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62053-01 - Seminar: Existential Transformations: La Longue Durée in African Societies 3 KP

Semester Herbstsemester 2021
Angebotsmuster einmalig
Dozierende Till Förster (till.foerster@unibas.ch, BeurteilerIn)
Inhalt “We must change our way of Life. And we must do it now,” ecologists and environmental scientists of all disciplines tell us. We in the Global North feel uncomfortable when we think about what this may mean for us: less consumption of fossil resources, less meat, perhaps smaller cars and no short-haul flights. Many will find all this unacceptable and disgusting. We often forget that the environmental crisis, along other crises, has already caused dramatic transformations of all kinds in the Global South. Islands in the Pacific lose their arable land and may have disappeared altogether by the end of the century. In many Sahelian countries, droughts and hunger crises have become so frequent that former farmers give up their fields and flock to the rapidly growing cities where they might have a chance to survive in the informal economy or from where they seek a way further South hoping to find a place where they can still live a humble life. However, even the wetter parts of the continent are affected: farmers whose livelihood was based on the cultivation of yams had to give it up because rainfall became unpredictable; the long, tall grass for their thatched houses does not grow anymore, and there is no wood for the rafters of the roofs, too. Many more examples from all parts of the continent could be added.
Africa has gone through many existential transformations since it became the target of European imperialism – and it is currently facing many more profound transformations than Europe has had to cope with. First, the implementation of the colonial state and its oppressive administration; second the introduction of capitalist modes of production together with markets based on money as medium of exchange and monopoly currency; third, the alienation from and re-appropriation of religious believes and worldviews; fourth, the rapid growth of cities and endless urban agglomerations where all sorts of social life are challenged and ceaselessly (re)invented; fifth, the degradation of nature and the loss of biological, cultural and social diversity and livelihoods in all ecological spheres.
All these transformations are existential. There are very few people who can still claim that they live like their parents did. The uncertainties they are confronted with are by far more comprehensive than those the average person in the Global North has had to face until now. Africans had to learn how to deal with these transformations, and they continue to do so – and most likely, they will do so in the future as well. They have acquired a tremendous amount of stochastic knowledge that helps them to overcome the challenges of their daily lives. Africans are no victims.
This seminar looks at some of the most dramatic transformations Africans had to and must deal with – sometimes successfully, sometimes without avail. The five fields mentioned above serve as a guideline for our inquiries, but if there is an interest in other transformations, advanced students can choose a topic of their choice. Preferably, case studies will come from Africa, but if there is a profound interest in other regions, students are invited to do their presentations on other regions of the world, as, for instance, the above-mentioned islands of Oceania or the Amazonian rain forest. A detailed semester plan will be available by September 1st.
Literatur Boholm, Åsa, 2003: The Cultural Nature of Risk: Can there be an anthropology of uncertainty? Eth-nos 68(2): 159–178.
Jackson, Michael D., 2013: Lifeworlds: Essays in existential anthropology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Niehaus, Isak, 2013: Confronting Uncertainty: Anthropology and zones of the extraordinary. American Ethnologist 40(4): 651–660.


Teilnahmebedingungen The number of participants is limited to 25 people. The places are assigned according to date of enrollment and subject of study. Priority will be given to the subjects listed under "modules".
Unterrichtssprache Englisch
Einsatz digitaler Medien kein spezifischer Einsatz


Intervall wöchentlich
Datum 27.09.2021 – 20.12.2021
Zeit Montag, 10.15-12.00 Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Datum Zeit Raum
Montag 27.09.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 04.10.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 11.10.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 18.10.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 25.10.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 01.11.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 08.11.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 15.11.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 22.11.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 29.11.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 06.12.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 13.12.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Montag 20.12.2021 10.15-12.00 Uhr Ethnologie, grosser Seminarraum
Module Modul: Areas: Afrika (Master Studiengang Europäische Geschichte in globaler Perspektive )
Modul: Fields: Environment and Development (Master Studiengang African Studies)
Modul: Fields: Knowledge Production and Transfer (Master Studiengang African Studies)
Modul: Forschungsfelder der Ethnologie (Bachelor Studienfach Ethnologie)
Modul: Migration, Mobility and Transnationalism (Master Studiengang Changing Societies: Migration – Conflicts – Resources )
Modul: Theory and General Anthropology (Master Studienfach Anthropology)
Modul: Wissenschaftliche Vertiefung in der Ethnologie: Sachthemen (Bachelor Studienfach Ethnologie)
Vertiefungsmodul Global Europe: Arbeit, Migration und Gesellschaft (Masterstudium: European Global Studies)
Leistungsüberprüfung Lehrveranst.-begleitend
An-/Abmeldung zur Leistungsüberprüfung Anmelden: Belegen; Abmelden: nicht erforderlich
Wiederholungsprüfung keine Wiederholungsprüfung
Skala Pass / Fail
Wiederholtes Belegen nicht wiederholbar
Zuständige Fakultät Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät, studadmin-philhist@unibas.ch
Anbietende Organisationseinheit Fachbereich Ethnologie