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P2-C: East African Regionalism: The EAC’s external spaces of interaction with Asian partners

The project is situated in the wider context of the development of transregional stud-ies. In a first step it is interested in processes of regional integration within East Africa. In a second step, this internal perspective is supplemented by an external dimension, that is the question of how the East African Community (EAC) positions itself externally as an integrated actor. This exter-nal dimension of the East African integration process will be investigated with a particular focus on interactions with Asian partners as well as on the duality of imaginations and materializations in those interactions.

Building on previous research on transregional cooperation between African and European part-ners, the project follows a three-step approach to the study of Afrasian spaces of interaction:

1) Imaginations of the integrated agency of the EAC: to what extent is the EAC perceived as a relevant actor in East African politics, economics and civil society, in particular as regards the relations with Asian partners?

2) Imaginations of East Africa’s Asian partners: to what extent are Asian actors (states, com-panies, organisations) perceived as cooperation partners, in particular as regards the com-parison to “Western” partners?

3) Concrete materialisations of Afrasian interactions: in which areas does the EAC interact as an integrated East African actor with Asian partners and how do these interactions develop in comparison to those with “Western” partners?

The research aims to find out how regional integration in East Africa, and the EAC as a key institu-tion of this integration, contribute to creating an integrated East African space for internal as well as external interactions. Questions about bilateral vs. multilateral interaction as well as about South-South vs. South-North relations play a central role in this context, whereby the focus is on the soci-ospatiality of these connections and the production of corresponding transregional spaces of inter-action.



Involvierte AFRASO Mitglieder: 

P2-A: Indian Ocean Imaginaries and Memories in Transregional Afrasian Spaces

This project addresses transformation of Indian Ocean imaginaries and memories in East and South Africa, Indonesia, Oman, Iran, Diego Garcia, China and India. Our research has so far demonstrated the limiting nature of the ‘Indian Ocean’ approach since Afrasian (Africa-Asian) interactions go beyond the littoral states of the Indian Ocean to Indonesia and beyond. This project therefore studies the cultural production and transformation of “Indian Ocean imaginaries” and "Indian Ocean memories” which we perceive of as “Afrasian imaginaries” and ”Afrasian memories“ (see Karugia 2017, Schulze-Engler 2014) within transcultural settings (Erll, 2011).

The central research question focusses on transregional connections between imaginaries and memories of the Indian Ocean region generated by historical African-Asian interactions on the one hand and the representation of today’s African-Asian interactions. We ask how the Indian Ocean works as a space of memory in Asian and African memory cultures. The ‘Afrasian Ocean’ world connects multiethnic communities. In some of these Afrasian spaces, we observe a paradigm-shift from competitive towards multidirectional memory (in the sense of M. Rothberg 2009). With our focus on Afrasian imaginaries and memories, we target the historical emergence and contemporary constitution of new transregional concepts of space. With its historical focus, this project contributes to lending historical depth to the analysis of African-Asian interactions within the AFRASO research programme as a whole.

Regarding Afrasian imaginaries, the project is based on the assumption that Afrasian imaginaries differ vastly throughout East Africa. We therefore analyze the corpus of East African literature in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) from 1960 to the present day with a special focus on: concepts and images of the Indian Ocean area as a transregional cultural contact zone, representations of Asians, Asian culture and Asian countries and different versions of Afrasian imaginaries in coastal regions and the East African hinterland. The combined analysis of dhow literature in English and Swahili and the corpus of anglophone East African writing is designed to produce new insights into the complex genesis and transformation of Afrasian imaginaries and to provide differentiated answers to the question if and how contemporary images and concepts of the Indian Ocean as transregional contact zone build on earlier Afrasian imaginaries, or whether representations of current African-Asian interactions are characterized by a break with these historically generated imaginaries.

As regards Afrasian memories, we perceive them as „connective memories.“ They connect, reconnect and articulate transregional historical imaginaries. We analyze how the long history of exchange between Africa and Asia is remembered today and which functions such memories fulfil in the light of current interactions. Our assumption is that the centuries-old relations between both regions (trade, migration, slavery, indentured labour, soldiers etc.) are not simply forgotten in the face of today's Afrasian interactions (such as labour migration, tourism, transnational media cultures), but that they constitute a "space of experience" (R. Koselleck) against which the present situation is understood and expectations for the future are articulated. Museums, literature and other media, memory institutions and memory sites across the world of the „Afrasian Ocean“ address human interactions and power dynamics across time and space. We ask how Afrasian imaginaries and memories contribute to an understanding of present and future African-Asian interactions.

In the framework of AFRASO, our goals are to understand, first, the significance of historical imagination for transregional conceptions of space and, second, the importance of local imaginary and memory cultures for the representation and interpretation of current African-Asian interactions. In light of the foregoing, we are analysing the production of contemporary transnational imaginaries of citizenship, the complex negotiation of transcultural identities amongst old Asian-African and new Asian diasporas, claims of long-standing transregional socio-political and cultural links, new and old memory sites built or claimed by certain Afrasian communities and Afrasian bio-politics within old and emergent Afrasian diasporas.

'Memory', in this project, describes on the one hand elements of explicit, official memory culture (e.g. the remembrance of Gandhi in South Africa); on the other hand, we reconstruct what John C. Hawley (2008, 4), drawing on James C. Scott, has called "hidden transcripts": implicit, non-official, private and subaltern forms of memory, which, however, can be articulated in literature, photography, film and other media. Such imaginaries and memories have especially come to the fore in interviews we conducted with various groups of people in South Africa, East Africa, Oman, China and India as well as in our recent investigation of ‘travelling afrasian objects’ and ‘multidirectional mnemoeconomics’ (see Karugia 2017).

An Afrasian framework has allowed us to investigate transregional dynamics of interactions and relations between Africa and Asia across the vastness of time and space. This perspective has counteracted the danger of perceiving ‘Afrasia’ as a new transregional ‘container.’ Our research on Afrasian imaginaries and memories conceives of Afrasian’ as a sensitizing term that opens up new perspectives and as a new way of looking at and analyzing various contemporary dynamics in this transregion. We critically self-reflect on limitations of our ‘Afrasian’ perspective. This Afrasian way of looking at this transregion can only become productive if blurred spaces and places like its connectivity with Afrabia (Africa and Arabia) are adequately addressed (see Karugia, 2018 in preparation).



Involvierte AFRASO Mitglieder: 

Bild des Benutzers mirjam.tutzer

Perspectives of women on microcredits: Brochure and workshop

On a Wednesday in May 2016, the day had finally come: the Tanzania Gender Network Program (TGNP Mtandao) based in Dar es Salaam and I, a researcher from AFRASO, welcomed the participants of a workshop discussing the implementation of microcredit programs in Tanzania. Based on my research results, the workshop offered a possibility of exchange about the impact of microcredits on women as the main target group of this concept. Microcredits are often labeled as a ‘magic bullet’ to fight poverty and empower women, but also pose particular challenges.




author(s) / editor(s): 

Bild des Benutzers Alexandra.Samokhvalova

Student from Tanzania wins the International Malay Language Speech Competition: some good publicity for Africans in Malaysia in the end?

S4-A: Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans in der ostafrikanischen Literatur und Oralkultur


Das Projekt beschäftigt sich mit der Transformation von Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans in der ostafrikanischen Schriftliteratur und Oralkultur. Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei die Frage, welche Zusammenhänge zwischen historischen Wechselbeziehungen zwischen Afrika und Asien und hieraus generierten Imaginationen der Großregion Indischer Ozean einerseits sowie aktuellen afrikanisch-asiatischen Interaktionen und deren Repräsentation in der zeitgenössischen ostafrikanischen Literatur bestehen. Das Projekt nimmt mit den Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans einen Kernbereich der Genese und aktuellen Ausprägung von neuen transregionalen Raumkonzepten ins Visier (AFRASO-Schwerpunkt 4) und leistet durch seine historische Ausrichtung einen wichtigen Beitrag dazu, der Analyse afrikanisch-asiatischer Interaktionen im Rahmen des AFRASO-Gesamtprojekts historische Tiefenschärfe zu verleihen.

Das Projekt geht von der Annahme aus, dass im ostafrikanischen Kontext höchst unterschiedliche Imagi­nationen des Indischen Ozeans existieren und dass sich insbesondere kulturelle Konstruktionen des Indischen Ozeans in Küstenregionen und im küstenfernen Hinterland historisch deutlich voneinander unterscheiden. Um diese Unterschiede für die Analyse der Transformation von Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans nutzbar zu machen, werden im Rahmen einer exemplarischen Feldforschung Bilder des Indischen Ozeans in der Oralkultur des ländlichen Uganda sowie in Sansibar ermittelt und kontrastiv ana­lysiert. Am Beispiel der literarischen Auseinandersetzung mit der wohl bekanntesten Ikone des Indischen Ozeans - der Dhow - wird des weiteren untersucht, welche Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans sich aus der spezifischen Erfahrung ableiten, den Indischen Ozean tatsächlich auf einer Dhow bereist zu haben. In englisch- und swahilisprachigen Erlebnisberichten, Reisedarstellungen und Biographien wird daher die gelebte Erfahrung des Indischen Ozeans von Dhow-Reisenden in historischer Perspektive untersucht und mit aktuellen literarischen Auseinandersetzungen mit dem Dhow-Topos in Beziehung gesetzt. In einem weiteren Schritt wird der Korpus der anglophonen Literatur Ostafrikas (Kenia, Tansania, Uganda) von 1960 bis heute im Hinblick auf Konzeptionen und Bilder des Großraums indischer Ozean als transregionaler kultureller Kontaktzone, Repräsentationen von Asiat(inn)en, asiatischer Kultur und asiatischen Ländern sowie unterschiedliche Ausprägungen von Indian Ocean Imaginaries in den Küstenregionen und im ostafrikanischen Hinterland literaturwissenschaftlich analysiert. Im Zusammenspiel der Analyse von Oralkultur, Dhow-Literatur und des Korpus der anglophonen Literatur Ostafrikas soll so ein differenzierter Blick auf die Genese und Transformation von Indian Ocean Imaginaries ermöglicht und insbesondere die Frage beantwortet werden, ob und in welcher Weise aktuelle Imaginationen des Indischen Ozeans als transregionaler Kontaktzone an frühere Indian Ocean Imaginaries anknüpfen, oder ob sich im Hinblick auf die Repräsentation aktueller afrikanisch-asiatischer Interaktionen ein Bruch mit diesen historischen Imaginationen konstatieren lässt.

A dhow on the Indian Ocean waters next to Zanzibar in 2013. © Karugia, John Njenga