African Studies

Knowledge, communication and boundaries

In this area, there are research projects in relation to the manifold forms of mobility and translocality of Africa, the cultural boundaries and identities being transgressed and also formed, and the creative forms of expression of such processes in various types of media.

Below are some example projects, providing an insight into the IAS research activity in this area.

Football migration – a Dream of Europe

Red Bull Academy - Ungruhe HPRed Bull Academy (Photo: Christian Ungruhe)

For a couple of years, football has provided young Africans with the possibility of going to Europe in order to achieve a better standard of living. Media reports exclusively focus on problematic implications in this context: the accusation of human trafficking, the exploitation of the local game and the danger of racist attacks at the destinations. Yet, little is known about the actors’ perspective in the process of footballmigration. We aim at exploring the formation, transfer and articulation of football-related knowledge by participant observation among street footballers and young talents in football academies, biographical interviews with African professional and amateur players in Germany and expert interviews with player agents, coaches and football functionaries. In this context, a key objective is to include male and female perspectives.

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Climate Change, Environmental Changes and Migration

Logo - Migration Climate and Enviroment

This is an interdisciplinary research project on the linkages between environmental change and migration in Mali and Senegal. Politicians and scientists increasingly emphasise climate change as one of the major threats to sustainable human livelihoods in Africa and predict massive population movements as a response to a growing number of extreme events such as droughts, increasing water scarcity, a detrimental decrease of food production, changing disease patterns and loss of biodiversity. However, the environmental refugee concept is highly problematic due to geodeterministic stereotyping, terminological ambiguity and political instrumentalisation. Identifying environmental change as the primary cause of these movements is extremely difficult. Therefore, the project faces the challenge to balance the multiple factors causing migration in order to understand its internal logics and contextualise it theoretically. Furthermore, it aims at providing a basis for the formulation of appropriate analyses enabling us to predict future migrations in an interdisciplinary approach bringing together political scientists, sociologists, demographers, geographers and natural scientists.

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Moroccan music festivals

Festivals Driss HP(Photo: Driss el Maarouf)

Music festivals in Morocco have grown to become the country’s meta-artistic flagships. Scattered in geography and time, festivals punctuate the life calendar of cities and citizens, artistically inspire cross-cultural situations, and lead to trans-border encounters and economic opportunities. Music festivals define cities in the same manner that cities define festivals. The study of the three Moroccan music spectacles, namely the Mawazine festival (Rabat), the Gnawa festival (Essouira) and the Fez festival of world sacred music (Fez) is an effort to tackle the question of “festivalisation” in Morocco. These festivals, above all, are sites of struggles between not only the local and the global, the traditional and the modern, the national and the trans-national, but also between the margins and the centre, the urban and the rural, the authentic and the phony, the sacred and profane. Moroccan music festivals grow into “becoming something else” (Deleuze). Today, Moroccan festivals have shifted from being typically local celebrations (moussems) towards becoming global manifestations, throwing urban spaces, natives, tourists, localities and identities into a confusing and ambiguous vortex. They are no longer discrete and isolated events, but are now rationally produced and managed by bureaucratic organisations responsible for musical affairs.

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