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Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Blinded by Sight by Francis B. Nyamnjoh

In Africa, anthropology, research, society, sociology on June 28, 2013 at 19:24

From: Blinded by Sight: Divining the Future of Anthropology in Africa by Francis B. Nyamnjoh, Africa Spectrum, http://journals.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/afsp/index

Using the metaphor of the elephant and the three blind men, this paper discusses some elements of the scholarly debate on the postcolonial turn in academia, in and of Africa, and in anthropology in particular. It is a part of the context in which anthropology remains unpopular among many African intellectuals. How do local knowledge practices take up existential issues and epistemological perspectives that may interrogate and enrich more global transcultural debates and scholarly reflexivity? Many an anthropologist still resists opening his or her mind up to life-worlds unfolding themselves through the interplay between everyday practice and the manifold actions and messages of humans, ancestors and non-human agents in sites of emerging meaning-production and innovative world-making. African anthropologists seeking recognition find themselves contested or dismissed by fellow anthropologists for doing “native”, “self” or “insider” anthropology, and are sometimes accused of perpetuating colonial epistemologies and subservience by fellow African scholars who are committed to scholarship driven by the need to valorise ways of being and knowing endogenous to Africa. This essay calls on anthropologists studying Africa to reflect creative diversity and reflexivity in the conceptualisation and implementation of research projects, as well as in how they provide for co-production, collaboration and co-implication within anthropology across and beyond disciplines.

Francis B. Nyamnjoh is a professor of Anthropology and head of Social Anthropology at the University of Cape Town. He served as Director of Publications at CODESRIA from 2003-2009, and taught at universities in Cameroon and Botswana previously. His current research is funded by the NRF, SANPAD, WOTRO, Volkswagen Foundation, CODESRIA and UCT.

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Reposted with permission from: Africa Spectrum

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Traditional Values and Human Rights in Africa by Leo Igwe

In Africa, culture, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, society on October 1, 2012 at 01:39

From: Traditional Values and Human Rights in Africa by Leo Igwe, IEET, http://ieet.org

On March 24 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution titled, Promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of traditional values of humankind in conformity with international human rights laws.’

This resolution, which was proposed by Russia and supported by the OIC states and the Arab League, has been generating heated debates and criticisms mainly because of its ‘grave’ implications for universal human rights.

For instance, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights described the adoption of the resolution as ‘highly dangerous’.  ‘Such a concept’, its states, ‘has been used in the Arab region to justify treating women as second class citizens, female genital mutilation, honor crimes, child marriage and other practices that clearly contradict with(sic) international human rights standards. Does this resolution now mean that such practices are acceptable under international law? I really think it does. Some states have also voiced concerns over the resolution citing that it could lead to cultural relativism. They said it could be used to justify human rights abuses particularly the rights of minorities.

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Reposted with permission from: IEET

The White Correspondent’s Burden by Jina Moore

In Africa, culture, ethics, media, politics, society on August 14, 2012 at 02:04

 

From: The White Correspondent’s Burden by Jina Moore, Boston Review, http://www.bostonreview.net

Journalists in Africa talk often about misrepresentations of the continent we cover. But this isn’t an easy conversation: we’re all far from home, working for pennies, because we care about what we do. Broad criticism of our profession can feel personal. Often, even though we’re ostensibly in charge of the story, we feel disempowered. The best journalism takes time and money, and often, we complain, we have neither. Travel budgets have shrunk, and the Internet demands ever more content.

But this doesn’t explain why journalism from Africa looks and sounds as it does. For this, we blame our editors, who (we like to say) oversimplify our copy and cut out context. They also introduce clichéd shorthand, such as “Arab north versus Christian and animist south” (Sudan), or boilerplate background, such as “the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed” (Rwanda). Virtually any story can be sold more easily if set in a “war-torn country.”

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Reposted with permission from: Boston Review

How religion promotes confidence about paternity

In anthropology, gender, religion, sociology on June 10, 2012 at 21:39

 

How religion promotes confidence about paternity, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Phys.Org, http://phys.org/

In the traditional religion, menstrual taboos are strictly enforced, with women exiled for five nights to uncomfortable menstrual huts. According to Strassmann, the religion uses the ideology of pollution to ensure that women honestly signal their fertility status to men in their husband’s family.

“When a woman resumes going to the menstrual hut following her last birth, the husband’s patrilineage is informed of the imminency of conception and cuckoldry risk,” Strassmann said. “Precautions include postmenstrual copulation initiated by the husband and enhanced vigilance by his family.”

“The major world religions sprang from patriarchal societies in which the resources critical to reproduction, whether in the form of land or livestock, were inherited from father to son down the male line,” Strassmann and colleagues write. “Consistent with patrilineal inheritance, the sacred texts set forth harsh penalties for adultery and other behaviors that lower the husband’s probability of paternity. The scriptures also place greater emphasis on female than on male chastity, including the requirement of modest attire for women and the idealization of virginity for unmarried females.”

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