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Work Groups

Work Groups

What are Work Groups?

Work Groups should be initiated by Junior Fellows and meet their particular research needs. A Work Group is meant to be a forum of discussion and exchange. Its organisation is up to the participants. The Junior Fellows choose the topics and the thematic or methodological background as well as the format (text readings, round tables, mini conferences, etc.) and finally the frequency of the meetings. BIGSAS may provide funds to support guest invitations, workshops and conferences resulting from a Work Group. Junior Fellows at any stage of their work interested in a common topic may gather to exchange thoughts about it.

Current Work Groups

BIGSAS currently has the following Work Groups:


The study of contemporary artistic productions from Africa, in the broader meaning of the word 'artistic',occupies an ambiguous position in the academic world. Considered from the point of view of the anthropologist or the social scientist in general, it is often described in terms of ideological or political content, of networks, context, economy or agency, while the works themselves are very rarely discussed for their intrinsic characteristics.

The aim of this Work Group is to promote a debate around the aesthetic aspect of African artworks, and to articulate this discussion with the relevant elements of aesthetic theory from Plato to Adorno, in order to provide ways of understanding and appreciating African art beyond its social and political context. This of course applies to the visual arts, but all forms of art should be taken into consideration as well, from traditional material productions to pop music and beyond.

Furthermore, attention should also be given to the elements of aesthetics that appear in the discourse surrounding the artistic production. With a special focus on the critical texts available and on the way the artists themselves talk about their work, the Work Group would allow its participants to re‐evaluate the place of the aesthetical element in the artistic activity of the continent, both from the point of view of its producers and of its audience.

The Work Group links with different scholars and research projects (e.g. 'African Modernisms' by N. Siegert & K. Greven) also beyond the BIGSAS spectrum to work interdisciplinary.

The work group undertakes the following activities:

  • Review of academic works
  • Organize academic debates
  • Invite different scholars from different institutions, who work on the theme aesthetics
  • Organize and take part in seminars, workshops, conferences and peer-review of doctoral dissertations

Past activities:

  • Seminar for MA-Students and PhD-Students within the research on African Modernisms (K. Greven & N. Siegert)
  • Symposium "Mining Collections: Some configurations of African Modernisms in institutional collections" in cooperation with VW Foundation, 29-30 June 2018

Expected outcomes of work group activities

  • Regular meetings at Iwalewahaus, being able to apply the theories to actual art work


  • Sarah Böllinger
  • Katharina Greven
  • Dandara Maia Schellenberg
  • Lena Naumann
  • Katrin Peters-Klaphake

Interested parties are cordially invited to contact lena.naumann@uni-bayreuth.de or sarah.boellinger@uni-bayreuth.de for more details.


Adorno, Theodor W. (1997). Aesthetic Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Danto, Arthur (2003). The Abuse of Beauty: Aesthetics and the Concept of Art. Chicago: Open Court.

Eagleton, Terry (1990). The Ideology of the Aesthetic. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1975). Aesthetics. Lectures on Fine Art, trans. T.M. Knox, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Kant, Immanuel (1790). Critique of Judgement, Translated by Werner S. Pluhar. Hackett Publishing Co., 1987.

Tolstoy, Leo (1995). What Is Art?. London: Penguin Classics.

African UnionHide

The Work Group is open to all Junior Fellows who want to connect their African studies with the knowledge of the highest and biggest continental institution where African experts from various domains as well as member states representatives from various countries are reflecting, debating and making policies for a better future of the continent. Thus, the work group African Union aims at:

  • understanding the organisation and the function of the African Union,
  • discussing current challenges of the African continent in institutional, political, economic, juridical and cultural angles and
  • measuring and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the actions of the African Union.

To achieve the goals mentioned above, members may invite officials from or affiliated to the African Union to give lectures, organise specialised seminars, workshops and conferences with partner work groups or associations of the University of Bayreuth and eventually with BIGSAS’ Partner Universities. Besides, members who are interested in internships in any institution or department of the African Union can be supported with practical information and contact.


Currently inactive. We would however like to re-activate this work group. If you are interested in participating, please get in touch with us through niklas.fierlbeck@uni-bayreuth.de.

Artistic ResearchHide

This Work Group likes to explore and discuss the methods of artistic research, with a strong focus on visual, performance, and practice based arts.

Artistic research is a contemporary scientific approach that defines artistic methods as discursive practices that produce knowledge. Artistic research withstands the notion that science and art are entirely separated and different endeavours, but underlines common interests. With the overall aim to subvert existing hierachies of knowledges, thus artistic research recognizes that knowledge is always situated and produced within social frameworks and through practices and performances.

Artistic research utilizes artistic practices and aesthetic representations and is characerized by a specific entanglement of somatic, embodied and habitual knowledge. No standardized canon of method exists. Therefore this kind of knowledge is never universal but situated and ephemeral. This is not viewed as a shortcoming but appreciated also within feminist and postcolonial perspectives that question and reconfigure dominant knowledge systems towards nonhierarchical and emancipatory spaces.

The aim of this Work Group is to facilitate connections between artistic practices and academic investigations. With our group we organize projects based on different themes every year, and we explore the research questions from our different perspectives and methods (both artistic and academic). That allows artists to contribute their perspectives on social realities and junior fellows to draw from aesthetic experiences.

We organize practical workshops to explore the different possibilities to present our findings beyond an academic text, within different media and formats. We organize exhibitions and screenings. We invite artist researchers to present and discuss their work within this framework. We undertake research trips to relevant exhibitions and events. We like to enlarge our network with artists and galleries concerned with artistic research practices. In this regard, we would like to collaborate with external members of the work group, who share our interest in discussing the methods of artistic research and bring in their expertise.


  • Valerie Gruber
  • Sophie Lembcke
  • Dandara Maia Schellenberg
  • Lena Naumann

Interested parties are cordially invited to contact sophie.lembcke@uni-bayreuth.de for more details.


Bippus, Elke (Hg.in) (2009): Kunst des Forschens. Berlin/Zürich: Diaphanes.

Badura, Jens, Selma Dubach, Anke Haarmann, Dieter Mersch et al.. (Hg.in) (2015): Künstlerische Forschung. Ein Handbuch. Berlin/Zürich: Diaphanes.

Barad, Karan (2007): Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke University Press.

Haarmann, Anke (2019): Artistic Research. Eine epistemologische Ästhetik. Bielefeld: transcript.

Haraway, Donna (1988): Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.

Klein, Julian (2018): The Mode is the Method, in: D. Jobertová (Hg.in): Artistic Research – Is There Some Method? Prag.

Loveless, Natalie (2019): How to Make Art at the End of the World: A Manifesto for Research-Creation. Duke University Press.

Schindler, Johanna (2018): Subjectivity and Synchrony in Artistic Research. Ethnographic Insights. Bielefeld: transcript.

Culture, Media, and Plurality in AfricaHide

The Work Group is dedicated to working on the entanglements of mass media, especially the social media, in the social, political, and religious cultures of Africa and the resultant power dynamics. The group seeks to explore how certain discourses have become pluralized and heterogeneous due to interconnectedness of people and ideas through mediatization. Apart from members of the group assisting themselves in their respective research, an objective of the group is to issue a volume of the BIGSASworks! in 2021 based on a multi-disciplinary study of the usage of diverse media and pluralities in various cultures in African societies and the reciprocal impacts of media and culture(s) especially in identity formations.

Interested Junior Fellows should write Isaac Osei-Tutu (isaac.osei-tutu@uni-bayreuth.de) & Dikko Muhammad (dikko.muhammad@yahoo.com) for more details.


  • Gbeognin Mickael Houngbedji
  • Abdoulaye Ibrahim Bachir
  • Albert Irambeshya
  • Shaden Kamel
  • Isaac Osei-Tutu
  • Dikko Muhammad
  • Catheline Bosibori Nyabwengi
  • Ibrahim Seyni Mamoudou
  • Dina Sodjadan
  • Andreas Wüst
Epistemologies of the Global SouthHide

This Work Group brings together Junior Fellows interested in the post-colonial human conditions and decolonization. Based on its interdisciplinary composition we aim at creating a communal space across diverse disciplinary strands, regional and topical foci. Together, we seek to practice unlearning colonial logics, ways of being and seeing that we are entangled in. In order to challenge each other to think through implications, assumptions and loci of enunciation in our academic work we engage with each other's projects through respectful exchanges, reflections and comments.
Epistemologies of the Global South embody the sets of non-recognised, silenced and displaced diverse systems of knowledge. The various ways of diverse people to make sense of themselves and the world were disregarded as a result of Euro-modernity, imperialism and colonialism, and more contemporarily due to ongoing coloniality. Hence, epistemologies of the Global South are fundamentally related to struggles for cognitive/epistemic justice and attempts for re-existence of formerly and continuously colonized people and their knowledge and practices.
The overall aim of this work group is to promote a debate, among others, around the hierarchization of Euro-American theory/knowledge and sources of (empirical) data, ways in which to forge non-extractivist methodologies, to challenge what does or doesn’t register as knowledge and how to resist and counter Eurocentric knowledge from different angles.

Planned activities include

  • Facilitated discussions, debates and conversations
  • Review and discuss academic publications on epistemologies of the Global South
  • Read, comment on and discuss each other’s academic writing projects
  • Presentations of participants work
  • Invited speakers

Expected outcomes of WG activities:

  • Regular meetings
  • Being able to relate theoretical approaches to our research projects


  • Valerie Gruber
  • Eileen Jahn
  • Diana Kisakye
  • Dikko Muhammad
  • Patricia Ndlovu
  • Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert
  • Mihir Sharma
  • Duncan Tarrant
  • Sophie Lembcke
  • Shirin Assa
  • Yuan Mingqing
  • Sabrina Haumann
  • Verangika Upananda
  • Eleanor Schaumann
  • Luqman Muraina
  • Lisa Schuler
  • Monika Rohmer
  • Saïkou Sangane Oumar
  • Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo
  • Carla Coburger
  • Leiyo Singo
  • Brian Fulela

Interested parties are cordially invited to contact Eileen Jahn (eileen.jahn@uni-bayreuth.de) for more details.

Meeting time: every 3rd Friday of the month, 10 am - 12 pm CET via ZOOM

Higher Education and Society in AfricaHide

This Work Group offers a space for discussing historical and current texts about higher education in general and the development of higher learning and higher education in Africa in particular. The group serves as an introductory reading course to the field of universities and higher education systems as objects of social science research. We will therefore read and discuss texts from the genesis of the European university through concepts of higher learning in Africa, the establishment of colonial higher education to postcolonial developments of higher education systems in Africa. The Work Group also offers a space for Junior Fellows to reflect on the inner workings of their home universities and their own role as academics in African higher education. The group furthermore invites guests for public lectures and to organise workshops and conferences on higher education.

Past Activities:

  • As part of the Conference of the African Studies Association in Germany (VAD e.V.) taking place at the University of Bayreuth in June 2014, the work group organises the panel "Global Ideas and Local Strategies for the Future: Perspectives on Higher Education and International Collaboration in Africa and beyond".
  • Our first guest was Dr Yohannes Woldetensae, Senior Education Expert of the African Union Commission, to talk about "African Union Commission's Continental Initiatives in Higher Education" on 14 November 2013 and to participate in a roundtable discussion on 15 November 2013 (information).

For further information please contact Dr Christine Scherer.


  • Dr Christine Scherer


  • Usman Ahmad
  • Hasnaa Essam Farag
  • Laura Guadagnano
  • Carolina Zucchi
  • Monika Rohmer

Please contact Monika Rohmer (monika.rohmer@uni-bayreuth.de), Usman Ahmad (usman.ahmad@uni-bayreuth.de) or Hasnaa Essam (hasna.essam@uni-bayreuth.de) if you are interested in current activities or in joining this work group. Goals and a two-year plan will be defined in a meeting on December 20, 2022.

Moralities in Research and PracticeHide

This Work Group brings together Junior Fellows interested in the emergence of moralities in social interactions. Based on its interdisciplinary composition, the Work Group studies processes of communicating, negotiating and practicing moralities from different perspectives. Through exchange and reflection, group members get the opportunity to look at common aspects of moralities in their different research projects. Starting as a reading group, the sessions aim at providing a deeper understanding of moralities in research and practice. The readings and discussions will not only deal with the concept of morality in different disciplines, but also address other potentially relevant questions. These may include topics such as social transformation, just society, and communicative aspects of moralities. Moreover, the group members will discuss methodological challenges as well as moral questions that come up during their own research practice, in particular with regard to the decolonization of knowledge production in Africa and its diasporas. Apart from that, all group members get the opportunity to share and discuss presentations, publications and chapters of their doctoral theses within the Work Group.

Planned activities include

  • Regular sessions with readings und discussions on relevant literature
  • Peer review and feedback on presentations, publications and chapters of doctoral theses


  • Perseverence Madhuku
  • Ibrahim Seyni-Mamoudou
  • Hamissou Rhissa Achaffert
  • Ibrahim Bachir Abdoulaye
  • Isaac Osei-Tutu
  • Laura Guadagnano
  • Shaden Kamel
  • Valerie Gruber

For further information, interested parties are cordially invited to contact Laura Guadagnano.


Agbiji, Obaji M. / Swart, Ignatius (2015): Religion and Social Transformation in Africa: A Critical and Appreciative Perspective. In: Scriptura 114:1, 1–20.

Bochow, Astrid / Kirsch, Thomas G. / van Dijk, Rijk (2017): Introduction: new ethical fields and the implicitness/explicitness of ethics in Africa. In: Africa 87:3, 447–461.

Das, Veena (2012): Ordinary Ethics. In: Fassin, Didier (ed.): A Companion to Moral Anthropology. Malden: Blackwell, 133–149.

Herring, Frances W. (1953): What has Reason to do with Morality? In: Journal of Philosophy 50:23, 688-698.

Hutchings, Kimberly (2019): Decolonizing Global Ethics: Thinking with the Pluriverse. In: Ethics & International Affairs 33:2, 115–125.

Luckmann, Thomas (2002): Moral Communication in Modern Societies. In: Human Studies 25, 19–32.

Odysseos, Louiza (2017): Prolegomena to Any Future Decolonial Ethics: Coloniality, Poetics and ‘Being Human as Praxis’. In: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 45:3, 447–472.

Oyeshile, Olatunji A. (2006): Morality and Social Order in Contemporary Africa. In: Prajñâ Vihâra 7:1, 62–74.

Robbins, Joel (2007): Between Reproduction and Freedom: Morality, Value, and Radical Cultural Change. In: Ethnos 72:3, 293–314.

Sidnell, Jack (2011): The Ordinary Ethic of everyday talk. In: Lambek, Michael (ed.): Ordinary Ethics. Anthropology, Language, and Action. New York: Fordham University, 123–139.

Reading Literary TextsHide

This Work Group focuses primarily on approaches for reading narratives in, of and on Africa. The scope of narratives it seeks to explore ranges from but is not restricted to prose, poetry, music and film. The work group aims to engage in debates and discussions around the various ways of reading and thinking about literary texts. For this purpose, while retaining classical hermeneutics (close reading and interpretation) as a starting point, there is an encouragement to explore emerging, emergent methods of reading literary texts and even possibly nurture novel ways of reading texts. The interest to rethink literary methods of reading seeks to realign itself with the developments in literary studies where the foci attends to such themes as posthumanism, transculturality, aesthetics, popular culture, futurity, distant reading, world literature, globalisation, post-modern geography, and migration. It is the interest of members to explore methods that will further the participation of literary studies in the production of knowledge. Although initially based in literary studies, the broad scope of narratives and themes makes it possible for interdisciplinary perspectives.

Meetings are held fortnightly with members discussing texts focusing on an agreed theme. Members are free to recommend texts before each meeting.

Interested parties are invited to contact Oladapo Ajayi (dapoajayi2010@gmail.com).


  • Oladapo Ajayi
  • Dikko Muhammad
Regional Integration in AfricaHide

This Work Group (WG) connects fellows interested in furthering their knowledge on regional integration processes in Africa. Adopting the concepts of relationality and reflexivity as analytical guiding principles, we examine processes and structures of regional economic, legal and political integration as expressions of African multiplicity. As such, this group will draw its strength from the interdisciplinary nature of analysing such integrative processes. For instance, political scientists examine the institutional structures and the incentives of decision-makers at selected governing bodies of regional communities. The economists will share their insights on estimating the benefits of integration and the progressive opening of borders from a socio-economic standpoint.

Brought together by our shared interest in regional integration processes, the WG has expanded its scope to include discussions around reflexive African Studies, among other relevant topics proposed by the Junior Fellows. We are a multi-disciplinary team of engaged fellows - legal scholars, anthropologists, and historians being the latest additions - who have created a space that nurtures reflexive thinking on the complex and diverse realities of doing a PhD.

Planned activities include

  • Conduct regular sessions where we introduce relevant literature and the differing analytical viewpoints regarding integrative processes (frequency tbd)
  • Guest Speaker Series: Invitation of guests for public lectures
  • Research Seminars/Peer-review of work-in-progress on doctoral dissertations (on demand)
  • Offer seminar(s) on specific relational attributes of regional integration in Africa
  • Informal meetings of members as part of team-building


  • Albert Irambeshya
  • Eileen Jahn
  • Diana Kisakye
  • Perseverence Madhuku
  • Cecilia Ngaiza
  • Veronika Thalhammer
  • Frederik Wild
  • Isabelle Zundel
  • Ange Dorine Irakoze
  • John Saidi Nyanje

Interested parties are cordially invited to contact Diana Kisakye (diana.kisakye@uni-bayreuth.de) or Frederik Wild (frederik.wild@uni-bayreuth.de) for more details.


Aker, Jenny C., Michael W. Klein, Stephen A. O’Connell, and Muzhe Yang. 2014. ‘Borders, Ethnicity and Trade’. Journal of Development Economics 107 (March): 1–16.

Bensassi, Sami, Joachim Jarreau, and Cristina Mitaritonna. 2019. ‘Regional Integration and Informal Trade in Africa: Evidence from Benin’s Borders’. Journal of African Economies 28 (1): 89–118.

Brenton, Paul, Alberto Portugal-Perez, and Julie Régolo. 2014. Food Prices, Road Infrastructure, and Market Integration in Central and Eastern Africa. Policy Research Working Papers. The World Bank.

Börzel, Tanja A., and Thomas Risse, eds. 2016. The Oxford handbook of comparative regionalism. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Eberhard-Ruiz, Andreas, and Alexander Moradi. 2019. ‘Regional Market Integration in East Africa: Local but No Regional Effects?’ Journal of Development Economics 140 (September): 255–68.

Levine, Daniel H., and Dawn Nagar, eds. 2016. Region-building in Africa: Political and Economic challenges. Palgrave Macmillan US.

Lorenz-Carl, Ulrike, and Martin Rempe. 2016. Mapping agency: comparing regionalisms in Africa. Routledge.
Söderbaum, Fredrik. 2015. Rethinking regionalism. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Söderbaum, Fredrik. 2015. Rethinking regionalism. Macmillan International Higher Education.

Research MethodologiesHide

This work group aims to work on, and address issues and challenges Junior Fellows face at every phase of their research. It is an interdisciplinary group with a focus on exploring the challenges of methodologies in a collegiate format. The workgroup is a space in which Junior Fellows present data, interpretations, and possible challenges to their colleagues. Members of the workgroup will come together (informally) to discuss academic materials found challenging.


  • To provide JFs with a platform to cooperate and exchange ideas to improve the research methodologies of their respective research projects.

Planned Activities:

  • Facilitated discussions, debates, and conversations
  • Review of each other’s academic writing projects
  • Interaction and critical debates on research methodology
  • Invited speakers
  • Presentation of the participants’ works
  • BIGSASworks! article on participants' experiences with data collection

Expected outcomes:

  • Regular meetings
  • Being able to align research ideas with suitable methodologies
  • Sustained close networking and cooperation in research projects
  • Being able to publish papers

Current Members:

  1. Catheline Bosibori Nyabwengi 
  2. Ibrahim Seyni Mamoudou
  3. Perseverance Madhuku
  4. Tibelius Amutuhaire
  5. Albert Irambeshya
  6. John Yajalin
  7. Glory Essien Otung

Interested members should please reach out to cathelinenyabwengi@gmail.com or seynimamoudou90@gmail.com.

Previous Work Groups

Find a list of all previous Work Groups here.

How can I organise a Work Group?

​How can I organise a Work Group?Hide

The minimum number of participants for the formation of a new Work Group is two Junior Fellows of BIGSAS. Other students and doctoral candidates of the University of Bayreuth are welcome to participate.

After the formation of the Work Group, the following information should be submitted to BIGSAS:

  • A list of current members
  • At least one contact person with an email address
  • An abstract of the contents for the BIGSAS website
  • A two-year plan with details on e.g. planned workshops or conferences as well as guest invitations and other activities (if available). If a Work Group is exclusively dedicated to text readings respective details shall be provided.

BIGSAS will circulate the information about the Work Group in order to inform other Junior Fellows who may be interested to participate.

The work is individually designed by the participants and is based on the plan that has been submitted. (New) Junior Fellows may join active Work Groups at any time. Work Groups may rely on financial and organisational support from BIGSAS. Thus, applications can be made, e.g. to fund guests, workshops or other formats. In addition, Work Groups may use the organisational structure and network of BIGSAS, e.g. for the use of seminar rooms at GSP or for the organisation of guest invitations.

How can I present the results of my Work Group?

​How can I present the results of my Work Group?Hide

The activities shall be documented in a short annual report. For this purpose, the representatives of the Work Groups are contacted at the end of a year and asked to submit their report. The report should contain information regarding

  • Name(s) of contact person(s) with special emphasis on changes
  • List of active members
  • List of past activities and planned future activities
  • Change of abstract (if applicable)
  • Further options for the documentation of the activities of your Work Groups are available, e.g. in form of an article in the BIGSAS blog or as a new issue of BIGSASworks!. Please contact bigsas@uni-bayreuth.de for more information.


We have compiled all relevant information concerning the Work Groups here (PDF).

Webmaster: Univ.Prof.Dr. Andrea Behrends

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