Bayreuth African Studies Working Papers
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- Women's Life Worlds 'In-Between' (2011)
- This volume of Bayreuth African Studies Working Papers authored and edited by doctoral students of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS) represents challenges and (im-)possibilities of reviewing women’s life worlds in Africa. Therewith we revive an old debate: African thinkers opposed Western concepts, searching for a kind of feminism beyond traditional roles and beyond Western feminism, which basically antagonizes women’s subordination due to patriarchy. Thus, if African women have different positions to Western feminism, how do they perceive themselves? To what extent are women expanding their social, political or economic realm? Does this change result in a re-definition of gender roles? How do women in Africa deal with gendered hierarchies and authority? Are there conflicts or ‘in-betweens’ among ‘traditional roles’ and the behavior of women? All these questions surround one core content: women’s life worlds ‘in-between’. ‘In-betweenness’ refers here to a situation when the life worlds of women transform, resulting from social, political, economic or environmental changes or uncertainties. In such a situation women negotiate between conflicting or contradictory assumed norms, roles, social practices or orders. Opportunities for women may change, expand or become limited. For example, women can rethink their roles and behavior, be it temporary or in long term perspectives. Following this view the authors focus on situations of ‘in-betweenness’ of women in different African countries and in diverse realms of life. Literary scholar Samuel Ndogo analyzes the autobiography of an exceptional Kenyan author and activist: Wangari Maathai. The title of her autobiography, Unbowed (2006), already suggests friction between her life trajectory and cultural notions of womanhood. However, the title also shows pride at having withstood opposition, which at the same time contests a society’s readiness to tolerate an exception. Katharina Nambula’s paper shares Ndogo’s perspective of Literature Studies and shows how the female protagonists in Waiting, written by Goretti Kyomuhendo (2007), survive in a politically instable and male dominated society during the reign of Idi Amin in Uganda. Facing the men's inability to sort out the chaos, Kyomuhendo’s female characters temporarily deploy their hidden strengths to resume some order. As soon as men re-enter their former positions though, gender relations are back to normal. Other aspects of uncertainty and how women deal with it are discussed by Serah Kiragu. With regard to global climate change, Kiragu assesses changes in women’s livelihoods in semi arid Kenya. She describes the women’s recent difficulties and how they are coping with a changing environmental situation. This approach vividly illustrates that a notion of women as passive victims does not hold. Young rural women in Northern Ghana change their social sphere altogether – at least temporarily. In his anthropological article, Christian Ungruhe describes how a whole generation of young girls move out from their rural homes to urban centers. They become actively involved in labor migration and therewith experience economic independence in an attempt to generate their dowry, acquire modern assets, and consummate relationships. Although the journey marks a temporary phase in the women’s lives, it is an important experience which they can bring to their future rural lives and a permanent phenomenon in women’s biographies in West Africa. In contrast, women in Lesotho participate in wage labor on a permanent basis. Lena Kroeker illustrates in a historic and ethnographic overview why Lesotho ranks 8th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2010 and how women’s high level of participation did not change but merely separated gender and generations. Various civil society representatives met at the World Social Forum with the aim of creating a more equal and just world. Antje Daniel portraits the strategies and main features of Brazilian and Kenyan women’s organizations and explains how characteristics of women’s organizations in the national context determine transnational activism within the space of the World Social Forum. All contributions not only illustrate contemporary life worlds of women but depict processes of change within them from the perspectives of African Literature, Geography, Anthropology and Sociology. The articles in this first issue of BIGSASworks! from a broad spectrum of disciplines provide fresh and original perspectives on an evergreen debate as well as unique empirical material.
- Trends, Discourses and Representations in Religions in Africa (2012)
- Religion in Africa has for long been a woven cultural fabric of life, a great moving force that guided people’s behavior, interaction and action since time immemorial. A decade after the United States experience of the 9/11, the unfortunate event has set the landmark for a geopolitics in contemporary Africa that securitizes religious movements and that identify them with the so-called global war on terror, a phenomenon within which most African nations play a significant regional role. The current wave of developments related to religion in the contingent became fossilized through religious manipulation and politicization in the post-colonial era. Three thematic concepts have been identified, i.e., religious trends, cultural discourses and representation, in order to capture some of the most contemporary issues of concern to Muslim, Christian and indigenous religious communities in Africa. Nine papers in this second issue of BIGSAS Works! hence targeted current doctoral researches from a wide range of disciplines and successfully integrated a cross-disciplinary approach to appreciate the complexity of faith matters in the continent.
- 5 (2007)
- Trade unions and the informal economy in Zambia: Building strength or loosing ground? (2007)
- The increasing casualisation of labour forces trade unions globally to deal with a growing number of unprotected and unrepresented workers in what is dubbed by the unions, even if critically, as the informal economy. This paper assesses the impact and further potential of a direct and indirect intervention of the Zambian labour movement towards the informal economy, according to basic criteria like skills development, networking, innovation capacity and access to finance for micro-entrepreneurs. Through providing business development services, the unions also encourage informal sector organizations to associate themselves with Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), thereby strengthening the socio-political representation of the informal economy workers and the labour union movement as a whole. It still remains to be seen, however, to which extent NGO-like approaches that seem to be vital when opening towards the informal economy might compromise basic principles of the labour movement like effective, yet democratic and transparent structures based on mass membership.
- Theory and Practice of Reconciliation in Rwanda (2009)
- During recent years, scholars working on the peacebuilding process in Rwanda have often tended to single out specific aspects, for instance judicial responses to the genocide. Little research has been done, however, on the diversity of approaches that constitute the “reconciliation landscape” in Rwanda today. Basing itself on data from field research in 2006, this paper seeks to shed some light on the many programmes carried out in Rwanda related to reconciliation work. Emphasis is put on two case studies. While establishing a theoretical framework of the reconciliation process in the first part of the paper, the following chapters attempt to explain how this relates to the practice of reconciliation in the Rwandan context. The data collected suggest that in the face of political constraints, the Rwandan government must in part rely on civil society actors for the achievement of their goals of “unity and reconciliation”. The multitude of initiatives from actors with a wide range of motivations and approaches should be seen as complementary, while some may have to make up for the shortcomings and constraints of others.
- The making of meaning in Africa : Word, Image and Sound (2013)
- The Making of Meaning in Africa; Word, Image and Sound Duncan Omanga and Gilbert Ndi Shang The present collection addresses the intricate ways in which events, processes and phenomena are apprehended and reproduced in Africa by graduate students at BIGSAS. Inasmuch as the contributions fall under the gamut of media, literary, linguistic and translation studies, they are all underlined by an investigative quest for the understanding of meaning making processes in Africa. The papers in this volume therefore attempt to offer a glimpse into some of these processes of meaning making in the continent.
- 4 (2005)
- Negotiating Performance: Osun in the Verbal and Visual Metaphors (2005)
- Ajibade Olusola’s thesis examines the dialectics of the localization and globalisation of the Osun cult, while appreciating its transformation into a deity of international repute. In understanding the transformation of Osun cult into a deity of national and international repute, the study investigates the roles of motifs and visual arts that were found to be crucial to the transformation process. In the analysis and interpretation of the data, the study identifies Osun as a personification of Yoruba women. This was evidenced in the materials collected, particularly the motifs and the visual arts, and equally discernible in the oral and other primary sources. Both the poetry and visual arts emerged as conceptual paradigms to project the power, prowess and image of Osun as a deity in the Yoruba pantheon of Orisa (deities). His analysis facilitates and enhances our understanding of the faith, fate, philosophy, perceptions and attitudes of the adherents of Osun cult in relation to its impact on the people locally and globally. It also reveals the intricate interplay between the verbal (word) and the visual (image) domains in Yoruba aesthetic practice. Negotiating Performance explicates the transformation of Osun cult in Osogbo from a local to an international phenomenon, principally through the slave trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and also through the appreciation of Osun visual art by an ever-growing international audience.
- 3 (2005)
- East African Muslims After 9/11 (2005)
- Much has been said about 9/11, but little research has been done on the impact the events had on Africa. This paper explores how Muslims in East Africa view the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Particular attention will be given to the case of Kenya. What were the effects and consequences of 9/11 for Muslim communities there? How do they perceive the "war on terrorism", how did the changing configuration of geopolitics in the aftermath of 9/11 affect their lives and attitudes? What are the future prospects of Christian- Muslim understanding in East Africa? The paper argues that the initial sentiment of sympathy with the victims has been replaced by the rise of anti-American attitudes among the East African Muslim population. Although this tendency will probably continue as long as policy makers think of anti-Americanism in terms of an "image problem", the impact of 9/11 on East Africa will in the long run not depend on global issues, but on the course of political and religious developments on the national and local levels.
- Challenging notions of development and change from everyday life in Africa (2013)
- The fourth volume of BIGSASworks! seeks to present the interdependence of paradigms and practices in global, national, and local spheres from different disciplinary perspectives and foci - Social Anthropology, Geography, Media Studies, Political Sciences and Sociology. The contributing papers present various ways in which the daily livelihood activities of community people in different parts of Africa represent this interdependence. Together and in interlinked ways, the authors address the question of how global development paradigms affect people’s lives, what meanings are there in the everyday things people do to live that may synchronise or be at variance with these global paradigms. The contributing papers challenge us all to take another look at our approach to development in Africa and its entanglements with broader forces.