Western Norms and Local Media in Africa

Colonialism has attempted to transfer Western values and norms onto Africa. This endeavour has induced multilayered reinterpretation processes in the various African societies where these values and norms were and still are confronted with established bodies of knowledge and life practices, and are interpreted according to local cultural contexts. This confrontation has expedited a dynamics of change which often led to different ends than those originally intended.

There are hardly any studies dealing with these partly conscious, partly unconscious, strategies of mutual interactions. Scholarly discourse also almost entirely ignores Africa’s influence on Europe as well as processes of normative appropriation and change between African societies within Africa itself and as a result of the diffusion of Islam. The formation of normative orders which are driven by other actors than the West therefore represent an important field of research. Another controversially debated research field in the domain of norms are the international debates on the implementation of patents and copyrights. In Africa these debates are particularly virulent as far as cultural and natural resources are concerned. In ongoing attempts to implement Western norms onto African societies, the media play an important role as they facilitate the reproduction of narratives of justification with which normative changes are disseminated for a broader public. Whereas the contribution of media and their impact on society has been sufficiently debated and theoretically reflected, rich ethnographic studies on media use in Africa have, however, rarely been carried out. Abu-Lughod already complained about this a decade ago, though little has changed in the meantime. Ferguson and Gupta attribute this neglect to an impression of difficulty in the localization of mass media. Their broadcast is global, though it is always manufactured locally by individuals with a specific cultural background. These complex processes of the mutual interdependence of cultural norms can only be understood by studying them in the field among the people themselves. In this way, we contribute to a theory of development with genuine practical relevance.


People in this project:

  • Project director / contact
    • Diawara, Mamadou, Prof. Dr. | Profile
  • Project members
    • Röschenthaler, Ute, PD Dr. | Profile

Publications for this project:

  • Diawara, Mamadou; Röschenthaler, Ute (2013): Mediationen: Normenwandel und die Macht der Medien im subsaharischen Afrika, in: Andreas Fahrmeir/Annette Imhausen (Hrsg.), Die Vielfalt normativer Ordnungen. Konflikte und Dynamik in historischer und ethnologischer Perspektive, Normative Orders Bd. 8, Frankfurt am Main: Campus 2013, S. 129-164.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2011): Comment peut-on être auteur? De la création dans un contexte de tradition orale en Afrique subsaharienne, in: Justin Bisanswa (Hg.), Dire le social dans le roman francophone, Paris: Champion, 33-52.
  • Diawara, Mamadou; Röschenthaler, Ute (2011): Immaterielles Kulturgut und konkurrierende Normen: Lokale Strategien des Umgangs mit globalen Regelungen zum Kulturgüterschutz. Sociologus 61, 1: 1-17.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2011): “Development and administrative norms: The Office du Niger and decentralization in French Sudan and Mali”, in: Africa, 81 (3), 434-454.
    Details | DOI: 10.1017/S0001972011000210
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2010): "L’osmose des regards: anthropologues et historiens au prisme du terrain", Cahiers d’Études africaines. (Sonderausgabe zum 50. Geburtstag der Zeitschrift Cahiers)
  • Diawara, Mamadou; Lategan, Bernard; Rüsen, Jörn (2010): Historical Memory in Africa. Dealing with the past, reaching for the future in an intercultural context. New York: Berghahn Books.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2010): “Introduction”, in Mamadou Diawara, Bernard Lategan und Jörn Rüsen (Hg.): Historical Memory in Africa. Dealing with the Past, Reaching for the Future in an Intercultural Context. New York/ Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2010): “Remembering the Past, Reaching for the Future. Aspects of African Historical Memory in an International Context”, in Mamadou Diawara, Bernard Lategan, und Jörn Rüsen (Hg): Historical Memory In Africa. Dealing with the Past, Reaching for the Future in an Intercultural Context. New York/Oxford: Berghahn.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2009): De la fabrique des savoirs et des normes intellectuelles. À propos de « L’Occident décroché Enquête sur les postcolonialismes » de Jean-Loup Amselle, Politique Africaine, 116, décembre (2009), 185-191
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2009): Die Osmose der Blicke. Zur Forschung in eigener Sache, in: Volker Gottowik/ Holger Jebens/ Editha Plat-te (Hg.), Zwischen Aneignung und Verfremdung. Ethnologische Gratwanderungen, Festschrift für Karl-Heinz Kohl, Frankfurt/Main, New York: Campus (2009), 251-267
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2009): Les lieux du développement: Les experts coloniaux face aux ruraux de l’Office du Niger au XIXème siècle (Soudan Français et Mali), in: Katharina Inhetveen/ Georg Klute (Hg.), Begegnungen und Auseinander-setzungen, Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag (2009), 437-457.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2009): Pourquoi des musées ? Mémoires locales et objets dans les musées africains, in: Isidore Ndaywel è Nziem/ Elisabeth Mudimbe Boyi (Hg.), Images, mémoires et savoirs. Une histoire en partage avec Bogu-mil Koss Jewsiewicki, Paris : Karthala (2009), 231-245
  • Röschenthaler, Ute; Diawara, Mamadou (2008): Einleitung zu: Röschenthaler, Ute und Mamadou Diawara (Hg.). Im Blick der Anderen. Frankfurt: Brandes & Apsel. S. 6-21.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute; Diawara, Mamadou (2008): Hg. Im Blick der Anderen. Auf ethnologischer Forschung in Mali. Frankfurt: Brandes & Apsel. 167 S.
  • Diawara, Mamadou (2008): The African Intellectual in the Court of Public Opinion: A Critical Reflection. In: Stephen Belcher, Jan Jansen and Mohamed N’Daou (Hg.), Mande Mansa. Essays in Honor of David C. Conrad. Berlin, Zürich: Lit Verlag. S. 61-72.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute; Henning, Engelke (2008): Mimesis und Reflexivität in Jean Rouchs Les maîtres fous. In: Andreas Becker, Martin Doll, Serjoscha Wiemer und Anke Zechner (Hg.): Mimikry. Gefährlicher Luxus zwischen Natur und Kultur. Schliengen: Edition Argus. S. 120-146.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2011): Geistiges Eigentum oder Kulturerbe? Lokale Strategien im Umgang mit kulturellen Ressourcen. Sociologus 61, 1: 45-67.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2011): Purchasing Culture. The Dissemination of Associations in the Cross River region of Cameroon and Nigeria. (The Harriet Tubmen Series of the African Diaspora). Trenton: Africa World Press.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2010): 'Celebrating our Heritage'. Lokale Festivals, Erinnerungskultur und neue Identitäten in Kamerun und Nigeria. Arbeitspapiere des Instituts für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz 118, 1-30
    Details | Link to full text
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2010): An Ethnography of Associations? Transethnic Research in the Cross River Region. In: Marit Melhuus, Jon Mitchell and Helena Wulff (Hg.). Present Ethnography. New York: Berghahn Books, 121-134.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2010): Tauschsphären: Geschichte und Bedeutung eines wirtschaftsethnologischen Konzepts. Anthropos 105: 157-77.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2010): The social life of White Man Mimbo and ancestral consumption of bottled beer in Southwest Cameroon. In: Wolputte, Steven van/Mattia Fumanti (Hg.). Beer as a local and transnational commodity in Africa. Münster: Lit, 131-166.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2009): The submerged History of Nsanakang. A Glimpse into an Anglo-German encounter. In: Ian Fowler/ Verkijika Fanso (Hg:). Encounter, Transformation and Identity. Peoples of the Western Cameroon Borderlands 1891-2000. Festschrift für Shirley Ardener. New York: Berghahn Books (Cameroon Studies Series), 110-140.
  • Röschenthaler, Ute (2009): Werbung im Kontext: Perspektiven auf ein neues ethnologisches Forschungsfeld. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 134: 213-251.


Sense of Doubt. Resisting Oblivion

A scientific-artistic projet of the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders" with the video exhibition memórias inapagáveis in the Metzlerpark, Museums Angewandte Kunst. Opening, 10. September 2015, 19 Uhr. For further information and programme: click here...

Trailer of "Sense of Doubt. Resisting Oblivion"

Upcoming Events

4-5 September 2015

International Workshop: Postsecularism in Global Context: New Perspectives on the Role of Religion in Postsecular Societies. Participants: Eduardo Mendieta (Pennsylvania State University), Andre C. Willis (Brown University), Malachy Okwueze (University of Nigeria), Matthias Lutz-Bachmann (Goethe Universität Frankfurt), Samuel F. Müller (New School for Social Research), Emmanuel Ogbunwezeh (International Society for Human Rights). More...

10 September until 11 October 2015

A scientific-artistic project of the Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders": Sense of Doubt. Resisting OblivionMore...

10 September 2015, 7pm

"Sense of Doubt. Resisting Oblivion". A scientific-artistic project of the Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders" with the video exhibition memórias inapagáveis: Start of the project. Welcoming speeches: Prof. Dr. Felix Semmelroth (Deputy Mayor in Charge of Cultural Affairs Stadt Frankfurt am Main), Matthias Wagner K (Director Museum Angewandte Kunst), Dr. Julia Cloot (Kulturfonds Frankfurt RheinMain gGmbH), I.E. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Ambassador of the Republic of Brazil). Introduction: Prof. Dr. Klaus Günther (Curator, Co-Director Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders", Danilo Miranda (Director Sesc/SP). More...

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Prof. Dr. Rainer Forst
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New full-text Publications

Günther, Klaus (2014):

Normativer Rechtspluralismus - Eine Kritik, Normative Orders Working Paper 03/2014. More...

Günther, Klaus (2014):

Criminal law, Crime and Punishment as Communication, Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2014. More...