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Africanist Network events

Future Events

To be announced ...

Past Events

Knowledge(s) of the past, present and future in a changing Africa
EASA conference 2016 in Milan
Convenors: David O'Kane (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)


Cultural entrepreneurs in Africa: endeavors, constraints and pathways of success (P112)
EASA conference 2014 in Tallinn
Convenors: Tilo Grätz (FU Berlin)
Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)

The Africanist panel focused on the concept of the cultural entrepreneur in Africa. Based on theoretical considerations and case studies from Benin, Mali, Sierra Leone and Senegal, taking into account both aspects if success as well as failure, panelists discussed the recent rise of importance of entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa also in new spheres such as culture, education, media and religion; and discussed the usefulness of a wider, interculturally pertinent notion of entrepreneurship.


Mobility, transnational connections and sociocultural change in contemporary Africa (W004)
EASA Conference, 28.-29.08.2008 Ljubljana

Migration is one of the most salient issues in Africa today, both in its various social and cultural dimensions and effects, but also with regard to the anthropological literature these phenomena continue to produce in African Studies to date. Migration as a particular form of mobility is a central feature of African societies, creating supra-regional social, political and economic links and networks. The latter also extend beyond the continent, by way of migration of Africans to Europe , North America or elsewhere, the constitution of Diaspora communities and various modes of integration of Africans into the world economy 'from below'. The workshop was intended to address the political and cultural dimensions of these migratory links with regard to issues of citizenship, ethnicity, religiosity and economy.

Most papers presented to the workshop discussed, however, no only the various opportunities and aspects of socioeconomic change induced by migrants the respective home and host societies, but also new livelihoods, social practices and lifestyles migrants tends to create, beyond the classical issue of nomadism, and circular dry season labour migration.

Generally, the papers focussed on the establishment of new transnational social spaces, shaped by movements of people, but also ideas, memories and lifestyles across nations, landscapes and social fields. Migrants are, to quote Nina-Glick Schiller (who was also present at the EASA conference) often simultaneously incorporated in various societies, moving between moral fields as well as frames of spheres of exchange. This approach questions previous, rather static and localised assumptions about identities, social and ethnic figurations of African societies and consequently also underlines the necessity of new methodological approaches to migration in and outside Africa .

Most papers (especially Pelican, Kohl, Lo Sardo) addressed processes of networking and cultural exchange between local communities of origin and migrants in the Diaspora, by way of associations, churches and other institutions and channels enabling the transnational flow of in formations, of goods, people and ideas. Several of the contributors have been conducting fieldwork in the framework of a multi-sited ethnography, while approaching migration and transnationality from different perspectives. Two papers (Gaibazzi, Ciavolella) envisaged the issue of (forced) or involuntary immobility, restriction on migrations well as the pertinence of state boarders with regard to migratory strategies and issues of citizenship..

The workshop comprised four sub-sessions.

The first was opened by a paper by Tilo Grätz who dealt with issues of morality in informal migrant settings, exemplified by gold-traders and motor taxi drivers in Benin . The following two papers by Leservoisier and Ciavolella focussed on Mauritania , a society featuring important hierarchies and status differences that may change by effects of migration, but also effects strategies of mobility of rather marginalised groups.

The second session started with the paper by Ines Kohl who followed strategies of Tuareg migrants and their livelihood in the transregional area between Libya , Algeria and Niger . She argued that also a new migrant lifestyle is born among young Tuareg men that differs considerably from former nomadic attitudes

Her papers was followed by a presentation by Sébastien Lo Sardo on Hausa migrants , both in Belgium and in Niger, exploring their livelihoods and networks, as well as the aspect of their material culture. Subsequently, Paolo Gaibazzi informed us about the way how immobility is culturally perceived in Gambia and related this to the general position of youth in national economic and political life.

In the third session, two papers dealt with Cameroon . M. Pelican focussed on diverging trajectories of migrants with respect to south-south migrations, as part of a larger, collaborative research project; here exemplified by a case study of Mbororo migrants in Gabon

Jean-Pierre Warnier retraced the history of CUDA associations in the Cameroon Grasslands and the way a local grassfield kingdom with its 'conservative -modernising' recreates links to migrants, even in the US, and thus reassures the flow of resources , while reaffirming a particularly exclusive local identity of autochthony.

The paper by Ekaterina Shakhbazyan presented above all statistical data on African migrants in Russia , and the particular role of churches promoting of both the adaptation of migrants into the host society and the continuation of strong links to their countries of origin.

The fourth and last session comprised three very different papers. Giulia Casentini reported on the political history of the Konkomba living in two neighbouring African countries, Ghana and Togo , and the way national political effects political structures as well as social links across state boarders. Nadine Sieveking presented fresh results from a study on causes and effects of migration in Mali and Senegal that will serve German development agencies to adjust their policies. Hélène Neveu Kringelbach talked about the history of migration of young people from Mali and Senegal as musicians and artists, in the context of the promotion of performative arts by various governments, the demand in the West and recently more restrictive polices of immigration.

Extended versions of all papers, together with the abstracts, can be downloaded from the Conference site: www.nomadit.co.uk/easa/easa08/panels.php5?PanelID=216

(Not to quote without permission of the author). The overall attendance of the workshop, especially on the first day, was excellent, and discussions were stimulated by an attentive audience.

Please order the volume that was emanating from our workshop in Ljubljana for your library: ISBN: 978-1-4438-1853-7


Africanists Network - inter conference workshop
Fieldwork in Africa today: New Options & challenges
Max- Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, main seminar room
30 & 31 March 2012, 14 :00 to 17:00, 10:00 to 16:00
Download call for contributions (PDF).


Biannual Conference, German Anthropological Association (DGV)
Vienna, 14 - 17 September 2011
Details: www.dgv-net.de/tl_files/dokumente/Call_for_Papers.pdf


Workshop: Regional interest group Africa:
10. Mediators and Brokers in Africa
Gregor Dobler and Tilo Grätz (Regionalgruppe Afrika)
15th september 2011

The workshop focuses on a particular category of actors which are conceptualised as social and cultural mediators, as agents of mediation between different social, cultural or religious actors, regimes or realms of meaning. In Africanist anthropology, these mediators have been also often termed brokers, middlemen, speaker, negotiator or simply agents. Initially predominantly used in political (i.e. M. Gluckman) an economic anthropology, e.g. with regard to trading relations (A. Cohen), this category of actors has been meanwhile entered anthropological studies on much broader domains of public life, popular culture and media.

With regard e.g. to the anthropological study of new arenas constituted by development projects, the concept of development brokers, mediating between donor organisations and local communities, has proven to be very relevant (T. Bierschenk, D. Mosse), as well as the notion of ethnic brokers in plural settings (C. Lentz, W. Van Binsbergen, K. Schilder, D. Welsh) or conflict areas; communal brokers as political agents for aspirating politicians i.e. in election campaigns (D. Koter), or the idea of cultural brokers as it was applied to actors such as artists (B. Omojola), journalists or filmmakers (O. Thalén). Finally, social mediators and counsellors in private (conjugal) conflicts or community disputes constitute an important new professional field in various African countries. Without neglecting significant semantic differences between the mentioned terms, we are trying to look at their common conceptual basis, and discuss the usefulness and limits of such model categories. We will examine whether these concepts are always appropriate to deal with variable domains and conditions of individual agency, whether we may also address instances of non-human agency (including mediating technologies) and the ways in which local actors appropriate these notions. We are expecting paper proposals that either discuss these concepts from a theoretical point of view, or explore them in the light of rich empirical case studies. We are especially inviting contributions that will apply the concepts of mediators/mediation, brokerage/ brokers etc. to new areas of study (arts, technology, and education) and various other contemporary social and cultural processes.

Focussing primarily on theoretical concepts also relevant to other (regional) fields within anthropology, we very much hope to draw the attention of colleagues from various sub-fields and regional specialisations.


Public celebrations & popular culture in Africa: representations, performances and local appropriations (W029)
Workshops at EASA 2010, Maynooth
Convenors: Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)and Petr Skalník

We decided to organise a workshop on The topic of the workshop was an attempt both to refer to recent events in Africa, above all the “African year”, 60 years after the granting of formal independence to many states in Africa, with many public events and commemorations on the respective National Days, and to revive an older topic of Africanist anthropology. The attendance of the workshop was fine and the papers fascinating; we successfully improvised by presenting Karel’s perfectly prepared paper +ppt) despite his absence.