin Press booth (#314), where you’ll find Ghana Studies alongside many of our other titles in African Studies.

Freedom of Expression and the Exiled Writer: A Reading List from Contemporary Literature Journal

To mark Banned Books Week, we are sharing a collection of articles and interviews from Contemporary Literature journal featuring writers whose work has been censored, or who have faced government persecution in response to their writing.


“I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.”

Ha Jin

Chinese writer Ha Jin came to the United States to complete doctoral studies in American literature and opted to emigrate permanently following the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989. From studying literature, he turned to writing poetry and then fiction, and to date he has published eight novels, seven books of poetry, and four short story collections.

In a New York Times op-ed, published a few days before the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square, he explains his decision to write in English: “if I wrote in Chinese, my audience would be in China and I would therefore have to publish there and be at the mercy of its censorship. To preserve the integrity of my work, I had no choice but to write in English.” He continues, “To some Chinese, my choice of English is a kind of betrayal. But loyalty is a two-way street. I feel I have been betrayed by China, which has suppressed its people and made artistic freedom unavailable. I have tried to write honestly about China and preserve its real history. As a result, most of my work cannot be published in China.”

In this Contemporary Literature interview, conducted by Jerry A. Varsava, Ha Jin discusses growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, when books were burned and schools were shuttered, as well as his decision to join the “great [English literary] tradition where nonnative writers [have become] essential writers.”

Read the interview, freely available for the rest of September: “An Interview with Ha Jin”


“If our own literature in Africa is too political, then I think the literature of the U.S. is too apolitical.”

Niyi Osundare

Niyi Osundare is a Nigerian poet known as “The People’s Poet” for his commitment to making poetry accessible to all and reflective of common life. He uses elements of the Yoruba oral tradition, which he transmits through his English-language writing.

In this 2000 interview with Cynthia Hogue and Nancy Easterlin for Contemporary Literature, Osundare describes the struggle of the artist writing under a dictatorship, summing up the situation with this parable: “once an English writer came to an African colleague and complained about the apparent irrelevance of Western writers. The African then told the Western artist, ‘Well, when we talk in Africa, the government listens, but that is not the end of the story. The government listens in a different way. They put us in jail.’”

But democracy also hampers the artist in certain ways, Osundare finds, having emigrated to the US in 1997. Comparing US literature and African literature, he notes, “Democracy leads to the flowering of free opinions, of public consciousness, and, without this, creativity cannot really take place. But democracy also leads to a kind of complacency which may undermine that dissonance and eliminate that kick in the stomach that is necessary for every creative activity. . . . If our own literature in Africa is too political, then I think the literature of the U.S. is too apolitical.”

Osundare believes in a “golden mean” that writers should strive for. And while Osundare’s work often has political themes, Isidore Diala argues in this Contemporary Literature article that the poet’s work contains a “vibrant and sustained global humanistic vision” that has been overlooked by critics who focus too narrowly on the poems’ Nigeria-specific social and political commentary.

Read the article, freely available for the rest of September: “Burden of the Visionary Artist: Niyi Osundare’s Poetry,” by Isidore Diala

And read the interview on JSTOR: “An Interview with Niyi Osundare”


“How might we think about postcolonial state formation and literary form together? Can we determine a relationship between them that goes beyond that of simple opposition?”

Jini Kim Watson on NINOTCHKA ROSCA

In 1973, Filipina writer Ninotchka Rosca was imprisoned under the Marcos dictatorship for her antigovernmental journalism. Later, from exile in the U.S., she wrote a short story collection, The Monsoon Collection, and a novel, State of War, about life during the Marcos regime. In the outlines of Rosca’s biography, argues Jini Kim Watson in her article “Stories of the State: Literary Form and Authoritarianism in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War,” we find that the “repressive, unchecked (usually third-world) dictatorial state is conceived of in inherent opposition to the freedom and free speech of committed writers.” This vision of the relationship between the writer and the authoritarian state is seen, for example, in the literary and humanitarian organization PEN International, which fights for freedom of expression and strives to protect writers from state persecution.

While writers do face very real persecution, Watson argues that it is dangerous to oversimplify the dynamic between writers and the authoritarian state, since this could imply that third-world states are simply “tyrannical and backwards”—a judgment that privileges Western norms of “good” government and ignores the agency of individual citizens. “How might we think about postcolonial state formation and literary form together?” Watson asks. “Can we determine a relationship between them that goes beyond that of simple opposition?” Watson puts these questions to Rosca’s State of War, examining the ways the novel confounds a simplistic view of state tyranny through formal experimentation and a nuanced narrative.

Read the article, freely available for the rest of September: “Stories of the State: Literary Form and Authoritarianism in Ninotchka Rosca’s State of War,” by Jini Kim Watson


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Monatshefte Journal Welcomes New Editors

Monatshefte Vol. 111.2 cover

Monatshefte, a journal of German literature and culture, has added two new editors, Hannah V. Eldridge and Sonja E. Klocke. Both scholars are based at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the home of Monatshefte since 1927. Eldridge and Klocke joined longtime editor Hans Adler to produce the most recent issue of the journal, and they will be taking over the reins when Adler steps down at the end of this fall. Monatshefte has been published continually since 1899, and this year, we are excited to celebrate Adler’s legacy (more on that in a forthcoming post!) and to learn about the new editors’ vision, as this foundational journal adapts to changes in the field of German Studies. Here, Eldridge and Klocke introduce themselves in their own words.


Hannah V. Eldridge: I have been at UW–Madison since 2012, first in the Department of German and now in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic, where I received tenure in 2018. My main research area is lyric poetry from the eighteenth century to the present, with a focus on sound, rhythm, and other parasemantic features. Other interests include literature and philosophy. I have published on Hölderlin, Rilke, Cavell, Wittgenstein, Klopstock, Nietzsche, and Grünbein, among others. As a participant in the group “Diversity, Decolonialization, and the German Curriculum,” I am working against my socialization in systems of inequality and to reflect the richness and variety of perspectives  in the German-speaking world in my teaching and research. I hope to bring this learning to bear on my work for Monatshefte as well. Some of my most significant educational and professional experiences have involved giving and receiving feedback, so I’m especially excited to work with authors on revising and rewriting.

Sonja E. Klocke: After holding my first faculty position at Knox College (IL, 2007–2012), I joined UW–Madison in 2012. I was granted tenure in the Department of German in 2016, and have since been part of the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. My research interests range from the eighteenth century to the present, with a specialization in twentieth- to twenty-first-century German culture and a focus on postwar and contemporary literature and film. I have published on the legacy of the socialist German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Holocaust; women’s writing; East German literature and film; contemporary writing on modern exile, migration, and globalization; discourses on illness and the body; and gender theory. As an author, I am grateful for the valuable feedback I have received from colleagues in the past. As co-editor of Monatshefte, I hope to bring these experiences as well as the editing skills I have had the chance to develop to the journal.

On their vision for Monatshefte: Although we are excited to receive articles in our areas of research, Monatshefte will remain a general-interest journal, accepting submissions on all topics in any period of German-language literature and culture. We are looking forward to following in Hans Adler’s august footsteps, and we will be making a few updates to the journal in response to changes in the field. First, and most importantly, we will begin to expand the national and international review boards to include scholars whose intellectual agendas and individual perspectives are not currently represented there. We will also be making some changes to the types of information collected in “Personalia,” the annual report on German departments, faculty, graduate students, and dissertations. Finally, we hope to work with the wonderful University of Wisconsin Press to streamline submissions and editing, as well as to create blog entries and social media posts as a venue for more informal communication with our readers.

An Interview with Poet Marge Piercy

As National Poetry Month draws to a close, we will be presenting three interviews with living poets, originally published in Contemporary Literature journal. The interviews are freely available to access until May 1.

Our first offering features poet, novelist, and memoirist Marge Piercy. Interviewer Bonnie Lyons describes Piercy’s poetry in this way:

Valuing usefulness highly, Piercy writes poems that are accessible to ordinary readers without sacrificing rich imagery and subtle sound effects. Her poetry embodies her belief in the importance of attention in her precise word choice and acute perception. Tikkun olam, Hebrew for “healing the world,” is central to her poetry, which works to awaken her readers’ passionate recognition of all that could and should be changed through human effort.

To date, Marge Piercy has written nineteen volumes of poetry, seventeen novels, and a memoir. When asked how she navigates multiple genres, she characterizes herself as “a poet who also writes novels.” She describes the benefits of her chosen genre:

You can write poetry when you are dying. The Plains Indians would try to have a final utterance. You can write poetry in a prison cell—you can scrawl it on the walls. You can memorize your poems. You can carry them around with you. A novel is a far more artificial construction, and it takes huge amounts of time to write one. If you were fighting as a guerrilla, you couldn’t write a novel, but you could write poetry. A novel is far less portable.

Lyons and Piercy discuss the writer’s long history of social and political activism. Piercy articulates how she has created a balance between activism and writing—two fields of activity that are often felt to be in conflict with one another. Piercy explains,

When I was a full-time organizer, I basically gave up sleeping to write. In my life since then, because I have been able to reach people through my writing, I feel much less of a conflict. In fact, it’s all of a piece with me. I don’t divide things up that way. I don’t make a value judgment that one type of poetry is more important than another—neither my poems about Judaism, or poems about love, or poems about the war in Iraq or the environment.

The interview also touches on the usefulness of poetry, the importance of reading in order to write, poetry as an act of attention similar to a religious practice, making a living as a writer, Piercy’s reputation as an “anti-academic” poet and how poetry can thrive outside of academe, and writing about sex, aging, and the body.

Read the full interview here, and then go read Piercy’s poems!