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Message-ID: <217545@hermes.Reed.EDU>
Date: 11 May 95 19:29:01 PDT
From: Chris.Lowe@directory.Reed.EDU (Chris Lowe)
Reply-To: AFRLABOR@acuvax.acu.edu
Subject: CAFA, World Bank and ASA
To: AFRLABOR@acuvax.acu.edu, nuafrica@listserv.acns.nwu.edu

CAFA, World Bank and ASA

By Chris Lowe <chris.lowe@reed.edu>
11 May 1995

The Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa in their Spring 1995 Newsletter are circulating a petition to try to stop the World Bank from participating in African Studies Association meetings. I'd be interested in what people think. I'm reproducing the cover letter & petion here; there's another page & 1/2 of commentary in the newsletter reporting on CAFA's engagement with the World Bank panels at ASA in Toronto which I can send if there's interest.

The arguments in favor are clearly enough stated. I can think of three opposing lines. CAFA reports encountering practical skepticism because of the reliance of ASA academics on World Bank funding. There is an argument that if we're going to debate about or fight their ideas they ought to be allowed to present them (wide debate on principle meets give 'em enough rope somewhere in here). And there is an argument that as a matter of principle an organization like ASA ought not to take political positions - if ASA opposes WB now, it establishes a precedent for endorsing it later.


Dear colleagues,

Join with us in urging the African Studies Association (ASA) to not allow the World Bank to participate in its annual meetings. The World Bank is becoming a substantial presence at the ASA gatherings. For example, in the 37th Annual Meeting of the ASA held in Toronto in November 1994, there were three panels chaired and staffed by World Bank employees. These panels give the World Bank the false appearance of being an objective, scholarly organization. The ASA should refuse to provide a stage for this charade. The following are the reasons why we think this initiative is appropriate:

(1) The World Bank is a bank: it is a financial institution and not an academic organization. The World Bank's ability to finance or defund academic projects, and to purchase the services of academicians does not give it academic status.

(2) The research of many Africanists and other social scientists has shown beyond a doubt that the World Bank is responsible for the untold suffering of millions of people on this planet. From Africa to Asia to South America, the vast majority see in the World Bank and its allied organizations, the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund, the powers that are condemning them to the loss of everything they have. The World Bank is guilty of forced resettlement and inhuman Structural Adjustment Programs whose only purpose is to uproot people from the land and force them to become cheap or even slave labor.

(3) The World Bank is responsible for the destruction of the educational systems in most countries of Africa, South America and Asia. Thousands of our colleagues worldwide have been forced to leave their countries and become permanent exiles because they resisted the imposition of Structural Adjustment Programs devised and administered by the Bank. Others have had to leave their teaching and research, because they could not survive on the starvation wages the Bank prescribed. Even more thousands of students have been pushed out of the universities because of 'cost sharing' plans demanded by the World Bank.

Considering this record, we should not make ourselves accomplices of these policies by accepting the presence of the Bank at this and future ASA meetings. Let us not be discouraged by the power of the Bank. It controls immense resources, but everywhere people are mobilizing against it, in the United States as well. Presently, the Rainforest Action Network, the Fifty Years is Enough Campaign, Oxfam and other organizations are making it clear that they consider the World Bank responsible for growing planetary misery. Let us support them by demanding a World Bank-free ASA.

Please sign the accompanying petition and return it to either Silvia Federici or George Caffentzis, coordinators of CAFA, and/or write a protest letter to the ASA and send a copy to CAFA. Do ask your colleagues who are academics and/or are involved in African studies or affairs to sign the petition as well.

[signed by Caffentzis & Federici, Coordinators of CAFA]

Committee for Academic Freedom in Africa


We, the undersigned, urge the Board of Directors of the African Studies Association (ASA) to review its policy which allows the World Bank to hold panels at the ASA's annual meetings. The World Bank is a bank; it is neither a scholarly nor an educational institution. It has been especially responsible for the degradation of the university system in Africa. Therefore it is neither academically nor morally qualified to participate at the ASA. Please send signed petitions to the coordinators of the Committee for Academic Freedom at one of the following addresses. They will send the signed petitions to ASA's Board of Directors. CAFA coordinators' addresses are:

George Caffentzis
Department of Philosophy
University of Southern Maine
96 Falmouth St.
P.O. Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104-9300
Tel: (207) 780-4332

Silvia Federici
New College
130 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11550-1090
Tel: (516) 463-5838