African Studies

Change as process, discourse and politics

Projects grouped under this theme address changes of society and environment in the context of climate change, transformation of discourses and strategies of "development" and institutional re-arrangements between state and society in Africa.

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

Kilimanjaro ecosystems under global change

Aufnahme-Session mit mobilem Studio-Equipment. Madu Jakite (dunun), Drisa Kone (djembe solo) und Kasim Kuyate (djembe acc.) spielen den Rhythmus sumalen. Bamako, Februar 2006. The decrease in rainfall and the increasing destruction of forests on Kilimanjaro worsen the effects of drought (Photo: A. Hemp)

Biodiversity and supportive ecosystem processes maintained by tropical mountain ecosystems are threatened by the combined impacts of global warming and the conversion of natural to human-modified landscapes. The long term German-Tanzanian research program KiLi will assess biodiversity and ecosystem processes along altitudinal and disturbance gradients on Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa), capitalizing on its world-wide unique range of climatic and vegetation zones. On a total of sixty study sites in both natural and human-disturbed ecosystems biodiversity (e.g. plants, soil arthropods, bees, frogs, lizards, bats, birds), related ecosystem processes (decomposition, seed dispersal, pollination, herbivory, predation), and biogeochemical processes and properties of ecosystems (climate, soil properties and nutrient status, regulation of water and carbon fluxes, trace gas emissions, primary productivity, functional diversity) will be analyzed.

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African political cultures: A comparative study in Guinea-Bissau, Libya, South Africa, and Zambia

(Foto: T. Hüsken) (Photo: T. Hüsken)

Africa is a continent where creative experimenting with political orders is omnipresent. Currently, we observe the rise of new actors and the emergence of new institutions and ways of conflict resolution. Political culture is a key to understand and to explain this process of creativity and adaptation. Adopting a comparative, transdisciplinary and actor-centred perspective, the research project studies the political cultures of four different African countries, south as well as north of the Sahara: Guinea Bissau, South-Africa, Zambia, and Libya.

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