African Futures

Looking at Africa From Within Africa

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  • Autor
  • #5796

    Dear friends,


    let us start with these two rarely  shown & seen maps:

    Just in order to put things into perspective. Territorially.


    A rather important view of the continent in question.




    Surfing through the web I came across this rather smart fellow’s website and here is, among many other valuable things, what I found: A map I have been looking for, for about four years now. It looks puzzling doesn’t it? So meticulous and yet insufficient. Where is South-Sudan? Regardless of its shortcoming, I think it is one of the more awesome things I have come accross in academia.



    This (very controversial) map was drawn by an american anthropologist George Murdock. I have little respect for the academic ethos of american anthropologists. At least in the past, some of their main representatives have harmed the field terribly. And this goes right to that awe-inspiringly dilligent but incredibly nationalist lady Margaret Mead and that other guy named Boas.  This is not to diminish their contributions to… to what exactly? … well to mapping the ethnicities of Africa for instance. It is not the point here to explore the ultimately expedient and exploitative purpose of that effort. But I will say this: their ethos simply sucked for being partial in a highly eurocentric fashion. The problem is that they sold out to imperialist* designs in ways and motivated by interests and values that squarely transgress the accepted boundaries of scientific research. [*Definition: An empire is a transborder Center-Periphery system, in macro-space and in macro-time, with a culture legitimizing a structure of unequal exchange between center and periphery: economically, between exploiters and exploited, as inequity; militarily, between killers and victims, as enforcement; politically, between dominators and dominated, as repression; culturally, between alienators and alienated, as conditioning. Join the F.U.S.E board to discuss its validity]

    Back to George Murdock.  Due to its easily falsifiable truth claim – that there are „but“ 835 ethnic identity groups ‚Ethnos‘  in Africa – many are quick to jump to the hasty conclusion that it is a useless map. I totally agree, that the identity-variables he uses may not be encompassing enough to consider all the ethnicities that actually empirically exist on african soil. In short, I’d say that like all maps, it is but an approximation to what it attempts to capture and represent and like all maps, it must be improved gradually with increasing empirical insight and data. Why I find it useful? Look at the incredible diversity of distinct ethnic formations in the sociosphere. It would be important to conduct a comparative study of this continent-landmass with its intense degree of ethnic diversity with other inhabited landmasses. A classic comparative research question. Intuitively, I would guesstimate that there is no other similarly diverse ethnic macro-spatial context, but I could be wrong of course. Ce qui est a prouver. In either case, my thoughts circle around the implications. Now regardless of the controversy surrounding this map, I would argue, that this is a fundamentally necessary perspective without which talking about modern africa remains trapped in the original trojan-gift (in the german sense of gift 😉 ) which is „the westphalian state system“. (I am willing to elaborate this further with anyone who wishes to pick up on the topic and go back and forth.) But my point is this: Finally a map (well @ „finally“_: this map is from 1959) that gives those of us who have grown up in africa a sense of authenticity in what it tries to depict. This is what growing up in africa actually looks like when translated into a map. Yes, everybody around you speaks 6 or up to 8 languages passively or actively… and you feel awkward with only 3 or 4 under your belt. This also is Africa. The not so well known Africa of a ubiquitous intercultural competence so self explanatory, that nobody ever notices how peculiar it is. But change location, visit France and find out how rare it is to find a french man or woman, capable of speaking German or Spanish or proper English and you begin to hypothesize about potential, however subtle, differences in the capacity of civilizations to empathize.  You see where I am threading with this: The underlying assumption would be that speaking different languages, being multilingual enables one to be empathize with „the Other“ more profoundly and perceive more of the deeper cosmological positions of „the Other“.  We can pick this up in our discussions as well, including all the opposing points that come to mind, but this ultimately would lead us to alterity studies – which is not where we are going with this.



    Now let’s get to the habitual ways of looking at africa with Murdock at the back of our minds and see what hypotheses this may help generate on why the societal forms of interaction occuring on the continent are occuring just the way they are.


    ENVIRONMENT and Survival Basic Need):









    Aura TRIFU

    hello Naakow, I have looked to these maps lengthwise and crosswise 🙂 and I keep asking myself what is the relation between the first „true size“ map and the second (China up and down). appreciate some guidance. tnx, aura


    Dear Aura,


    thank you very much for your inquiry.  I will answer in brief delay. But I must say that these two maps for me simply represent two separate attempts to depict the spatial reality of the african continent. „Africans“ populate a continent so large, that China, the USA, The EU and India fit in without any problems. With this visual illustration of SPACE and SURFACE of Africa at the back of our minds, the very common and ridiculous notion of Africa as a country becomes even more ludicrous.


    I will add more maps, thank you dear Aura for this inquiry.


    Haha – fantastic! & I used to marvel at India’s size compared to the uk!

    over 13 times bigger: India’s total area is 3,287,240 sq km comparing to UK 244820 sq km

    (don’t think he’s used the Peter’s projection btw)

    Africa is 30,370,000 sq km 124 times bigger! again I don’t think he’s used the Peter’s projection – Uk is too big

    I would love to know what Murdock’s identity criteria were for the reasons you state but I love the complexity of the ‚peoples‘ map (never been keen on term ethnicity as it is born out of Race) – the sheer rich diversity of the continent (& that’s AFTER the sociocide of european expansions! – imagine how diverse it might have been) – untold potential.

    At first I excitedly thought it was some sort of map of global influence across the continent – esp in light of China’s investment programs.

    I think something that would be v useful for conflicts would be current ‚interests‘ maps – of who exerts how much influence over the continent – perhaps in terms of trade – then alliances? from outside but also internally?

    Also- then water distribution or mineral resources mapped out to overlay with these? then overlay with the Environment II map above?

    Languages (not defined by country boundaries), religions likewise (I only have a secular vs Islamic)

    oh to have the time – someone must have done them – they just need to share!

    If the maps were produced periodically then we’d just need a clever computer wizard to overlay each map and animate so we could watch a ‚film‘ of the social & economic factors over  the 4 dimension: time


    I am pleased to read on & see that the norm in Africa is to be multi-lingual – the educational and perceptual and foucauldian (conceptual) strength it encourages should be the norm everywhere – I know it is in the Indian subcontinent.  Europe’s insecurity over, and obsession with, nationhood means it often manages to throw the baby out with the bathwater when it should retain both.

    ‚that gives those of us who have grown up in africa a sense of authenticity in what it tries to depict‘ – could you start one from your locality and invite others to expand it on the internet? I think this should be mapped globally possibly collectively…like other collective research projects that are run across the net.

    Just thoughts.


    Dear ACT-participants,


    allow me to share these reflections on „Pondering Africa’s futureS“ before our common session tomorrow.


    I am open for a dialogue on the substances elaborated herein during the entire week.

    I hope you enjoy the writeup below.


    Africa – Searching for Futures


    There is no such thing as “the” future of Africa. One could indeed posit, as has been done before, that politically and sociologically Africa exists but in name only. But what is in a word and why harp on this detail? As in the case of “the Americas”, derived from the name of Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navigator, the word Africa itself, is said to be derived from the Latin negation of the word for “cold”: a-frigus. This does sound plausible and wouldn’t be too much of a misnomer. But of course, there are other etymological explanations – tracing the origin of the word back to pharaonic times. Here is not the place to settle this open dispute. It is simply important to point out this potentially European origin of the denomination from the start, because if indeed true, it simply evidences once again how omnipresent the influence of European memes remain for matters as fundamental as „identity“ and the „perception of self“ when it comes to the “discovered” peoples of this planet.


    There is an explanatory motive behind the negations with which this essay opens. Surely, there is a continental landmass we designate by the word “Africa”. However this term continues to convey the idea of an empirical uniformity or homogeneity which simply does not do justice to the idiomatic and sociological diversity observable on that very landmass. Depending on how precisely one decides to look at social reality on the continent, between 800 or 2000 distinct ascriptive identity groups with particular definitions and sentiments on that which is sacred, moral, ethical, aesthetic or valid populate and interact in 54 states, often across the arbitrary borders of this second largest of the continents. With a population that crossed the billion mark in 2009[1], the stupefying distinctiveness of these various nations and the cultural expressions and idioms by which they live, should in principle forbid any attempt to homogenize, unitize or generalize. When we speak of “futures” in plural, this is simply paying attention to the manifold contemporary trans-border social patterns of interaction between these ethno-linguistic groups. This very diversity has strong bearings on the dynamics of the contradictions along the existential faultlines that criss-cross the socio-sphere in Africa – as elsewhere. This very diversity may mean that there is a huge reservoir of contradiction-transformation-literacy to be mapped. There is a lot to be learned from African populations.


    Politically, at best, one could attest to a nominal “Africa” as seen in the administrative institutions and bodies of the utterly symbolic African Union[2]. But if one considers the mainstream thrust of western political analysis – which posits the state and its preponderance over societal and economic viability – clearly, indicators of dysfunction and informality dominate academic literature on Africa regarding its future prospects. From this vantage point, all too often, the conclusion is that politics on the continent are a greedy and disorderly mess with the states on the continent involved in massive category killing of their own population or a political cacophony at best. Wole Soyinka once expressed, in what he called a “pure theoretical gambit”, that notwithstanding the consensus upheld by decision makers at the macro level – namely, that they would never question the borders inherited from colonialism – we may very well witness major transformations of the macro political landscape in the near future with state-borders in Africa shifting and changing to adjust more and better to the social realities on the ground.[3] At this point the exo-genesis of African statehood – Berlin 1885 – holds some explanatory value for such an outlook. Statehood was arbitrarily imposed over some 200 regions of varying size which have remained intact to this day and continue to bridge the frontiers of the present states.[4] This is one major narrative on what we may come to witness in one of Africa’s many potential futures.


    Furthermore, this diversity should not be neglected particularly because it has extensive implications for the work of conflict transformation specialists. Where ever we find such an abundance of goal seeking systems and worldviews, societal contradictions will invariably abound and where contradictions abound, we are quite sure to find meaningful reflexive peace cultures to learn from, in order to expand our existing conflict-resolution repertoire. This again entails a dedicated examination of the idioms and immanent cultures of the continent. From the perspective of a peace scholar the prospect of studying the epistemic tenements of the various patterns of intelligibility employed by Africans, is quite exciting. If Africa is often perceived as the continent of violent outbreaks and misery, overcoming the underlying contradictions these emerge from, will require serious knowledge and understanding of the various articulations of Deep Culture extant in Africa.


    Culturally, Europe has been investing much energy in continuously re-inventing itself on the basis of an existential reverence to an ancient Hellenistic common denominator and remains beholden to the Christian roots of Scholasticism notwithstanding its expansionist secularism. In short, there is a common cultural denominator in Europe… however complex. If we listen to mainstream academia, in Africa there is none such common denominator linking the nations of the continent. However, a serious assessment of the works of scholars working along the lines of the late Cheikh Anta Diop and John Henrik Clarke might very well illustrate that evidence for a cultural continuum spanning continental swaths of space and macro-historical periods of time, has been put into the public sphere for academic, political and philosophical perusal a long time ago. It just hasn’t been picked up yet. Any serious concern with a constructive future for the people on the continent will have to reactivate and explore this tradition of conscientization[5] initiated by the likes of Dubois and Nkrumah further. Knowing your future requires you to connect to your past.


    But how far back does one travel into the past to find the necessary and sufficient causes for the status quo? Ambrose Bierce’s cynical aphorism on “the past” hits the nail on the head when he defines the past as


    “that part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. A moving line called the Present parts it from an imaginary period known as the Future. These two grand divisions of Eternity, of which the one is continually effacing the other, are entirely unlike. The one is dark with sorrow and disappointment, the other bright with prosperity and joy. The Past is the region of sobs, the Future is the realm of song. In the one crouches Memory, clad in sackcloth and ashes, mumbling penitential prayer; in the sunshine of the other Hope flies with a free wing, beckoning to temples of success and bowers of ease. Yet the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of to-morrow. They are one—the knowledge and the dream.“


    Historically, the people of the continent have – their own faultlines and violent interactions put aside – been subjected to various forms of sociocidal foreign invasions and have had their fair share of exogenous darkness, sorrow and sobbing. Initially mainly by islamic raids which sapped Africa’s population and social strength for generations through the trans-saharan trade, creating an east-west structure of intercontinental proportions long before Christians began their transatlantic version of the international trade in the human commodity which in turn imposed a north-south pattern of vertical interaction on the continent which perdures until this very day.[6]


    This line of thought quickly leads us from the analytical question of causation of the status quo to the moralist approach, more inclined to asking: who is to foot the bill? Who is at fault? Who is responsible and who is to blame? TRANSCEND’s conflict transformation approach on the other hand, would ask the question how this status quo can be explained and how the harm and the insults to basic human needs necessarily implied by it, may be reduced, halted and reversed into positive peace and a sustainable satisfaction of the somatic and psychological basic needs of the afflicted. A look into the past then becomes an investigative and explanatory effort aimed at empowering the researcher to formulate constructive solutions ad “basic needs”. So much to that part of the past “with which we have had a slight and regrettable acquaintance.”


    Our point is to overcome Bierce’s “regrettable acquaintance” by modelling the future consciously with constructive proposals, appropriate to the creation and guarantee of physical reproduction, political freedom, cultural identity and economic wellbeing for the people of Africa. A frequent explanation given for “maturity” is found in the formula “when one is able to take responsibility for one’s own future”. The question then becomes an endogenous one: should the bill then rather be put to the political, military, cultural and economic elites of Africa who inherited the political responsibility for their constituents after the dehumanizing exploitation at the hands of Christian monarchies & western democracies came to its nominal end in the 60ies of the past century?


    Or should the bill be put to the populations themselves, which continue not to make use of their unalienable right to depose and transform their governance systems in their pursuit of happiness, fulfilment and basic needs? Is it the sycophantic and self-serving elites, or is it an irresponsible population, not quite aware of its own existential interests? Isn’t the question of the futures of Africa the question of whether or not the populations will at some point become self-reliant and articulate enough to effectively demand from their representatives to be more responsive towards their explicit needs? These are the core questions which will drive Africans towards futures they desire. In closing, we ask: what are the futures the many Africans see for themselves? What does the Africa they imagine for themselves look like? What are the ways in which the peoples of Africa are currently taking responsibility for their own futures? What are the ways in which such responsibility can be taken to start with?  A key principle for solution oriented conflict transformation, as taught by TRANSCEND International, is the point that it is the strength of a constructive project situated in a positive future, that pulls the actor out of the miserabilism of frustration and manifest conflict.


    Find below a heuristic scheme for a sociological inquiry on the subjects discussed above.

    Conceptualizing Africa’s Futures

    Social Spheres Influencing


    Past Present FutureS
    Economic[1] Endogenous


    Political endogenous


    Military endogenous


    Culture endogenous





    Appendix: How to write about Africa by Binyavanga Wainaina

    Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.


    Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

    In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

    Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

    Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

    Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

    Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

    Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them, feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

    Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa’s situation. But do not be too specific.

    Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.

    Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy and miserable will be referred to as the ‘real Africa’, and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

    Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters. They speak (or grunt while tossing their manes proudly) and have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see how lions teach their children? Elephants are caring, and are good feminists or dignified patriarchs. So are gorillas. Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla. Elephants may attack people’s property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant. Big cats have public-school accents. Hyenas are fair game and have vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Any short Africans who live in the jungle or desert may be portrayed with good humour (unless they are in conflict with an elephant or chimpanzee or gorilla, in which case they are pure evil).

    After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or ‘conservation area’, and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales. Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa’s rich heritage. When interviewing him or her, do not ask how much funding they have; do not ask how much money they make off their game. Never ask how much they pay their employees.

    Readers will be put off if you don’t mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must. It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical—Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces. When writing about the plight of flora and fauna, make sure you mention that Africa is overpopulated. When your main character is in a desert or jungle living with indigenous peoples (anybody short) it is okay to mention that Africa has been severely depopulated by Aids and War (use caps).

    You’ll also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out.

    Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care. ■


    [1]Africa: Continent’s populatin reaches 1 billion:

    [2]Former President Mbeki declares the AU a failiure:

    [3] A conversation with Wole Soyinka:

    [5] Anyanwu, Christian: The African and Conscientization: A Critical Approach to African Social and Political Thought with Particular Reference to Nigeria, AuthorHouse 2012.

    [6] Elizabeth Savage: The Human Commodity: Perspectives on the Trans-Saharan Slave Trade, London: Frank Cass 1992

    Katrin Anger

    Hi Naakow,

    To gain a better understanding of the matter, I would like to express a question to this article of yours. – You cited Wole Soyinka, who mentioned that the decision makers of the macro level would never question the borders inherited by colonialism.

    Would you be able to elabore on that? Why is that so? Why is it so unimaginable for African peoples to consider that?


    Thank you.



    Dear friends, I understand that you may have some trouble understanding the use-ability and purpose of the concept of faultlines.


    Please do not hesitate to ask me about it. Particularly as it pertains to the study of Africa. A landmass with over a billion humans on it.

    Dear Katrin, dear Ines, do you mind translating the following into english for your fellow participants? I wrote this in response to a question about faultlines by an intern of the G-I some time ago. It helped him   understand the concept a little better. I believe it might come in handy.

    Faultlines Begreifen


    Dialektik hat nach unserem dafürhalten über dieses von Dir erwähnte hegelianische linear-chronologisch-teleologishe Verständnis von Dialektik hinaus, eine innere Triebfeder, eine innere Dynamik, die eher synchronischen bzw. simultanen und eher zirkulären Prozessen unterliegt. Also nicht immer kommt erst eine These. Dann eine Antithese. Dann eine Synthese. Sodass man das alles sauber beobachten kann. Wie bei einer Kausalität. Erst Ursache. Dann Wirkung. etc. Oft sind gesellschaftliche  Ereignisse Wechselwirkungen unterlegen und interdependent und man verliert die Spur, auf Grund der kompbinatorischen vielfalt der Relationen. So ist es jedenfalls wenn wir von gesellschaftlichen Systemen sprechen.

    Deshalb auch unser Kernbegriff der ”Contradictions” als Triebfeder von gesellschaftlicher Dialektik. Widersprüche. Damit sind nicht etwa antithetische Widersprüche gemeint, die sich simpel aufheben oder ausschalten, sondern wechselwirkende Bewegungen von Actio-Reactio. Force and Counterforce. Die auch von Parsons erörterte Zielverfolgung von Akteuren führt zur Ziel Anpassung anderer Akteure im sozialen System. Diese Anpassung kann, und das ist unser Interesse aus Friedens- und Konfliktforschungssicht, gewaltsam oder eben konzilliant-konstruktiv verlaufen.

    Johan Galtung’s point has always been this: Kann man diesen dynamischen Actio-Reactio Motor sozialer Systeme beobachten und einer wissenschaftlichen Betrachtung und Kommentierung zugänglich machen UM GEWALTAUSBRÜCHE VORHERZUSEHEN UND ZU VERHINDERN bzw. UM KONSEQUENT KONZILLIANT-KONSTRUKTIVE ENTWICKLUNGEN ZU ERKENNEN UM DIESE ZU FÖRDERN ?

    Im Zuge der Beantwortung dieser Frage nimmt Johan Galtung 8 ”Faultlines”  in Betracht, die die Homosphäre durchziehen, also einer jeden Gesellschaft inne wohnen. Er hat in dem mit Kees Van der Veer veröffentlichten Methodenbüchlein 13 solcher gesellschaftlichen Spannungsfelder aufgelistet

    [  ]aber diese 8 reichen völlig. Ich nenne sie in Anlehnung an das allgemein für Belustigung sorgende Wort ”Sollbruchstelle” die ”kann-aber-muss-nicht-Bruchstellen” von Gesellschaften.

    Die dort genannten Dimensionen sind die ”Kann-Aber-Muss-Nicht-Bruchstellen” von sozialen Systemen. DORT,wenn auch nicht ausschließlich, wie bei den tektonischen Faultlines der Geologie, sind die Actio-Reactio Dynamiken sozialer Systeme verortet, die, je nachdem wie widersprüchlich sie sich artikulieren, zu den destruktiven Erschütterungen führen, die wir in unseren Fernsehern und Zeitungen als Formen kollektiv organisierter Gewalt zu sehen bekommen.

    Did I make sense to you? I’d be happy if I did. This is more or less the heart of our work.

    Vielen Dank nochmal für eine möglichst schnelle Übersetzung für eure Kollegen,

    thank you, Naakow


    Ines Bartholomae

    Dear All,

    Pls see attached reader about



    Ines Bartholomae

    Dear All,

    Please find below the translation of Naakow’s explanation of ‚faultlines‘  for us.


    Dear participants, 

    I appreciate your questions and would like to share with you some thoughts on understanding faultlines.

    According to TRANSCEND International’s tehroetical perspective, beyond the hegelian linear-chronological teleological understanding, we use the concept of dialictics as to describe inner dtiving forces, and inner dynamics which occur as synchronic/simultaneous and rather circular processes: Social phenomena. Thus, our understanding of dialectics is not the hegelian procedural chronology of first a thesis which then is directly followed by an ani-thesis culminating in a synthesis – this posits some sort of observable linearity and causality. With cause preceding effect. Then again cause… etc. Societal events are subject to interdepency and independent processes cannot be traced back neatly because of the combinatorial variety of possible relations. That‘s true for societal systems.

    Therefore we use the term „contradictions‘ as driving forces of societal dialectics. Our focus is not on antithetic contradictions which simply might neutralise eachother, but rather we focus on interactive actions which become observable as actio and reactio, as force and counterforce. The challenge is to know where to look for those actio-reactio processes. The pursuit of the goal of one player results in an adjustment of the goal of other players in a societal system. Such adjustments, such reactions  can be violent or conciliatory & constructive. This is where our specific vantage point comes into play: Here our interest is determined by our interest in peace and conflict studies.

    Prof. Galtung‘s point has been the following:

    Is it possible to observe this dynamic actio-reactio pattern of societal systems, and to make them accessible to a scientific observation and commentary in order to predict and prevent violent outbreaks and to consistently recognize conciliatory constructive developments in order to promote them and help them unfold?

    When analyzing a specific „issue“ TRANSCEND’s approach to peace research systematically inspects and investigates 8 „faultlines“, which pervade the homosphere and are inherent in each society. In a book published together with Kees Van der Veer, Prof. Galtung lists 13 such ,areas of potential tension‘ [] – however, the 8 ,faultlines‘ given to you are perfectly sufficient to assess a given portion of reality under your scrutiny in a more accurate manner as you simply have more variables to infer from. Lets call these faultlines ,potential breaking points‘: they are indicative spots for potentially manifest contradiction in societies. These fields are ,potential breaking points‘ of social systems.

    As with tectonic faultlines in geology, our faultlines are the preferred place to look out for the actio-reactio dynamics of societal systems, which can lead lead to those destructive erruptions shown on TV and in the news papers in terms of collectively organized violence – depending on the degree and intensity of the contradiction & tension at the level of the fautlines. In closing: You look for contradictions along these faultlines just like you look for the  epicentre of an earthquake along tectonic faultlines.


    Ines Bartholomae

    Dear All,
    FYI: An article about Africa and the African Union in terms of IR (International Relations).

    Why is the International Criminal Court picking only on Africa?
    By David Bosco,March 29, 2013 (Washington Post)

    David Bosco is an assistant professor at American University’s School of International Service. His book on the International Criminal Court, “Rough Justice,” will be published this fall.
    Almost 15 years ago, delegates from more than 100 countries gathered in a crowded conference room in Rome, cheering, chanting and even shedding a few tears. After weeks of tense negotiations, they had drafted a charter for a permanent court tasked with prosecuting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes around the world.
    Kofi Annan, then U.N. secretary general, cast the new International Criminal Court in epochal terms: “Until now, when powerful men committed crimes against humanity, they knew that so long as they remained powerful, no earthly court could judge them.”
    That earthly court is now rooted. Its glassy headquarters on the outskirts of the Hague houses more than 1,000 lawyers, investigators and staff members from dozens of countries. Judges hail from all regions of the world.
    But for an institution with a global mission and an international staff, its focus has been very specific: After more than a decade, all eight investigations the court has opened have been in Africa. All the individuals indicted by the court — more than two dozen — have been African. Annan’s proclamation notwithstanding, some very powerful people in other parts of the world have avoided investigation.
    The court began its work in Uganda and Congo, where it focused mostly on crimes by militia groups (one key militia leader accused of crimes in Congo surrendered to the court this month). In 2005 came a major investigation into allegations of genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Darfur region of Sudan. Then the court launched inquiries in the Central African Republic and Kenya. And in 2011, the prosecutor opened an investigation of violence in Ivory Coast.Around the same time, the ICC jumped into the Libya imbroglio, ultimately indicting Moammar Gaddafi, his son and the regime’s intelligence chief. Most recently, the court announced its intention to scrutinize atrocities in Mali.
    African leaders have taken note of the ICC’s intense interest in their continent. The backlash swelled after the court indicted Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009. Many African officials argued that the court’s intervention would torpedo chances for a negotiated solution to that country’s conflicts. Several African governments pushed the court to reconsider. The African Union, which represents more than 50 nations, even instructed its members that they had no legal obligation to arrest Bashir. Malawi’s president complained that “subject[ing] a sovereign head of state to a warrant of arrest is undermining African solidarity and African peace and security.”
    To this day, the A.U. has refused to allow the ICC to establish a liaison office at its headquarters. There are even plans for an African criminal court that might displace the ICC.
    Former A.U. chairman Jean Ping has suggested to journalists that the court is a neocolonial plaything and that “Africa has been a place to experiment with their ideas.” At an African summit meeting in 2009, he accused the ICC of ignoring crimes in other parts of the world: “Why Africa only? Why were these laws not applied on Israel, Sri Lanka and Chechnya and its application is confined to Africa?”
    Those kinds of complaints land mostly on the desk of the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. Originally from Gambia, she was elected in December 2011 with strong support from African states and has made repairing the rift between the court and the continent a priority. Along the way, she has fired back at some of the court’s African critics, insisting that seeking justice for victims on the continent is hardly evidence of discrimination.
    “All of the victims in our cases in Africa are African victims,” she has said. “And they are the ones who are suffering these crimes.”
    The latest developments in Kenya may test Bensouda’s reconciliation efforts. In early March, Kenyans elected as president Uhuru Kenyatta, who was indicted by the court for crimes against humanity allegedly committed in 2008. There’s evidence that by making him appear to be a victim of a mostly Western-funded court, the indictment helped Kenyatta attract votes. A Kenyatta voter described the court to the New York Times as “a tool of Western countries to manipulate undeveloped countries.”
    In the wake of his victory, Kenyatta’s lawyers demanded that the court dismiss the case against him, while the ICC prosecutor insisted that it would go forward.
    Why is the world’s first criminal court picking on Africa? There are several explanations for the regional focus. Persistent conflict plagues several parts of Africa, and the continent hosts some of the globe’s weakest states. Dozens of African countries chose to join the court, giving the institution broad jurisdiction over violence inside their borders. Congo, Uganda, the Central African Republic and Ivory Coasteven explicitly asked the court to investigate atrocities on their territory.
    Asian and Arab states have been much more reluctant to join, and that has created an uneven jurisdictional landscape. The court cannot reach inside Syria or Sri Lanka, for example, but it can investigate crimes in the Central African Republic, Congo and Mali. (The United States has not joined the ICC, limiting the court’s jurisdiction over U.S. officials or troops.)
    The U.N. Security Council does have the power to expand the court’s reach. By “referring” a case to the ICC, it creates jurisdiction even over states that have not joined the court. However, in the cases when it has done so — Sudan and Libya — it’s given the court more room to operate inside Africa. The council has declined to do the same in Syria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Iraq, North Korea and other non-African states where violence and repression are endemic.


    At first I thought, wasn’t Milosevic indicted? But it turns out that his case was prosecuted in the months running up to the arrival of the ICC. It was seen by some ‚as a prelude to the permanent International Criminal Court, the most important new human rights institution in more than half a century‘. [] The subsequent track record mentioned above may bring into question the full motivation for establishing the court.
    Several countries (notably US, Israel, China, Pakistan & India) expressed reservations about it’s ‚proprio motu‘ power of the Prosecutor to initiate investigations leaving the court open to political influence. PRC, India & China refused to sign up, whereas the US & Israel signed up but then either ‚unsigned‘ (Israel) or failed to ratify it (US) so failing to become state parties (in effect helping create jurisdiction for others but not agreeing to adhere to it themselves). Furthermore, the UNSC can extend jurisdiction as mentioned above by referring cases to the ICC.
    Many African countries have had and still have ‚development‘ distorted by colonialism, debt, unequal trade and conflict. Maybe the ICC could adopt a more restorative approach in it’s investigation, adjudication & sentencing taking this into account?

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