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Mahmood Mamdani - 11/18/10

Who We Are

Who We Are

Mahmood MamdaniMahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974 and specializes in the study of African history and politics. His works explore the intersection between politics and culture, a comparative study of colonialism since 1452, the history of civil war and genocide in Africa, the Cold War and the War on Terror, and the history and theory of human rights. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Mamdani was a professor at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania (1973-1979), Makerere University in Uganda (1980-1993), and the University of Cape Town (1996-1999). He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being listed as one of the "Top 20 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy (US) and Prospect (UK) magazine in 2008. From 1998 to 2002 he served as president of CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa). His essays have appeared in the New Left Review and the London Review of Books, among other journals.

He teaches courses on: major debates in the study of Africa; the modern state and the colonial subject; the Cold War and the Third World; the theory, history, and practice of human rights; and civil wars and the state in Africa.

"Human Rights: The African Experience and the Way Forward"

Mahmood Mamdani discussed two paradigms of human rights. One claimed to generalize the lessons of the Holocaust and the other needs to draw lessons from the end of apartheid, two great crimes against humanity. We identified the first with Nuremberg, the other with CODESA (Convention for a Democratic South Africa). Each of these paradigms has an implication for how we think of human wrongs and thus human rights. I suggest three ways of distinguishing between how we think of the Holocaust and apartheid.

Whereas Nuremberg has been the explicit basis for the articulation of a post-Holocaust notion of human rights, I argued that the lessons of CODESA have yet to be fully theorized. Whereas Nuremberg shaped a notion of justice as criminal justice, CODESA calls on us to think of justice primarily as political justice. Whereas Nuremberg has become the basis of a notion of victims' justice – as a complement rather than a contrast to victors' justice – CODESA provides the basis for an alternative notion of justice, which I call survivors' justice.

Nittany Lion Inn, Assembly Room
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

Read Collegian article here: Professor discusses African human rights conflicts 

Read Voices interview here