Professors Discuss Boko Haram, and Why We Should Pay Attention To It

The radical Sunni Islamic sect of Boko Haram originally went by the name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnar Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, or “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad.” The group’s more widely known name of Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” While initially non-violent and preaching a doctrine of withdrawal from what they perceived as a corrupt Nigerian state, they now increasingly engage in confrontation and deadly attacks on a wide range of targets.

Bowdoin’s Africana Studies program recently organized a panel of two Bowdoin professors and a professor from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, to sit down and discuss Boko Haram and why we should care about this group and its activities.

Tess Chakkalakal, associate professor of Africana studies and English and director of Bowdoin’s Africana Studies Program, introduced the three guests.

Ericka Albaugh, assistant professor of government at Bowdoin, teaches courses on Africa, language politics, development and state-building. She has researched in Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana, and her more recent explorations focus on violence and language spread in West Africa.

Daren Kew, associate professor and chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance in the McCormack Graduate School, is the executive director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has researched and consulted on the prevention of conflicts in Nigeria and elsewhere, highlighting in particular the role of religious civil society groups in promoting peace and democratization.

Scott MacEachern, professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin, has directed archaeological research projects in different countries in Africa and North America, but much of his research since the mid-1980s has taken place around the Mandara Mountains of northern Cameroon and Nigeria. His main research interests are in state formation processes in Africa, the archaeological studty of ethnicity and social boundaries, and African and global historical genetics.

Ambassador Thomas Pickering ’53, H’84: Civil War to Civility, Bowdoin’s Sons and Ending Strife — Then and Now

Ambassador Thomas Pickering holds the personal rank of career ambassador, the highest in the United States Foreign Service. Over five decades, he served as the United States ambassador to the Russian Federation, India, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. In 2005, Ambassador Pickering became the fourteenth recipient of the Bowdoin Prize, the College’s highest honor. In his presentation, “Civil War to Civility: Bowdoin’s Sons and Ending Strife-Then and Now”, he spoke about the peace reached on April 9, 1865, as part of the College’s commemoration of the end of the Civil War.

He also addressed the challenges and failure of Reconstruction to move the country forward after the war. He drew upon his vast experience to address the theme of how war does not resolve political issues – diplomacy and politics do. All wars end with political arrangements. He also touched upon current affairs in places such as Iraq and Syria.

DeRay Mckesson ’07: Ferguson Social Media and the Common Good

Activist and blogger DeRay Mckesson ’07 returned to Bowdoin to talk about his role in Ferguson and activism in the black community.

Mckesson has been at the epicenter of the firestorm emanating from Ferguson, Missouri. With This Is The Movement, the award-winning online newsletter he co-founded, and his social media omnipresence, Mckesson has earned a spot, along with the newsletter’s cofounder Johnetta Elzie, on Fortune‘s list of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

Hong Kong In the News: An Explainer

Professors Sarah Mak and Leah Zuo recently sat down with Bowdoin’s Director of News Doug Cook in Bowdoin’s studio to offer some political and historical context for the current unrest in Hong Kong.

The interview was a follow-up to a “teach-in” that Mak and Zuo, an assistant professor of history, organized last month to provide background for students about the pro-democracy movementin Hong Kong. Mak, a visiting assistant professor in government, said she had noticed her students were interested in the news coming out of Hong Kong but that they could benefit from having more political and historical context about the event.

Back to School Series: Conversation with U.S. Senator George J. Mitchell ’54, H’83

U.S. Senator George Mitchell returned to campus during Reunion Weekend to speak for Bowdoin’s “Back to School Series,” a series of lectures offered to returning alumni. Mitchell served as U.S. Attorney for Maine and U.S. District Court Judge for Maine. In 1980, he was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He left the Senate in 1995 as the majority Leader. He served as chairman of the peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and chairman of the international fact-finding committee on violence in the Middle East. In 2009, Mitchell became a special envoy for the Middle East. He is also the founder of the Mitchell Institute, a scholarship program for Maine students.

Andrew Rudalevige: Syria and the Presidential Process

Syria and the Presidential Process from Andrew Rudalevige to talk about about President Obama’s handling of the Syria crisis. Because Obama had neither international backing nor a direct case for protecting American interests through a military strike on Syria, Rudalevige says, the president had little choice but to eventually seek congressional approval. Rudalevige continues: “The next time something comes up, members of Congress – I hope – will be more aggressive in asserting their own constitutional duties, and saying ‘we need to be involved in this.’”

Jean Yarbrough: Theodore Roosevelt


Gary M. Pendy, Sr. Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College Jean Yarbrough speaks with Professor of Government Paul Franco about her new book, “Theordore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition.” In the book, Yarbrough provides a searching examination of TR’s political thought, especially in relation to the ideas of Washington, Hamilton, and Lincoln—the statesmen TR claimed most to admire, according to the University Press of Kansas.
Yarbrough teaches political philosophy and American Political Thought, and has twice received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is the author of “American Virtues: Thomas Jefferson on the Character of a Free People” and has edited “The Essential Jefferson.”

Hugo Chávez: A Bundle of Contradictions

Hugo Chávez: A Bundle of Contradictions from Bowdoin College on Vimeo.

Latin American scholar Allen Wells, Bowdoin’s Roger Howell, Jr. Professor of History, is spending his sabbatical year conducting research into Latin America’s crusade for democracy during the Cold War. Last summer, he spent time in Venezuela, getting a chance to witness some of the final months of Hugo Chávez’s regime. In this video, Wells discusses Chávez and his legacy, addressing the riddle of the man who led Venezuela for 14 years. Why did the leader inspire both intense loathing and love? What are the future prospects for his revolution? And can the United States and Venezuela forge stronger ties now that Chávez is dead?