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Fair Harvard...

Larry Summers's critic J. Lorand Matory speaks:

The Harvard Crimson: "This university is more mine than Larry Summers'," says J. Lorand Matory '1982, professor of Anthropology and of African and African American studies. "I will not let Larry Summers determine that this will become a place where social Darwinism is the leading ideology or leading practice." Matory this semester emerged as one of University President Lawrence H. Summers' most outspoken critics, filing the motion that led to the successful vote of no confidence in the president and becoming one of only three Harvard professors to call publicly for Summers' resignation.

This struck me as odd: A professor who thinks Larry is a social darwinist really has no idea what a 'social darwinist' is at all--and has certainly never met a real one. What's he doing with his time to know so little about social darwinism and other topics in intellectual history?

A quick sweep through the Harvard catalog reveals that this year he is teaching:

African and African American Studies 140z. The Other African Americans Catalog Number: 0300 J. Lorand Matory Half course (spring term). W., 4-6. EXAM GROUP: 9: We survey the history and contemporary experiences of self-identified “mixed-race” groups, as well as voluntary immigrant groups from Africa and the Caribbean, such as Cape Verdeans, Nigerians, Jamaicans, Afro-Puerto Ricans, and Haitains [sic] in the US. Students are introduced to arguments central to the social scientific study of modern societies generally, such as the invention of ethnicity, and negotiation of identity, and the social constructedness of race.

Anthropology 1600 (formerly Anthropology 110). Introduction to Social Anthropology Catalog Number: 8296 J. Lorand Matory (spring term) Tu., Th., at 11. EXAM GROUP: Spring: 13: Introductory exploration of anthropological approaches to society, culture, language, and history. Lectures, readings, and ethnographic films focus on global social and cultural diversity, and the intellectualand ethical challenges of anthropological research on human difference, experience, and complexity, across a wide range of theoretical perspectives and social/cultural topics, including kinship, social and political hierarchy, exchange, gender, language, ideology, religion, and global political economic systems.

Also: Foreign Cultures 86

They do look like interesting courses. They put J. Roland Matory in the classroom, teaching, for about 55 79 hours total for the 2005-2006 academic yeqar.

JSTOR reports two articles since 1995: J. Lorand Matory (1999), "The English Professors of Brazil: On the Diasporic Roots of the Yoruba Nation," Comparative Studies in Society and History Vol. 41, No. 1 (which I read a couple of years ago: it is quite good); and J. Lorand Matory (1996), "Review: Revisiting the African Diaspora," American Anthropologist New Series, Vol. 98, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 167-170.

There is also a Princeton University Press book from 2005: Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé, which describes itself as:

Black Atlantic Religion illuminates the mutual transformation of African and African-American cultures, highlighting the example of the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé religion. This book contests both the recent conviction that transnationalism is new and the long-held supposition that African culture endures in the Americas only among the poorest and most isolated of black populations. In fact, African culture in the Americas has most flourished among the urban and the prosperous, who, through travel, commerce, and literacy, were well exposed to other cultures. Their embrace of African religion is less a "survival," or inert residue of the African past, than a strategic choice in their circum-Atlantic, multicultural world.

With counterparts in Nigeria, the Benin Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Trinidad, and the United States, Candomblé is a religion of spirit possession, dance, healing, and blood sacrifice. Most surprising to those who imagine Candomblé and other such religions as the products of anonymous folk memory is the fact that some of this religion's towering leaders and priests have been either well-traveled writers or merchants, whose stake in African-inspired religion was as much commercial as spiritual. Morever, they influenced Africa as much as Brazil. Thus, for centuries, Candomblé and its counterparts have stood at the crux of enormous transnational forces.

Vividly combining history and ethnography, Matory spotlights a so-called "folk" religion defined not by its closure or internal homogeneity but by the diversity of its connections to classes and places often far away. Black Atlantic Religion sets a new standard for the study of transnationalism in its subaltern and often ancient manifestations.

Google Scholar reports 198 hits for "Lorand Matory." Google proper reports 927 hits for "Lorand Matory".

Matory writes that his next book will be:

Matory: a collaborative effort with my wife, a presidential protocol officer during the rule of Nigerian president Ibrahim Babangida. We have planned it as a culturally sensitive account of the inner workings of the dictatorship that ruled Africa's largest nation from 1985 to 1993. It is intended both as a corrective to standardized journalistic and political science cliches about the nature of autocracy and corruption in Africa and as a historical study of the genesis of Nigeria's current political crisis.

Wikipedia reports:

Ibrahim Babangida - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (born August 17, 1941), popularly known as IBB, was the military ruler of Nigeria from August 1985 until his departure from office under heavy popular pressure in 1993, after his annulment of elections held that year.... Babangida hails from the Gwari ethnic group and was born in Minna in Niger State, the city in which he has resided since his departure from office. He joined the Nigerian Army's officer corps in 1962.... Babangida once again took up a political position under the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari, whose regime he overthrew on 27 August 1985, promising at the time to bring to an end the human rights abuses perpetuated by Buhari's government, and to hand over power to a civilian government by 1990. He was instrumental to the culture of "settlement"... bribery and corruption in Nigeria. His administration embezelled over $12.5 billion during the gulf war from the oil 'windfall' money. He is probably the most corrupt African leader.

I doubt that Babandiga was the most corrupt African leader.