Recent Publications

Anthropology as Homage
Festschrift for Ivo Strecker

edited by: Felix Girke, Sophia Thubauville, Wolbert G.C. Smidt.

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 41

This volume celebrates the life and work of the anthro­pologist Ivo Strecker, who has studied with the Hamar of southern Ethiopia since 1969. Through this decades long engagement, as well as his ethnographic films and his work in spearheading the international Rhetorical Culture Project, Ivo has been highly influential, both in advancing anthropological theory and encouraging nu­merous students to commit to fieldwork in and around Hamar. While alluding to various facets of Ivo’s syn­thetic thinking and his unique personality, the contri­butions to this Festschrift also make important state­ments on fieldwork, visual anthropology, rhetoric, and other fields that relate to his œuvre.

2018, 447 pages.

ISBN: 9783896458421

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

Remembering Independence

by Carola Lentz and David Lowe

Remembering Independence explores the commemoration and remembrance of independence following the great wave of decolonisation after the Second World War. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, and with reference to the Pacific, the authors find that remembering independence was, and still is, highly dynamic. From flag-raising moments to the present day, the transfer of authority from colonial rule to independent nation-states has served as a powerful mnemonic focal point.

Remembering independence, in state as well as non-state constructions, connects to changing contemporary purposes and competing politic visions. Independence is a flexible idea, both a moment in time and a project, a carrier of hopes and ideals of social justice and freedom, but also of disappointments and frustrated futures.

This richly illustrated volume draws attention to the broad range of media employed in remembering independence, ranging from museums and monuments to textual, oral and ritual formats of commemorative events, such as national days. Combining insights from history and anthropology, this book will be essential reading for all students of the history of empire, decolonisation, nation-building and post-colonial politics of memory.

2018, 244 pages.

ISBN: 9781138905733


Katrin Bromber, Book Review: Carola Lentz and David Lowe: Remembering Independence , in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 18.10.2018,

Vom Reichtum eines armen Landes
Nationalfeiern und Nationenbildung in Burkina Faso

Svenja Haberecht

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 40

In 2010 Burkina Faso celebrated his fiftieth independence jubilee – a milestone in the process of nation building. The anniversary celebration gave rise to memorize the country's history and proudly to take stock of previous achievements. But it also raised a discussion about the status quo of independence, recent challenges and future development paths.

The present book examines the process of nation building in Burkina Faso along the history of its national days since 1960. Based on comprehensive archive material concerning past celebrations of national days, participatory observation and numerous interviews about the anniversary celebration of 2010, the author analyses the political staging as well as the social counterdrafts of nation. The examined anniversary celebrations demonstrate that in between the five decades of independence a national consciousness emerged, which – in full consciousness of the country's material poverty – imposes its cultural diversity as the nation's wealth.

2017, 270 Seiten.

ISBN: 9783896458407

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag


Nicht nur Raubkunst!
Sensible Dinge in Museen und universitären Sammlungen

Edited by Anna-Maria Brandstetter & Vera Hierholzer

Public collections often preserve things that are nowadays considered ‘sensitive’ for ethical reasons. For some years, the focus has been on Nazi looted art and is now increasingly being directed at cultural assets brought to Europe as part of colonisation. There are, however, many other types of sensitive things, such as mortal remains, religious artefacts, illegally traded antiques and wildlife products that fall under the protection of endangered species. This volume chooses to take on a decidedly comparative perspective in investigating how to appropriately deal with these objects across disciplines and institutions. For the first time, through the exchange of experience between scientists from museums and universities, it also systematically examines the topic for university collections, which, due to their heterogeneity, cover a particularly wide range of potentially sensitive objects.


1. Auflage 2018
327 Seiten mit 46 Abbildungen gebunden
ISBN 978-3-8471-0808-5
Mainz University Press bei V&R unipress

La vitrine du pays
Staat machen in Togos Außenministerium

Nora Brandecker

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 39

The Togolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAEC) should be considered as the vitrine du pays, the “display window of the country”, and it is of utmost importance in providing representatives of foreign govern­ments and international organizations as well as potential investors with a positive first impression of Togo, as official sources proclaim. The high staffing level of the ministry seems to bear out these state­ments, but a closer look reveals fine cracks in the storefront of the vitrine du pays. Most of the employees of this ministry do not “do” foreign policy, but frequently nothing at all – at least at first glance –, and the chronic shortage of office supplies even hampers fulfilment of the few arising tasks.

Aside from the great number of staff that is utterly underemployed, there are others who appear to be completely over­burdened. Based on this paradox, the leading question of this ethnography of the Togolese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is how its diplomats organize their daily work routine, having to deal with the tension between the great importance of the ministry that is officially stressed and the factual insignificance that they often experience, and – in doing so – how they “do the state” while dressing the “display window of the country”.

2017, 283 pp.

ISBN: 9783896458391

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

Police in Africa
The Street Level View

Edited by Jan Beek, Mirco Göpfert, Olly Owen and Jonny Steinberg

State police forces in Africa are a curiously neglected subject of study, even within the framework of security issues and African states. This book brings together criminologists, anthropologists, sociologists, historians, political scientists and others who have engaged with police forces across the continent and the publics with whom they interact to provide street-level perspectives from below and inside Africa’s police forces. The contributors consider historical trajectories and particular configurations of police power within wider political systems, then examine the ‘inside view’ of police forces as state institutions – the challenges, preoccupations, professional ethics and self-perceptions of police officers – and finally look at how African police officers go about their work in terms of everyday practices and engagements with the public.

The studies span the continent, from South Africa to Sierra Leone, and illustrate similarities and differences in Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone states, post-socialist, post-military and post-conflict contexts, and amid both centralisation and devolution of policing powers, democratic transitions and new illiberal regimes, all the while keeping a strong ethnographic focus on police officers and their work.

2017, 376 pp.

ISBN: 9781849045773


Producing Stateness
Police Work in Ghana

Jan Beek

Jan Beek’s book explores everyday police work in an African country and analyses how police officers, despite prevailing stereotypes about failed states and African police, produce stateness. Drawing on highly readable ethnographic descriptions, the book shows that Ghanaian police practices often involve the exchange of money (bribes), the use of violence and the influence of politicians. However, such informal practices allow police officers to deal with the inconsistent necessities and the social context of their work. Ultimately, Ghanaian police officers are also inspired by a bureaucratic ethos and their practices are guided by it. Stateness, the book argues, is a quality of organizations, gradually emerging out of such everyday encounters. Producing Stateness allows a close look at the realities of police work in Africa and provides surprising insights into the rationalities of policing and state bureaucracies everywhere.

2017, 237 pp.

ISBN13: 9789004332171
E-ISBN: 9789004334908


Deportation, Anxiety, Justice
New ethnographic perspectives

Edited by Heike Drotbohm and Ines Hasselberg

Series: Research in Ethnic and Migration Studies

This book provides new ethnographic perspectives on the intersections between deportation, anxiety, and justice. As an instrument for controlling international migration, deportation policies may be justified by public authorities as measures responding to anxieties over (unregulated) migration. At the same time, they also bring out uncertainty and unrest to deportable and deported migrants as well as to their social and institutional environments, in which this act of the state may appear deeply unjust.

Providing new and complementary insights into what ‘deportation’ as a legal and policy measure actually embraces in social reality, this book argues for an understanding of deportation as a process that begins long before (and carries on long after) the removal from one country to another has taken place. It provides a transnational perspective over the ‘deportation corridor’, covering different places, sites, actors, and institutions. Most importantly, it reasserts the emotional and normative elements inherent to contemporary deportation policies and practices, emphasising the interplay between deportation, perceptions of justice, and national, institutional, and personal anxieties.

Written by leading experts in the field, the contributions cover a broad spectrum of geographical sites, deportation practices, and perspectives, bringing together a long overdue addition to the current scholarship on deportation studies. This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

2017, 136 pp.

ISBN 978-1-13822-273-1


The Lion and his Pride
The Politics of Commemoration in Cameroon

Kathrin Tiewa

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 38

Cameroon was the first of seventeen African countries to celebrate its golden jubilee of independence and reunification on May 20th 2010. ‘Unity’ was the leading motto for the festivities, a controversial choice that provoked debate across
the nation. Cameroon’s bi-colonial heritage has been a challenge to the country since independence; various antagonisms, such as those between the Francophone and Anglophone populations, stood in stark contrast to the unity propounded and
staged by the government. Adherents of the ruling party felt the motto fit well with the political vision President Paul Biya has propagated since his election in 1982 and hoped that it would further his nation-building efforts. Members of the
political opposition disagreed, accusing the government of distracting from the continued privileging of the Francophone population. The coincidence of the Cinquantenaire celebrations with the run-up to Cameroon’s presidential elections further stoked the debate, with the governing party resounding the jubilee motto as part of the election campaign, while members of the opposition criticized that the event’s organization lay entirely in government hands. And yet, paradoxically,
this heated debate engendered a process through which a sense of nationhood did actually emerge.

Together with a team of Cameroonian students, the author conducted fieldwork in different localities throughout the country during the same time period, enabling her to observe the various fields and techniques through which unity was pro moted
in different settings. In this study she shows how the government staged unity as part of an attempt to bridge the country’s Francophone-Anglophone antagonisms. The case offers an ethnographically rich example of politically controlled, top-down strategies of nation-building.

2016, 253 pp, Format: 170 x 240 mm

ISBN 978-3-89645-838-4

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

White Elephant
Die Aushandlung von Kultur in der tansanischen Videofilmindustrie

Claudia Böhme

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 37

Anfang der 2000er-Jahre hat sich in Tansania eine Medienrevolution ereignet, als sich Künstler verschiedener Metiers das neue, kostengünstige Medium Videofilm aneigneten, um auf Swahili ihre eigenen Geschichten in Spielfilmen und Soap- Operas zu erzählen. Angefangen mit wenigen Comedys, hat sich inzwischen eine Kulturindustrie mit Hunderten von Produktions- und Distributionseinheiten entwickelt, die nahezu täglich neue Filme auf den Markt bringt, die inzwischen auch international vertrieben werden und über Satellitenfernsehen, das Internet und die sozialen Medien global Beachtung finden. Von 2006 bis 2012 hat Claudia Böhme die Filmemacher, Videofilmhändler, Zuschauer und Kulturschaffenden, auch als Schauspielerin in mehreren Filmen und Fernsehserien, teilnehmend begleitet. Die Ethnografie beschreibt die Videofilmkultur von ihren historischen Wurzeln über die Aneignung des Mediums Video bis zur Entwicklung einer durch Globalisierung und Transnationalisierung geprägten
Filmindustrie mit eigenem Starkult. Ein besonderes Augenmerk wird dabei auf kulturelle und politische Aushandlungsprozesse gelegt, die sich auf verschiedenen Ebenen der Produktion, Distribution, Rezeption beobachten lassen. Die Auseinandersetzungen der aufstrebenden Filmemacher mit etablierten Kulturpolitikern und lokalen Journalisten, ihr Ringen um wirtschaftliche Existenz, Anerkennung und Zugehörigkeit lesen sich dabei in ihrer Dramatik nicht selten selbst wie der Stoff für ein filmreifes Drehbuch. Das Buch liefert nicht nur erstmalig eine umfassende Betrachtung der Videofilmindustrie in Tansania, sondern ist auch als Beitrag zur medienethnologischen Debatte über die Aneignung neuer Medien und die Entstehung lokal spezifischer Medienkulturen in einer zunehmend mediatisierten und vernetzten Welt zu verstehen.

2016, 367 pp, Format: 170 x 240 mm

ISBN 978-3-89645-837-7

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

From the Tana River to Lake Chad
Research in African Oratures and Literatures
In memoriam Thomas Geider

edited by: Hannelore Vögele, Uta Reuster-Jahn, Raimund Kastenholz, Lutz Diegner

Series: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 36

This collection of essays is published in memoriam Thomas Geider (* 25 April 1953, † 15 October 2010). Since the beginning of his studies and research, he was fascinated by African oral literature. As a scholar, he participated in the discussion of the concept of Weltliteratur, and was particularly interested in the question of how oral narratives could be integrated into the discussion of world literature. Research on the oral literature of the Pokomo in Eastern Kenya, and, subsequently, of the Kanuri in Northern Nigeria formed the basis of his scientific publications.
The contributions to this volume reflect the breadth of Thomas Geider’s research interests in African Narrative Research, Documentary Literature, and Weltliteratur; West African Oratures, Literatures, and Music; East African Oratures, Literatures, and Music. The essays and a number of literary contributions by Thomas Geider’s colleagues and friends are complemented by a series of photographs he took in the Tana River area, Kenya, as well as a bibliography of his publications.

2014, 427 pp, Format: 170 x 240 mm

ISBN 978-3-89645-836-0

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

African Appropriations
Cultural Difference, Mimesis, and Media

Matthias Krings

"An original, stimulating, and convincing discussion of mimetic behaviors in the fields of cultural production and artistic expression." — Peter Probst, Tufts University

Why would a Hollywood film become a Nigerian video remake, a Tanzanian comic book, or a Congolese music video? Matthias Krings explores the myriad ways Africans respond to the relentless onslaught of global culture. He seeks out places where they have adapted pervasive cultural forms to their own purposes as photo novels, comic books, songs, posters, and even scam letters. These African appropriations reveal the broad scope of cultural mediation that is characteristic of our hyperlinked age. Krings argues that there is no longer an "original" or "faithful copy," but only endless transformations that thrive in the fertile ground of African popular culture.

Series: African Expressive Cultures
328 pp., 33 b&w illus.

Indiana University Press, July 2015

cloth ISBN 978-0-253-01625-6
paper ISBN 978-0-253-01629-4
ebook ISBN 978-0-253-01640-9

More information at:

Être enseignant au Bénin: les mutations d’un groupe professionnel

Clarisse Tama

Reihe: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 35

L'universalisation de l’enseignement primaire est l'un des Objectifs majeurs du Millénaire pour le Développement (OMD). Tant qu’il n’y aura pas un nombre suffisant d’enseignants bien formés et motivés, cet objectif ne pourra être atteint. Dans de nombreux pays d’Afrique, les enseignants représentent la moitié des effectifs du service public. Ils sont donc des acteurs clés du développement économique et de la formation de l’État en Afrique, dans les pays du Sud et au-delà.
Pourtant, les conditions de vie et de travail des enseignants dans les pays du Sud n’ont guère été étudiées jusqu'ici. Avec son étude sur les enseignants du primaire en République du Bénin, Clarisse Tama propose une étude systématique du métier d’enseignant. Cette sociologie du travail est accompagnée d’une sociologie de l’organisation du secteur de l’éducation en Afrique, d’une densité ethnographique et historique inédite à ce jour. Dans le même temps, cette étude constitue une contribution importante à la recherche sur l'État «réel» (the 'state at work') en Afrique (de l’Ouest).

2014, 336 Seiten, Format: 170 x 240 mm

ISBN 978-3-89645-835-3

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

Bongo Media Worlds
Producing and Consuming Popular Culture in Dar es Salaam

edited by: Matthias Krings and Uta Reuster-Jahn.

Reihe: Mainzer Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Band 34

In the wake of the transformation from a socialist to a neoliberal capitalist economy, Tanzania has witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of cultural production which went hand in hand with a steep rise in formal and informal media outlets. Bongo Media Worlds provides insights into the diverse and creative practices of producing and consuming popular media in Dar es Salaam, the country’s cultural capital. Bongo, an augmentative form of the Swahili noun ubongo meaning brain, is the popular nickname for Dar es Salaam and by extension the whole of Tanzania: One has to use one’s brains to survive in the city.

The term bongo has therefore come to encapsulate the notion of creativity and the readiness for improvisation born out of circumstance and necessity. It mirrors a positive self-image of Dar es Salaam’s inhabitants and the citizens of urban Tanzania at large. The spirit of bongo is also manifest in Dar es Salaam’s vibrant media landscape and its inhabitants – the producers and consumers of the various forms of popular media culture.

This collection of essays presents ethnographic case studies on some of the media worlds that have developed in Dar es Salaam during the last two decades under conditions set by economic liberalisation, political democratisation, technological innovation (in particular digitalisation), and globalisation with all their manifold implications. Eleven lively essays cover media and genres ranging from bongo flava music and video clips to bongo movies, televangelism, televised political satire, comics, live interpretation of foreign films, living rooms, and beauty pageants.


2014, 286 pages, Format: 170 x 240 mm

ISBN 978-3-89645-834-6

Rüdiger Köppe Verlag

States at Work
Dynamics of African Bureaucracies

edited by Thomas Bierschenk and Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan

Reihe: Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies, 12

States at Work explores the mundane practices of state-making in Africa by focussing onthe daily functioning of public services and the practices of civil servants. Adopting mainlyan ethnographic approach as a basis for theorizing, the authors deal with topics including:bureaucratic cultures and practical norms, operational routines in o ces, career patternsand modes of appointment; how bureaucrats themselves perceive and deliver goods andservices and interact with service users; the accumulation of public administration reformsand how the diferent bureaucratic corps react to the ‘good governance’ discourse andnew public management policies; the consequences of these reforms for the daily workingof state bureaucracies and for the civil servants’ identities and modes of accountability;and the space that exists for bottom-up micro-reforms that build on local innovations orinformal arrangements.

February 2014, Paperback (approx. 400 pp.)

ISBN 978-900426-478-6