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Intellectual Captivity

Literary Theory, World Literature, and the Ethics of Interpretation

Chen Bar-Itzhak

Abstract

This essay concerns the unequal distribution of epistemic capital in the academic field of World Literature and calls for an epistemic shift: a broadening of our theoretical canon and the epistemologies through which we read and interpret world literature. First, this epistemic inequality is discussed through a sociological examination of the “world republic of literary theory,” addressing the limits of circulation of literary epistemologies. The current situation, it is argued, creates an “intellectual captivity,” the ethical and political implications of which are demonstrated through a close reading of the acts of reading world literature performed by scholars at the center of the field. A few possible solutions are then suggested, drawing on recent developments in anthropology, allowing for a redistribution of epistemic capital within the discipline of World Literature: awareness of positionality, reflexivity as method, promotion of marginal scholarship, and a focus on “points of interaction.”

Francis Benyah

Abstract

The use of the mass media has become a contemporary and fast-growing religious phenomenon within Pentecostal and charismatic churches. By drawing implications on the use of modern media technologies, this article presents a popular case of a Charismatic church in Ghana and shows how the idea of branding evolves around the use of the mass media. This article argues that the branding of the leaders’ personality and the church is a marketing strategy aimed at attracting more people into the church.

Beth Ann Williams

Abstract

Christian churches are not abstract or ethereal institutions; they impact people’s daily decisions, weekly rhythms, and major life choices. This paper explores the continued importance of Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Anglican church membership for East African women. While much recent scholarship on Christianity in Africa has emphasized the rising prominence of Pentecostalism, I argue that historic, mission-founded churches continue to represent important sources of community formation and support for congregations. Using oral interviews with rural and urban women in Nairobi and northern Tanzania, I explore the ways churches can connect disparate populations through resource (re)distribution and shared religious aesthetic experiences. Moving below the level of church institutions, I focus on the lived experiences and motivations of everyday congregants who invest in religious communities for a range of material, interpersonal, and emotional reasons that, taken together, help us understand the ongoing importance of mainline churches in East Africa.

Sarali Gintsburg

Abstract

The Jbala region in northern Morocco is known for an enormous number of Sufi lodges, shrines of local saints, and the cults of those saints. However, this topic has entirely escaped the attention of modern scholars. This paper focuses on the ziyara, or tradition of pilgrimage to a shrine of a saint, connecting it to the debate on place and space on the one hand, and identity studies on the other. Using a classical ethnographic approach, I analyze one such pilgrimage that took place in 2018, in which I was invited to participate as a guest,. In this paper I understand pilgrimage as a communal spiritual journey and analyze the roles the collective and individual play in it, as well as how and by what means the participants cocreate and experience constructs of place and space.

Rocco Rotunno, Anna Maria Mercuri, Assunta Florenzano, Andrea Zerboni and Savino di Lernia

Abstract

Archaeological deposits in rock shelters have enormous informative potential, particularly in arid environments where organic materials are well preserved. In these areas, sub-fossilized coprolites and dung remains have been identified as valuable proxies for inferences about past environments, subsistence economies and cultural trajectories. Here we present a multidisciplinary analysis of bovid (ovicaprine) coprolites collected from the Early Holocene hunter-gatherer occupation at Takarkori rock shelter (SW Libya, central Sahara). Our results show that Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) were managed as early as ~9500 years cal BP, mostly with the rearing of juveniles. Palynological analysis of individual pellets suggests a seasonal confinement of the animals and the selection of fodder. GIS analysis of coprolite distribution also indicates sophisticated strategies of Barbary sheep “herding” and spatial differentiation of specialized areas within the rock shelter, including the construction and use of a stone-based enclosure for corralling animals. These highly structured and organized forms of control over wild animals are interpreted as a potential co-evolutionary trigger for the subsequent rapid adoption and integration of the incoming pastoral Neolithic economy.

Michael Brass

Abstract

Different emphases on ideological, socio-economic and technological changes have been brought to bear on the cultural variability made materially manifest in pre-Iron Age Saharan pastoral societies. The models have ranged from limited or no complexity before iron production to transient mobile elites across the Sahara, to socially complex communities from the mid-Holocene onwards in the Central Libyan Sahara, and to permanent elites with complex social structures. Here, ethnographic cultural variability is stressed, previous models detailed, and data for the Eastern and Central Sahara summarised and analysed. The emerging picture is of a mosaic of population movements, clustering and experimentation resulting in transient peaks of wealth and the potential for incipient social complexity to become temporarily or permanently manifest. Saharan social diversity serves as a warning against linear models and highlights the importance of an explanatory framework for investigating the evolution of social structures outside of permanently settled communities for North Africa.

Pamela R. Willoughby, Katie M. Biittner, Pastory M. Bushozi and Jennifer M. Miller

Abstract

During the 2010 excavations of Mlambalasi rockshelter, Iringa Region, Tanzania, a single rifle bullet casing was recovered. Analysis of this casing found that it was manufactured in 1877 at the munitions factory in Danzig for the German infantry’s Mauser 71 rifle. This casing is thus directly linked to the period of German colonization of Tanganyika, during which Iringa was a key centre of anti-colonial resistance. Mlambalasi was the location of the last stand of Chief Mkwawa of the Hehe people, and this bullet casing provides a tangible link to his uprising during the 1890s. In light of this colonial context and our ongoing research at Mlambalasi, this find is used to illustrate that a single artifact can reinforce multiple narratives about the past and the significance of an archaeological site.

Adil Moumane, Jonathan Delorme, Adbelhadi Ewague, Jamal Al-Karkouri, Mohamed Gaoudi, Hassan Ista, Mohamed Moumane, Hammou Mouna, Ahmed Oumouss, Abdelkhalk Lmejidi and Noreddine Zdaidat

Abstract

The authors, with the help of a team of researchers, have discovered twelve rock shelters with inside paintings on the southern slopes of the Jbel Bani Mountains in southern Morocco. The paintings vary in subject and time period and span multiple rock art styles. Majestic creatures that once inhabited southern Morocco are depicted next to hunters, pastoralists, and warriors. The shelters and paintings cast upon their walls illustrate a transfer of culture, beliefs, technology, and ideas between people groups of the Meridional and Central Sahara and the Jbel Bani region. These discoveries were all made along a mountain path in the Bani Mountains known as Foum Laachar and may help trace ancient human migration routes.

Karim Sadr

Abstract

Kweneng is an extensive aggregation of stone-walled ruins that represent a pre-colonial Tswana capital. It is located 30 km south of today’s Johannesburg. The Molokwane architectural style predominates at this site. This style dates from around the mid- eighteenth to the mid- nineteenth centuries AD. The northern sector of Kweneng contains some structures in an architectural style from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries AD. Scattered here and there on the fringes of Kweneng are Type N compounds, which represent the oldest architectural style in this region and date to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries AD. With a long sequence from formation to collapse, Kweneng will shed light not only on the birth of complex urban society in this region, but also in more distant times and places where the evidence might be considerably less intact. This preliminary report introduces the site and the principal features of its built environment.

Alemu Asfaw Nigusie and Mohammed Seid Ali

As an alternative development track, developmental state ideology has been openly introduced in the public policy makings of the Ethiopian state only after 2000. In essence, developmental state ideology could be understood as building the capacity of a state to address its diverse development challenges. As such, it is basically about creating enabling normative, structural, institutional, technical, and administrative environments in a given state to achieve its national development vision. In this regard, there are five defining features to evaluate as to whether a given state is indeed developmental: democratic nation building practices with committed political leadership, autonomous and effective bureaucracy, coordinated national development planning, sound social policy, and institutional capacity. In light of these conceptualizations and characterizations of the fundamentals of developmental state, the paper aims to contribute to our understanding of the actual state of developmental state ideology in Ethiopia by critically exploring and evaluating its actual performance. Accordingly, the findings of this paper reveal that Ethiopia fails to satisfy the basic standards of being a developmental state as it claims to be. Thus, the paper argues that the so-called ‘developmental state’ in Ethiopia is something that is mirage, and not actually or really embraced and practiced.