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Peace is a function of open, diverse societies where differences are respected

December 27 , 2019

Africa has been called the last frontier of the global economy, but it also faces a range of issues. Keiko Araki, an associate professor in the School of Humanities and Culture’s Department of International Studies, specializes in social and political movements aimed at improving the status of Africans and people of African origin. We spoke with her about her research.

Interviewer: Masayoshi Nakane


Question: In 1995, when South Africa won the Rugby World Cup, the team had just one black South African. When it won the World Cup again this year in Japan, there were more than ten people of color on the team, and the team’s captain was a person of color for the first time. Also this year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, whose achievements as an African politician to build peace through dialogue in a region beset by constant conflict were recognized.

Answer: It has been 25 years now since apartheid was abolished in South Africa. And countries like Rwanda that had been embroiled in conflict for many years recovered a degree of normalcy and began new nation-building efforts. An extremely wealthy class of black Africans emerged out of this, but for people in poverty, there has been little to no change; in fact, the gap has grown wider.


Q: Tell us about your area of specialization, the African diaspora, a term that encompasses immigrants, refugees, colonists, and others.

A: Diasporan Africans in recent years have been strongly committed to contributing to their home countries. There is an international student from Burundi in my department, and he has said that ultimately he wants to work for the benefit of his own country.

The African diaspora originally referred to the descendants of peoples dispersed by the slave trade. Particularly in countries like the U.S., people sold as slaves were completely cut off from their roots, so their descendants do not know where in Africa their ancestors came from. At the same time, however, because their roots are in Africa, they were subject to discrimination in their society. For this reason, as a matter of self-respect, they needed to transform “roots” into something positive.


Q: What is the specific focus of your research?

A: I study the movement started by Marcus Garvey after the end of World War I. The Garvey Movement was a transnational movement to unite people of African origin and native Africans for Africa’s advancement; it was a form of Pan-Africanism. It sought to acquire rights for both people of African origin and Africans. It valued the cultivation of self-reliance and self-respect, and its philosophy and basic message are being carried on in various places around the world today.

The movement blossomed in America. Just after World War I, the League of Nations was formed, and Marcus Garvey started a movement to bring the demands of black people to the League. The Garvey Movement leaped from America to Africa, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. I reevaluate the Garvey Movement by situating it in the context of international relations in order to make clear that there was a non-Western movement that played a role in the formation of our present international community.


Q: What would you say to a young person preparing for college?

A: Our department very much emphasizes standing on your own two feet, discovering something that interests you and pursuing it. What you experience on your own with all five senses can become invaluable later on. The Department of International Studies has seen an increase not only in international students from various countries but in students with mixed roots as well; the department allows students to hone their international sensibility. I would recommend the Department of International Studies particularly to students interested in developing an international outlook.

Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, School of Humanities and Culture

Keiko Araki

Keiko Araki served as a part-time instructor in the Department of International Studies from September 2005 and became a full-time instructor in April 2008. She specializes in the African diaspora and has conducted research mainly in the United States and South Africa.