AFRASO Lecture Series TransArea: "Travelling as Learning Ethnography: Provisional Thoughts on the Study of Transregional Littoral Society" by Kai Kresse

03. December 2015
Cas. 1812, Campus Westend

6-8 p.m.

Second talk of the AFRASO-Lecture Series "TransArea: New Paradigms in Area Studies" (Wintersemester 2015/16). This lecture takes place in cooperation with Afrika Kolloquium and the Workshop "Geteilte Forschung".


This exploratory lecture will reflect upon potential benefits and future perspectives for research on the western Indian Ocean region when conducted jointly and by means of collaborative mobile fieldwork, ‘travelling with…’ interlocutors from the region as well as qualified colleagues with complementary regional and linguistic expertise, as part of a dialogical and flexibly reflexive research endeavor.

I will reflect on the need – or perhaps rather: the promise – to study Swahili society, here as a specific sample of a trans-regional (or inter-regional) littoral society, by means of mobile, multi-lingual, inter-disciplinary, and trans-regional research that is collaborative in nature.

I will reflect upon my own personal relationships with interlocutors in the field, and on the significance of long-term interactions with them, at different stages of my research.

Thus my three provisional thematic takes here cover related (overlapping and intersecting) themes that speak to conceptual, programmatic, methodological and ethical dimensions of an ongoing and coeval research process, in which we as researchers are engaged with others. Background and underpinning for this lecture are largely drawn from anthropological debates on fieldwork, and I shall sketch out relevant points of reference as I go along.

For more information on Kai Kresse, please visit:

TransArea: New Paradigms in Area Studies:

In a rapidly globalizing world, area studies have often come to be regarded as a somewhat old-fashioned relic of the Cold War era and as an attempt to squeeze complex cultural, social and political ensembles into narrowly defined regional containers. In response to this critique, a new array of theories has sought to reconceptionalize area studies from a transregional perspective. The interdisciplinary lecture series "TransArea: New Paradigms in Area Studies" presents new approaches to transregional area studies developed in literary and cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, history and the social sciences