Title: Between Shadow and Line: Re-Imagining the Local. Invited lecture
Authors: De Boeck, Filip #
Issue Date: 2007
Conference: Seminar series location:Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden date:12-6-2008
Abstract: Between Shadow and Line: Re-Imagining the Local
Filip De Boeck, Director of the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa
Thursday 6 December 15.15-17.00

This presentation is an attempt at reassessing, re-imagining and ‘re-inhabiting’ the category of the ‘local’ theoretically. Can the local, after the emergence of the global as epistemological category, be redefined as anything else but a ‘zone of awkward engagement’ within a network of global connections (Tsing 2005)? Is it possible to transcend the dichotomy between global realities and the more locally situated worlds that they hide, in order to design alternative ways of seeing new socialities (specific forms of commerce, movement, authority, violence, combat and crisis), which normally remain hidden or are difficult to grasp and comprehend? Filip De Boeck will start with a brief outline of his own research trajectory between village and city in relation to issues of locality in the Congolese context. He will then discuss three elements which might help us to transcend the local-global dyadic opposition and offer routes to rethink the ‘partial connections’, as Marilyn Strathern once termed them, between different scales, sites and times, and between the various material, mental, moral and emotional worlds and levels of reality, the various cultural sites and territories in which people’s lives unfold and between which they move. These three elements will be identified as follows: First, De Boeck will discuss the possibilities of a theory of shadow. Secondly, he will say something about the process of the line (or the network as a complex intersection of lines). Thirdly, he will deal with the body as the anatomy of the local, in an attempt to reflect upon the haptics of the local, the sensibility of the inhabitant of that local which is adjacent to his body and which he uses, touches and shapes with his body. By way of conclusion, De Boeck will briefly reflect on possible strategies of capturing and containing these shadows and lines, and the local worlds they generate.

Bio-note: As the director of the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA, formerly the Africa Research Centre), a Research Unit of the Faculty of Social Sciences, professor Filip De Boeck (Antwerp, 1961) is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating and supervising research in and on Africa. Since 1987, he has conducted extensive field research in both rural and urban communities in D.R. Congo (ex-Zaire). Amongst his recent publications are Makers and Breakers. Children and Youth in Postcolonial Africa (Oxford: James Currey, 2005, co-edited with Alcinda Honwana), and Kinshasa. Tales of the Invisible City, a joint book project with photographer Marie-Françoise Plissart (Ghent/ Tervuren: Ludion / Royal Museum of Central Africa, 2004).

Further inquiries: Inga-Britt Isaksson Faris, phone: 018 – 56 22 11, e-mail

Venue: The Nordic Africa Institute, lecture room (2nd floor), Kungsgatan 38, Uppsala
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: AMa
Appears in Collections:Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa
# (joint) last author

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