About the Lecture

With the transformation of development policy to global structural policy, the ‘old’ anthropology of development must become an anthropology of global social engineering. This involves the challenge of focusing on the entire policy chain – from the production of development policy models in the context of the development agencies, to the different translation points (for example, state ministries in the recipient countries and large international NGOs) and local intervention points. From this perspective, the new development policy emerges as one of the contemporary forms of producing the world. Interesting approaches exist in Germany for such an ethnography of global social engineering. They have considerable implications for the entire discipline and its knowledge production practices.

 

About the Speaker

Thomas Bierschenk is Professor of Anthropology and Modern African Studies (Kulturen und Gesellschaften Afrikas) at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. He has specialised in the political anthropology of French-speaking Africa and in the anthropological analysis of development. His current research interests are African public services and civil servants, the ethnography of public policies as well as decentralisation and the local state in West Africa. After conducting a topical international research project in West Africa, he has just edited, together with Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, States at Work in Africa. Dynamics of Public Bureaucracies (Brill, Leiden 2014). He is a senior researcher in the project Significations of Oil and Social Change in Niger and Chad: An anthropological cooperative research project on technologies and processes of creative adaptation in relation to African oil production (coordination: Prof. Schareika, Göttingen; Dr. Behrends, Halle), a cooperating partner of the French-German project “Models, practices and cultures of school institutions in West Africa” (for these projects, see http://www.ifeas.uni-mainz.de/65.php), and a mentor of the postdoctoral project Translating alternative modes of governance in Africa: local and international civil society initiatives to enforce governance and human rights in Chad (with Remadji Hoinathy/N’Djamena, Andrea Behrends/Halle and Mahaman Tidjani Alou/Niamey) funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. He has done extensive fieldwork in the Sultanate Oman and in French-Speaking West and Central Africa.