2019

From one to many: parallels between the origins of multicellularity and social behaviour

When a unit of description makes way for a second unit that consists of many members of the first, the notion of individuality, which initially referred to the ‘one’, now refers to the ‘many’. The transition is central to language, art and music, and also to physics and chemistry. In biology, two major events in … [Read more]

A History of the Nighttime in South Africa

This project is a book-length study of the history of the nighttime in South Africa during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Its general significance is that it promises to be one of the first studies of the nighttime—as a natural phenomenon, a temporal space, a cultural invention, and a conceptual framework—across South Africa. This book … [Read more]

Think Big: How Africa Could Profit from Leapfrogging

African countries rank low on many development indicators. People in many parts of the continent live a preindustrial, agrarian lifestyle with low incomes, low education levels, and high fertility rates. In order to raise living standards for its people, the continent cannot follow the road of development Europe or Asia have paved before. There is … [Read more]

The Negatives: A Novel

The Negatives is a conceptual novel about a photographer adrift in contemporary America who is forced to confront the ethics of her practice in a moment at which the very medium of her art has reached a state of volatility, mutability, and impermanence. The project will explore the limits of photography-as-archive in an age of … [Read more]

Memorializing Struggle: Dynamics of Memory, Space and Power in Post-Liberation Africa

In post-liberation societies, memorialization and commemoration can occur at a grand, national scale, often being linked to heroic freedom fighters or critical revolutionary turning points. A key question in this regard is how these societies’ rulers – former freedom fighters themselves – memorialize their own liberation struggles, and the degree to which these processes are … [Read more]

Women’s Associations in a Pastoralist Society in Transformation: Implications for Gender-Based Livelihood Improvement Policies in Benin

How does the organization of women transform gender relations and living standards of Fulani women in pastoralist communities of northern Benin? This is the main question that this project aims to address. Northern Benin is facing various environmental, socio-economic and technological changes threatening the livelihoods of the entire Fulani pastoralist community, including women. To meet … [Read more]

How Disposed Of: Liberated Africans and the Waiting Space of Freedom, 1807-1930

This project is the fruition of twenty-seven years of research on the significance of the Liberated Africans, those rescued from the holds of slave ships and dhows in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, the Mediterranean and in the Caribbean between 1808 and 1888, with an aftermath that continued into the 1930s. This work considers the … [Read more]

Southern imaginaries, or, thinking from the South

At a time when the focus of economic development is often the so-called Global South, yet when countries of the north continue to grow in geopolitical dominance, this interdisciplinary project offers a series of cultural, historical, and literary reflections on southness. I take southness to refer broadly to southern imaginaries, or the perception of southern … [Read more]

Prophetic femininities: Between uncertainty and domestication of the invisible

The history of the Euro-Mediterranean world is peopled with female figures who, over the years and with many variants, have presented specific forms of mediation with the supernatural. My interest in religion on the one hand and understandings of the feminine gender on the other characterized the early stages of my research, and in the … [Read more]

Planetary Prejudices: Race, Migration, and Technology in the New Global Order

Taking racism as the engine of capitalism, the study of “racial capitalism” offers a potent framework for understanding how racism structures modern life. Yet commentaries about racial capitalism often make assumptions at odds with a changing world. My book-in-progress, Planetary Prejudices: Race, Migration, and Technology in the New Global Order, is a concise theoretical attempt … [Read more]