The editorial statement is most promising and suggests that CSSAAME will continue to play a vital role as a forum for publishing rigorous and theoretically informed area studies research. In my view, the journal’s principal and most distinctive contribution has been its support for scholarship that transcends the parameters of area studies as it is conventionally understood. Despite several provocative analytic interventions — Freitag and von Oppen’s Translocality and Bayly and Fawaz’s Modernity and Culture, for example — and the growing interest in South- South connections, it has been my experience that North American professional organizations like the Middle East Studies Association and the African Studies Association are generally uninterested in interregional work outside a few well- established domains. Although academic publishing is considerably more flexible in this regard, it is nonetheless true that many area studies journals are skeptical of contributions that make interregional comparisons or draw upon theoretical insights derived from other fields. For better or worse, the region remains the dominant analytic category.
The implications of this situation are especially acute in my own field, Northeast African studies. Despite the region’s contemporary geopolitical significance and the august history of Semitic studies related to the Horn of Africa, there is currently little institutional support for the field in North America and Europe, and Horn-based scholars face a host of nearly insurmountable obstacles when it comes to obtaining new publications and funding their own research. For these reasons, the specialist literature is rich in empirical detail and theoretical implications, but its audience is small. While there are numerous journals devoted to — and published in — the region, these tend to feature research that is highly compartmentalized within contemporary ethnic and national categories, and there are few other fora for publishing scholarship related to Northeast Africa. As a result, the field is now effectively marginalized from the rest of African studies and entirely divorced from Middle Eastern studies. Once rightly seen as a borderland, the region itself has been occluded by the intellectual and institutional fault lines of area studies.
Nonetheless, some recent work has attempted to remedy this situation by forging links with other literatures and advancing the conceptual apparatus of the field. Four lines of inquiry have been especially fruitful. First, some researchers, including Jonathan Miran and Scott Reese, have endeavored to develop a Braudelian approach to the region by situating the littoral societies of the Horn within the broader historical dynamics of the Red Sea arena, in the process revealing a host of migrant actors, material flows, and institutional networks that have hitherto rarely figured in scholarship. This promising work, some of which has appeared in recent issues of Northeast African Studies and Chroniques Yéménites, has begun to situate Northeast Africa within Indian Ocean studies. A sec- ond and related development has been a growing interest in the region’s manifold ties with Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, and the Muslim world more generally, most recently manifest in edited collections (by Donald Crummey, Israel Gershoni, Meir Hatin, Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban, Kharyssa Rhodes, and Haggai Erlich, among others) and several panels on diasporas, migrations, and imperial strategies at last year’s 18th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, Dire Dawa. A third line of inquiry, which Elizabeth Wolde Giorgis has encouraged through a special issue of Callaloo, has moved from the study of modernization to the interrogation of modernity as a discursive, aesthetic, and cultural phenomenon. Though this work is still very preliminary, it has encouraged the growth of literary and cultural studies in a field largely dominated by philology and the social sciences. Finally, a new military historiography is emerging — in work by scholars such as Gebru Tareke and Richard Reid, for instance — that provocatively considers the political, social, and institutional history of violence.
A journal like CSSAAME has the potential to nurture these and other promising developments in Northeast African studies and bring them to a wider audience, especially since it represents a prominent publication venue for specialists who wish to engage scholars in adjacent and allied area studies fields. To this end, I hope the editors will consider (1) inviting Horn-based scholars to join the editorial board, and/or (2) organizing special issues or roundtables related to Northeast Africa and the Global South.
Bayly, Christopher, and Leila Tarazi Fawaz, eds. Modernity and Culture: From the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.
Crummey, Donald, ed. Land, Literacy, and the State in Sudanic Africa. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2005.
De Regt, Marina, Blandine Destremau, and Stephanie Latte-Abdallah. “Special Issue on Gender and Mobility in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.” Chroniques Yéménites 17 (2012).
Erlich, Haggai, and Israel Gershoni, eds. The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000.
Fluehr- Lobban, Carolyn, and Kharyssa Rhodes, eds. Race and Identity in the Nile Valley: Ancient and Modern Perspectives. Trenton, NJ: Red Sea Press, 2004.
Freitag, Ulrike, and Achim von Oppen, eds. Translocality: The Study of Globalising Processes from a Southern Perspective. Leiden: Brill, 2010.
Gershoni, Israel, and Meir Hatin, eds. Narrating the Nile: Politics, Identities, Cultures. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2008.
Miran, Jonathan. Red Sea Citizens: Cosmopolitan Society and Cultural Change in Massawa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009.
———. “Space, Mobility, and Translocal Connections across the Red Sea Area since 1500.” Northeast African Studies 12 (2012): ix – xxvi.
Reese, Scott. Renewers of the Age: Holy Men and Social Dis- course in Colonial Benaadir. Leiden: Brill, 2008.
Reid, Richard. War in Pre-Colonial Eastern Africa: The Patterns and Meanings of State-Level Conflict in the Nineteenth Century. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007.
Tareke, Gebru. The Ethiopian Revolution: War in the Horn of Africa. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
Wolde Giorgis, Elizabeth. “Charting Out Ethiopian Modernity and Modernism.” Callaloo 33 (2010): 82 – 99.
© 2013 by Duke University Press