February 4, 2009

HARRISONBURG—One of the world’s leading authorities on African politics and conflicts will inaugurate the 2009 Guardian Lecture Series, sponsored by the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University.

Dr. Gérard Prunier, research professor at the University of Paris and director of the French Centre for African Studies in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will speak on “Can This War Ever End? The Congo and the Great Lakes (1996-2008)” on Wednesday, February 18, 2009, at 7:00 p.m. in ISAT 159. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be the first public lecture Dr. Prunier has given in the United States since the publication last month by Oxford University Press of his 600-page Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe .

A trained historian with a doctorate in African history from the University of Paris as well as graduate training at Harvard University, Dr. Prunier has been studying African politics and conflicts for nearly four decades. His Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (Columbia University Press, 1995) was the first English-language analysis of that tragedy and set the framework for most the subsequent literature, while Darfur: A 21 st Century Genocide (Columbia University Press, 2005) is now in its third edition, having been hailed by Foreign Affairs as “the best available account of the Darfur crisis.” His most recent book on the Congo conflict has likewise already been acclaimed by reviewers in major newspapers, including the Economist, the Financial Times, and the Sunday Times, As R.W. Johnson noted in his review for the latter, “ Prunier, who has spent his life studying African conflicts, is able to call on every academic discipline required to comprehend this gigantic disaster, but also because he was an eyewitness to much of it himself, and frequently has telling details to offer about the behavior and motivation of key individuals.”

In addition to the public presentation, Dr. Prunier will also lead a roundtable discussion for JMU faculty earlier in the day.

Named after James Madison’s famous observation to his friend George Thompson that “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty” (Letter, June 30, 1825), the Guardian Lecture Series will bring scholars and practitioners distinguished in the Nelson Institute’s four principal areas of interest—terrorism and national security, Africa, religion and global politics, and international ethics and justice—to James Madison University.