Anthropology and Politics in Africa

Anthropology and Politics in Africa




ECTS credit:5

Lecturer(s): doc. dr. Lunaček Brumen Ana Sarah


The subject is focused on anthropological approaches and ethnographies in dealing with political history as well as macro and micro politics in Africa. Topics related to politics on international, national and local level are being considered. At the same time attention is called to political aspect in contexts and praxis of anthropology. Each year the focus of the course is directed to one or several of topics mentioned below.

Political history of Africa is discussed on selected cases with anthropological perspective, starting points for research and insights. Differences between Portuguese, French and British colonisation. Ideologies accompanying independence movements of African states. African socialism. Dictatorships and guerrillas. Different forms of neo-colonialism and specificity of globalisation in Africa. The importance of changing relations of powers in the world and new international actors. Influence of interests and activities of China in Africa. Anthropology in contexts of colonialism and post-colonialism.

Outline of anthropological research of non-alignment. Relations between ex-Yugoslavia and African states. Importance of non-alignment of ex-Yugoslavia for the position of writing about Africa.

Problematisation of power dichotomies and understanding of strategies of survival on local level and their connection to global economic and political processes. Possibilities, approaches, problems and ways of research and writing about different aspects of political inside anthropology of Africa. Ethnography of state borders and migrations inside and outside Africa. Local and international actors in conflicts, mercenary armies and warlords. Ethnographies of conflict situations and theories of conflicts. Application of anthropology and ethnography in research of development as well as in development projects and activities, critiques of concepts of development and questions of humanitarian aid. The role of NGOs. Problems of corruption and privatisation. Structural adjustment program and ethnographies of public sector. Anthropological approaches to land reforms and decentralisation. Reshaping of certain traditional praxis in contemporary political processes. New social movements in Africa. Political in art. Feminist movements in Africa.

Practical classes are strongly related to lectures in Anthropology and Politics in Africa. At practical classes the focus is on one ore some of the topics considered in classes of lectures. The understanding and knowledge of topic is deepened and specified with additional reading and with ethnographic research.

When possible, we try to engage in fieldwork in African continent (e.g. in Morocco). Since this is rarely realistic endeavour, we try to focus on topics related with Africa, for which ethnographic field work can be done in Slovenia or nearby countries. Among others that topics can be: ethnography of contacts between Slovenia and Africa (in time of non-aligned Yugoslavia or contemporary contacts, in fields of development, economy or culture); Africans in Slovenia, first, second and third generation; contemporary migration from Africa and Middle East; imaginaries of Africa and Africans in Slovenia; selected chapters from African cinematography; or another topic from the scope of lectures.
Students prepare for practical classes with reading of selected texts connected with selected topic(s) and discuss them. Students engage in group and /or individual ethnographic field work usually conceived as a research project.