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Faculty

Andrew Apter


PROFESSOR


Contact Information

Email    aapter@history.ucla.edu
Office  5369 Bunche Hall
Phone  310-794-9547

My educational background in philosophy and sociocultural anthropology has shaped my critical approach to cultural and historical interpretation, with an emphasis on West Africa and the Black Atlantic.

My first major study—Black Critics and Kings: The Hermeneutics of Power in Yoruba Society (Chicago, 1992)—informs my subsequent Afro-Atlantic explorations of creolization, gender and sexuality.  A second study, The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria (Chicago, 2005), highlights the contradictions of Nigeria’s oil economy through the mirror of cultural production, and has lead to my more recent reflections on the performative dimensions of black cultural citizenship.  In the more technical vein of sociolinguistics, I have developed a model of critical agency that is grounded in vernacular ritual language genres, and contributes to the decolonization of Africanist scholarship, as I argue in Beyond Words: Discourse and Critical Agency in Africa (Chicago, 2007).

When I shifted to UCLA in 2003 (history and anthropology departments) after thirteen years at the University of Chicago (anthropology), I gravitated toward the complex historicities of Afro-Atlantic ritual “archives,” initially framed in my co-edited volume (with Robin Derby), Activating the Past: History and Memory in the Black Atlantic World (Newcastle upon Tyne, 2010). As a founding member of our department’s Atlantic History Cluster, I am currently pursuing two related lines of research. The first critically reformulates Afrocentric cultural dynamics in the shaping of New World historical trajectories, as developed in my collected Yoruba-centered essays on this topic, Odùdùwa’s Chain: Locations of Culture in the Yoruba-Atlantic (currently under review). The second, entitled History in the Dungeon: Atlantic Slavery and the Spirits of Capitalism (in progress), reinterprets the rise of Atlantic slavery through its variably commodified and fetishized forms, a project that focuses on slave forts and castles and restores enslaved Africans (and their hyper-alienated labor power) to the historically repressed epicenters of capitalist modernity.

Degrees

  • PhD Yale University (Anthropology), 1987
  • MA Yale University (Anthropology), 1982
  • BA Cambridge University (Social Anthropology), 1980
  • BA Yale University (Philosophy), 1978

Awards

  • 2010  John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.

 

  • 2007 Amaury Talbot Prize for The Pan-African Nation, awarded by the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

 

  • 2007 Co-Principal Research Director, Social Science Research Council-Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship (DPDF) for the field of “Black Atlantic Studies.”

 

  • 2000  National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.

 

  • 1987-89, Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Columbia University.

 

  • Field Prize awarded to the best Yale University dissertation in poetics, literature or religion.

 

  • 1978-80, Mellon Fellowship, Clare College, Cambridge University.

Selected Publications

Recent Articles:

2016 “Beyond Négritude: Black Cultural Citizenship and the Arab Question in FESTAC 77,” Journal of African Cultural Studies 28 (3): 313-326.

2014 "Modernization Theory and the Figure of Blindness: Filial Reflections.” In S. Miescher, P. Bloom, T. Manu, eds. Modernization as Spectacle in Africa. Indiana University Press, 41-61.

2013 "M.G. Smith on the Isle of Lesbos: Kinship and Sexuality in Carriacou," New West Indian Guide 87 (issue 3-4): 273-293.

2013 "The Blood of Mothers: Women, Money and Markets in Yoruba Atlantic Perspective," Journal of African American History 98 (1): 72-98. Special Issue on Women, Slavery, and the Atlantic World, ed. Brenda S. Stevenson.

2013 “Yoruba Ethnogenesis from Within,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 55 (2): 356-387. Online edition: Cambridge Journals Online.

2012 “"Matrilineal Motives: Kinship, Witchcraft and Repatriation among Congolese Refugees," Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18(1): 22-44.

2005 “Griaule’s Legacy: Rethinking ‘la parole claire’ in Dogon Studies,” Cahiers d'Études Africaines 177, XLV (1): 95-129.

2004 "Herskovits's Heritage: Rethinking Syncretism in the African Diaspora." In A.M Leopold and J.S. Jensen, eds. Syncretism in Religion: A Reader. New York: Routledge, 160-184. Reprinted from Diaspora 1 (3), 1991: 235-260.

2002 "On African Origins: Creolization and Connaissance in Haitian Vodou," American Ethnologist 29 (2): 233-260.

2002 "On Imperial Spectacle: The Dialectics of Seeing in Colonial Nigeria," Comparative Studies in Society and History 44 (3): 564-96.

1999 “Africa, Empire, and Anthropology: A Philological Exploration of Anthropology's Heart of Darkness," Annual Review of Anthropology Vol. 28: 577-98.

Books:


Activating the Past: History and Memory in the Black Atlantic World, Co-edited with Lauren Derby, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010)


Black Critics and Kings: The Hermeneutics of Power in Yoruba Society (University of Chicago Press, 1992)


The Pan-African Nation: Oil and the Spectacle of Culture in Nigeria (University of Chicago Press, 2005)


Beyond Words: Discourse and Critical Agency in Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2007)


Recent Courses:
HIST 164E. The Postcolony in Africa. Spring 2013.

HIST 201N. Historical Ethnography of Africa. Winter 2012.

HIST 214-1. Studies in Black Atlantic History and Culture. Fall 2012.

HIST 275C. Theory and Method in African History. Spring 2010.

INTL DV 100A. Economic Development and Cultural Change. Fall 2012.

INTL DV 191-1. Capitalism and Social Theory. Spring 2013.

GLBL ST 100A. Globalization: Concepts and History. Winter 2012.

Research

West Africa (Yoruba, Nigeria) and the African Diaspora (Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba), History of Anthropology, Social Theory.

Current Courses by Term

2016 Summer Session

Field Studies in International and Area Studies

Variable Topics in Latin American Studies

Previous Courses by Term

2015 Spring Quarter

Variable Topics Senior Research Seminars: International and Area Studies

2015 Winter Quarter

Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

Capstone Seminar: History -- Africa

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2014 Fall Quarter

Departmental Seminar: Approaches, Methods, Debates, Practices

2014 Spring Quarter

Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

Variable Topics Senior Research Seminars: International and Area Studies

2013 Fall Quarter

Colloquium: African History

Variable Topics Research Seminars: International Development Studies -- Senior Seminar

2013 Spring Quarter

Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

Variable Topics Research Seminars: International Development Studies -- Senior Seminar

2012 Fall Quarter

Topics in World History

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2012 Winter Quarter

Globalization: Concepts and History

Topics in History: Africa

2011 Fall Quarter

Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

Variable Topics Research Seminars: International Development Studies -- Senior Seminar

2010 Spring Quarter

Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

Colloquium: African History

2009 Spring Quarter

Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

Topics in History: Africa

2007 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2006 Fall Quarter

Africa and Disciplines

Topics in African History: Africa and Diaspora in Global and Comparative Perspective

2006 Spring Quarter

Contemporary Problems in Africa

Topics in History: Africa

Topics in World History

2005 Fall Quarter

Africa and the Disciplines

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2005 Spring Quarter

Topics in World History

Topics in History: Africa

2004 Fall Quarter

Africa and the Disciplines

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2004 Spring Quarter

Topics in World History

Undergraduate Seminar: World History

2003 Fall Quarter

Africa and the Disciplines

Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2003 Spring Quarter

Selected Topics in Regional Cultures

Undergraduate Seminar: Africa

Topics in History: Africa

2003 Winter Quarter

Politics: Tribe, State, Nation

2002 Fall Quarter

Introduction to Historical Practice

Previous Courses by Course

HIST 214
Topics in World History

2015 Spring Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2006 Spring Quarter

2004 Spring Quarter

I A STD 191
Variable Topics Senior Research Seminars: International and Area Studies

2015 Spring Quarter

2014 Spring Quarter

HIST 191J
Capstone Seminar: History -- Africa

2015 Winter Quarter

INTL DV 100A
Introduction to Development Studies: Economic Development and Culture Change

2015 Winter Quarter

2012 Fall Quarter

2007 Fall Quarter

2005 Fall Quarter

2004 Fall Quarter

2003 Fall Quarter

HIST 19
Fiat Lux Freshman Seminars

2015 Winter Quarter

HIST 204
Departmental Seminar: Approaches, Methods, Debates, Practices

2014 Fall Quarter

HIST 164E
Topics in African History: Africa, 1945 to Present

2014 Spring Quarter

2013 Spring Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

2010 Spring Quarter

2009 Spring Quarter

INTL DV 191
Variable Topics Research Seminars: International Development Studies -- Senior Seminar

2013 Fall Quarter

2013 Spring Quarter

2011 Fall Quarter

HIST 275A
Colloquium: African History

2013 Fall Quarter

HIST 201N
Topics in History: Africa

2012 Winter Quarter

2009 Spring Quarter

2006 Spring Quarter

2005 Spring Quarter

2003 Spring Quarter

GLBL ST 100A
Globalization: Concepts and History

2012 Winter Quarter

HIST 275C
Colloquium: African History

2010 Spring Quarter

AFRC ST 201A
Africa and Disciplines

2006 Fall Quarter

HIST 164D
Topics in African History: Africa and Diaspora in Global and Comparative Perspective

2006 Fall Quarter

ANTHRO 271
Contemporary Problems in Africa

2006 Spring Quarter

HIST 101
Topics in World History

2005 Spring Quarter

2004 Spring Quarter

AFRC ST 201
Africa and the Disciplines

2004 Fall Quarter

2003 Fall Quarter

HIST 197O
Undergraduate Seminar: World History

2004 Spring Quarter

HIST 197J
Undergraduate Seminar: Africa

2003 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 179
Selected Topics in Regional Cultures

2003 Spring Quarter

ANTHRO 152
Politics: Tribe, State, Nation

2003 Winter Quarter

HIST 99
Introduction to Historical Practice

2002 Fall Quarter