Cornelia Goethe Centrum

Amina Mama Seminar „Democratizing research: Activism and the Activation of Research“ 02. – 05.07.2018

Prof. Amina Mama will be at Goethe University for the 2018 Angela-Davis-Guest-Professorship from June 30th to July 6th. She will give a seminar for interested students on the topics listed below.

The workshop will take place on Monday the 2nd from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday the 3rd from  2pm to 5pm and Thursday the 5th of July 2018 from 9am to 3pm.

Advanced BA students, MA students and PhD students in their early stages are invited to apply for attendance. The 35 participants to the seminar will be chosen on the basis of short written statements. Please send a short statement of up to 150 words why you want to study this class until April 6th to: amina.mama[at] Participation in preparatory and postprocessing sessions, the seminar sessions and in the two public lectures of Amina Mama on Saturday 30th of June and Wednesday 4th of July are madatory. Students will get access to the texts which have to be prepared for the seminar after the preparatory meeting.

Democratizing research? Activism and the Activation of Research

The first part of the seminar discusses the manner in which systemic inequalities are replicated in the organization of knowledge production. How do power relations infuse and structure research? What are some of the strategies we use for challenging and circumventing these? Why does it matter? The second part critically discusses the example of a feminist research project carried out in the town of Gambaga in Ghana, as the basis for a discussion of how the products of research might be put to work for the researched community. The Witches Project highlighted the dilemmas and challenges of working to implement ethical principles drawn from feminist research and organizing. We will discuss the ‘feminist strategy’ informing the film, and some of the (ongoing) foreseen and unforeseen outcomes.

Part I: Regimes of power are sustained by regimes of knowledge. Drawing on the example of the journal Feminist Africa we will discuss the challenges of articulating and strengthening independent knowledge for African contexts.

Part II critically uses ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ (Fadoa Films 2010) to discuss challenges of using documentary film as activist strategy. The journey behind the film is discussed to highlight the dilemmas and challenges that arise when the interests of “film production” and “feminist strategy” embodied in two differently situated African feminist producers are brought together. What are the implications of this experience regarding the ethical questions of identity, organizing, and epistemology?


2007, Is it Ethical to Study Africa? Preliminary Thoughts on Scholarship and Freedom, in African Studies Review 50 (1) 1-27.

Screen clips from ‘The Witches of Gambaga’ (Yaba Badoe and Amina Mama 2010, Fadoa Films).  


Teilnahmeschein (3 Credits)

It is not possible to pass a module exam.