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Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies - BIGSAS

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Junior Fellows

BIGSAS Junior Fellows

List of Junior Fellows (alphabetically)

Usman AhmadHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Usman Ahmad

Current Project:

A Study of English-Hausa and Hausa-English Translations

​Oladapo AjayiHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Oladapo Ajayi

Research Interests:

Yoruba Language and Literature, African Literature and Culture, Urban Studies, Popular Culture, Popular Music in Nigeria and Anglophone Africa, Poetry, Poetics

Geographical Area:

Nigeria

Current Project:

Fuji Music and Everyday Life in the contemporary Yoruba Urban Space

The notion Big-man is part of the everyday life in contemporary Nigeria and it connotes multiple meanings – from self-actualization to community experience and a reflection of intersecting class dynamics. This chapter approaches the notion of Big-man as a cultural practice by reflecting on ontological orientation, social experiences and social stratifications expressed and articulated in/through Fuji music and performance. It explores the experience and performance of Big-man that is mediated through Fuji music as a cultural institution, and also articulates experiences of increasing global capitalism. It explores the performance of Big-man in the Yoruba popular music genre and within the Nigerian urban spaces by focusing on strategies of performing cultural continuities and new forms of social stratification dynamics. I adopt the Yoruba oral poetic form Oriki as a motif to track changes and continuities in the so-called networks of Big-men in today’s South-West Nigeria. Oriki in this sense signifies cultural and intellectual practices of bargaining, enhancement of social status and performance of personhood. I will draw on selected works of Fuji musicians through their transcribed lyrics, interviews of both Fuji musicians and consumers, and reports from six months’ fieldwork in the urban cities of Ibadan, Lagos and Ilorin in Nigeria respectively.

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Shirin AssaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Shirin Assa

Current Project:

MENA Women in Diaspora: Poetics of Intersectional Resistance Versus Geometry of Appropriation

Tafor Paul AtehHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Tafor Ateh

Current Project:

Audience Response to Cameroonian Films: The Case of Nina's Dowry and Jungle of Heirs

Much of 20th century studies on African cinema concentrate on the role of cinema in nation building and its relation to economic and political power characterized by colonialism, imperialism and nationalism. Even though the viewership of African films has expanded considerably in the 21st century, Cameroonian viewers still constantly complain of non-representativeness of their cultural values in present day Cameroonian films. This study investigates this dialectical situation of reception in the Cameroon film scenario seeking to understand current trends of audience behaviour in the emerging Cameroon film industry.

Anna AyehHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Anna Ayeh

Research Interests:

Knowledge, Anthropology of Islam, Youth, Education, Gender, Postcolonial & Feminist Theories, Race & Racism, Ethnographic Representation

Geographical Area:

Benin

Current Project:

Female Ways of Knowing Islam in a West African Context: Gender and Embodied Knowledge in Muslim Benin

My PhD project "Female Ways of Knowing Islam" seeks to explore the links between gender and religious knowledge in the Beninese context. Focussing mainly on Muslim women, it analyses the multiple ways (religious) knowledge is generated, legitimized, validated, transmitted, questioned, contested, governed, and fructified.

While male Muslim relations with/authority over religious knowledge have been discussed at length within social sciences and African Studies, analyses of female religious knowing remain at the margins of academic interest. The reasons for this marginalization are manifold and lie only partially in an actual marginalization of women in the public sphere of Muslim societies, but to a large extend in a history of (academic) misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Islam, Muslim women, and Africa, conflated with colonial imagery. Those analyses actually highlighting female engagements with religious knowledge are mostly presenting cases of female (public) authority as illustrious exceptions.

In contrast, this project works a) with a focus on the everyday practices of knowing and b) with a broad definition of knowledge. From the theoretical vantage point of learning as the embodiment of knowledge, modes and forms of knowing studied encompass not only textual, but also practical, tacit, bodily, implicit, generational, and habitual learning. Such a perspective allows to transcend prior binary conceptualizations such as formal/informal, orthodox/heterodox, public/private, in-school/out-of-school, providing a broad analytical framework for a wide array of practices of knowing.

The project revolves around the following questions:

  • What is being acknowledged as religious knowledge by Beninese Muslim women? What are the epistemic groundings of this knowledge?
  • How, where, in which contexts, from whom do Beninese Muslim women acquire religious knowledge? What happens to the knowledge in this process?
  • How, where, in which contexts do Beninese Muslim women pass on religious knowledge? What happens to the knowledge in this process?
  • In which ways is religious knowledge embedded in/tied to individual biographies or certain stages of them?
  • What are the relations between religious knowledge and other life-structuring regimes such as politics, economy, or kinship?
  • Which kind of discourses does the wider community/society apply to govern female relations with religious knowledge? What is the women’s stance towards these discourses? What are their own discourses?

The project will be carried out multilocally, using classical qualitative methods of anthropology, namely participant observation and (biographic) interviews. A strong emphasis will lie on the reflection of my own cognitive processes of approaching, knowing, portraying, and writing up the topic. In doing so, this project seeks to contribute to academic debates on gender, (Islamic) knowledge, and reflexive anthropology as well as to transcend binary conceptualizations of Islamic practices, especially in the African context.

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Mai AzzamHide

Current Project:

Friends for change: Friendship making among activists groups in Khartoum

Fidèle Coffi Ballo GuèdèHide

Current Project:

"Ni pauvre ni riche": identité de classe moyenne ou construction sociale d'une appartence intermédiaire au Bénin?

Godelive Batano KusimwaHide

Current Project:

Political Economy of Child Labour in Cobalt Artisanal Mining Zone of Kolwezi, DRC

Khadija BenthamiHide

Current Project:

Les récits d'enfance dans la littérature judéo-maghrébine

Sarah BöllingerHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Sarah Böllinger

Research Interests:

Contemporary Arts in East-Africa, Disability Aesthetics, Disability Studies, Curatorial Studies, Visual Culture

Geographical Area:

Kenya

Current Project:

Das Behinderte Kunstwerk - in den Sammlungen des Iwalewahaus

My research project on the visual representation of disability among Nairobi’s middle class is set up as an aesthetic-visual studies reflection of photos that I will collect during two research trips to Nairobi. My interdisciplinary approach between Visual Culture Studies and Disability Studies enables me to develop a new aesthetic cast on the discourse of disability in Kenya. The discussion of visual representations of disability has been a scientific niche so far. Only few authors refer their studies to photos and pictures. If they appear at all, they usually illustrate the written text and remain on the side of reflection. In contrast, I wish to empower the photos and move them from the edges to the center of my theoretical reflection. Thus, I follow Tobin Siebers, who created the knots and transitions between disability and art history; see his works Disability Aesthetics (2010), „Zerbrochene Schönheit – Essays über Kunst, Ästhetik und Behinderung” (2009), and Disability aesthetics and the body beautiful: Signposts in the history of art (2008). He uses “bildwissenschaftliche” concepts like Merleau-Pontys phenomenology of reception (1966). His “disability aesthetics” are groundbreaking within disability studies and will thus play a major part in my work as well.

I follow the social model of disability which states that no person is disabled as such, but is being disabled by his social and built environment. My work will study the idea of the perfect, the imperfect and the fragmented body and body imaginaries. I will apply semiotic approaches, codification, deconstruction and “Auflandung” just as a reflection of ‘the aesthetic‘. Possible photographic methods like “Zerstückelung, Dekonstruktion und Detaillierung“ will be analyzed to understand the representations of disability among Nairobi’s middle class. In “Practices of Looking – An Introduction of visual culture“ (2009), Sturken tracks the relations between picture, context, understanding and analysis. She builds on the semiotic theory of Roland Barthes. Barthes, in turn, draws from the semiotic studies of Ferdinand de Saussure. Images are constructions and constructivists at the same time. Stuart Hall stresses, though, that things alone have no meaning, but are only assigned meaning by people. This means that things and people can’t be regarded separately. But how, then, shall we understand Aby Warburgs “Pathosformeln”, that praise the autonomy and coherence of photography? It is exactly this discursive arena that my analysis of visual representation of disability in Nairobi will be played out in. It is here that I will describe and analyze the meaning, the discourse and the instance of disability in Nairobi.

My research is inspired and directed by the following questions: Which forms of visual representations of disability are common and practiced among Nairobi’s middle class? How are the photos related regarding content, form and style? Where do these representations appear? Is disability a concept that can be visually represented? Do public representations differ from private ones? Is ‘disability = #inspirationporn‘ as true for Nairobi’s middle class as it is for the European middle classes?

During my research, I will collect photos and images that will then be structured, categorized and analyzed. I will consciously limit my focus on photography: post cards, photo albums, mobile phone photos, facebook pictures, photography in advertisements, campaigns and exhibitions. The question of representation and the paradox of photography (absence/presence, the process of photography vs. the finished product) are hard to be analyzed only through the product. That is why I am also going to work with a Kenyan photographer on this project. I wish to document his meetings with the models and discuss the resulting pictures with him or her. The basis of my work shall be the respect for the objects of study and my informants. My aim is to produce a valuable contribution to aesthetic-visual culture studies analysis as well as to cast a new light on the discourse of disability in Kenya by adding new shades of understanding to the already existing social approaches.

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Thierry Boudjekeu KamgangHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Thierry Boudjekeu

Research Interests:

Slave Trade, Literary Studies, Francophone Africa, Postcolonial Trauma, Memory, Slavery, UNESCO Heritage

Geographical Area:

Benin, Senegal

Current Project:

Writing the Slave Trade Trauma in Francophone Africa: A Study of Selected Novels

This study examines slave trade as a profound traumatic episode in African history and the role of writers in revisiting the shadowed memory of this historical trauma with its still prevailing fallouts in postcolonial Africa. The research focuses on selected literary texts that capture disturbing images of the slave trade by Francophone African novelists such as Léonora Miano, Kangni Alem and Wilfried N’Sondé. We contend that in a context where slave trade memory appears to be manipulated, shadowed and eventually misunderstood and forgotten, literature is an alternative pathway to reflecting the sufferings of slave trade victims and reinstating slave memories into the African public arena.

Literary language is instrumental in incorporating both the comprehensible and the incomprehensible, in an attempt to come to terms with the unspeakable stories of dehumanisation during the traumatic period of the slave trade which has only been sporadically discussed in the Francophone African literary spaces. In an act of remembrance and as a therapeutic process, sub-Saharan Francophone writers employ historical narrative, oraliture, magic realism, the fantastic, anachronism, epic writing, and intertextuality among other aesthetic approaches to convey their vision on this subject matter. In the quest for a collective memory, literature plays a cathartic role in the demystification of slave trade and in fostering therapeutic healing of sub-Saharan peoples from a troubled past that hinders an emancipated African self-image.

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Pierre-Nicolas BounakoffHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Pierre-Nicolas Bounakoff

Current Project:

Curators vs Humanitarians: a Kenyan Artist's Dilemma

Pierre Nicolas Bounakoff’s research focuses on the contemporary artists of Kenya. The most important factor to investigate is the very predominant role played by various international humanitarian structures and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on the local art scene. This leads to the spreading of a very specific iconography, derived from these organisations’ discourse, and ultimately to a redefinition of the moral values expressed in the artworks produced in Nairobi, thus conflicting with the kind of works currently in circulation within the globalised art world. This globalised art world is also represented in Kenya, mostly through the influence of the western curators, and their key role in the constitution of the current discourse surrounding the artists, as well as in the building of a large network for the diffusion of their production and its insertion in the international circles of contemporary art. The extremely rapid development of artistic activities in Kenya makes it a particularly readable example of this process. Between these two driving forces, what seems to be at stake is nothing less than a complete mutation of art as an activity in Kenya.

Ngozi EdeaguHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Ngozi Edeagu

Research Interests:

Colonial History, Global History, Print Media, Literacy, Knowledge-producing Institutions/(Higher) Education

Geographical Area:

Nigeria

Current Project:

Writing back to Empire: Newspapers, Non-Elites and Decolonisation in the Global Public Sphere, 1937-1957

Using the often neglected bottom-top analytical approach, this research investigates how non-elite groups (loosely defined as semi- and non-literate groups) in colonial Nigeria from 1937 to 1957 engaged with and shaped the decolonisation agenda using a local newspaper. This research has significance beyond academia. For development practitioners, it will help reduce (information) inequalities and increase community participation by demonstrating how news content was historically disseminated, digested and debated particularly in the absence of modern technology, infrastructure and wide spread illiteracy that still exists today. For African national governments, it will provide useful contexts in understanding the socio-economic environments that have led people to debate and act on issues that affect them.

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Taha El HadariHide

Current Project:

Research Synthesis: A Meta-Ethnography and Meta-Analysis of Sociolinguistic Research in Morocco

Brian FulelaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Brian Fulela

Current Project:

Post-apartheid Subjectivities: Psychoanalysis and/in Place in the Novels of K. Sello Duiker, Kgebetle Moele and Sifoso Mzobe

Brian Fulela joined BIGSAS as a Junior Fellow in the 2012 winter semester, where he has been admitted into the Doctoral Programme.

His project, provisionally entitled “Post-apartheid Subjectivities: Psychoanalysis and/in Place in the Novels of K. Sello Duiker, Sifiso Mzobe and Kgebetli Moele”, is specifically interested in how psychoanalysis both opens up and is interrogated by Duiker, Mzobe and Moele’s exploration of such issues as trauma, violence and loss within post-apartheid society. The aim of the thesis is to contribute to a fuller understanding of the meaning, aesthetics and ethics of the preoccupation with violence, trauma and loss in their work and to explore the inflection of the latter concerns with sexuality, history, memory and abjection. The purpose is to show that an interrogation of the synergies between psychoanalysis and the works of the selected authors – but also post-apartheid writing in English by black male authors more generally – can open up new ways in which to think about post-apartheid subjectivity. The study will attempt to articulate a relationship of reciprocity between literature and theory in a way that does not refound a hierarchy with theory as a dominant discourse.

Valerie V. V. GruberHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Valerie Gruber

Research Interests:

(Inter-)cultural Studies, Social and Moral Geographies, Urban Inequalities and Racism, Resistance and (Re-)existence, Self-organizing and Social Change, Cocial and Cultural Entrepreneurship, Engaged Research and Reflexive Co-reation of Knowledge with Communities from Latin America and Africa

Geographical Area:

Brazil and Colombia

Current Project:

Moral Geographies of (Re-)Existence: A Comparative Analysis of Socio-cultural Projects from Afro-descendant Communities in Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) and Cartagena de Indias (Colombia)

Salvador da Bahia (Brazil) and Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) are not only hubs of cultural creativity and (re)invention, but also traumatic places of the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans. While the colonial centers of both cities are recognized as UNESCO World Heritage, many people of African descent live in self-organized neighborhoods located off the beaten track, such as ‘favelas’ in Brazil or ‘barrios populares’ in Colombia. This research sheds light on socio-cultural community projects that use Afro-diasporic music, dance and other cultural expressions to mitigate problems related to racism, exclusion, juvenile delinquency, and limited access to education and the labor market. As these initiatives come from neighborhoods stigmatized as poor and dangerous, they are mainly invisible to the tourist gaze, which is often limited to commodified versions of Afro culture.

With a particular focus on the communities of Uruguai (Salvador) and Barrio Chino (Cartagena), my research analyzes dynamics of socio-spatial transformation, enabling and restricting conditions for self-organized change, and the visions of a good life underlying these initiatives. The comparative design adopted for this work is composed of participatory action research, ethnographic and documentary methods. This innovative triangulation allows for a reflexive co-creation of knowledge that integrates local communities into joint reflections, and stimulates mutual learning processes across the African diaspora. My overarching goal is to break new ground in the field of moral geographies by developing a substantiated conceptualization of Afro-Latin American urban (re-)existence, which brings epistemologies of the Global South into dialogue with those of the Global North.

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Laura GuadagnanoHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Laura Guadagnano

Research Interests:

Linguistics, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics, French Language Variation, Language and Morality, Health Communication, Intercultural Communication, Language and Media, Conversation Analysis

Geographical Area:

Côte d'Ivoire

Current Project:

Le discours moral dans le domaine de la santé sexuelle et reproductive des jeunes Ivoriens. Une analyse pragnatico-discursive

As part of the research project "Health discourse as moral communication? Linquistic case studies form Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon", my PhD project will examine moral communication focusing on interactions concerning sexual and reproductive health of young Ivorian women. This research field is of particular interest due to the continuously increasing global population in developing countries (Hahn 2019), the neglect of women in the healthcare sector (Hosseinpoor et al. 2012) and the ongoing problem of early pregnancy in Côte d’Ivoire (UNFPA 2018: 33).

The aim of my research is to investigate the emergence and negotiation of moralities in communication according to Bergmann and Luckmann (1999). They refer to a constructivist conceptualization of ethics and assume that morality is co-constructed in interaction. The main research question of my project investigates how moral communication is linguistically characterized and which specific functions or purposes this kind of communication has in the context of sexual and reproductive health. In order to provide a comprehensive overview of the topic, the data will be collected in different settings and subjected to a conversation analysis. On the one hand, the data corpus will include interactions in preventive measures offered by selected NGOs and on the other hand, it will include data from focus group discussions with young women.

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Aklilu Tetemke HaileHide

Current Project:

Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the "National Question" in Ethiopia: Genesis and Trajectory

Julian HollsteggeHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Julian Hollstegge

Current Project:

Geographies of border-making in South Sudan's southern borderlands

Madlen HornungHide

Current Project:

Relationale Tradescapes. Praktiken des Schaf- und Ziegenhandels in Äthiopien

Gbeognin Mickael HoungbedjiHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Gbeognin Mickael Houngbedji

Research Interests:

Kinderarbeit, Ausbildung, Handwerkliche Ausbildung, Internationale Konventionen, Normen, Verordnungen, Berufliche Integration, Arbeitsverwaltung und Sozialsicherung, Arbeitssoziologie, Lebensstil und Gesundheit, Postkolonialismus, Kulturtransfer

Geographical Area:

Benin

Current Project:

"Lehrjahre sind keine Herrenjahre": Die Bedingungen in der Ausbildung und der Umgang mit internationalen Normen und internen Verordnungen zu Kinderschutz bei Schneidern, Schweißern, Maurern und Eisenflechtern in Benin

Trotz des generalisierten Kampfes gegen die Beschäftigung von Minderjährigen im Allgemeinen sowie gegen die handwerkliche Ausbildung von Kindern (Vgl. ILO Koventionen 138, 182; Internationale Konvention über die Rechte des Kindes 1989; Afrikanische Charta der Rechte und des Wohlergehens des Kindes 1990; Loi n° 2015-08 portant code de l’enfant en République du Benin), werden die Normen und Verordnungen in Benin nicht eingehalten. Die Sanktionsbedrohungen haben die Eltern nicht davon abgehalten, ihre Kinder weiterhin einer handwerklichen Ausbildung nachgehen zu lassen.

Im Gegensatz zu dieser normativen Betrachtung der Situation der Kinder ermöglicht ein sinnhaftes Deuten es, das Handeln der Eltern, Kinder und Jugendlichen, der Lehrmeister und der Behörde zu verstehen. Viele Formen der Beschäftigungen von Minderjährigen im Allgemeinen und besonders die handwerkliche Ausbildung von Kindern in Werkstätten und auf Baustellen sind sozialisierend (Vgl. Bourdillon und Spittler 2012; Dougnon 2012; Alber 2012; Liebel 2012; Marguerat: 2000; Adekola 2013). Die Erziehung und Bildung in den meisten afrikanischen Gesellschaften basiert auf „Arbeiten“, d.h. auf Beobachten und Ausprobieren. Indem Kinder beobachten, erlernen sie nicht nur die Aktivitäten der Eltern, sondern auch das Leben in der Gemeinschaft (vgl. Rogoff 1990; Mahati 2012; Dougnon 2012; Spittler 2012; Adekola 2013; Erny).#

So beschäftigt sich meine Forschungsarbeit mit dem Sinn und der Bedeutung der handwerklichen Ausbildung für Kinder und Jugendliche in den Werkstätten und auf Baustellen in Benin. Im heutigen Kontext der Massenarbeitslosigkeit ist es notwendig eine neue Betrachtung der handwerklichen Ausbildung zu konstruieren. Diese Ausbildung in Handwerkberufen, wie Schneider, Schweißer, Maurer und Eisenflechter werden von den Kindern und Jugendlichen sowie von den Eltern als Hoffnung gesehen. Abgesehen davon, dass die Ausbildung Kindern und Jugendlichen, die keine Schule besucht oder sie abgebrochen haben, eine berufliche Integration ermöglicht, ist sie auch eine Erziehungsform. Sie ist in der Gesellschaft als eine soziale Institution verankert, die die Zeit überdauert hat.

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​Abdoulaye Ibrahim BachirHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Abdoulaye Ibrahim Bachir

Research Interests:

Turkey, Niger, MENA and the Sahel

Geographical Area:

Turkey’s Africa Policy, Islamism, International Politics, Muslim Charity Organizations and the Study of Religion

Current Project:

The Role of Charitable Activities of Turkish Organisations in Niger

The main objective of this project is to understand the role of the activities of Turkish charitable organizations which are shaping the new image of contemporary Turkey, in the processes of ongoing social transformation in Niger. Thus, based on concepts of ‘religious engineering’ and ‘morality/ethics’, this project aims to explore and analyze humanitarian aid and development projects carried out by Turkish charities in Niger from a relational perspective through an interdisciplinary study. This project intends to achieve these goals by investigating the following main research questions: How are Turkish charities related to "religion" in the conduct of their charitable activities? What kind of interaction exists between these charities and other actors such as donors, target groups and state? How and what moralities are generated from these multiple processes of relating? In this study, ethnographic research will be used as the dominant methodology to answer the research questions.

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Albert IrambeshyaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Albert Irambeshya

Research Interests:

Social Protection, Social Policy and Conflict Transformation

Geographical Area:

Rwanda

Current Project:

Social protection for elderly people in the context of rapidly ageing population in Rwanda

Formal social protection for elderly people in Rwanda is limited to those who worked in the formal sector, while the elderly people who worked in the informal sector do not receive such protection. In the absence of formal social protection services to the growing number of elderly people in the informal sector, these elderly people rely solely on intergenerational support that is given by their families. Intergenerational support is an invaluable source of care that forms an important part of the social fabric. However, less attention has been paid to the intergenerational support to elderly people, and so, the factors and dynamics that underpin the intergenerational support to elderly people in Rwanda remain underexplored, and it has not yet attracted anthropological scholarly attention.

The aim of this research project is to contribute to the current anthropological debate on day-to-day intergenerational support in the wave of social changes. In Rwanda, social changes such as rural-urban migration of younger generations, changes in housing patterns and land scarcity as well as the 1994 genocide greatly influence the current intergenerational support to elderly people in rural areas. This research will explore factors underpinning intergenerational support to elderly people in relation to the care expectations of elderly people in rural areas of Rwanda. The issue of intergenerational support for the elderly becomes ever more important in the wake of social changes since such social changes leave a gap which renders the elderly in rural areas without daily care. This research will analyze how care is provided to elderly people and the motivation to provide care in the context of social changes. It will also explore what happens to these elderly individual when neither their families nor the government provides care for them.

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Saskia JaschekHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Saskia Jaschek

Research Interests:

Political Subjectivization, Narratives and Identities of Social Movements, Dynamics of Street Protests, Practices of Resistance

Geographical Area:

Sudan

Current Project:

What makes for a Revolution? Subjektivierungen des Widerstand in der Dezemberrevolution des Sudans

I ask the question how, after the oppressive reign of 30 years of dictatorship in the Sudan, which was in the Arendtian sense totalitarian, a revolution evolved. I want to make understandable the emergence of resistant political subjects following an interpretative paradigm and examine how this is related to revolutionary practices of self-empowerment. Using an ethnographic research design complemented by a discourse-analytical approach, I study how the first riots developed and how, through the use of specific social practices, a political space of appearance was created.

It is my goal to uncover the new identities, attributions and narratives that were created within those practices and how they influenced the processes of political subjectivization. In this regard, the meaning of space and matter, especially the matter of the body, take a central role in my analysis of those practices. I want to examine which political spaces were newly created, appropriated and interpreted through the physical appropriation of space.

This project is supposed to make an empirical contribution to the understanding of impulses leading to protests, their intersubjective dynamics and the diverse practices of this enactment. I want to contribute to the analyses of street protests, the role of embodied togetherness and the meaning of reclaiming public space.

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Eileen JahnHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Eileen Jahn

Research Interests:

Infrastructures, Coloniality of Power, Knowledge and Being, Decolonization, Social Movements, Anthropology of Ethics, Critical Urbanism

Geographical Area:

South Africa

Current Project:

“Ugesi Ngowethu”: Politics of Access to Electricity Networks in South Africa ­– A Case Study of the City of Johannesburg

The Ph.D. project’s objective is to explore the politics of access to electricity networks as they are mobilized around struggles for electricity by undersupplied and precariously connected poor urban residents. The main focus rests on the experiences and knowledges employed by them through strategies of non-payment, self-connection, manipulation, and destruction of electricity infrastructures in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa. Thinking from and with the positions of people at the margins of the electricity network yields three key insights: (1) what electricity comes to signify for the residents; (2) what (un)fulfilled promises, expectations, and grievances residents assemble as parts of the demand for equitable, affordable and reliable access to electricity in South Africa; and (3) how current struggles and practices around the electricity undersupply relate to historical experiences and strategies resisting colonial power.

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Shaden KamelHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Shaden Kamel

Research Interests:

Digital Media, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking Sites, Journalism and Global Communication

Geographical Area:

Egypt

Current Project:

Popular Facebook groups exclusively for women and women empowerment in Egypt

My dissertation seeks to explore the extent to which Facebook groups exclusively for women are perceived as communities of women empowerment in Egypt. These popular Facebook groups despite being private groups, are trendy ‘only women’ zones that discuss a variety of topics of shared interests. This exclusivity allows women to connect with each other and share their thoughts and perspectives more freely. It can be argued that these groups may not have a significant impact on affecting women’s sense of empowerment in society due to the privacy settings of these platforms. However, the rapid popularity of these Facebook groups reflected in the hundreds of members joining by the day through their family, friends or peers reflects a form of new internet based socialized communication that takes part not only in the communication flow but also I argue in the construction and reconstruction of a contemporary image of Egyptian women.

By taking on a social shaping approach to contribute to literature on new media and its form of communication, this dissertation will look at how the Egyptian women use these online groups in relation to the Egyptian context, and the extent to which is has become embedded in their everyday life.

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Jocelyne Kenne KenneHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Jocelyne Kenne

Geographical Area:

Cameroon

Current Project:

Language and Interaction in the Chinese Community in Cameroon: A Sociolinguistic Profile

The present study aims at analyzing the sociolinguistic profile of Chinese community in Cameroon. In fact, the number of Chinese migrants in Africa has been growing. In Cameroon, their presence is noticeable in various sectors like in teaching, the medicine, and the agricultural sector. Some of these migrants also work in stores and in construction. It is my purpose to highlight how and in which languages the Chinese communicate in a country of almost 300 languages. The research will center on two Cameroonian cities: Douala and Bamenda which are chosen firstly because of the considerable presence of Chinese migrants in these cities and secondly because of the major languages spoken in the two areas: French in Douala and English in Bamenda. Through observations, questionnaires and audio recordings, I will interrogate (i) the level of interaction in the Chinese community in Cameroon (ii) the linguistic outcomes that occur during such interactions (iii) the variance in the Chinese linguistic profile according to the geographical area they occupy, that is, Francophone and Anglophone. The research is intended to be a contribution to the field of Sino-African studies and will also serve as a comparison for the study of Chinese migrants in other African countries.

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Florencia KimarioHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Florencia Kimario

Research Interests:

Family Law, National and International Migration, Refugee and Citizenship Law and Policies

Geographical Area:

Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda

Current Project:

The Best Interests of the Child Principle: A Critical Analysis of the Tanzanian Intercountry Adoption System

The best interests of the child principle is one of the cardinal principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989 and African Convention on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, 1990 that must strictly be adhered to in all actions affecting the child. According to the Conventions, in child adoption, the best interests of the child must be the paramount rather than primary consideration. This reflects an increased need for protection when a child is adopted. The best interests of the child principle however remains an undefined concept, with no specifically set criteria for determination in both the United Nations and African Conventions on the Rights of the Child. Arguably, this is a deliberate omission so as to allow different interpretations of the notion depending on context and circumstances. This flexibility however, creates a lack of consensus on what best interests of the child entail. Consequently, this may occasion problems in practice where the best interests of the child may be erroneously construed to the detriment of the child.

This study investigates and critically analyzes the law, policy, practice and institutional setup governing intercountry adoption in Tanzania. Focus is mainly on problems relating to best interests of the child determination, child's right to identity and the subsidiarity principle. Challenges in balancing the need for intercountry adoption to be a measure of last resort and in the best interests of the child are paid particular attention.

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Diana KisakyeHide

Research Interests:

Processes of Regional Integration, Judicial Politics, Politics of Development Negotiations

Current Project:

Judges as agents of regional integration: A relational analysis of judicial networks in African regional courts

Diana is interested in the link between judicial decision-making and processes of regional integration in Africa. Her research project conceptualises judges on regional courts as actors, with agency, who operate within existing configurations of power. Therefore, it adopts a relational approach to investigate how the judges’ diverse relational attributes potentially shape and influence their decision-making, and in turn, how this impacts regional integration processes. Specifically, it examines how regional court judges understand their role in regional integration, probes into what shapes this understanding and traces the judicial networks that matter in advancing regional integration. Possible constraints to judicial power and individual interests that tend to deter regionalisation will also be investigated. The study employs semi-structured interviews to probe judicial relations and Social Network Analysis to analyse the structural properties of these networks.

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Tina Živa KopeckáHide

Current Project:

Hindu Temple Ritual Worship in Durban, South Africa

The project explores a specific religious identity by investigating sources and dynamics of contemporary public Hindu ritual practices in the city of Durban, South Africa. The research focuses on Amman worship with special emphasis on the fire-walking festival and Murugan worship and, in particular, its Kavady rituals, as annually practiced at and mediated by the temples in Durban.

Empirical research analyses the way in which rituals develop within the context of post-colonial and multireligious society, how these rituals are negotiated, appropriated and framed and how they are experienced, remembered and narrated – in other words, how they continue and process the local Hindu tradition by creating the various spaces – physical as well as social and symbolic – where their prestige and legal authority, just like South African Hindu identity, is located, displayed and confronted.

The project aims to contribute to the documentation of the reconstitution of a particular culture – i.e. religious identity in a rapidly changing and multicultural South African environment – while enquiring into the possibilities of linking cognitive and practical theoretical approaches that account for religious and ritual innovation.

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Rebekka KraußHide

Current Project:

Urban illiteracy in Bolivia

Sophie LembckeHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Sophie Lembcke

Current Project:

Digitalisierung und Future Archives. Posthybride Perspektiven auf künstlerische Objektbefragungen im kolonialen Museum (WT)

The 19th century saw the birth of ethnographic museums in Europe – impressive buildings in which a crucial link between colonized, othered cultures and white superiority was forged. Through the selection, display, and thus the reframing of works of art and artefacts of non-European provenance, an immaterial order of things was constructed, narrating notions of unilinear progress and modernity to a general public. With a particular focus on the relationship between exhibition display, the categories ‘art’/’artefact’, immaterial order, and white gaze, this study broadens our understanding of practices of purification, object lessons, and epistemological violence. Sophie Lembcke is interested in artistic research practices that critically engage with objects in ethnographic museums and shape their ongoing transformation. Instead of thinking about identities, theorists are arguing for a transcultural approach, transforming museums into democratic forums including diverse voices and positionalities. However, to counter colonial structures persisting in such postcolonial ethnographic museums, the research focuses on the remediation of objects by contemporary artists such as Nora Al-Badri/Jan Nikolai Nelles, Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja, Morehshin Allahyari, and Thenjiwe Niki Nkosi/ Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum. Thinking-with their artistical propositions conceptualizes the future museum as a dividual aesthetic zone for exploring collapsing temporalities, sensuous knowledges and digital commoning as strategies for overcoming colonial object lessons and display strategies.

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Perseverence MadhukuHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Percy Madhuku

Research Interests:

Colonial History (mainly British), Medicine and Health in Africa, International and Global Health Programs since 1900

Geographical Area:

Zimbabwe

Current Project:

Measles Outbreaks, Vaccination Campaigns and African Experiences in South-Eastern Zimbabwe 1900 to Present

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Dandara Maia SchellenbergHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Dandara Maia Schellenberg

Research Interests:

Wax Prints Textiles, Uses of African Textiles in Diasporic Countries, Relation between Fashion and Arts dealing with Ethnic Issues, Nigerian Contemporary Fashion, Transculturation, Material Culture

Geographical Area:

Nigeria, Brazil

Current Project:

Mapping African Prints - Fashion and Visual Agency in Brazil and Nigeria

In this study, we propose to investigate the use of wax prints – or Ankara – dressing the black body as a performative act that produces and asserts identities due to the power of its visual materiality. The intention is to map ways of how wax operates expressing and discussing social and ethnic issues by studying the image created by this cultural performance. I argue that the image of wax prints is able to represent and materialize an imagined territory, a mythical Africa, which is referenced by black people from diasporic countries. Also, this hybrid object encounters tradition and modernity decolonizing notions of beauty and reaffirming Africa as an epicenter of art and fashion.

I analyze a selected number of wax prints concerning its visual characteristics as well as with other physical and sensorial properties. The empirical approach connects the visual analysis work with the uses of wax and its aesthetics experiences in everyday life and fashion collections in Nigeria and Brazil. This permits us to understand how wax acts and how it impacts peoples in both countries. We establish a connection between fashion in Lagos and the Brazilian counterparts to show how issues of cultural/racial interconnections are mediated by the wax image but also making out possible areas of transatlantic translations and transformations.

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David MallucheHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow David Malluche

Research Interests:

Social and cultural history of the western Sahara, Politics of state- and nation building, Identity and Belonging, Ethnicity and Race, Social Movements

Geographical Area:

Mauritania

Current Project:

Making up a people – Ethnogenesis among the Haratin of Mauritania

The project engages with the Mauritanian Haratin’s (Hassaniya-Arabic-speaking Blacks of slave origin) struggles for emancipation and citizenship in a post-slavery society and explores the thesis of an ethnogenetic process in this context. Whereas the Haratin category in the hassanophone (Bidhan) milieus of the western Saharan region traditionally refers to a specific social identity within a hierarchically stratified, kinship-based society, namely that associated with (recently) manumitted slaves (said to be of “Black African/pagan origin”, contrary to the “Arab/Muslim” origins of the elite strata), local activists claim that the Haratin should be recognized as a distinct “ethnic” or “national” community (distinct from the “Black African” ethnicities of the Wolof, Soninké and Halpulaaren and from the hassanophone “Arab-Berber” Bidhan, with whom they are traditionally associated). I want to explore the societal processes and larger political contexts that led to the formulation of these claims, interrogate their discursive framing, and investigate how they are received by different groups within Mauritanian society. The conceptual framework relies mainly on social constructivist notions of ethnicity and the heuristic possibilities they entail for a comprehensive view of the local sociopolitical context. In this sense, the project aims at producing an ethnographic account of the discursive and performative dimensions of contemporary Haratin identity in Mauritania, combined with an in-depth analysis of the historical processes involved in the development and articulation of an “ethnic consciousness” among the Mauritanian Haratin.

For this purpose, I will conduct multi-sited qualitative ethnographic fieldwork in several research locations in Mauritania. Ultimately, I want to integrate my empirical findings into a larger historical and comparative perspective on processes of group formation in the context of colonialism, (post)slavery, and postcolonial state- and nation building. Beyond this theoretical debate around the creation and transformation of collective identities the research will contribute also to academic and non-academic debates on histories and contemporary realities of slavery and race in North Africa and the West African Sahel.

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Sheini MemunatuHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Sheini Memunatu

Current Project:

Dagbani English: The Influence of Dagbani on the Use of English in Ghana

The world is marked with many varieties of English. These varieties are marked with the geographical locations of where those varieties are spoken. Thus, we have; European English, Asian English West African English, East African English etc. Also, within these continents one can tell who is from; Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe when they begin to speak English. These varieties are further identified by the countries in which they are spoken. Therefore, it is common to hear; American, British, Chinese, Nigerian, Ghanaian, Kenyan Englishes. Besides, within these countries are numerous varieties of English spoken by the uncountable ethnic groups in these countries. The varieties in these countries are undoubtedly marked by the various indigenous languages of speakers of those varieties. It is not uncommon therefore to have Igbo English, Yoriba English, Bantu English, Ashanti English, Dagbani English Ewe English, Lamso English and more, even if they are not officially documented or given the recognition as varieties of English. Varieties of English as they stand go beyond just dialects or languages. They are inevitably, signs of identification to its speakers.

Taking Ghanaian English into consideration, this research project therefore seeks to identify, describe and provide explanation to the syntactic areas and phonological areas of Dagbani grammar that serve as a sign of identifying this ethnic group as they speak and use English in Ghana. In the quest of this project to investigate and provide explanation to the above-mentioned areas, it digs to uncover the aspects of Dagbani tense, and aspect (progressive and perfective) as well as phonological (vowel sounds) aspects that that serve as a sign on speakers’ English. Main data source is primary with interview as main data collection tool, underpinned by Labov’s (1966) variation approach. It takes the form of translation, picture description and text reading.

Diana Carolina MignanoHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Diana Mignano

Current Project:

Romantische Prostitution: Liebe, Sexualität und Materialität im Kontext von "Prostitution" in Diego Suarez (Madagaskar)

The Western conception of prostitution is based on a dialectical construction of sexuality, which confronts legitimate forms of sexuality with illegitimate ones. In this perspective, marriage represents the space in which sexuality is permitted and is the only context where sexual relations can involve emotions. On the other hand, prostitution, understood as “indecent” sexuality, is believed to be driven solely by socio-economical motivations. This conception represents the basis for interpreting prostitution in Africa to this day. As a consequence, broader understandings of prostitution are excluded by definition, although women and men involved in this kind of relationship develop and construct ideas, feelings and expectations which go beyond socio-economical boundaries. Therefore, the project aims at exploring the role of emotions, feelings, sexuality, the body and romantic love play within these relationships. Based on ethnographic research among Malagasy women in Diego Suarez (Madagascar) who engage in sexual relationships in which money and other goods are exchanged for sexual services, this study aims to go beyond onesided economic understandings of prostitution, and thus to overcome the dichotomous construction of “decent” vs. “indecent” sexuality.

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Emiliano MinerbaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Emiliano Minerba

Research Interests:

Swahili Classical Poetry; Wolof Classical Poetry; Swahili Modern Literature

Geographical Area:

Tanzania, Kenya, Senegal

Current Project:

Historical-comparative analysis of the Swahili and Wolof metrical systems

My project profiles a comparative study of the Swahili and Wolof metrical traditions and of their historical development. The metrical canons of these languages in fact share several common elements: both have been influenced in their development by the Arabic poetical traditions (including the classical Arabic metrical system as well as the popular poetic works). Furthermore, it can be assumed for both of them, as my research aims to demonstrate, that they did not originate from a passive reception of the Arabic prosodic and stanzaic elements, but from a reelaboration carried out knowingly and in full awareness by the Swahili educated class of the time. Due to the absence, in both the contexts and for different reasons, of historical sources documenting how such reelaborations took place, a reconstruction of their historical developments needs a fortiori to rely on the comparative approach as a fundamental tool to tell for each metrical system the autochthonous elements from those inherited from the Arabic tradition. Comparison, therefore, is not a tool for a mere structural analysis, but a device for a historical survey.

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Carsten MöllerHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Carsten Möller

Research Interests:

Uganda, Kenya, D.R. Congo

Geographical Area:

Mobility, Political Mobilization, Elections

Current Project:

Moving towards Power? Mobilities within Political Mobilization in Uganda, Kenya and Eastern DRC

Political mobilization is a key element of winning elections in our increasingly mobile world. Thereby, the term political mobilization already suggests that mobility is an important aspect of elections, while elections are decisive distribution mechanisms for power. Currently however, there is only limited knowledge on how mobility really affects mobilization. Likewise, the interplay of mobility, mobilization and power during processes of mobilization has received little attention. It is known however that both mobility and mobilization are relevant for the production of political power. Likewise, political power is known to be important for mobility as well as mobilization. If mobility therefore indeed does affect political mobilization, this of course raises questions on how it does so and which consequences high or low mobility has for gaining political power.

In an attempt to bridge the gap, this project aims at investigating the role of mobility within the political mobilization for elections in Uganda, Kenya and Eastern Congo. To achieve this its objective will be to identify the potential to be mobile, also called mobility capital, those mobilized for political purposes, and the mobile elements in mobilization techniques. The focus lies on politicized mobile groups like motorcycle taxi drivers. Furthermore, the effects of mobility driven mobilization in elections will be evaluated. Examining these factors allows the evaluation of the role of mobility on power relations in the empirical settings and makes it possible to reflect on how this role influences governmental policies on mobility.

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Rami Mohammed AliHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Rami Mohammed Ali

Current Project:

Pursuing Order on Sudanese Hinterland Roads: An Ethnography of Travel Communities.

Transportation in Sudan is undergoing a state of transition. Huge sums have been invested in the construction of new roads within and outside urban centres during the oil boom of the past decade. This process has created a dual road regime in the country where paved roads serve urban centres in parallel with the distinguished trans-rural Sudanese hinterland roads. The Forty Days Road, an exemplification of the latter type, comprises several routes that split into unsur-faced tracks and lanes linking western and central Sudan. The road poses a constant challenge for vehicles and passengers. Lorries spend much of the journey in isolation and depend greatly on their navigators’ skills. Exposed to the will of nature and political instabilities in Darfur, the  ravel community is constantly involved in innovation, from appropriating vehicle bodies to constructing social networks along the road.

By enquiring into the spatial meanings and practices at stake, the study seeks to find the order that is built on the dialectical relation between uncertainty and innovation on the road.

The study is part of the chair of Anthropology’s larger research project “Roadside and Travel Communities – Towards an Understanding of the African Long Distance Road”.

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Dikko MuhammadHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Dikko Muhammad

Research Interests:

African Literature, Gender Studies, Literary Theory and Afro-American Literature

Geographical Area:

Nigeria

Current Project:

Female Voices in Northern Nigeria: An Exploration of Nature, Activism and Identity Politics in the Poetry of Nana Aishatu Ahmad, Angela Miri, and Maria Ajima

This research project aims to explore the concerns of the female poets in Northern Nigeria. It seeks to explore the literary-critical female voices hitherto unheard as a result of the domination of patriarchal tendencies that extend to the imaginative space.  Female Writers are hardly accorded any space in literary discussions of work produced in northern Nigeria. The problem is more worrisome in case of poetry as women are hardly considered as capable of producing any poetry worth reading by the male-dominated critical institutions, notwithstanding the poetry of Nana Asma'u Danfodio produced as far back as early 1800s.

The present research presents three major issues as projected in the collections of the poets under study. To achieve this, feminism is used as the theoretical framework. The feminist frame is be used to explore the poets' protest against the status quo and their projection of the female identity in a patriarchal society for centuries. The project investigates the feminist engagements; whether radical or subtle in their quest to exert their female identity and how in the process they respond to the "male other' as a source of female silences, anguish, suffering and hopelessness. Their diction is closely studied to see the link between the formal structures of their poems and the ideologies that the language portrays. Thus, the study takes into cognizance the forms and contents of the poems under study. The figurative language embodies in itself the ideological stance of the poets.

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Mary Mulenga WincierzHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Mary Mulenga Wincierz

Research Interests:

Youth Development, Youth Mentoring, Education, Social Exclusion and the Youth, Marginalisation and the Youth, “at-risk Youth”, Youth Inclusion, Socio-economic Development, Non-profit Organisations, Youth Policy, Social Policy, Poverty

Geographical Area:

Zambia

Current Project:

Towards Theory Building: An Exploration of Experiences and Perceptions Associated with Youth Mentoring Practice in Southern Africa: A Grounded Theory Study in Zambia

The majority of disadvantaged young people the world over lack positive role models, and meaningful relationships with supportive adults within their immediate families and communities, which promote young people’s wellbeing. Youth mentoring is one of the most renowned social interventions, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries, where it continues to grow. There is also evidence of its presence in other parts of the world, including Africa. However, there seems to be limited literature to support youth mentoring practice in Africa, particularly Zambia. Defining youth mentoring is also a challenge to researchers due to its flexible nature and, thus, its use in diverse contexts for a variety of reasons. Thus, this study will be based in Zambia, a context where youth mentoring activities seem evident but may not have been scientifically explored.

Considering these challenges and, consequently, the research question: what experiences and perceptions do mentors and mentees associate with youth mentoring practice in Zambia? A qualitative constructivist grounded theory approach seems to be most suitable, as there seems to be no existing theory available to explain the processes of youth mentoring in Zambia. Being an emerging method, this approach will allow the research process to begin with the empirical world and develop inductively in trying to understand mentors and mentees’ experiences, meanings, and actions within their contexts, as information will continue to develop gradually, and knowledge continue to advance. Through its interpretive methods, this approach will aim at gaining detailed, in-depth and situated knowledge about the phenomenon of youth mentoring in Zambia.

Therefore, using the constructivist grounded theory methodology, the researcher will explore the daily experiences and perceptions that mentors and mentees associate with the phenomenon, youth mentoring, in the Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces of Zambia. Being a constructivist grounded theory study, the following research objectives will guide and direct the research process:

  • To explain youth mentoring from a Zambian perspective and contribute to existing global debate;
  • to construct theory/concepts that may contribute to a better understanding of youth mentoring in Zambia and its potential as an intervention to reduce discrimination for disadvantaged youth, especially among policymakers and youth development practitioners;
  • to present findings that may contribute to the developing and strengthening of the existing practice of youth mentoring in Zambia.

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Katharina NambulaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Katharina Nambula

Current Project:

Female Identity between Passivity and Agency, Contemporary Fiction by Ugandan Women Writers

The dissertation analyses selected Ugandan women novels with the aim of ascertaining the development and modification of female identities. The writers use their literature to advocate for an acknowledged status for women in their country by stressing the difficulties which women have to cope with. The narratives represent common problems for women, for example male physical and psychological dominance as well as gaps in the current family and clan security nets, which are worsened by greater problems, such as wars, diseases (HIV/Aids) or poverty. The authoresses place the female characters in detailed depictions of the social system of Uganda. Digesting daily life in literature, the writers create female characters in the novels which are confronted with diverse aggravated circumstances and show completely different ways of dealing with these problems. While some remain passive and incapable of dealing with life, others react with agency and manage to generate a change for the better. In this way, the writers wish to create the readers’ awareness and to give the voiceless a voice.

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Lena NaumannHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Lena Naumann

Research Interests:

Contemporary and Modern Visual Art, Art History, Postcolonial Theories, African Modernisms, Institutional Art collections and archives in Africa

Geographical Area:

Nigeria

Current Project:

New Sacred Art – Das Gesamtwerk Susanne Wengers im Kontext der nigerianischen Moderne

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Patricia Pinky NdlovuHide
Cecilia NgaizaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Cecilia Ngaiza

Research Interests:

Human Rights

Geographical Area:

Tanzania

Current Project:

Practicability of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights in Protecting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Tanzania: Case Studies of the Hadzabe and Maasai

There is not in place a uniform definition of the term “collective human rights” at least in the African human rights instruments. However, these rights have been contextually referred to be relevant for certain communities or groups of people with a common shared interest or identity.

The research on the applicability of the African regional human rights law at the national level in Tanzania has been preferred to contribute knowledge to the field of human rights in Africa. The study focuses on the recent practice of peoples’ rights provided for under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981 herein referred to as “the Charter”. The specific rights in question are peoples’ rights to equality, existence and self-determination, free disposal of wealth and natural resources, economic, social and cultural development, peace and security and general satisfactory environment favourable for development respectively. The research seeks to answer an overriding question as to whether peoples’ rights stated in Charter are instrumental in promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ rights in Tanzania, drawing specific examples from the Hadzabe and Maasai communities.

This research involves both desk and empirical research. Desk research entails visits to the libraries and relevant documentation centres as well as the online resources. As to the empirical research, the researcher intends to employ structured and semi-structured interviews to obtain relevant information from the legal experts, officers in the governmental and non-governmental organisations and representatives from the selected Hadzabe and Maasai communities.

In the end, the researcher expects to have established in details, the foundation for the inclusion of peoples’ rights in the Charter and their relationship with the indigenous peoples’ rights; explained indigenous peoples’ insights on the relevancy of peoples’ rights to their own communities, described the status quo of Tanzania’s fulfilment of her domestic duty as a member of the Charter to promote and protect (indigenous) peoples’ rights in the country and finally, the study intends to provide viable recommendations as to the best practice in fulfilment of such duty.  

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Catheline NyabwengiHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Catheline Nyabwengi

Research Interests:

African History with a special focus on Women, Violence, Security, and Terrorism in East Africa

Geographical Area:

Kenya and East Africa

Current Project:

Women Fighters in Kenya, 1952-2019

This study is historical documentation of women's active participation in violence in Kenya between 1952 and 2019. The study cuts across the various epochs in the country and the violent groups dominating each epoch, exploring women's entry into these violent groups and the factors shaping their entry, roles, and plight in violence. While historical and recent events in Kenya point out to women partaking actively in violence, their active participation in violence in Kenya has been primarily overlooked, giving rise to narratives like women as victims, passive or coerced actors in violence. Much focus is given to the statuses of women  as opposed to the violent act itself when reporting on women violent actors.

Moreover, the relationship between gender, women, and violence in Kenya has not been scholarly documented. This study seeks to interrogate the relationship between gender, women, and violence in Kenya, the place of women in evolving violence in Kenya, and analyse continuity and change of women involvement in violence in Kenya. The gender schema theory will guide the study, and it will be conducted in Nairobi, Nyeri, Garissa, and Mombasa counties, Kenya. The study will employ a historical research design. This study mainly targets women. However, security officers such as the APTU, Flying Squad, the KDF, and other stakeholders in the security docket, Mau Mau veterans, ex-Mungiki members, and terror group ex-members, religious leaders, and the community elders will be targeted. Both primary and secondary data will be used in the study. Primary data will be obtained from direct interaction with respondents in the field through key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Archival sources will also be used. Secondary data will be obtained from books, journals, dissertations, theses, security reports, online sources, and conference papers. Collected data will be analyzed thematically according to the study objectives and then presented in the form of narrations followed by first-hand quotations from the primary sources. The study is significant since the findings from this study will help relevant stakeholders and policymakers in violence and terror issues as drivers and forces for policy change, formulation, and execution in counter-terror strategies. It will further help address gender concerns in violence and counter-terrorism initiatives and enrich the historiography of violence studies globally.

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​Nadja Ofuatey-AlazardHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard

Current Project:

Ein lebendiges Archiv afrikanisch(-diasporisch)er dekolonialer In(ter)ventionen: Kulturproduktion, Akademie und aktivistische Kulturvermittlung

European expansion and hegemony since 1492 has constituted a profoundly consequential event – both for the history of Europe/the West and that of the nations of the “global South” formerly subjected to European colonial rule. This historically unique process, given its global scope and duration, has had formative influences on the social, political and economic systems, and has thus influenced the areas of science, culture, literature and philosophy of the formerly colonised societies. Pursuing the question of how Africans and People of African descent used literary practices and theoretical discourse to respond to the European master narrative of modernity, civilisation and progress aimed at legitimising colonialism and racism will open up a heretofore negated perspective of Europe and raise awareness for the entangled (his)stories of the two continents. My research interest goes beyond a simple revision of the perspective that views Africans and people of African descent in Europe and the Americas merely as colonised or discriminated passive participants of European modernity: Viewing Europe through the prism of African and African-diasporic authors and theorists also makes it possible to see the many positions towards and interpretations of modernity which originated in Africa and its diasporas themselves, and how these have contributed to modernity in the West.

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Alexander OpperHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Alexander Opper

Research Interests:

Since 2009 – under the working title: Undoing Architecture – and driven by the spatial politics of Johannesburg I have generated and published a substantial body of artistic work and scholarly writing. This work sits at the core of my PhD. The research encompasses various fields, including art, architecture, urban studies, public space and photography.

Geographical Area:

Johannesburg, South Africa

Current Project:

Undoing the undoings of the Johannesburg Art Gallery: For the museum yet to become

There is currently still a relative dearth of scholarship on the contemporary African urban condition. In this context I believe there exists an excellent opportunity, using the intersection between art, architecture and urban(ist) disciplines, to pry open new and relevant readings on the emergent dynamics of African cities, and the role of architecture and space within these cities. A deep artistic reading of spatial constructs in the cities of the South, offers the promise of challenging the entrenched neo-liberalist attitude overly defining the North, and the West (threatening to choke possibilities for other models to emerge in the Global South). With this substantial research gap in mind, I have situated my artistic research primarily in, and base it on, both the persistent (post1994) and newer spatial anomalies to be found in the city of Johannesburg.

Over almost a decade I have engaged intensely and consistently in a form of artistic practice which essentially uses architecture against itself. I refer to this mode of working as ‘Undoing Architecture’. It serves as the conceptual framework for my inter-disciplinary practice, and relies on a self-reflexive entanglement of thinking, art-making, curating, teaching and writing.

Architecture, the discipline in which my original tertiary training took place, is implicitly inter-disciplinary. In contradiction to this ostensible dynamism it largely tends to play itself out as an incredibly slow, self-assured and relatively uncritical discipline, generally only poorly suited to deal with the complexities, of particularly urban challenges, of life in the 21st century contemporary condition. In the context of my PhD studies at BIGSAS, which focus on the striated context of the city of Johannesburg, I would plan to interrogate the limits and possibilities of architecture by ‘undoing’ these, using the discipline of art to do so.

Much of my practice has grappled with the expression and translation of line, boundary and territory, within and between Johannesburg’s multiplicities of liminal conditions and uncomfortably unequal adjacencies. I want to use the PhD to critically self-reflect on, and situate my artistic/architectural/teaching practice as a relevant approach towards reading and re-reading selected post-1994 Johannesburg everyday conditions; coupled with the more, or less, consciously spatio-political practices accompanying these conditions.

The productively deforming and transforming moves I am able to achieve via the conceptual framework of ‘Undoing Architecture’ raise critical issues around:

  • the generally unquestioned conventions which govern a hierarchical disposition of spaces within buildings;
  • the power relationships which exist between these spaces and buildings;
  • and the absolutist often western morphologies of architecture at large.

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Isaac Osei-TutuHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Isaac Osei-Tutu

Research Interests:

Business and Corporate Ethics, Economics of Religion, Christianity in Africa, Pentecostalism and Charismatics, Religion and Politics, Christian Theology, Biblical Exegesis

Geographical Area:

Ghana

Current Project:

Entrepreneurship and Prosperity Gospel. A Business and Corporate Ethical Perspective on Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic Economy in Ghana

The research is exploratory in nature. It has seven Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, their pastors and their ancillary philanthropic and profit generating institutions such as educational setups and social service agencies as subject of study. The churches, all headquartered in the Accra metropolis of Ghana, include the International Central Gospel Church (ICGC), Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), Royalhouse Chapel International (RCI), Action Chapel International (ACI), Perez Chapel International (PCI), Global Revival Ministries (GRM) and Harvest Chapel Ministries (HIM). Focusing on these churches as religious-economic enterprises and their pastoral agents and institutional managers both as entrepreneurs and as ethical leaders, the work will dedicate a special attention to internal entrepreneurial structures of the churches and their para-institutions and to the message of prosperity that serves as a success-factor in the NP/C religious-economy. Consequently, the work will rest on the three hinges of church economy, ethical concepts and ethical conduct.

In the project, I will seek to answer questions bordering on all that is entailed in Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic (NP/C) entrepreneurship in Ghana and the ethical concepts contained in and produced by the economic message and activities of the churches. Postulating that NP/CCs do not only have normative ethics but likewise their own economic ethics, a central objective of the research is a pursuit of a Business and Corporate “Ethic” that could be viewed not only as springing out of the economic actions of the selected churches and their leaders – the so-called ethics of doing –, but also as specific and unique to Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches, so that one could speak of Neo-Pentecostal/Charismatic Business and Corporate Ethics.

As an empirical research that applies a mixed methodology, the work will rely on qualitative data sourced from interviews, literature and media content analysis and from diverse ethnographic studies including participatory observation and online ethnography. With the research towing the line of the so-called empirically informed ethics and with economic ethics boiling to the three core factors of honesty, persistency and consistency (cf. Boatright 2014, Tanner et al 2010), the work will use a quantitative tool to assess these three factors in the economic and ethical conduct of the churches, their pastors and para-institutional managers. Purpose of this is not to prove how ethical or unethical the economy of the churches is, but rather how robust and significant the discovered ethical concepts are in the entrepreneurship of churches in the NP/C domain.

With this work, I hope to contribute to scholarship on African Pentecostalism and Charismatics from Business and Corporate Ethical point of view, shedding light on the ethical motivation and challenges in Neo-Pentecostalism/Charismatics in Ghana today.

* Boatright, J. R. (2014). Ethics and the Conduct of Business (7th ed.). Essex: Pearson. Tanner, C., Brügger, A., van Schie, S., & Lebherz, C. (2010). Actions speak louder than words: The benefits of ethical behaviors of leaders. Zeitschrift für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology, 218(4), 225-233.

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Glory Essien OtungHide

Current Project:

Power and Identity in Colonial Letters: The Case of Southwest Cameroon

Katrin Peters-KlaphakeHide

Current Project:

Manifestations of modernism in art collections from the Makerere School of Fine Arts environment

Claudia PrempehHide

Current Project:

Powering Ghana? "Dumsor", a study of electricity and its absence

In 2010, Ghana was considered one of the fastest growing and stable economies in the world. Following a notable annual economic growth rate of about 5 per cent over the past five years, the economic prospects were indeed projected to be very bright. But now Ghana is experiencing a decline in growth because of erratic power cuts.  The manufacturing sector declined by 8 per cent in 2014. This has spurred policy attention and a renewed enthusiasm towards the development of renewable energy technologies. While there are high hopes towards a transitioning to a renewable energy era, this enthusiasm has however failed to pay attention to the power relations, interests, politics and institutional deficiencies inherent in the sector--which have partly played a role in contributing to the current energy crisis. The problems confronting the sector have largely been treated as technical (e.g. lack of funds, lack of human resources, low maintenance culture etc). This proposed dissertation seeks to examine the socio-political and economic effects of the power crisis and current power relations among the state, corporations and households and offer important lessons for the renewable energy policy and technology dreams of Ghana.

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Hamissou Rhissa AchaffertHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert

Research Interests:

Religious Studies, Slavery, Poverty, ICT, Open Science, Cognitive Justice

Geographical Area:

Niger

Current Project:

Penser et faire le développement au Niger : Le rôle des acteurs islamiques locaux

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Monika RohmerHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Monika Rohmer

Research Interests:

African and Afrophone Literatures, African Languages, Cognitive Linguistics, Discourse Analysis, Ecocriticism, Ecolinguistic, Feminisms, Popular Arts (HipHop and Rap), Political Protest, Postcolonialism

Geographical Area:

Senegal

Current Project:

Towards a Fluid Ecosophy. Conceptualisations of WATER on the Senegalese coast

In my dissertation, I aim to explore the perception of WATER on the Senegalese coast from an ecolinguistic and a double language (comparative and contrastive) perspective. I will explore and compare how the cognitive-semantic domain of WATER is represented in the discourses of Wolof speakers, French speakers of Senegalese origin, and French residents living in the same area.

I aim to answer two sets of questions. The first group of questions is concerned with conceptualisations of WATER, and asks which conceptualisations are shared and which differ among the three groups (Wolof speakers, French speakers of Senegalese origin, and French residents). The second set of questions operates at the level of discourse and aims to explore the consequences of the conceptualisations in regards to perceptions of the environment, including evaluations of change and definitions of problems.

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Ahmed Hammad SaeedHide

Current Project:

Artisanal Gold Mining in Um Badir, Sudan

Ghadafi SaibuHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Ghadafi Saibu

Research Interests:

Comparative Democratization, Political Parties, Elections, Political Violence, Violent Youth/Groups (Party Foot-soldiers, Youth Gangs, Vigilante Groups, Private or Ethnic Militia) and Electoral Violence/Insecurity

Geographical Area:

Africa

Current Project:

Political Parties, Violent Youth and Electoral Insecurity

The „third wave‟ democratization process in sub-Sahara Africa gave birth, in some cases a rebirth to multiparty democracy in the region in the early 90s. It has been over two decades now since then, and a lot of the countries, at least half of them in the continent have made some commendable strides in democratic developments; especially, they have held several multi-party elections which have been reasonably free and fair. Yet, despite this positive development in the path of democratization in Africa, multi-party contests in the region to a large extent have been characterized with different manifestations of violence and other violations of democratic norms, notably in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, La Côte d’Ivoire among others. This has led to an increase in electoral violence and insecurity in the continent quite recently. One of the major reasons accounting for this is the activities of violent youth (party foot – soldiers, youth gangs and private militia) in political activities and elections across African countries. Violent youth have been at the forefront of confrontations in widespread of mass killings, death threats, mob attacks, arson, murder, molestation, destruction of property, voter intimidation, forcefully disenfranchisement of other groups, sectarian violence and stealing of ballot boxes at polling stations during elections. However, cross – sectional studies that focus on the mobilization of youth by parties and party leaders are missing.

This study therefore intends to fill this important gap by investigating two main research questions: Firstly, it will look at what explains variation across space in the nature and intensity of violent youth activities in Africa. Secondly, it will look at how the networks of violent youth, political parties and party leaders are created and sustained. The Greed – Grievances theories and the Selective Violence theory will be utilized for theoretical framework of the study. The nature of the research design is mixed research as it will utilize quantitative and qualitative data such as datasets, multiple sources of information and interviews for Comparative and Network Analysis of the study.

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Eleanor SchaumannHide

Current Project:

Tracing Karakul in Postcolonial Practices and Landscapes

Fabian SchwarzHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Fabian Schwarz

Current Project:

Sustainable bioenergy and biofuel potentials from agricultural crops and residues in Uganda and Tanzania

Biofuel and bioenergy production from agricultural crops and residues are frequently discussed issues in Europe as well as in developing countries. Main counterarguments are expulsion of small-scale farmers, conversion of forests and idle areas, land grabbing, competition between food and fuel. However, providing special conditions allowing sustainable production, both energy sources can make contributions to strengthen the national energy supply and help to reduce import costs for fossil energy sources and CO2 emissions.

Tanzania and Uganda, both developing countries with rapidly growing populations and a lack of fossil energy sources and energy supply, demonstrate huge potential for electricity and fuel generation from agricultural crops and residues. In order to understand the development in the bioenergy and biofuel sector of Uganda and Tanzania, the research seeks to answer the following questions: Which types of bioenergy and biofuel developments in Uganda and Tanzania offer sustainable production at a local level? Which stakeholders are influencing the bioenergy and biofuel sector at the national level? Which differences appear in the policy progress and perception of biofuel and bioenergy in the two countries?This study therefore intends to fill this important gap by investigating two main research questions: Firstly, it will look at what explains variation across space in the nature and intensity of violent youth activities in Africa. Secondly, it will look at how the networks of violent youth, political parties and party leaders are created and sustained. The Greed – Grievances theories and the Selective Violence theory will be utilized for theoretical framework of the study. The nature of the research design is mixed research as it will utilize quantitative and qualitative data such as datasets, multiple sources of information and interviews for Comparative and Network Analysis of the study.

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Mbaye SeyeHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Mbaye Seye

Current Project:

Senegalesische Filme in Mediascape: Mous Sène Absas Filme Madame Brouette und Yoolé

This research work deals with the presence of Senegalese Films at Africa festivals in Germany. It focuses on a case study of the Senegalese film director Moussa Sène Absa and the presence of his films at festivals in the realm of the mediascape (Appadurai). The general framework is the mediascape. As a branch of mediascape, the film distribution plays an important role which is very close to questions of translation and reception of films like the transfers of dialogues by a film translation. This work therefore also aims at the reception of Senegalese films in connection with each translation, and the presence of Senegalese films in general and Moussa Sène Absa’s films in particular at well-chosen Film festivals in Germany (Die Berlinale –Berlin-, Europa Jenseits –Köln-, Afrikanische Filmtage –Saarbrücken- and Französische Filmtage –Tübingen). Basing our analysis on some films of Moussa Sène Absa (basically Madame Brouette and Yoolé, supplementary ça twiste à Popenguine, Teranga Blues and Tableau Féraille), I will analyse the question of film distribution and reception in festivals as part of the mediascape.

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Ibrahim Seyni MamoudouHide

Current Project:

Gouvernance de la pluralité religieuse au Niger : rôles des associations interreligieuses

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Mihir SharmaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Mihir Sharma

Research Interests:

Social Movements, Race, Racism, Capitalism, Diaspora

Geographical Area:

United States of America, Germany, Transnational

Current Project:

Black Lives Matter: Emerging Forms and Subjectivities of Activism in St. Louis, Missouri

This project concerns the ongoing Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) from the perspective of participants in the Network for Black Lives in St. Louis, Missouri. On the one hand, my research aims to focus on the everyday lives of activists and draw connections to the political economy of activism this urban neoliberal landscape. On the other hand, the project focuses on the re-signification, mobilization and enactment of race, with a specific focus on negotiations around blackness. Finally, the project is envisioned as engaged action research where the academic output will be supplemented by journalistic writing and relevant research with my interlocutors.

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Leiyo SingoHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Leiyo Singo

Research Interests:

Land and Natural Resources, Political Economy, African Politics

Geographical Area:

Tanzania

Current Project:

Sustainable Land Use Plans or Repertoires of Domination? Tracing Competing Visions of Bioeconomy in Tanzania.

My research focuses on conceptions of land use, particularly ontological conflicts over sustainable land use plans as competing visions of bioeconomy in Tanzania. At the height of the land rush, sustainable land use plans are presented by the government and international organizations as laudable policy aspirations. However, there is a significant body of literature that views the rush to land use planning as an indicator of often indirectly experienced effects of an ongoing and incomplete primitive accumulation (Blustein et al, 2018; Walwa, 2017; Huggins, 2016; Peluso and Lund, 2011). I explore how these bioeconomy discourses and practices (in the name of planning, conservation and productivity) have been interpreted, understood, contested or/and translated into popular understandings in Tanzania.

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Aboubakr TandiaHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Aboubakr Tandia

Current Project:

Modernity, Islam and Peace in Independent Senegal: The dynamics of the role of Islamic authorities in peace building and conflict handling (1962 - 2012)

The Senegalese social contract as it has been unfolding since independence provides for specific relationships between the religious and the political power. Those relationships are mediated by the principles of equilibrium, cordiality and reciprocity, in moral, political and economic domains, between those two orders of power. As a means of a multilayered decolonization based on the ideologies of “African socialism”, “secularism” and “spiritualism”, the role of religion in Senegal during the process of state-building has been characterized “as a driving force of modernization and development of a new secular nation-state in Senegal” (Diagne 2009:2). This was the content of the modernity project formulated by the first leaders of newly independent Senegal. Following and contrary to what has been observed from the regimes of Senghor and Diouf, the regime of President Wade has laid the ground for a partisan expression of religious and confessional affiliations in the public sphere. This I call the “generalized fetishization” of religious identities. What is more, behind this lies the promotion of a politics of identity that seem to threaten the republican principles of secularism, i.e. the strict separation of the religious and the political (public) spheres, and the validity of the social contract as it emerged during Senegal’s founding period. Many conflicts and tensions have resulted from this configuration, not only between religious groups and institutions, but also between the latter and political powers.

The main objective of this study is to revisit the project of modernization described above. The central question the research will address is: to what extent do the interventions of religious institutions in peace building and conflict management evoke and contribute to the (de) construction of modernity in independent Senegal?

My research aims at contributing thus to the debate over whether there is one modernity everywhere to which all cultures contribute, or whether there are several ‘modernities’, each culture producing its own one. One of the main interests of this research proposal is that it addresses the questions of how modern societies are facing complex challenges to establish peace, stability as well as mutual understanding and dialogue and how they respond to violence and conflict. The configuration in Senegal, as shortly described above, seems to hint at innovative discourses and practices of conflict management and peace building, beyond the monopolization of violence by the modern state. This study seeks to cross-fertilize theories of peace, conflict and social contracts. In doing so, it aims at contributing to the theoretical and conceptual debates in this field. The methodology is interdisciplinary and comprises archival and qualitative social science research methods and fieldwork.

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Duncan TarrantHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Duncan Tarrant

Research Interests:

Literatures in African Languages, more specifically focused on Swahili poetry and novels. Swahili, Swahili Literature, Poetics, Literature, Literary Stylistics, Languages and Cultures, Discourse Analysis, Linguistics, Bantu Languages, Bantu Linguistics, Arabic Language and Linguistics, Sociolinguistics

Geographical Area:

East Africa, Indian Ocean

Current Project:

Zanzibari Swahili Poetic Imaginaries and Networks

As part of the University of Bayreuth’s Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence my research will focus on the multi-layered co-presence and circulation of verbal arts in relation to narratives, imagery, and sound travelling the Indian Ocean. In line with the cluster project, literary works are not conceived as neatly delineated units, but as internally multiple and dynamic configurations in relation to other literary works and artworks. The main question, which feeds into the cluster’s wider interest in practices of worlding, is: Which multiple world(s) do literature and other artworks inhabit, imagine and construct?

The aim of the Prof. Dr. Clarissa Vierke case study, to which my PhD research will contribute, is to examine how popular Swahili poetry and songs relate to the broader Indian Ocean. Although Swahili expressive cultures have been recurrently characterized as shaped by a multitude of influences, there has been little investigation of how Swahili poetry and music have actually incorporated elements from elsewhere, for example India and the Middle East. My part in the project will focus on Swahili poetry and song lyrics in Zanzibar and Oman, and their entanglement through back and forth migration and, more recently, social media.

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Veronika ThalhammerHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Veronika Thalhammer

Research Interests:

Human Rights, International Law

Current Project:

Möglichkeiten der Bindung transnationaler Unternehmen an Menschenrechte aus völkerrechtlicher Perspektive. Eine Untersuchung mit dem Fokus auf afrikanische Gaststaaten und deutsche Gesetzesinitiativen

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Marie Nadege Tsogo MomoHide

Research Interests:

Literature, Film, History

Geographical Area:

Cameroon

Current Project:

Interwar German Cinema in Cameroon: Colonial Revisionism Through Images

In the wake of waning enthusiasm for the colonial project, film became one of several tools deployed by the pro-colonial elite during the Weimar period to promote colonialism. This project examines the presentation in images and, therefore, in discourse, of colonial revisionism in a selection of films produced between 1927 and 1937 to determine the strategies used for relaying German propaganda in favor of Cameroon’s retrocession.

Drawing on historical, discursive, ideological and political analyses of these films, as well as through an examination of film techniques and processes, this project will address the following: What were the underlying issues and production mechanisms of German films made in Cameroon after the Versailles Conference? How were Cameroon and her inhabitants perceived and depicted by the German collective imagination? What technical devices were used to interpret the "colonial revisionist" discourse? Did the films made in Cameroon help strengthen the Colonial Idea?

Existing scholarship on colonial or African cinemas tends to focus on the relationship between colonialism and film production before turning to national cinemas. The only in-depth study of German colonial film remains Furhmann’s Imperial Projections, which focuses on the period from 1904 to the end of WWI. For this reason, this project is unprecedented not only in its temporal and regional focus, but also for its epistemological approach, drawing on historiographical survey instruments, film construction and technique, as well as semiology and postcolonial theories in order to better understand the role of German cinema in the colonies.

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James WachiraHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow James Wachira

Current Project:

Non*human Matter[ing]s: NarRating Conservation in Selected Kenyan Eco-Texts

This study is on poetry and knowledge production. Specifically, it focuses on a critical reading of selected ritual poetry of the Samburu and Maasai of Doldol. The reading aims at critiquing: first, the fictional representation of the nonhuman in the ritual poetry. The nonhuman in the poetry comprises some plants; goddesses, mountains, rivers and livestock. Second, it aspires to analyse the agency of the nonhuman in the figuration and representation of the Samburu and Maasai indigenous ecological knowledge that finds representation in the genre. The interpretation aspires to explain how ecological crises like drought and floods constitute agency that accounts for the creation of the poetry. The poetry transforms into a space where these communities figure and represent how ecological crises affect them, hence, a justification of the ultimate aim and need to mitigate them. Thus, the critique of the poetry hopes to also explain the way the poetry serves as an epistemological space through which the communities concretize the desires.

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Frederik WildHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Frederik Wild

Research Interests:

Development Economics, particularly the Economics of Education, Demography and Regional Integration

Geographical Area:

Sub-Saharan Africa, East Africa

Current Project:

Four Essays in Development Economics and Regional Economic Integration

The research anticipated in the dissertation is focused on a quantitative (empirical) analysis of economic development in Africa. I will produce four individual research papers which aim at estimating the causal effect of specific developmental policies and programs of African economies, on both an aggregate-, and on an individual level. The main task will lie in the identification of viable settings for causal inference, the compilation of comprehensive datasets, as well as the subsequent estimation of causal relationships, employing modern econometric methods. My research will contribute to the interdisciplinary research project “MuDAIMa” conducted under the Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 “Africa Multiple”. MuDAIMa investigates the memberships and affiliations of (Anglophone) African economies’ in multiple, competing, regional economic communities (RECs). As part of this agenda, my research will try to investigate the impact of existing institutional arrangements of African economies. The initial project of the dissertation explores the effect of Free Primary Education policies (FPE) on women’s fertility in three countries of the East African Community (EAC), namely Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda.

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Andreas WüstHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Andreas Wüst

Research Interests:

Democratic Transition, Regime Consolidation, Cultural Policies, Identity Building and Nationalism in Post-Arab Spring Countries

Geographical Area:

Northern Africa (especially Tunisia and Morocco), Mali, Yemen

Current Project:

Kulturpolitik in Tunesien, Marokko und Mali nach dem Arabischen Frühling – Förderinstrument für Stabilität?

By combining cross-case and within-case comparisons, my study will try to provide some new theoretical insights into the interdependence and mutually reinforcing effects of cultural policies and domestic stability. I will do so by studying the cultural policies in three different countries which have all been affected by the Arab Spring in 2010/11. The countries examined are Tunisia, Morocco and Mali. To collect the necessary qualitative data, I will take a mixed methods approach using in-depth content analysis of media reports, archive material and offical documents as well as semi-structured interviews with experts and relevant actors on the ground. For the sake of practicability, I will limit myself to the analysis of three main categories of cultural policies, namely the treatment of religious questions, the treatment of ethnic and linguistic questions, and the treatment of material and immaterial cultural heritage.

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John Ebotui YajalinHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow John Yajalin

Current Project:

Internal Migration: Neighbourhood Associations and its Consequences on Political Participation in Urban Slums in Ghana

Yifan Mia YangHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Mia Yang

Research Interests:

Large-scale Mining and Infrastructure Projects, Business-Society Relations, Low-status Knowledge (Transnational Professionals), Technical Zones, China-Africa

Geographical Area:

Guinea, Senegal, Kenya

Current Project:

Frictional encounters? Governing and contesting Chines industrial mining projects in Guinea

Could we still speak of Chinese actors’ engagement in Africa as the same monolithic ‘new phenomenon’ featured in academic work produced from the late 2000s? Chinese non-state actors are often deemed to be politically embedded, treated as extensions of the Chinese state. However, as time passes by, Chinese project operators (companies) gradually gain memberships in other transnational and local networks, and Chinese professionals accumulate what Valverde calls ‘low-status knowledge’. Low-status knowledge is defined as common views and beliefs held by practitioners, articulated in routine practice (Valverde, 2003).

I shall discuss how changing conditions, such as multiple membership and low-status knowledge, might impact existing translation from headquarters and technological zones to overseas projects (Barry 2006). The concept ‘boundary object’ will serve as the empirical entry point. It refers to the standardized and ad hoc classifications (of things and people) in everyday work life (Star 1990, Bowker and Star 2000). By observing how boundary objects organize and are organized by work practice, this study will help better understand potentially diversified business-society relationship around Chinese projects in Africa.

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Mingqing YuanHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Mingqing Yuan

Research Interests:

Literary and Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Space, Diaspora Studies

Geographical Area:

East Africa, mainly Kenya; South Africa, and African diasporas in China

Current Project:

Kenya-China encounters in literary spaces: histories, presences and futureS from the 1960's till the present

With more and more activities and migrants in Africa, China’s presence in Africa has nowadays attracted international attention and has received both affirmative comment and piercing criticism. In fact, interactions between China and Africa have long existed even before colonial time, however, even till nowadays, China is still seldom seen in African literature. What leads to this invisibility and the silenced presence of China in Africa? How is China imagined, represented and conceptualized in African literature through time? How does migration between the two continents influence and change this conceptualization? What is the underlying power mechanism and what does it imply for China-Africa relations and solidarity of the global south? This project focuses on these questions with an aim to gain a better view of China-Africa relations, deeper understanding of African literature and more insight into the identification of diasporic Africans through a closing reading and analysis of East African and South African literature.

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Isabelle ZundelHide
BIGSAS Junior Fellow Isabelle Zundel

Research Interests:

Law, African Human Rights System

Current Project:

Claiming LGBTQI+ rights through the African human rights system – Analysis of normative and procedural frameworks

This thesis discusses and answers the question on how to best utilize the normative and procedural frameworks of the African human rights system in order to protect and strengthen LGBTQI+ rights. It does this by analysing substantive rules, institutions and their procedural frameworks at the international, regional and sub-regional levels. This question is important because LGBTQI+ rights in Africa are a very topical issue that is regularly and globally discussed in the scientific community. There have been legal and socio-legal publications which however have been fallen short in terms of regionally owned and grounded analysis. The few times in which the role of the African human rights system in strengthening the rights of LGBTQI+ people has been discussed, this has focused on warnings against the direct involvement of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, depicting this central pillar of the African human rights system as a problematic forum which could engender backlash instead of highlighting possible paths. However, other possibilities of the normative and procedural frameworks, which offer prospects, are routinely neglected. The dissertation will therefore engage in detail with the opportunities given by the system in place to build legal and political pathways towards the promotion and protection of LGBTQI+ rights.

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