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Art/articulations: Art and the formation of Social Space in African Cities

English title Art/articulations: Art and the formation of Social Space in African Cities
Applicant Förster Till
Number 156137
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Ethnologisches Seminar Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.02.2015 - 31.01.2019
Approved amount 602'662.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ethnology
Visual arts and Art history

Keywords (9)

articulation; African art; Uganda; Mali; Kenya; Côte d'Ivoire; urbanity; contemporary art; social space

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Kunst spielt in allen Städten Afrikas eine wichtige soziale Rolle, unterscheidet sich aber jeweils aufgrund unterschiedlicher kultureller, historischer, wirtschaftlicher und politischer Bedingungen sowie verschiedener ästhetischer Traditionen wesentlich. Verstanden als soziale Praxis, die in einem Wechselverhältnis zum sozialen Raum steht und diesen sowohl prägt als auch von ihm mitbestimmt wird, werden zeitgenössische Kunstpraktiken in vier verschiedenen Städten Ost- und Westafrikas untersucht.
Lay summary

Die leitende Frage des Projekts lautet: Welche Rolle spielt Kunst in der Bildung sozialer Räume? Hierbei wird untersucht, a) wie KünstlerInnen mit ästhetischen Mitteln Bilder und Vorstellungen des Sozialen und der Gesellschaft artikulieren, b) wie künstlerische und gesellschaftliche Imaginationen wechselseitig auf einander einwirken; und c) in welchem dialektischen Verhältnis gesellschaftliche Imaginationen und visuelle sowie performative Ausdrucksformen stehen (beispielsweise Gemälde, Fotografien, Filme, Performances oder partizipative Kunst).
Die Mitarbeitenden des Projektes forschen in je zwei mittleren und zwei grossen Städten in Ost- und Westafrika, die historisch, politisch, kulturell sowie bezüglich ihrer Kunsttraditionen sowohl Gemeinsamkeiten als auch deutliche Unterschiede aufweisen: Kampala (Uganda), Kisumu (Kenya), Bamako (Mali) und Korhogo (Côte d’Ivoire). Der Schwerpunkt liegt in der zeitgenössischen künstlerischen Praxis und basiert daher auf vorwiegend ethnologischen und kunstwissenschaftlichen Methoden.  In jeder Stadt werden lokale Praktiken in spezifischen historischen, kulturellen und regionalen Situationen untersucht. Zugleich wird durch die Wahl der Städte ein Vergleich zwischen Zentren und Subzentren sowie den Regionen Ost- und Westafrika ermöglicht.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 22.10.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Guest Editors’ Introduction to the Power of Performance—the Performance of Power Forum
Förster Till, Sanogo Aïdas (2019), Guest Editors’ Introduction to the Power of Performance—the Performance of Power Forum, in African Studies Review, 62(01), 67-75.
The Invisible Social Body: Experience and Poro Ritual in Northern Côte d’Ivoire
Förster Till (2019), The Invisible Social Body: Experience and Poro Ritual in Northern Côte d’Ivoire, in African Studies Review, 62(01), 99-119.
Co-optation as an imaginative act: art-related initiatives and social space in Kampala
Siegenthaler Fiona (2018), Co-optation as an imaginative act: art-related initiatives and social space in Kampala, in Social Dynamics, 44(3), 526-544.
Introduction: Re-Imagining Cities in Africa
Förster Till, Siegenthaler Fiona (2018), Introduction: Re-Imagining Cities in Africa, in Social Dynamics, 44(3), 395-404.
The unbearable lightness of African cities
Förster Till (2018), The unbearable lightness of African cities, in Social Dynamics, 44(3), 405-424.
Mirror images: mediated sociality and the presence of the future
Förster Till (2018), Mirror images: mediated sociality and the presence of the future, in Visual Studies, 33(1), 84-97.
Re-Imagining African Cities. The Arts and Urban Politics
FörsterTill, SiegenthalerFiona (2018), Re-Imagining African Cities. The Arts and Urban Politics, Routledge, London.
Kunst und sozialer Raum in afrikanischen Städten: Öffentlichkeit, Praxis und Imagination
Siegenthaler Fiona (2017), Kunst und sozialer Raum in afrikanischen Städten: Öffentlichkeit, Praxis und Imagination, in Regio Basilensis, 58(3), 183-191.
Passages of culture: Media and mediality in African societies
Förster Till, Schlehe Judith (2017), Passages of culture: Media and mediality in African societies, in Journal of African Media Studies, 9(1), 3-15.
Aesthetic Shifts in a Transforming City: Performative Acts and Gestures in the Urban Space of Johannesburg
Siegenthaler Fiona (2017), Aesthetic Shifts in a Transforming City: Performative Acts and Gestures in the Urban Space of Johannesburg, in Moreillon Olivier Alan Muller and Lindy Stiebel (ed.), Zurich, LIT Verlag, 73-99.
Bamako Through the Lens
Jenni Franziska (2017), Bamako Through the Lens, in Aperture, (227), ---.
Catalogue texts on 15 photo series
Jenni Franziska (2017), Catalogue texts on 15 photo series, in Galerie Médina Musée National du Mali (ed.), Bureau de la coopération suisse au Mali, Bamako, 9-27.
To Embrace or to Contest Urban Regeneration? Ambiguities of Artistic Practice in Contemporary Johannesburg
Siegenthaler Fiona (2017), To Embrace or to Contest Urban Regeneration? Ambiguities of Artistic Practice in Contemporary Johannesburg, in Transcultural Studies, (2), 7-39.
Competition, Cooperation, and Creativity: The Political Economy of Workshops and Workshop Styles in Bamenda, Cameroon
Förster Till (2016), Competition, Cooperation, and Creativity: The Political Economy of Workshops and Workshop Styles in Bamenda, Cameroon, in Critical Interventions, 10(2), 154-171.
New Markets, New Patrons: Work–Trade Relationships in a West African art market.
Förster Till (2016), New Markets, New Patrons: Work–Trade Relationships in a West African art market., in Forni Silvia, Steiner Christopher B. (ed.), Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 75-97.
Report: Re-Imagining African Cities: The Arts and Urban Politics
Siegenthaler Fiona (2016), Report: Re-Imagining African Cities: The Arts and Urban Politics, in SGAS Newsletter, (1), 27-29.
Bild und Vorbild : Intermedialität und Prädikation in Skulptur und neuen Medien Westafrikas
Förster Till (2015), Bild und Vorbild : Intermedialität und Prädikation in Skulptur und neuen Medien Westafrikas, in Boschung Dietrich, Vorster Christiane (ed.), Wilhelm Fink, Paderborn, 253-280.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Sidney Littlefield Kasfir, Emerita Emory University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Université de Korhogo Ivory Coast (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. Kizito Maria Kasule, College for Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University Uganda (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Anja Goebel, Goethe Institut Kampala Uganda (Africa)
- Exchange of personnel
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Dr. Ulf Vierke und Nadine Siegert, IWALEWA-Haus, Bayreuth Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Exchange of personnel
Lassane, Igo Diarra, Galerie Medina, Bamako Mali (Africa)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Dr. Moussa Cissoko, Point Sud, Bamako Mali (Africa)
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. Dr. Yacouba Konaté, Université de Cocody Abidjan Ivory Coast (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Réseau des photographes du Mali Mali (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Elísio Macamo, Center for African Studies, Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Erika Nimis, Universié du Québec à Montréal Canada (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Mamadou Diawara, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt a.M. Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Dr. Ralph Ubl, EIKONES / Kunsthistorisches Seminar, Universität Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- Exchange of personnel
Dr. George Kyeyune, Margaret Trowell School of Industr. and Fine Arts, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
VIAD, FADA, University of Johannesburg South Africa (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Dominique Malaquais, Institut des Mondes Africaines. Paris France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. Joanna Grabski, Denison University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Bisi Silva, Center for Contemporary Art Lagos Nigeria (Africa)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
107th College Art Association Conference Talk given at a conference Old Technologies for New Challenges: Barkcloth as a Jack-of-all-Trades 13.02.2019 New York, United States of America Siegenthaler Fiona;
Forschungskolloquium zur Kunst Afrikas, Freie Universität Berlin Individual talk Les folies de Djambaar - or the search for one's own positionality as a female photographer in Bamako 08.01.2019 Berlin, Germany Jenni Franziska;
Vorlesungsreihe: Recycling - Transfer, Adaption und Aneignung in der Wiederverwendung von textilen Objekten und Materialien Individual talk Altkleider als globale Handelsware - eine ökonomische, politische und kulturelle Verflechtungsgeschichte von Europa, USA nach Afrika und zurück 27.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Jenni Franziska;
Mittwochskolloquium, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Co-Producing Stories: ethnographic fieldwork as art/iculation 21.11.2018 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik;
Schweizerische Tage der Afrikaforschung SGAS Talk given at a conference What is "Socially Engaged Art" in an African City? 26.10.2018 Bern, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Mittwochskolloquium, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Capturing Everyday Life from two Perspectives - when photographers imagine Mali and the sub-region 17.10.2018 Basel, Switzerland Jenni Franziska;
Aesthetische Praxis & kulturwissenschaftliche Forschung. 4. Jahrestagung der Kulturwissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft Universität Hildesheim Talk given at a conference Das Verhältnis von sozialer und ästhetischer Praxis in der zeitgenössischen Kunst 11.10.2018 Hildesheim, Germany Siegenthaler Fiona;
Research Group Visual Culture, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk On portrait photography in Bamako - from the past to the presence 13.08.2018 Basel, Switzerland Jenni Franziska;
Unemployment and the Unemployed in Africa Talk given at a conference Rhythms of the Unemployed: Making Art and Making Do through Spoken Word in Kisumu, Kenya 24.05.2018 Beuggen, Germany Unseld Frederik;
IAS African Studies Colloquium, Columbia University Individual talk Theorizing Contemporary Art and Social Space in African Cities 11.04.2018 New York, United States of America Siegenthaler Fiona;
Walter Rodney Seminar series, Boston University Individual talk Theorizing Contemporary Art and Social Space in African Cities 26.03.2018 Boston, United States of America Siegenthaler Fiona;
African Studies Association, Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Walking, Driving and its Mirror: Ways of Moving through Secondary Cities in West Africa 16.11.2017 Chicago, United States of America Förster Till;
Ways of Knowing Talk given at a conference Sensory Regimes: Performance, Shared Bodies and Intersubjectivity 27.10.2017 Cambridge (Harvard Divinity School), United States of America Förster Till;
17th Triennial Symposium on African Art (ACASA) Talk given at a conference panel convened: Art and articulation: The entanglement of artistic practice and social articulation in Africa 09.08.2017 Accra, Ghana Förster Till; Siegenthaler Fiona;
17th Triennial Symposium on African Art (ACASA) Talk given at a conference Articulation: Between Theory and Method 09.08.2017 Accra, Ghana Förster Till;
Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies, Annual Conference Talk given at a conference panel: Images of Power and the Power of Images: How Is Image Control Produced, Subverted or Countered? 03.07.2017 Cologne, Germany Förster Till;
Morphomata Centre for Advanced Studies, Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Greener Pastures: Images of Europe and the African Diaspora 03.07.2017 Cologne, Germany Förster Till;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference Panel chair: Urban Artists with Rural Links - Contemporary Art and Social Practice 01.07.2017 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference The Rise and Fall of an Art-inspired Youth Movement in Kisumu, Kenya 01.07.2017 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference Panel chairs: Youthful Agency, Art Practices and the Right to the City 01.07.2017 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik; Jenni Franziska;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference Introduction: Urban Artists with Rural Links: Contemporary Art and Social Practice 01.07.2017 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference On Constant Move: Young Photographers in Bamako and How They Articulate Themselves within the Urban Photographic Landscape 30.06.2017 Basel, Switzerland Jenni Franziska;
7th European Conference on African Studies ECAS Talk given at a conference Panel convener: African Cities and Urban Theory 29.06.2017 Basel, Switzerland Förster Till;
Secondary Cities, Semester Course by Lucy Koechlin FS 2017, University of Basel Individual talk Current Research on Secondary Cities in Africa - Notes from the Field 08.02.2017 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik;
African Studies Association US, 59th Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Panel convened: Power and the Arts in West African Power Associations 01.12.2016 Washington DC, United States of America Förster Till;
African Studies Association US, 59th Annual Conference Talk given at a conference The Power of Performance—The Performance of Power 01.12.2016 Washington DC, United States of America Förster Till;
Swiss Reserching Africa Days, Panel "Productions culturelles et refus des assignations identitaires" (chairs Ch. Le Quellec Cottier and N. Valsangiacomo) Talk given at a conference The call for de-colonization in art and art education: Discourses and practices in Kampala, Uganda 04.11.2016 Bern, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Intimate Archives//Autobiographical Acts. Personal Surfacings as Expressed through Material Culture. Talk given at a conference Intimacy and Representation: (Auto-)biographical Challenges in Research Relationships 04.08.2016 Johannesburg, South Africa Siegenthaler Fiona;
SAVAH conference Rethinking art history and visual culture in a contemporary context Talk given at a conference The call for de-colonization in art and art education: Discourses and practices in Kampala, Uganda 28.07.2016 Johannesburg, South Africa Siegenthaler Fiona;
AEGIS Summer School - Urban Africa – Urban Africans: Emergent Spaces and Multiple Representations Talk given at a conference Youth, Art and the Politics of Space in Kisumu 21.06.2016 Cagliari, Italy Unseld Frederik;
Mittwochskolloquium, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk First reflections on visual culture and the formation of social space in Bamako 20.04.2016 Basel, Switzerland Jenni Franziska;
Mittwochskolloquium, Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Youth, Art and the Politics of Space in Kisumu, Western Kenya 31.03.2016 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik;
Workshop Re-imagining the African city: The arts and urban politics Talk given at a conference “The struggle for audiences and resources in the city: Art-related initiatives, competition, and social space in Kampala 11.03.2016 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Workshop on “Territoriality”, Institute for Critical Urbanism, University of Basel (org. Kenny Cupers) Talk given at a conference (De)Territoriality in Social Discourse and Practice. Impressions of an Exploratory Field Research in the Art Scene of Kampala 21.12.2015 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Mittwochskolloquium, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Art and Social Space: Exploring the Art Scene in Kampala 25.11.2015 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Research Group Visual Culture, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Art and Social Space. 1st Field Report from Kampala (16.07.-31.08.2015) 02.11.2015 Basel, Switzerland Siegenthaler Fiona;
Workshop Creativity and Adaptation DFG Talk given at a conference Envisioning the City in Africa: Anthropology, Creativity and Urban Culture 16.07.2015 Basel, Switzerland Förster Till;
Research Group Visual Culture, Chair for Social Anthropology, University of Basel Individual talk Presentation of the PhD projects in the framework of „Art/articulation: art and the formation of social space in African cities“ 06.07.2015 Basel, Switzerland Jenni Franziska; Unseld Frederik;
Art/Articulation research group:Workshop with Sidney Littlefield Kasfir Individual talk Art/articulation: art and the formation of social space in African cities 06.07.2015 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik; Jenni Franziska;
"Introduction to the Ethnography of East Africa", Regional Course by Prof. Dr. Brigit Obrist FS 2015, University of Basel Individual talk Capitalism and Morality in Tanzanian Video Films 20.05.2015 Basel, Switzerland Unseld Frederik;
College Arts Association, 103rd Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Competition, Cooperation and Creativity: The political economy of workshop styles in Bamenda, Cameroon 11.02.2015 New York, United States of America Förster Till;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Special Issue Launch of 'Re-imaging African Cities. The Arts and Urban Politics 05.12.2018 Basel, Switzerland
Theorizing African Aesthetics. Panel an den Swiss Africa Research Days 26.10.2018 Bern, Switzerland
Re-Imagining the City. The Arts and Urban Politics, Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Basel (with Prof. Dr. Till Förster) 11.03.2016 Basel, Switzerland
Art/Articulation research group: Workshop with Sidney Littlefield Kasfir 06.07.2015 Basel, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Atelier de formation en photographie de reportage Workshop 14.11.2016 Bamako, Mali Jenni Franziska;
"Teaching Contemporary African Art". Staff retreat of the Margaret Trowell School for Industrial and Fine Arts, Makerere University Talk 08.08.2016 Kampala, Uganda Siegenthaler Fiona;
Guided tour through the In-exhibition of the 10th Rencontres de Bamako, biennale africaine de la photographie with a focus on young Malian photographers for the members of the expat network Bamako Accueil Workshop 26.11.2015 Bamako, Mali Jenni Franziska;
Exhibition „Medina our story so far. L’histoire de la galerie Médina en photo“ Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 30.10.2015 Bamako, Mali Jenni Franziska;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Artist talk with photographer Medina Dugger on her series: Chroma: An Ode to J.D. 'Okhai Ojeikere Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions Artist talk: Fiona Siegenthaler in conversation with Osborne Macharia and Kevin Abbra Omuka German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Afrikanisches Kulturschaffen in Basel: Über Kontextsensibilität in einer globalisierten Kunstwelt A* Magazine: Art, Africa, Analysis Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland International 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Points of orientation: Navigating Kampala’s art world and beyond. International 2017
Talks/events/exhibitions Exhibition "Dialogue intergénérationnel", Galerie Medina, Bamako International 2016
Media relations: print media, online media Kampala Art Biennale - A Photo Essay START Journal of Arts and Culture International 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Talks Programme of "Seven Hills - the 2nd Kampala Art Biennale" International 2016
Talks/events/exhibitions Medina our story so far. L'histoire de la galérie Médina en photo International 2015

Awards

Title Year
Fulbright Visiting Scholar Fellowship (2018) 2016
Verdienstorden der République de Côte d'Ivoire, verliehen für die akademische Zusammenarbeit und Partnerschaft 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
134813 Visualizing Transformation: Contemporary Art in Johannesburg 01.04.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
165625 Making the City: Agency, Urbanity and Urbanisation in Ordinary Cities 01.08.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
149355 Corruption, Conflict and Cities in West and East Africa 01.02.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Art practices in African cities are as diverse as urban life itself. They foster the articulation of distinct social and cultural imaginaries, addressing plural audiences. Research in African art, however, tends to either emphasize art production with a long local or regional history or art that is embedded in and speaks to the contemporary international artworld, targeting a transnational or global rather than a local audience. This division results in two separate bodies of research; anthropological and art historical. This project aims at overcoming these shortcomings by adopting a thoroughly interdisciplinary approach addressing multiple art practices and the formation of social spaces as one.Art as practice is unavoidably embedded in a social context and creates a social space. Whether this space is more local or more international or bridges the two is an open question that only empirical research can answer. Some artists embrace an activist position; others demonstrate social sensibility while still others see their art as an aesthetic intervention in public and private spaces. All these art practices may reflect social realities and in turn shape the formation of social and cultural spaces: Urban images are perceived, conceived, and lived through art and social spaces created through artistic practice. The dialectic relationship between artistic articulation and social space transgresses dichoto-mies such as private-public or local-global. At an empirical level, this project hence aims at understanding aesthetic practice and processes of artistic articulations as part of the creation and transformation of social spaces in urban Africa. Its central question is:•How does art as a part of expressive culture inform the formation of social space? This question will be examined from three complementary perspectives: 1.) How do artists aesthetically articulate images of the social within these spaces? 2.) How do these images and practices inform social imaginaries, and how do the latter inform those of the artists? 3.) What are the dialectics between social imaginaries and imageries, and their visual and performative forms of expression (pictures, films, performances, participatory art, etc.)?Our empirical approach is based on an understanding of art as social agency that un-folds in urban lifeworlds and that shapes and is shaped by the urban. Methodologically, this project thus focuses on artists, their art practices, their audiences, and the interrelation between physical sites and virtual spheres as social as well as political spaces. We will address the interaction of individual artists, artists’ associations and art practices with specific social actors, representing different social strata and groups. Therefore, we also need to examine art practices that apparently do not take place in public places but ad-dress urbanites in other, sometimes secluded social and political spaces. Based on long-term field research, the two applicants together with two PhD students will engage in a comparison of four African cities: Kampala (Uganda, Siegenthaler), Kisumu (Kenya, PhD student) in East Africa and Bamako (Mali, PhD student) and Korhogo (Côte d’Ivoire, Förster) in West Africa. The researchers start from existing contacts to artists and associations and will enlarge the scope of their inquiries as defined by specific milestones. The comparative approach will generate general knowledge about the production of social space through art in Africa and theoretical insights in how the formation of social space is related to imageries and imaginaries of the social.The project is also a network of exchange and cooperation with African artists and art institutions, including the Research Group on Visual Culture at the Institute of Social Anthropology Basel and university departments of art and anthropology at the Universities of Cocody, Bouaké, Kampala and Eldoret. PhD students will be co-supervised by advisors with a background in anthropology and art history, coming from Africa and Europe.
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