In 2010, no less than seventeen African states celebrated their independence jubilees. Staging the nation, nationhood, and diverse ethnicities, these jubilees proved to be a hallmark of memory politics and the making of history as such. The discourses surrounding the organization of these celebrations, and the imagery and performances they employed, reflected the fault lines with which African nation-building has to contend, such as competing political orientations as well as religious, regional and ethnic diversity. From a historical and a mnemonic perspective, the celebrations of 2010 showed that “colonial ethnography and historiography were not a monolithic block of ‘invented traditions’ that had successfully, and irreversibly, reified what had once been flexible, authentic African ‘customs’, but were rather the result of ‘creative negotiation between agents of both discursive communities’”, the colonizers and the Africans (Lentz 2007: 72)
Taking these observations into consideration, the participants of the Master Class will further discuss the entanglement of the nation, ethnicity, memory politics, and the making of history. The 2010 celebrations will offer a starting point; the discussion itself, however, will not be limited to the African continent. It will challenge concepts such as ‘nation’ and ‘ethnicity’ from a perspective of cultural and historical memory studies in general and thus emancipate itself from any geographic limitations. Participants will have a chance to present and discuss their projects in line with the focus of the Master Class.
- Lentz, Carola. Ethnicity and the Making of History in Northern Ghana. Edinburg: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. Chapters 3, 10.
- Lentz, Carola and Jan Budniok. “Ghana@50 – Celebrating the Nation: An Eyewitness Account from Accra.” Department of Anthropology and African Studies: Working Papers 83 (2007).
- Lentz, Carola and Christine Fricke. Staatsinszenierung, Erinnerungsmarathon und Volksfest: Afrika feiert 50 Jahre Unabhängigkeit. Frankfurt: Brandes & Apsel, 2011. Chapters by Carola Lentz (Introduction), Christine Fricke, Elena Leyh, Svenja Haberecht.