Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Lyombe Eko

IP faculty fellow Luis Martin-Estudillo (right) presents Sandra Barkan with the Honey Lectureship Award. Pictured on the left is ASP director Leo Eko.

In most African cultures, storytellers, poets, musicians, and visual artists have a special place in the community. They are the guardians of oral and material culture, the protectors of the collective memory of society.  In Swahili culture, theses custodians of culture are called Wazee hukumbuka (the elders who remember).

Every year, the African Studies Program (ASP) a constituent unit of University of Iowa International Programs, recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Africa or African Studies. This individual becomes a symbolic member of the circle of respected elders.  The African Studies Program’s recognition is expressed through the Rex D. Honey Lectureship, named in memory of Professor Rex D. Honey, former director of the African Studies Program, and long-serving professor of geography at the University of Iowa.

This year, the African Studies Program awarded the Rex D. Honey Lectureship award to Dr. Sandra Barkan, a program officer at Meridian International Center, Washington D.C. Barkan creates cultural diplomacy programs for participants in the United States Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). These programs are for visitors who come from all over the world, including Africa.


Barkan's lecture surveyed African literary trends from the 1960s to the present and their influence on world literature.

Before beginning work in public and cultural diplomacy, Dr. Sandra Barkan provided many years of meritorious service to the University of Iowa as professor of African literatures, director of the University of Iowa Honors Program, Director of the International Writing Program, Assistant Dean and Associate Dean of the Graduate College. She has also served as president of the African Literature Association.


Professor Luis Martin-Estudillo, International Programs faculty fellow, presented the award to Dr. Barkan on behalf of the Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs. Martin-Estudillo congratulated Barkan for her remarkable service and noted that she had enriched African Studies, and enriched the Honey Lectureship award.

Dr. Barkan announced that she had decided to donate the $1,000 honorarium that came with the Honey Lectureship Award to the University of Iowa Libraries for the purchase of African Studies materials. Associate University Librarian, Carmelita Picket accepted the donation on behalf of the University of Iowa Libraries.

In her public lecture, Dr. Barkan surveyed African literary trends from independence in the 1960s to the present. She emphasized the plurality and diversity of African writers, and African literatures. She noted the impact African literatures have had on world literature. She also noted that the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program has had a major impact on African literatures because former residents of the program have made a mark on African literatures in a number of languages.

In past years, he Honey Lectureship has been awarded to former Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Nobel Prize winner, Professor Wole Soyinka of Nigeria.