RT09
Africa versus the West: The challenge of reciprocal comparisons in the study of Africa

Convenors:
Morten Jerven (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
Chair:
Morten Jerven
Format:
Roundtables
Location:
KH111
Start time:
30 June, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

What is the role of comparisons in the practice of African studies? Much research, perhaps particularly in studies of politics and economics in Africa, is conducted against the background assumption that African phenomena are fundamentally different from European phenomena. Owing to differences in social, political and economic development levels this may assumption seem warranted – but doing comparisons ‘reciprocally’ – where both sides of the comparisons are allowed to be the norm and the deviation – is proving difficult. Even work that is not explicitly comparative in nature will frequently make use of concepts, tools and methods that are in some ways derived from other regional studies, and thus studies of ‘identity’, ‘modernity’ or other topics are still implicitly comparative. This roundtable discussion will explore issues bearing on conceptual and empirical comparison with the aim of raising issues concerning the practice of African Studies and its significance to scholarship in general. Participants: Ralph Weber (University of Basel), Suren Pillay (University of the Western Cape), Dag Henrichsen (Basler Afrika Bibliographien), Joyce Nyairo (Independent scholar, Eldoret), Lorena Rizzo (Harvard University)

Long abstract: