Ethnographic Knowledge & Audiovisual Representations

Exile and Belonging: Constructing and Contesting Ethnicity among Tuareg Refugees in Niger

Exile and Belonging: Constructing and Contesting Ethnicity among Tuareg Refugees in Niger

Part of the DFG funded project: Media-related configurations of translocal social spaces by West African Migrants in Europe (until October 2016) 

Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz
Researcher: Souleymane Diallo

The doctoral dissertation project explores contemporary processes of collective redefinitions among (Malian) Tuareg refugees in Niger. Major parts of the population of Kidal, GAO and Timbuktu were forced to flee not only because of the recent humanitarian crisis in Mali's northern regions but also because of their experiences of droughts induced hunger, and political persecution during the last decades. The empirical research focuses upon everyday social practices among the free born Tuareg known as nobles in Niger's capital Niamey and the unfree born called the former slaves or bellah in the refugee camp of Abala in the south-west of Niger. The dissertation examines how these practices are shaped by their experiences of forced migration. Countering a common scholarly assumption that cultural creativity is suspended under conditions of war, the project draws attention to the agency of the displaced Tuareg and highlights that their collective memory of persecution and displacement serves as a resource to imagine and construct future societies. Indeed, in their constructions of two distinct moral communities in exile, the former nobles, free born Tuareg and unfree-bellah, former slaves embarked on mutual contestations over autochthony, morality and ultimately over true Tuaregness. Probing these mutual processes, the project examines how the refugees 'experiences of violence reflect on and affect the changing configuration of belonging and the social relations among displaced Tuareg in Niger.

Mediated immediacy – Safari Tourism in Kenya and the making of an authentic experience of African nature

Part of the Sub Project of the DFG FOR 1501:  Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs
2011-2012 (Completed)

Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
: Carolin Maevis, M.A.

Inspired by an old-standing narrative about Africa as the site of an authentic, dangerous wilderness, Safari tourists, travelling Kenya, expect to directly experience an original African nature untouched by the scars of civilization and modernity. The research project explores the expectations and travelling experiences of Safari tourists who arrive at Lake Naivasha, a zone in which long-standing settler colonialism, an international horticultural industry with exploitative wage labor structures, and an elaborate tourist infrastructure have irreversibly transformed the local “natural” landscape. The project zones in on tourists’ expectations and anticipations of an immediate experience of Africa’s wilderness, and explores how this direct experience always requires an intermediary agent that mediates the desired immediacy. A key metaphor for this mediation process are the buses built for tourists to traverse the landscape: Crossing the country while sitting in a bus, the windows of the bus constitute the frame for observing the beautiful nature of which the tourists like to be part, and simultaneously assures them of being protected against the dangers they associate with travelling in Africa. Based on research among tourists as well as among tourist guides, hotel managers, and others involved in Safari tourism at Lake Naivasha, the project explores the different institutions and brokers involved in the business of providing immediate access to Africa’s wilderness.