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Invitation to the GADS bi-monthly seminar series (Winter term 2016/17) (Kopie 1)

Stories of Gifts Travelling between Africa and Europe

Dr. Martina Kopf

University of Vienna, Austria

Department of African Studies


Date: 7 November 2016

Time: 6pm

Location: Seminar room 1, Department of African Studies (Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Vienna, 1st floor)


In one of her popular writings about missionary life in Central Africa in the 1930s Mabel Shaw tells a story about Bemba schoolgirls knitting socks for poor English children on Giving Day. In 2012 the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund produces the video clip ‘Africa for Norway’, featuring a fictive aid campaign that reverses the commonly associated roles of ‘giving’ and ‘receiving’. In this paper I understand these two versions as two poles in a continuum of cultural representations of the ‘development gift’ migrating between Africa and Europe from the colonial past to the present. What lies in between these two versions – if we understand this ‘in between’ not so much as a temporal space, but as a symbolic space of shifting meanings and truths concerning both factual and symbolic dimensions of ‘giving’ and ‘taking’ between Africa and Europe? To address this question I draw on the movie Hyènes (1992) by the Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety. Reading his adaptation of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit as a philosophical reflection on truths and fictions of giving and taking, I will show how the movie opens an alternative perspective on development discourses and relations in global orders of exchange.


Biographical note

Martina Kopf is Senior Lecturer in African Literatures at the University of Vienna. With Joseph M. Hodge and Gerald Hödl she edited Developing Africa: Concepts and Practices in Twentieth Century Colonialism (Manchester University Press 2014). She is the author of books and articles on trauma and the ethics of representation and on representations of gender and sexuality in African writing.



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