Africa Spectrum was first published in 1966 by the GIGA Institute of African Affairs (IAA) in Hamburg. It is an inter-disciplinary journal dedicated to scientific exchange between the continents.

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The Globethics.net library contains articles of the Africa Spectrum as of vol. 44(2009) to current.

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  • Institutional Engineering, Management of Ethnicity, and Democratic Failure in Burundi

    Filip Reyntjens (SAGE Publishing, 2016-01-01)
    This article argues that constitutional engineering along consociational lines in Burundi – explicitly accommodating ethnicity rather than attempting to suppress it – was instrumental in reducing the political role of ethnicity, but that other endogenous and exogenous factors also played a role. After surveying developments since 1988, this article focuses on the 2005 polls. The outcome of the parliamentary elections suggests that the “disappearance of the ethnic factor,” extolled by many at the time, was achieved by constitutional constraints rather than by social or political dynamics. Nevertheless, with regard to the country’s most important and lethal historical problem, the ethnic divide, constitutional engineering has proved hugely effective. Burundi’s main cleavage is now between (and within) parties rather than ethnic groups, and when violence occurs it is political rather than ethnic. Burundi’s current crisis is therefore not a failure of consociationalism but of democracy.
  • Africa for Africans or Africa for “Natives” Only? “New Nationalism” and Nativism in Zimbabwe and South Africa Afrika für Afrikaner oder Afrika nur für „Eingeborene“? „Neuer Nationalismus“ und Nativismus in Zimbabwe und Südafrika

    Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni (SAGE Publishing, 2009-05-01)
    This article makes historical sense of the recent signs of the metamorphosis of nationalism into nativism in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The central thesis of the article is that the resurgence of Afro-radicalism and nativism in post-settler and post-apartheid societies partly reflected deeprooted antinomies of black liberation thought and partly current ideological conundrums linked to the limits of both the African national project and global liberal democracy. Dismissals and sententious approaches towards nativism do not help in understanding the current issues in Zimbabwe and South Africa. There is the need to revisit the issues of imaginings of the African liberation agenda together with issues of the resolution of the national question, teleology of the liberation, ownership of strategic resources, knowledge production, control of public discourse, imaginations of the nation and visions of citizenship and democracy. Making sense of nativism provides an oblique entry into an interrogation of the current status of the African national project in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Dieser Artikel stellt die in jüngster Zeit aufgetretenen Zeichen einer Entwicklung von Nationalismus hin zu Nativismus in Zimbabwe und Südafrika in einen historischen Kontext. Als zentrale These des Artikels wird dargelegt, dass das Wiederaufleben von Afro-Radikalismus und Afro-Nativismus in Post-Kolonial- und Post-Apartheidgesellschaften zum Teil tief verwurzelte Widersprüche im schwarzen Befreiungsdenken sowie aktuelle ideologische Fragestellungen widerspiegelt, die sowohl mit den Grenzen des afrikanischen nationalen Entwurfs als auch der globalen freiheitlichen Demokratie in Bezug stehen. Ein Leugnen und eine moralisierende Betrachtungsweise des Nativismus tragen nicht zum Verständnis der aktuellen Probleme in Zimbabwe und Südafrika bei. Vielmehr ist es notwendig, die Themen und Vorstellungen des afrikanischen Befreiungsprogramms im Zusammenhang mit einer Reihe von Themen neu zu reflektieren. Dazu gehören die Lösung der nationalen Frage, Teleologie der Befreiung, Besitz der strategischen Ressourcen, Wissensschöpfung, Kontrolle der öffentlichen Meinungsäußerung sowie Vorstellungen von Nation, Staatsbürgerschaft und Demokratie. Den Nativismus zu verstehen, schafft einen außergewöhnlichen Zugang zur Analyse des aktuellen Zustandes des afrikanischen nationalen Entwurfs in Zimbabwe und Südafrika.
  • Blinded by Sight: Divining the Future of Anthropology in Africa Die Erforschung des Elefanten: Zur Zukunft der Ethnologie in Afrika

    Francis B. Nyamnjoh (SAGE Publishing, 2012-01-01)
    Using the metaphor of the elephant and the three blind men, this paper discusses some elements of the scholarly debate on the postcolonial turn in academia, in and of Africa, and in anthropology in particular. It is a part of the context in which anthropology remains unpopular among many African intellectuals. How do local knowledge practices take up existential issues and epistemological perspectives that may interrogate and enrich more global transcultural debates and scholarly reflexivity? Many an anthropologist still resists opening his or her mind up to life-worlds unfolding themselves through the interplay between everyday practice and the manifold actions and messages of humans, ancestors and non-human agents in sites of emerging meaning-production and innovative world-making. African anthropologists seeking recognition find themselves contested or dismissed by fellow anthropologists for doing “native”, “self” or “insider” anthropology, and are sometimes accused of perpetuating colonial epistemologies and subservience by fellow African scholars who are committed to scholarship driven by the need to valorise ways of being and knowing endogenous to Africa. This essay calls on anthropologists studying Africa to reflect creative diversity and reflexivity in the conceptualisation and implementation of research projects, as well as in how they provide for co-production, collaboration and co-implication within anthropology across and beyond disciplines. Unter Rückgriff auf die Fabel vom Elefanten und den drei weisen Männern diskutiert dieser Beitrag einige Elemente der Debatte zur postkolonialen Wende in der Wissenschaft – innerhalb und außerhalb Afrikas und insbesondere in Bezug auf die Ethnologie. Unter vielen afrikanischen Intellektuellen ist die Ethnologie immer noch unbeliebt. Inwieweit greifen lokale Wissenspraktiken existentielle Fragen und epistemologische Perspektiven auf und stellen damit die globale transkulturelle Debatte und wissenschaftliche Reflexion infrage oder bereichern sie? Viele Ethnologen scheuen sich immer noch, sich gegenüber Lebenswelten zu öffnen, in denen die alltägliche Praxis mit den facettenreichen Handlungen und Botschaften von lebenden Menschen, Vorfahren und nicht-menschlichen Wesen verwoben ist – an Orten, an denen zunehmend neue Bedeutungsformen und innovative Welten entstehen. Afrikanische Ethnologen, die sich um Anerkennung bemühen, machen die Erfahrung, dass sie von anderen Ethnologen infrage gestellt oder abgelehnt werden, weil sie angeblich eine selbstbezogene oder Insider-Ethnologie betreiben, oder dass sie von afrikanischen Wissenschaftlern – die selbst auf Stipendien angewiesen sind und sich daher bemühen, spezifisch afrikanische Lebensarten und Wissenswelten aufzuwerten – beschuldigt werden, sich kolonialen Erkenntnisinteressen zu unterwerfen. Der Autor des Beitrags fordert Ethnologen, die zu Afrika forschen, dazu auf, bei der Konzeptionierung und Durchführung von Forschungsprojekten auf kreative Vielfalt und Reflexivität sowie auf Möglichkeiten der Zusammenarbeit innerhalb der Ethnologie und über die Disziplin hinaus zu setzen.
  • Review: Gesine Krüger, Schrift – Macht – Alltag: Lesen und Schreiben im kolonialen Südafrika (2009) Buchbesprechung: Gesine Krüger, Schrift – Macht – Alltag: Lesen und Schreiben im kolonialen Südafrika (2009)

    Gunther Pakendorf (SAGE Publishing, 2011-01-01)
    Review of the monograph: Gesine Krüger, Schrift – Macht – Alltag: Lesen und Schreiben im kolonialen Südafrika, Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau, 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20116-6, 363 pp. Besprechung der Monographie: Gesine Krüger, Schrift – Macht – Alltag: Lesen und Schreiben im kolonialen Südafrika, Köln, Weimar, Wien: Böhlau, 2009, ISBN 978-3-412-20116-6, 363 Seiten
  • Dear German Academia: What is Your Role in African Knowledge Production?

    Lynda Chinenye Iroulo; Juliana Tappe Ortiz (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
    Although African critical scholars since the 19th century have challenged the culture of studying and writing about Africa, research practices on Africa are still entangled in epistemic injustices resulting from colonial structures of power. In this reflective contribution, we illustrate how such knowledge production perpetuates coloniality and outline the ways in which academic coloniality affects the quality of research and is detrimental to both research subjects and knowledge consumers. To that end, we draw on our own experiences as researchers and teachers in German institutes and universities to analyse current trends and patterns in African Political Science. We provide concrete examples to demonstrate that this coloniality in academia is detrimental to research, fieldwork and publishing practices, teaching, and academic hiring policies. To challenge and change how knowledge is produced, Africanists from the Global North need to be aware of, and sensitised towards, their role in knowledge production. This article continues the debate on decolonising research on Africa.
  • African and Not Religious: The State of Research on Sub-Saharan Religious Nones and New Scholarly Horizons

    Yonatan N. Gez; Nadia Beider; Helga Dickow (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
    Sub-Saharan African societies are widely seen as highly religious. However, at least 30 million Sub-Saharan Africans identify themselves as “religious nones” and are supposedly not affiliated with any religious tradition. While research interest in religious nones has been growing in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, there is a dearth of literature on nones in Sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we offer an overview of this understudied subject and dwell on key challenges for studying African nones, including preconceived notions and structural oppositions. We further muse on the identity of African nones and consider differences from the characteristics established concerning Western nones. The article draws on quantitative data from across the region (primarily from Afrobarometer and Pew Research Center) and supplements them with interview data collected in Chad, Kenya, and South Africa.
  • Precarity, Permits, and Prayers: “Working Practices” of Congolese Asylum-Seeking Women in Cape Town

    Henrietta Nyamnjoh; Suzanne Hall; Liza Rose Cirolia (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
    This paper provides an ethnographic reading of how Congolese women, in particular aslyum seekers with temporary permits, navigate Cape Town's informal urban economy. We argue that the intersections of temporary permit status and gender, as well as the particularities of diaspora flows and settlements, compound the precarity of everyday life. We engage with how precarity shapes and is shaped by what we define as “working practices.” These practices include the everyday livelihood tactics sustained on shoestring budgets and transnational networks. We also show how, in moments of compounded crises – including the COVID-19 pandemic – marginal gains and transnational networks are rendered more fragile. In these traumatic moments, working practices extend to include the practices of hope and reliance on prayer as social ways of contending with exacerbated precarity.
  • African Studies in Distress: German Scholarship on Africa and the Neglected Challenge of Decoloniality

    Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni; Rüdiger Seesemann; Christine Vogt-William (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
    This paper is a response to Matthias Basedau's article published in issue 55/2020 of the present journal. At a time when African Studies scholarship is rising beyond the flogging of dead horses, certain strands in the field in Germany seem to ignore much of the valuable scholarship and intellectual contributions by excellent African and non-African researchers alike. It is striking to see how Basedau falls prey to the same shortcomings that he draws our attention to, that is, the domination of African Studies by sources and figures outside the continent and the construction of Africa as a space of lack. This underscores the urgency of decolonizing African Studies at many levels, including liberating it from the straightjacket of area studies, interrogating purportedly objective scholarship, and opening it up to new theoretical perspectives. The restriction to comparative approaches will only ensure that these strands in African Studies remain stuck in their epistemological cul-de-sac.
  • Review: Jeremy I. Levitt, Illegal Peace in Africa: An Inquiry into the Legality of Power Sharing with Warlords, Rebels, and Junta (2012) Buchbesprechung: Jeremy I. Levitt, Illegal Peace in Africa: An Inquiry into the Legality of Power Sharing with Warlords, Rebels, and Junta (2012)

    Stef Vandeginste (SAGE Publishing, 2012-01-01)
    Review of the monograph: Jeremy I. Levitt, Illegal Peace in Africa: An Inquiry into the Legality of Power Sharing with Warlords, Rebels, and Junta, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-521-88868-4, 314 pages Besprechung der Monographie: Jeremy I. Levitt, Illegal Peace in Africa: An Inquiry into the Legality of Power Sharing with Warlords, Rebels, and Junta, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-521-88868-4, 314 Seiten
  • Book Review: African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa

    Georgi Asatryan; Jack Kalpakian (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
  • A Marriage of Convenience on the Rocks? Revisiting the Sino–Angolan Relationship

    Paulo de Carvalho; Dominik Kopiński; Ian Taylor (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
    China's relationship with Angola – which is both the region's top oil exporter to China and recipient of the highest amount of Chinese loans – represents a critical case when it comes to studying Sino–African relations. The Sino–Angolan relationship, forged for purely pragmatic reasons at an opportune moment of mutual need in the early 2000s, has been labelled a ‘marriage of convenience’. A variety of factors have, however, altered the environment in which China first made inroads into Angola; most notably a decline in oil prices, and the 2017 political transition. These have provided fresh impetus to the Angolan political economy and relations with China. Based on interviews we show that although oil remains a central ingredient, China's role has substantially evolved. The marriage of convenience is experiencing a period of rocky introspection, one in which the notion of China having sway in Angola can finally be laid to rest.
  • Glimmering Utopias: 50 Years of African Film Flimmernde Utopien: 50 Jahre afrikanischer Film

    Cassis Kilian (SAGE Publishing, 2010-01-01)
    The history of African film began in the 1960s with the independence of the colonies. Despite all kinds of political and economic difficulties, numerous films have been made since then, featuring wide-ranging processes of consolidation, differentiation and transformation which were characteristic of post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa. However, these feature films should not merely be viewed as back references to specifically African problems. The glimmering fictions are imagination spaces. They preserve ideas about how the post-colonial circumstances should be approached. Seen from this perspective, the history of African film may be studied as a history of African utopias. Die Geschichte des afrikanischen Films begann mit der Unabhängigkeit in den 1960er Jahren. Seitdem sind trotz aller politischen und ökonomischen Probleme zahlreiche Filme entstanden. Sie geben umfassende Konsolidierungs-, Differenzierungs- und Transformationsprozesse wieder, die für das postkoloniale subsaharische Afrika charakteristisch waren. Die Spielfilme sollten allerdings nicht nur als Rückschau auf spezifische Probleme Afrikas interpretiert werden. Diese flimmernden Phantasien stellen Imaginationsräume dar; in ihnen sind Ideen enthalten, wie den Bedingungen der postkolonialen Gesellschaften begegnet werden könnte. Aus dieser Sicht heraus könnte die Geschichte des afrikanischen Films auch als Geschichte afrikanischer Utopien erforscht werden.
  • Change is the Only Constant in Life

    Julia Grauvogel (SAGE Publishing, 2022-04-01)
  • Review: Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson, The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era (2013)

    Chris Saunders (SAGE Publishing, 2013-01-01)
    Review of the monograph:Irina Filatova and Apollon Davidson, The Hidden Thread: Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era, Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball, 2013, ISBN 978-1-86842-499-3, 553 pages
  • Review: Jenny Kuhlmann, Transnational Diaspora Politics: Cross-Border Political Activities of Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom (2013)

    Brian Raftopoulos (SAGE Publishing, 2015-01-01)
    Review of the monograph: Jenny Kuhlmann, Transnational Diaspora Politics: Cross-Border Political Activities of Zimbabweans in the United Kingdom, Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2013, ISBN 9783865837417, 412 pages
  • Making Cultural Heritage Claims on Profitable Land: The Case of the Ngassa Wells in Uganda’s Oil Region

    Rose Nakayi; Annika Witte (SAGE Publishing, 2019-12-01)
    In the exploration phase of Uganda’s oil project, controversy arose regarding the drilling of wells on the grounds of important shrines of spirits of the adjacent Lake Albert. While the oil companies and the state looked at the market value of the land, the claimants emphasised its cultural heritage value, building a link to an international heritage discussion. This article argues that, while they have been barred from political influence on the oil project, cultural institutions such as the Bunyoro Kingdom and the claimants in the village near the controversial well used cultural heritage as a vantage point to get their voices heard and to gain negotiating power in the project. The article shows how widening of the definition of cultural heritage – which means dropping a bias for built infrastructure – has put culture alongside politics, economics, and the environment as an important factor to consider in extractive projects.
  • Review: Susanne Buckley-Zistel: Conflict Transformation and Social Change in Uganda. Remembering after Violence (2008) Buchbesprechung: Susanne Buckley-Zistel: Conflict Transformation and Social Change in Uganda. Remembering after Violence (2008)

    Rita Schäfer (SAGE Publishing, 2009-01-01)
    Review of the monograph: Susanne Buckley-Zistel: Conflict Transformation and Social Change in Uganda. Remembering after Violence, Houndsmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Publications, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4039-9576-6, 192 pages Besprechung der Monographie: Susanne Buckley-Zistel: Conflict Transformation and Social Change in Uganda. Remembering after Violence, Houndsmills/Basingstoke: Palgrave Publications, 2008, ISBN 978-1-4039-9576-6, 192 Seiten
  • On Gaining Access: A Response to Francis Nyamnjoh’s “Blinded by Sight: Divining the Future of Anthropology in Africa” Zugang finden: eine Antwort auf “Blinded by Sight: Divining the Future of Anthropology in Africa” von Francis Nyamnjoh

    Andrew Hartnack (SAGE Publishing, 2013-01-01)
    Contribution to the Debate on Anthropology in Africa in Africa Spectrum.<br>Beitrag zur "Debate on Anthropology in Africa" in Africa Spectrum.

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