Accepted Paper:

Between kinship and the school: trajectories of social climbers in colonial Dahomey  


Erdmute Alber (University of Bayreuth)

Paper long abstract:

Often enough in historiographies and ethnographies on colonial Africa, social climbing through education and the following of new career paths in the colonial administration has been thought of as an alternative to “local”, “old” or “traditional” life realities that were less affected by colonial change.

My paper follows a different logic: Looking at biographies of social climbers from colonial rural Dahomey born in peasant villages, I want to outline the importance of kinship based local practices for their success. Practices of child fostering or shared responsibilities for children were necessary to organize schooling careers for children from rural backgrounds. Carefully analyzing some of these biographies “from below” I argue for a relational perspective on the colonial educational systems that produced new forms of in- as well as exclusion.

Panel A02
History of education in Africa [initiated by URMIS - Nice]