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Cablegate: Annual American Studies Conference

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002836

SIPDIS


State for ECA/A/E/USS Taylor; AF/PD Skop;
IIP/G/AF Danz; Info AF/W
Lagos for PAS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SCUL OEXC NI
SUBJECT: Annual American Studies Conference
in Nigeria Focuses on Religion in American
Society.


Ref: A) State 104708 B) Abuja 171


1. Summary: Highlighting "Religion in the
US," American Studies specialists discussed
religion and American society at the recent
8th Annual Conference of the American
Studies Association of Nigeria (ASAN) held
in Jos. Unlike previous seminars, this
year's gathering was more effective because
fewer papers were presented which allowed
for in-depth discussions and exchange of
ideas. The participation of Professor David
Harrell, who teaches the history American
religion at Auburn University, kept the
deliberations on the theme of the conference
on track. Professor Harrell's in-depth
analysis of the dynamics of American
religious life won the respect of both
Christian and Muslim intellectuals who
attended the conference. Harrell's
presentation, "Awash in a Sea of Faith,"
provided a strong base for a stimulating
discussion throughout the three-day seminar.
This is a GPRA report. End Summary.


2. Description of Activity: A three-day
conference of the American Studies
Association of Nigeria (ASAN). The theme
for the seminar was "Religion in the United
States." Professor David Harrell, who
teaches American religious history, served
as the lead speaker during the conference.
He was joined by other Nigerian American
Studies specialists and commentators who
delivered papers on various aspects of
religion in the United States.


3. Dates: August 13 - 15, FY 2001, 4th Qtr


4. Justification/Objective: Since it was
founded about 10 years ago, the American
Studies Association of Nigeria (ASAN) has
continued to demonstrate a genuine interest
in promoting American Studies program in
Nigerian universities. By focusing on
religion in the US during this year's
conference, ASAN wanted to stimulate a
healthy and vibrant discussion with
academics, religious intellectuals,
influential politicians and journalists on
an important issue that is worthy of study
in Nigeria.


5. MPP Umbrella Themes/Audience Reached:
NI-PD-07 (Strengthening Institutions that
Bear on the Understanding of the US). Over
100 participants, representing the various
ASAN chapters from 22 federal, state and
private universities attended the seminar.
Also in attendance were representatives of
Christian and Muslim groups, journalists and
students. The Deputy Governor of Plateau
State and several high-level members of his
cabinet attended the opening ceremony.


6. Result/Impact: Excellent. The
association's decision to address religion
in the United States at the conference was
good. For the first time in recent years,
Nigerian intellectuals were able to reflect
on religious tolerance in the Nigerian
context in an environment devoid of any
religious zeal.


7. Non-USG Funding: N/A.


8. Quality of US Support: Excellent. Post
thanks ECA/A/E/USS for funding Professor
David Harrell to attend the conference and
for providing ASAN with a grant to host the
program. The ASAN executive committee
members and most participants pointed out
that the participation of an American expert
on religion was a good idea and contributed
greatly in the success of the conference.
Harrell's comments, especially his assertion
that religion was hale and hearty in
America, asopposed to its declining
condition in Europe where government had
sheltered it, were well received and
generated lively debates at the conference.


9. Comment: The quality of discussion at
the conference was excellent. Most of the
papers presented were of high academic and
professional standards. Given the diverse
representation of scholars throughout
Nigerian universities at the seminar, it is
now clear that American Studies has not only
become relevant but acceptable among faculty
members and students in this important
African country. The next seminar will take
place in the Eastern City of Calabar in
August 2002. Post again would like to
solicit the support of ECA/A/E/USS in
advance in funding the project and in
recruiting a US keynote speaker to
participate in the conference.
Andrews

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