DGV-Tagung 2011 Wien

 Workshop    Mediators and brokers in Africa

Gregor Dobler, Tilo Grätz 15.9.2011, 19-21 Uhr

siehe unter:

Vorlesungen, Tagungen, Workshops

1) Das Protokoll der RG-Sitzung vom 1.10., unter Aktuelles



2) Workshop DGV - Tagung 2009


Workshop Indigeneity: Career and appropriation(s) of a global category

  Freitag, 02.10.2009, 17.15 bis 19.00 Uhr / Raum 454 (Hauptgebäude)


German Anthropological Association, RG Africa


Indigeneity: Career and appropriation(s) of a global category


In the history of anthropology, the concept of indigeneity was most often used to mark the opposition between ‘us’ and ‘them’: the indigenous, natives to the soil and caught up in their local cultures, were opposed to the civilized, more cosmopolitan high cultures of the West or, more rarely, of local elites.

In the last decades, the concept has taken on a new turn. It is detached from the notion of inferiority and connected to a special status and special claims linked to autochthony.

In the last decade we observe a new rise of discourses on indigeneity, above all led by local actors but also promoted by scholars, triggering new debates (Cultural Anthropology, 21, 2001; Social Anthropology, 14, 2006). The contexts of these discourses are quite diverse. They often involve political struggles of local groups for entitlements and political representation, perceived as only partially guaranteed by the respective national constitution and policies. In many cases, indigeneity is linked to strategies of so called Cultural Defence of minorities in legal cases. Finally, there are international discourse coalitions of NGOs, human rights activists and scholars promoting the cause of endangered peoples, local languages and cultures in these terms. Within regional anthropological traditions, there are, however, startling differences with regard to the public and scholarly uses of the concept. From the Africanist perspective, we witness discourses featuring a “new nativism” (Mbembe), and there are successful movements to obtain guaranteed land titles (Botswana) or shares from the commercialisation of medical plants (Namibia) linked to the promotion of indigenous rights. In these cases, the concept is used to remedy wrongs committed against minority groups. On the other hand, rhetorics of exclusion, primarily based on “autochthony” principles (a dominant notion above all in West Africa) are gaining ground, sometimes even sustained by national laws. So while indigeneity can be used by minorities in an emancipatory way to claim their rights, it takes on an oppressive and exclusive character if used by a majority group. Clearly, the political problems of both cases go hand in hand with the conceptual ones: the categorical difference between ‘autochthonous’ and strangers (often themselves born in a country) can only be established by the political act of focusing on (often invented) origins, and by fixing fluid identities in a clear ascription of indigeneity.

The workshop discusses the usefulness and pitfalls of the concept, promotes the discussion of comparative case studies also beyond Africa with respect to various local understandings and cultural constructions of indigeneity, strategies of local actors, but also legal contexts and political frameworks. Finally, we may discuss whether alternative concepts can be developed that both meet scholarly standards and comprise universal human rights standards, or whether the political ascription of rights based on such group differences is doomed to become oppressive.

Convenors: Gregor Dobler, Tilo Grätz

Discussant: Alan Barnard



 Indigeneity: Career and appropriation(s) of a global category



Chair: Tilo Grätz, Gregor Dobler




David Picard, Leeds   

Indigenousness and the Modern State: The Formation of Cultural Primordialisms in a Creole Island Context


Olaf Zenker, Bern

                                   Autochthony, indigeneity and nationalism: time-honouring and state-oriented modes of rooting individual-territory-group-triads in a globalising world


Gregor Dobler, Basel

A White Traditional Authority? Afrikaner claims in Southern Africa and the conundrums of indigeneity


Tilo Grätz, Hamburg/Halle

                        Political emancipation, Cultural entrepreneurship, revivalism. Reflexions on the concept of “Indigenous Media”, with a case study from Benin (West Africa)



Alan Barnard, Edinburgh  


Dr David Picard (Leeds)


Indigenousness and the Modern State: The Formation of Cultural Primordialisms in a Creole Island Context


In this paper, I will reflect upon the role of indigenousness in the constitution of modern states or ‘modern stateliness’. I am particularly interested here in examining the relation between historical events of marginalisation and extermination of indigenous people and more recent efforts to encourage descendants of surviving indigenous people to re-emancipate and refashion indigenous identities. Tourism, cultural conservation lobbies, universities and museums seem key institutions in these recent emancipation movements. Considering that forms of marginalisation and extermination of indigenous people can be related to the foundational moments of many modern states (or that moment retrospectively considered as foundational), I propose to approach the relation between these events and the recent public re-emancipation and re-fashioning of indigenous people through the classical anthropological concept of sacrifice. Specifically, I will discuss whether the observation of recent forms of reification and self-promotion of indigenous people can be understood as part of the modern state ceremonial, of a culture and model of governance that needs ‘indigenousness’ as an unconditional reference to re-invoke its foundational moments and recreate its own political magic. To ground my argument, I will use ethnohistoric and ethnographic data from the island of La Reunion, Indian Ocean as well as cases from the academic literature.



Olaf Zenker

Institut für Sozialanthropologie, Universität Bern, Schweiz


Autochthony, indigeneity and nationalism:

time-honouring and state-oriented modes of rooting individual-territory-group-triads in a globalising world



Recently, it has become standard to note the resurgence of local identities, vernacular forms of autochthonous exclusions as well as the return of the ‘native’ in the shape of ‘indigenous peoples’ as the flip-side of globalisation. The contradictory expansions of modernity thereby produce an accelerated desire for interconnecting individuals, groups and ‘their’ territories and for firmly rooting such triads in global space. Against this backdrop, it is astonishing that two crucial bodies of research – studies of nationalism, on the one hand, and of autochthony, on the other – hardly engage with each other conceptually and instead provide rather contradictory accounts as to how identity formations of individuals and groups literally ‘take place’: within studies of nationalism, it is typically the ‘non-ethnic’ (‘the civic’) that is associated with territory through place of birth and/or residence (the ‘ethnic’ being mainly linked to descent and culture), whereas in research on autochthony, it is usually the ‘ethnic’ that legitimises privileged access to territory through ‘first-comer claims’ rooted in the past. This paper argues for a synthesis of insights from both fields by conceptualising ‘autochthony’ – i.e. the proclaimed ‘original’ link between individual, territory and group – as the root phenomenon. It suggests distinguishing between two causal logics underlying the reproduction of this autochthony-triad, which honour time in different ways: ‘individualised autochthony’ links the individual, territory and group in such a way that shared culture and/or descent ultimately follow from place of birth and/or residence within the same present, while ‘collectivised autochthony’ inverts this causality on the basis of continuously evoking the same past. Based on this notion of autochthony – de facto a model of (landed) ethnicity –, the paper proposes to distinguish between ‘indigeneity’ and ‘nationalism’ as alternative modes of targeting the state: whereas indigeneity refers to cases of autochthony that, in compensation for past discriminations, demand special entitlements from the state, nationalism denotes cases of autochthony that aim for the very entitlement of the state itself.


Gregor Dobler (Basel):


A White Traditional Authority? Afrikaner claims in Southern Africa and the conundrums of indigeneity


In Namibia and South Africa, white Afrikaans speakers have repeatedly claimed the establishment of an Afrikaner Traditional Authority and thus to bring the descendants of colonial settlers on equal legal footing with the descendants of the colonized. The group that, under apartheid, tried to cement a distinction between themselves as ‘civilized’ on the one hand, ‘tribal’ Africans on the other should be marked as indigenous in the same way as those formerly called ‘Natives’. The Afrikaner claim lays open the paradoxes of the concept of indigeneity as a political instrument and its double character – as a resource to gain a legitimate means of access to the resources of state power, and as an expression of identity. This double face of instrumental and expressive connotations makes the concept as powerful as potentially dangerous. By using it for political aims, people express assumptions about the relation between citizens and the state, assumptions which have been in the centre of many scholarly analyses of African societies. The presentation will use the Afrikaner case to unravel some of the societal and political preconditions of the successful use of indigeneity, and look at the common points between ‘emancipative’ and ‘exclusivist’ uses of indigeneity/ autochthony.




Tilo Grätz (Hamburg/Halle)



My paper examines the concept of Indigenous Media that gained much prominence in media anthropology and development cooperation. Referring to debates on the notion of the “indigenous”, I will discuss to which extent the concept is appropriate, and will point to some ambivalences it entails when comparing diverse case studies. Assessing an example of a Community radio station in Benin (Radio Ilema), I will propose a different analytical frame, focussing on the set of actors, their often diverging agendas as well as modes of technological appropriation.





Für den Roundtable zu Perspektiven der Afrika-Ethnologie

haben erfreulicherweise alle angefragten Kollegen zugesagt.


Kurzbericht: ECAS  Tagung, Panel 49

Changing mediascapes and new media entrepreneurs in Africa

Das Panel widmete sich neuen Medienunternehmern in Afrika. Der Begriff Unternehmer wurde hier in einem weiten Sinne verstanden, der kulturelle und Normunternehmer        ebenso einschließt wie mediale Akteure, die kommerzielle Interessen mit künstlerischer Kreativität verbinden. Ausgangspunkt war dabei die Feststellung, dass im Zuge der weiteren Öffnung, Liberalisierung und Kommerzialisierung der Medienlandschaften in vielen afrikanischen Staaten  auch zugleich eine neue Gruppe bzw. Generation von Akteuren ins Blickfeld tritt, die entweder als Medienmanager, Medienförderer oder als Journalisten, Moderatoren, Regisseure, Schauspieler, Mitarbeiter von NGO oder Kirchen auftritt; Medienakteure, die – oft über Umwege – in diese Positionen kamen, meist nicht nur einer Tätigkeit nachgehen, aber zugleich ungemein kreativ und offensiv in die Öffentlichkeit treten. 

Drei Beiträge waren zunächst dem verstärkten Auftreten christlicher Akteure in Medienlandschaft  Afrikas gewidmet. Tilo Grätz und Marleen de Witte sprachen über Tendenzen eines stärkeren Vordringens pfingstkirchlicher Gruppen in Medien aller Art, vor allem dem Radio, in Ghana und Benin. Dabei fokussierten sie nicht nur auf institutionelle Strategien von Kirchen sowie den kommerziellen Nutzen spiritueller Sendungen für Medienunternehmer, sondern auch auf individuelle Motive von Medienproduzenten in diesem Bereich. Katrien Pype arbeitete mit religiösen Theatergruppen in Kinshasa, die auch erfolgreiche Soap Operas produzieren. Sie sind Teil einer Bewegung, die eine moralische Erneuerung  der Gesellschaft nach dem Bürgerkrieg mit dem Wunsch nach persönlichem Erfolg und Prestige als anerkannte Schauspieler vereint. In der zweiten Sektion ging es im Beitrag von Florence Brisset um Mitarbeiter von NGO in Uganda, die Radiostationen in Krisengebieten betrieben und mit vielfältigen Anforderungen an Legitimität, Neutralität und zugleich Qualität der Sendungen kämpfen. Grace Musila wiederum widmete sich in ihrem Beitrag Medienakteuren und „small media“ im Demokratisierungsprozess in Kenia, wie dem Cartoonisten Gado sowie der Comedy Gruppe Redykulass, und erläuterte die Grundlagen ihres Erfolgs zwischen oft versteckter Kritik and Machthabern und zugleich der Fähigkeit zur Selbstironie. Oliver Thalén schließlich sprach über neue Medienproduktionsfirmen in Ghana, die Fernsehshows aller Art produzieren, bekannte Genres mit neuen Formaten verbinden und dabei zwischen einheimischen kulturellen Erwartungen und globalen Einflüssen vermitteln.

Der Workshop zeigte die Vielfalt gegenwärtiger medialer Aneignungsformen, betonte zugleich aber auch die Notwendigkeit eines stärkeren kultur- und sozialhistorischen Blickes auf Medien im postkolonialen Afrika, um diese besser kontextualisieren  zu können.





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siehe EVIFA