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Seminar: Carola Lentz—Wednesday 27 February 2019

Anthropology and Sociology Seminar Series 2019


Imagining Futures:

Memory and Belonging in an African Family

Carola Lentz

Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz


Wednesday 27 February 2019

Department of Anthropology and Sociology UWC

Anthropology lab



The presentation explores the history of remembering and the politics of memory making—and associated changes in belonging—in one extended African family in Northern Ghana. Like many other families in the region, this family has developed, over the past century, from an ensemble of subsistence-farming patrilineages in a segmentary society into a professionally diverse and geographically dispersed extended family in a post-colonial nation-state. The paper examines how these radical transformations of livelihoods, opportunities of social mobility and life styles have shaped the modes of remembering family history and imagining the family’s future.


Carola Lentz is professor at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz. Her research focuses on West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso), and she is particularly interested in ethnicity and nationalism, the politics of memory, the history of chieftaincy and colonial history, labour migration and mobility, land rights, social stratification, and the emergence of a middle class. Her book Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa (Indiana University Press, 2013) received the Melville Herskovits Award.  Along with historian David Lowe, she recently published Remembering Independence (Routledge, 2018). She was a fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2017-18) and the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (2000-01) In June 2014, she was elected member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities as whose vice-president she serves since 2018.

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