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Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.

Short Biography

I received my Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology from Yale University and my Habilitation (second doctoral degree required for promotion in the German academic system) from the Free University, Berlin, Germany.

My research publications, and teaching are centered on the anthropology of religion, of mental health and spiritual well-being, political anthropology, Islam in Africa, gender studies and media studies. I also bring to my research and teaching a strong background in critical theory, social theory, and the anthropology of social organization. I have extensive field research experience in West Africa, particularly in urban and rural Mali.

I recently finalized a book manuscript ("Probing legitimacy") that capitalizes on my long-standing acquaintance with Malian politics and social history to make sense of the political crisis that has shaken the country for the past five years. My analysis centers on the attitudes, judgments and practices by which inhabitants of a rural area in southwestern Mali attribute (or disclaim) the legitimacy of the state and of individual powerholders. I also draw on my earlier work on praise-singers – often referred to as "griots"– whose mass-mediated performances aimed to bestow praise and legitimacy on Mali’s changing political regimes. At the heart of this analytic endeavor is an effort to interrogate the different dimensions, meanings and limits of political legitimacy in Mali.

My new research project addresses questions pertaining to the broader field of medical anthropology and transcultural psychiatry, and spiritual and emotional well-being. Drawing on empirical research on Muslim minorities in two different regions of Uganda, I address the interplay between mental health, mourning, emotional coping, and future-making in a society haunted by traumatic experiences related to civil war. My analysis reaches beyond common approaches to "trauma" through a sustained attention to the discursive and auditory practices and symbolic-aesthetic forms through which Muslims and Christians seek to achieve greater public prominence and to partake in debates over the ordering of moral and social life. By situating these dynamics in the broader context of Ugandan state politics, I explore points of articulations and tensions between local-level and national politics of religious difference, and between conflicting understandings of how past "trauma" can be healed.

Thematic Interests and Regional Focus

Anthropology of religion, media anthropology, gender studies, political anthropology, Islam in Africa, mental health and spiritual well-being.

West Africa, particularly in urban and rural Mali and East Africa, particularly Uganda.

Research Grants/Awards/Fellowships

  • German Science Foundation Research Grants (4 on-going research projects)
  • Fellow, Center for African Studies, Harvard University, 2016 and 2017
  • Fellow, Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Norway, 2010
  • Fellow, Berlin Graduate School for Muslim Cultures and Societies, Freie Universität Berlin, 2010
  • Fellow, Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, University of Chicago, 2008
  • Fellow, Society for the Humanities, Cornell University 2005/06
  • Fellow, International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 2005
  • German Science Foundation Research Grant (2)
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt Foundation Fellowship

Research Projects and Cooperations

Media, Muslims and the Politics of Belonging in Uganda

In many parts of the world, religious actors, organizations and idioms have gained in public prominence and appeal, along with the ongoing liberalization and decentralization of markets, politics and social welfare arrangements. These developments raise new anxieties, concerns and hopes about the promises and challenges of a rapidly transforming world; they also testify to the role played by religious organizations and infrastructure in the contemporary restructuring of state-society relations. The various social, moral and political engagements of Christian and Muslim religious actors and interest groups in Uganda, point to religion’s invigorated significance to national politics and in a transnationally interconnected world. Yet the legacies of British colonial administration and of the Christian missionary endeavor have created unequal and unven conditions for Muslims and Christians to partake in debates over the common good and in political decision making processes. The research project takes the growing significance, and public presence, of Christian and Muslim groups in Uganda as a starting place to examine the changing dynamics of such movements in their interlocking with new media technologies. Based on this analysis, the project assesses the highly discrepant political and social conditions under which Muslims and Christians may claim inclusive citizenship and articulate their visions of an equitable social order.

Local Radio Stations and the Politics of Belonging in Mali

In Mali, multiparty democracy and freedom of expression stipulated in the constitution of 1991 have facilitated a diversified media sector unparalleled throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. These radio stations have been widely hailed as establishing an arena critical opinion making and debate, a portrayal that tends to posit, rather than explore the political, social and aesthetic resonances of local radio broadcasting. Also missing from most accounts is an analysis of the politics of cultural belonging and authenticity fueled by local radio stations in Mali. The research project investigates the constitutive features and inherent dynamics of the public collectivities that presently emerge around practices of local radio consumption, production, and debate in Mali. The project seeks to document and analyze the transient forms through which audiences come into being during broadcast reception and evaluation, and come to view themselves as communities of shared taste, often in contradistinction to the national community claimed on state radio. 

Muslim-Christian relations and the auditory making of religious community in Uganda

DFG-funded project
Funding Period: March 2014 – February 2017
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea E. Schulz
Researcher: Leyla Bachtiosin, M.A.


Mobile Horizons – Immobile Everyday Life. Discourses, Practices and Imaginations of (Im-) Mobility and Migration in Madagascar

DFG-funded project
Funding Period: August 2012 – July 2015
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea E. Schulz
Researcher: Dr. Patrick Desplat

Charismatic religious Leaders as Navigators in Socio-Ecological Crisis in the Lake Naivasha Region, Kenya

Sub Project of the DFG FOR 1501:  Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs
Funding Period: 2013 – 2016
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Nicole Wagner, M.A.

Mediality and Local Creativity in the Negotiation of Social-Ecological Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation

Sub Project of the DFG FOR 1501:  Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs
Funding Period: 2011 – 2014 (?)
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Christoph Matthiä, M.A.

Mediated immediacy – Safari Tourism in Kenya and the making of an authentic experience of African nature

Sub Project of the DFG FOR 1501:  Resilience, Collapse and Reorganisation in Social-Ecological Systems of East- and South Africa's Savannahs
Funding Period: 2011 – 2012 (completed)
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Carolin Maevis, M.A.

Media-related Configurations of translocal social spaces by West African Migrants in Europe

DFG-funded project
Funding Period: August 2011 – July 2013
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Simone Pfeifer, M.A.

Exile and Belonging: Constructing and Contesting Ethnicity among Tuareg Refugees in Niger

Part of the DFG funded project: Media-related configurations of translocal social spaces by West African Migrants in Europe
Funding Period: 2015 – October 2016
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Souleymane Diallo

Being Hui in Yunnan, China: Media practices, qingzhen, space and negotiating Sino-Muslim identities and authenticities

Part of the DFG funded project: Media-related configurations of translocal social spaces by West African Migrants in Europe
Funding Period: November 2015 – October 2016
Project Leader: Prof. Dorothea Schulz, Ph.D.
Researcher: Nelli Morkel, M.A.

Collaboration with the University Siegen on the Research Training Group (Graduiertenkolleg) 'Locating Media'

DFG funded GRK 1769 "Locating Media"
Funding Period: October 2012 - March 2017

Publications (Selection)

Books

in rev. process. Probing Legitimacy in Postcolonial Mali.

2015. (ed., together with Ute Röschentahler): Cultural Entrepreneurship in Afrika.
New York & London: Roudledge. 

2012. (ed., together with Patrick A. Desplat): Prayer in the City. The Making of
Muslim Sacred Places and Urban Life. Bielefeld: Transcript.

2012. Culture and Customs of Mali. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO/
Greenwood Publishers.

2012. Muslims and New Media in West Africa: Pathways to God. Bloomington,
Indiana: Indiana University Press. 

2010. (ed., together with Jochen Seebode): Prisma und Spiegel. Ethnologie
zwischen postkolonialer Kritik und Deutung der eigenen Gesellschaft. Hamburg:
Argument Publishers.

2001. Perpetuating the Politics of Praise: Jeli praise singers, radios and political 
mediation in Mali. Köln: Rüdiger Köppe Verlag.

Articles

2012. Mapping cosmopolitan identities: rap music and male youth culture in Mali. In: Charry, Eric (ed.): HipHop Africa. New African Music in a Globalizing World, pp. 192-217. Bloomington: Indiana University Press (download pdf).

2016. (together with Souleymane Diallo) Competing Assertions of Muslim Masculinity in Mali. Journal of Religion in Africa 46. 219-250 (download pdf).

2016. Scholarship on Gender Politics in the Muslim World. Some critical reflections. in:  Léon Buskens, Annemarie van Sandwijk (eds.): Islamic Studies in the Twenty-first century: transformations and continuities. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 109-133.

2016. "Shari'a" as a moving target? The reconfiguration of national and regional fields of debate in    Mali. in: Hefner, Robert (ed.): Shari'a Law and Modern Ethics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

in prep. (a): Schulz, Dorothea; Luig, Ute (eds.): Politics of Healing, Sufferance, and Mourning (in preparation for submission to Peter Lang Publishers)

in prep. (b): "'Healing, not forgiving!' Mental health and Muslims politics of remembrance in Southwestern Uganda". To appear in: Schulz, Dorothea; Luig, Ute (eds.): Politics of Healing, Sufferance, and Mourning.

forthc.: Muslim politics of mourning and remembrance in southwestern Uganda. To appear in: Ways of knowing Muslim cultures and societies: essays in honor of Gudrun Krämer. Leiden: Brill (2018)

Courses

Summer Term 2017

Einführung in die Religionsethnologie (Seminar)
Geist-Medien und technische Medien (Seminar)
Sozialanthropologie – theoretische und empirische Perspektiven (Vorlesung)

Winter Term 2016/17

Jugend und Maskulinität (Seminar)
Medienanthropologie – neue Ansätze und Debatten (Seminar)