(Posted January 12, 2015)

Emil Nagengast, professor of politics
Emil Nagengast, professor of politics

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Juniata College politics professor will give a talk on how "Cultural Obstacles to the African Human Rights Campaign" affect the politics of sub-Saharan Africa at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 21 in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science on the Juniata campus.

The lecture by Emil Nagengast, professor of politics, is free and open to the public. The talk is part of the Bookend Seminar Lecture Series, which features monthly lectures by Juniata faculty.

Nagengast, whose more recent research efforts have centered on the politics of Africa, created Juniata's summer and semester-long study abroad programs in The Gambia, a small country in northwestern Africa. He will focus his talk on the struggle to promote human rights in sub-Saharan Africa.

Drawing on two 2013-2014 research trips --one to the Centre for Human Rights at South Africa's University of Pretoria, and the other to the Gusau Institute in Kaduna, Nigeria -- Nagengast will explain why the ambitious human rights agenda of the "African Renaissance" has been watered down or undermined by African leaders.

He will outline how leaders in various African nations have exploited cultural norms to brand the idea of individual rights as a "western" idea that is incompatible with African societies.

Nagengast will explain why the ambitious human rights agenda of the "African Renaissance" has been watered down or undermined by African leaders.

Nagengast came to Juniata in 1996 as an assistant professor of politics. He received the 2000 Beachley Distinguished Teaching Award for Junior Faculty. In 2011, he received the Beachley Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Nagengast came to the college as a specialist in Eastern European politics, focusing particularly on East Germany. Since 2004, he has added African politics to his research and teaching interests. He took a sabbatical about seven years ago to do field research in Ethiopia at the headquarters of the African Union and in the Gambia at the headquarters of the African Commission for Peoples and Human Rights. He received a Rotary Grant for University Professors to teach at the University of The Gambia His experience there inspired him to create a new course on African politics, and he founded a study-abroad program in The Gambia that started as a summer program and expanded to a semester-long program at the University of The Gambia.

He continues to take Juniata students every year on a summer program in West Africa.

He teaches a variety of international politics courses. He was promoted to associate professor in 2002 and became a full professor in 2008. He earned a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in 1984. He earned a master's degree in political science in 1990 from the University of Kansas and earned a doctorate in political science at the University of Pittsburgh in 1996.

Nagengast also attended Karl Marx Universitat in Leipzig, Germany; Middlebury College Summer Russian Language Institute; Krasnodar Russian Language Institute in the former USSR; and Johannes Gutenberg Universitat in Mainz, Germany.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.