The African Studies Association (ASA) held its annual conference virtually this year, and its president is none other than Brittle Paper’s named Academic of the Year, Ato Quayson.

Quayson recently shared this year’s Presidential Address to the ASA on his YouTube channel, Critic.Reading.Writing.

The address is titled “Stories and Empathy in a Time of Crisis: An African Viewpoint” in which the professor argues that experiences and reflections that people share on social media provide a sentimental education akin to that found in oral stories and other texts.

In his address, Quayson traces a genealogy of media from the oral story to the novel, cinema, television, and social media that facilitates how we identify with those different from us. The professor argues that these different forms of media and the diverse stories that arise from them contribute to humanity’s sentimental education and usher us through times of isolation and hardship. He concludes,

It is not a hyperbole to suggest that today, the stories of our shared tribulations that are circulated on all forms of social and other media have sustained our sense of belonging to a joint community of suffering and human values.

Click below to watch!