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P2-E: Imagining capitalism in transregional fraud schemes

The increase of financial flows between African and Asian countries has also brought about the increase of fraudulent schemes. Since the 2000s, email scams, pyramid schemes, Ponzi schemes and multi-level marketing schemes (MLMs) have been travelling between both regions. These frauds use the economic infrastructure between Africa and Asia that has been established in the last decades. Moreover, they refer to similar imaginaries of a globalized, middle-class lifestyle – in other words to similar collective fantasies of capitalism – to persuade victims. Based on fieldwork in Ghana, India and Kenya, the project will explore these fraud schemes as travelling models, which both make use of and spread particular understandings of capitalism.

These schemes will be studied by using multiple perspectives: As stories, the schemes make use of globally circulating fantasies of capitalism and adapt these narratives to local contexts. As economic strategy, these schemes allow people that are excluded from global capitalism to partake in it. As travelling model, these frauds spread certain capitalist norms; members of Ponzi schemes and MLMs are asked to transform themselves into business men and their social relationships into business relations. Fraudulent schemes may be a very particular form of transregional, economic interaction between Africa and Asia. Yet they can be used as a lens to explore how actors believe in imaginaries of capitalism, how they desperately want to partake in them and how they carry them from one place to the next.

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P2-A: Indian Ocean Imaginaries and Memories in Transregional Afrasian Spaces

This project addresses transformation of Indian Ocean imaginaries and memories in East and South Africa, Indonesia, Oman, Iran, Diego Garcia, China and India. Our research has so far demonstrated the limiting nature of the ‘Indian Ocean’ approach since Afrasian (Africa-Asian) interactions go beyond the littoral states of the Indian Ocean to Indonesia and beyond. This project therefore studies the cultural production and transformation of “Indian Ocean imaginaries” and "Indian Ocean memories” which we perceive of as “Afrasian imaginaries” and ”Afrasian memories“ (see Karugia 2017, Schulze-Engler 2014) within transcultural settings (Erll, 2011).

The central research question focusses on transregional connections between imaginaries and memories of the Indian Ocean region generated by historical African-Asian interactions on the one hand and the representation of today’s African-Asian interactions. We ask how the Indian Ocean works as a space of memory in Asian and African memory cultures. The ‘Afrasian Ocean’ world connects multiethnic communities. In some of these Afrasian spaces, we observe a paradigm-shift from competitive towards multidirectional memory (in the sense of M. Rothberg 2009). With our focus on Afrasian imaginaries and memories, we target the historical emergence and contemporary constitution of new transregional concepts of space. With its historical focus, this project contributes to lending historical depth to the analysis of African-Asian interactions within the AFRASO research programme as a whole.

Regarding Afrasian imaginaries, the project is based on the assumption that Afrasian imaginaries differ vastly throughout East Africa. We therefore analyze the corpus of East African literature in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda) from 1960 to the present day with a special focus on: concepts and images of the Indian Ocean area as a transregional cultural contact zone, representations of Asians, Asian culture and Asian countries and different versions of Afrasian imaginaries in coastal regions and the East African hinterland. The combined analysis of dhow literature in English and Swahili and the corpus of anglophone East African writing is designed to produce new insights into the complex genesis and transformation of Afrasian imaginaries and to provide differentiated answers to the question if and how contemporary images and concepts of the Indian Ocean as transregional contact zone build on earlier Afrasian imaginaries, or whether representations of current African-Asian interactions are characterized by a break with these historically generated imaginaries.

As regards Afrasian memories, we perceive them as „connective memories.“ They connect, reconnect and articulate transregional historical imaginaries. We analyze how the long history of exchange between Africa and Asia is remembered today and which functions such memories fulfil in the light of current interactions. Our assumption is that the centuries-old relations between both regions (trade, migration, slavery, indentured labour, soldiers etc.) are not simply forgotten in the face of today's Afrasian interactions (such as labour migration, tourism, transnational media cultures), but that they constitute a "space of experience" (R. Koselleck) against which the present situation is understood and expectations for the future are articulated. Museums, literature and other media, memory institutions and memory sites across the world of the „Afrasian Ocean“ address human interactions and power dynamics across time and space. We ask how Afrasian imaginaries and memories contribute to an understanding of present and future African-Asian interactions.

In the framework of AFRASO, our goals are to understand, first, the significance of historical imagination for transregional conceptions of space and, second, the importance of local imaginary and memory cultures for the representation and interpretation of current African-Asian interactions. In light of the foregoing, we are analysing the production of contemporary transnational imaginaries of citizenship, the complex negotiation of transcultural identities amongst old Asian-African and new Asian diasporas, claims of long-standing transregional socio-political and cultural links, new and old memory sites built or claimed by certain Afrasian communities and Afrasian bio-politics within old and emergent Afrasian diasporas.

'Memory', in this project, describes on the one hand elements of explicit, official memory culture (e.g. the remembrance of Gandhi in South Africa); on the other hand, we reconstruct what John C. Hawley (2008, 4), drawing on James C. Scott, has called "hidden transcripts": implicit, non-official, private and subaltern forms of memory, which, however, can be articulated in literature, photography, film and other media. Such imaginaries and memories have especially come to the fore in interviews we conducted with various groups of people in South Africa, East Africa, Oman, China and India as well as in our recent investigation of ‘travelling afrasian objects’ and ‘multidirectional mnemoeconomics’ (see Karugia 2017).

An Afrasian framework has allowed us to investigate transregional dynamics of interactions and relations between Africa and Asia across the vastness of time and space. This perspective has counteracted the danger of perceiving ‘Afrasia’ as a new transregional ‘container.’ Our research on Afrasian imaginaries and memories conceives of Afrasian’ as a sensitizing term that opens up new perspectives and as a new way of looking at and analyzing various contemporary dynamics in this transregion. We critically self-reflect on limitations of our ‘Afrasian’ perspective. This Afrasian way of looking at this transregion can only become productive if blurred spaces and places like its connectivity with Afrabia (Africa and Arabia) are adequately addressed (see Karugia, 2018 in preparation).

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P1-B: Afrasian higher education cooperation: between nation branding and university marketing

Arndt Graf and Alexandra Samokhvalova:

The subproject "Afrasian Higher Education Cooperation between Nation Branding and University Marketing" by Arndt Graf and Alexandra Samokhvalova explores the interplay between economics, education policies and migration between Africa and Asia. As it has been discovered in the first phase of AFRASO, commodification of higher education and national higher education branding play a central role in this cooperation. In case of Malaysia, competitive pressure from traditional and new entrants to the higher education arena, combined with the ever increasing reliance on higher education revenues, leads the country to intensify its recruitment strategies in new target regions, such as Africa, and develop a national brand for higher education. The current research for AFRASO II will look at Malaysia’s strategic intent and actions to promote its higher education both internationally and specifically in Africa and identify the key components, which are used in branding higher education as a national system. Besides, Malaysia’s “branching out” to open campuses in several African countries such as Botswana and Lesotho will be explored to analyse the role this campuses play in higher education promotion and assess potential benefits and risks they pose in Africa. In this context, in the next two years the subproject will have the aim of extending conceptually and empirically the perspectives on higher education branding and today’s international higher education engagements between Asia and Africa.

 

Sophia Thubauville:

South-South Cooperation in Higher Education: Migration of Indian University Lecturers to Ethiopia

Since the turn of the millennium Ethiopia has brought forward a substantial expansion of its higher education institutions. Most of the today more than 30 universities have been constructed from close to scratch or through upgrading of former colleges. From this emphasis on the expansion of higher education Ethiopia expects a general development impulse and the creation of a larger middle-class. However, the explosion of higher education institutions and the brain drain leave a vacuum of expertise at Ethiopian universities for the moment. Only with the help of foreign lecturers and a decrease of the qualification of much of the local university staff a minimal curriculum can be offered. Most of the lecturers from overseas, who are in the country today, are from India. As of the high demand for Indian academics several agencies have specialized themselves on the recruitment of new lecturers for Ethiopia.

By research at Ethiopian universities, Indian recruitment agencies, and in the archives of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, the project wants to analyze the history as well as the current trend of the migration of Indian academics to Ethiopia and by that way contribute to the research on highly skilled migration within the global south.

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john.njenga.karugia's picture

Caste, Sexuality and Reception of Africans in India

Sitting on a plane from sparkling Dubai to beautiful Mumbai, I kept contemplating how caste manifests itself in such public-private social spaces. I wondered whether names of passengers were examined and passengers ‘arranged’ or ‘served’ accordingly. I wondered how they ‘classified’ me, if at all. We were all treated in the same manner, but caste relations can be very subtle. Which caste do African migrants in India belong to?

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john.njenga.karugia's picture

India Ignored, China Embraced

If China invited Kenya to Beijing today, Kenya would reply with possible visit dates almost immediately. An Africa-summit that India is planning to host in 2014 has been completely ignored by Kenya's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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simone.claar's picture

Rising Powers in the Global Political Economy

At the University of Nottingham, PhD students in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies (Tracey Fallon) and the School of Politics and International Relations (Phil Roberts and Jon Marshall) organized a postgraduate conference on Rising Powers in the Global Political Economy on 5-6 July 2013.

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simone.claar's picture

BRICS-from-below: An alternative to the alternative

Strolling along the beach front of Durban’s Central Business District with its mixture of modern high-rises and colonial-era buildings one can easily understand why South Africa chose the city for hosting the 5th BRICS Summit in March 2013: The modern hotels, conference centers and boulevards represent the South Africa Pretoria wanted to show the Brazilian, Russian, Indian and Chinese heads of state. After all, South Africa is under some pressure to justify its entry into the exclusive grouping in 2010, since in terms of GDP and domestic market it hardly lives up to the other four countries.

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S2-E: Süd-Süd-Kooperation im Hochschulsektor - Migration von indischen Hochschullehrern nach Äthiopien

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Seit der Jahrtausendwende hat Äthiopien seinen Hochschulsektor im Eiltempo ausgebaut. Die meisten der heute 31 Universitäten wurden in kürzester Zeit neu gegründet und einige bereits vorhandene Colleges wurden zu Universitäten erweitert. Durch diesen Schwerpunkt auf den Hochschulsektor verspricht sich Äthiopien einen generellen Entwicklungsimpuls und die Schaffung einer breiteren Mittelschicht. Dieser explosionsartige Ausbau des Hochschulsektors und die gleichzeitige Abwanderung von Akademikern hinterlassen ein Vakuum an den zahlreichen Universitäten Äthiopiens. Nur mit der Unterstützung ausländischer Dozenten und dem Herabsetzen der Qualifikationen der lokalen Fachkräfte können die meisten Hochschulen zurzeit ein minimales Lehrprogramm anbieten. Die meisten ausländischen Dozenten, die sich derzeit in Äthiopien befinden, kommen aus Indien. Aufgrund der großen Nachfrage nach indischen Akademikern in Äthiopien, haben sich mehrere indische Vermittlungsagenturen auf deren Rekrutierung  spezialisiert.

Durch Forschung an äthiopischen Universitäten, den betreffenden Vermittlungsagenturen in Indien und auf Online-Plattformen möchte das Projekt diese temporäre Migration von indischen Akademikern nach Äthiopien erforschen und damit zur Untersuchung von Fachkräftemigration innerhalb des globalen Südens beitragen.

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AFRASO Publications

Thubauville, Sophia ; 2013 ; Indian academics in Ethiopia: South-south migration of highly skilled Indians ; Diaspora Studies ; Volume 6, issue 2 ; Taylor and Francis
Thuabauville, Sophia ; 2013 ; Indian Academics in Ethiopia – South-South Migration of Highly Skilled Indians. ; Diaspora Studies ; 6(2) ; 123–133

Talks and Lectures

S4-B: Der Indische Ozean als Erinnerungsraum

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Dieses Vorhaben setzt sich zum Ziel, die kulturelle Produktion des Indischen Ozeans als Erinnerungsraum – Indian Ocean Memories – am Beispiel von Südafrika und Südasien zu untersuchen. Damit leistet es einen Beitrag zum Verständnis der historischen Imagination bei der Entstehung transregionaler Raumkonzeptionen (Schwerpunkt 4) und verweist zugleich auf die Bedeutung von lokalen Erinnerungskulturen für die Darstellung und Deutung aktueller afrikanisch-asiatischer Interaktionen (Gesamtverbund).
Die Leitfrage des Vorhabens lautet, wie die lange Geschichte des Austauschs zwischen Südafrika und Südasien heute erinnert wird und welche Funktionen diese Erinnerungen im Lichte aktueller Interaktionen erfüllen. Das Vorhaben geht von der Annahme aus, dass die bereits seit Jahrhunderten bestehenden Beziehungen zwischen den beiden Regionen (Handel, Sklaverei, Schuldknechtschaft, Soldaten) angesichts neuer Formen der Interaktion (Arbeitsmigration, Tourismus, transnationale Medienkulturen) nicht einfach vergessen werden, sondern einen 'Erfahrungsraum' (R. Koselleck) bilden, vor dessen Hintergrund die Gegenwart gedeutet und Zukunftserwartungen artikuliert werden. Bei dieser Erinnerungstätigkeit kann es sich zum einen um Elemente offizieller Gedächtniskultur handeln (z.B. Gandhi in Südafrika); zum anderen setzt sich das Projekt zum Ziel, das zu rekonstruieren, was John C. Hawley  (2008, 4) in Anlehnung an James C. Scott als "hidden transcripts" bezeichnet – nicht-offizielle, private und subaltern Formen des Erinnerns, die sich jedoch in Literatur, Fotografie, Film und anderen Medien manifestieren können.
Das Vorhaben verortet sich im Feld der memory studies. Es ist intermedial angelegt. Untersucht wird ein breites Korpus von Erinnerungsmedien (v.a. Literatur, Film und Fotografie). Gefragt wird nach narrativen und visuellen Strategien der Erzeugung des Indischen Ozeans als Erinnerungsraum; nach den Gemeinsamkeiten und Unterschieden südafrikanischer und südasiatischer Erinnerungsbilder und  narrative; nach dem Zusammenspiel verschiedener (alter und neuer) Medien bei der Herausbildung, Tradierung und Transformation privater und öffentlicher Erinnerungen an den Indischen Ozean; und schließlich nach den Funktionen des Indischen Ozeans als Erinnerungsraum für die Deutung aktueller und zukünftiger asiatisch-afrikanischer Interaktionen in beiden Regionen.

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AFRASO Publications

Helff, Sissy ; 2013 ; Unreliable Truths: Transcultural Homeworlds in Indian Women’s Fiction of the Diaspora. ; Helff, Sissy ; Rodopi. Pb ; Amsterdam/New York
Erll, Astrid ; 2014 ; From District Six to District 9 and Back: The Plurimedial Production of Travelling Schemata ; de Cesari, Chiara & Ann Rigney ; Transnational Memory: Circulation, Articulation, Scales ; de Gruyter ; Berlin/New York ; 29–5
Schulze-Engler, Frank ; 2014 ; Africa’s Asian Options: Indian Ocean Imaginaries in East African Literature ; Beyond the Line: Cultural Constructions of the Southern Oceans ; Michael Mann, Ines Phaf-Rheinberger ; Neofelis ; Berlin ; 159-179

Talks and Lectures

Helff, Sissy ; ‘Deep Memory’ in Indian Ocean Photography ; Tuesday, March 24, 2015 ; Kapstadt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Writing Back to Whom? East African Literature in a Multipolar World, WiSe 2013/14 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Writers in African Politics, WiSe 2014/15 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John Njenga ; Travelling Afrasian Objects ; Friday, May 6, 2016 ; University of Augsburg
Helff, Sissy ; Transregional Sightlines: Visualising Dialogues between Asia and Africa in Photography ; Wednesday, March 12, 2014 ; Kuala Lumpur
Helff, Sissy ; Transregional Sightlines: Images of Asia in African Photography ; Wednesday, August 7, 2013 ; St. Lucia
Schulze-Engler, Frank ; Spectres of Solidarity: Transregional Interactions in East African Literature ; Wednesday, March 25, 2015 ; Kapstadt
South Africa and China - Politics and Perspective ; Mageza-Barthel, Rirhandu & John Njenga Karugia, SoSe 2015 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Erll, Astrid ; Indian Ocean Memories, WiSe 2014/15 ; Goethe University Frankfurt
Karugia, John ; In (Visible) Imperial Indian Ocean Memories ; Thursday, June 25, 2015 to Wednesday, March 30, 2016 ; University of Amsterdam
Karugia, John Njenga ; Connective Indian Ocean Memories ; Wednesday, March 25, 2015 ; Kapstadt
Karugia, John Njenga, Erll, Astrid & Sissy Helff ; Collective Amnesia, Denial or Disavowal of History? The Indian Ocean Islands of Mauritius and its Colonial Past ; Tuesday, May 19, 2015 ; The Frankfurt Memory Studies Platform, Goethe University Frankfurt
John Njenga Karugia ; Civilizational Dialogues Between Asia and Africa: Asia in East Africa's Parliaments ; Tuesday, March 11, 2014 ; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Karugia, John Njenga ; Afrasian Literature, WiSe 2015/16 ; Goethe University Frankfurt