For 35 years, Northeastern political science professor William F.S. Miles has traveled to sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies, the Indian Ocean, and Israel to learn about Jewish culture in those regions.
A prolific writer, Miles has penned a new book titled Afro-Jewish Encounters, a collection of new and revised essays about his many visits to conduct research and fieldwork in Africa over that time—thrice as a Fulbright Scholar.
“What is most unusual about the book is it begins when I was first going to Africa 35 years ago, but also brings the story up to this very year,” said Miles, who has now written more than 10 books about his experiences. “The focus is about my experience with non-Jewish Africans.”
On Wednesday, Northeastern’s Department of African American Studies, Jewish Studies Program, and Department of Political Science sponsored a book launch event to mark Miles’ most recent literary accomplishment.
“We’ve been crossing paths and communicating, commiserating, and collaborating for a good while now,” Robert Hall, interim chair of the Department of African American Studies, said about Miles, whom he co-taught a course with some 13 years ago.
About 40 people attended the event, including Miles’ colleagues and family. He also welcomed Ronit Nudelman-Perl, deputy consul general for the Consulate General of Israel to New England. A career diplomat, Nudelman-Perl has served in the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs for about 20 years.
She was joined by Ross Parker, Miles’ former student who graduated from Northeastern in May with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and a minor in political science. Parker is currently the director of press and political affairs at the Israeli Consulate.
Miles, who has traveled to Africa more than two-dozen times, read two excerpts from his book on Wednesday, one about one of his first trips to Africa and another about a more recent trip.
– By Joe O’Connell