Mahmood Mamdani on the “lessons of Zimbabwe”

Looking down at the three previous posts on this blog, it seems that this is proving to be a rather busy day filled with news of anthropologists in the public media sphere. Some will remember that anthropologist Mahmood Mamdani was recently elected as one of the world’s top 10 public intellectuals (and you can see videos of some his lectures in my collection). Thanks to Jacob for alerting me to the newest freely available article by Mamdani, “Lessons of Zimbabwe” (London Review of Books, December 4, 2008). (I should also mention that Jacob is the apparent author of one of my favourite “notes and quotes” sites, Epigraff, well worth reading closely, especially to see if he can carry out what seems to be the stated mission of his site, “producing a work consisting entirely of quotations, one that was mounted so masterfully that it could dispense with any accompanying text.”) Seeing that article by Mamdani led me to another in the LRB by him, titled “The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency,” which I also strongly recommend.

(It would be very humorous again if an angry commenter were to come back and complain about academics secluded in their “ivory towers” given these last posts mentioned above, and then choosing to make the point via a blog, thereby missing the irony of their own statement.)