Working Group: The Power of Sources in African Studies

Sources are not neutral. They have their own history (precolonial, colonial and postcolonial), geography (European, African, rural or urban, from the diaspora…) and a materiality (objects, paper works, novels, clothing, music…). Sometimes they are missing altogether. They also have their intermediaries:  the archivists or researchers who retrieve, organize, search for and interpret them.

Sources have the power to tell a story, to contradict it, and sometimes even to change it. Discussing sources therefore means to discuss the biases, subjectivity, and research questions that informed their production, retrieval, and use.

This working group bring together students and researchers to reflect on the various sources they use, to gain insights from methodological, practical, and conceptual challenges they face.  It is meant to create a fruitful inter-disciplinary dialogue between history, anthropology, literature and linguistic and be place to exchange ideas and thoughts.

This working group was established by Anaïs Angelo at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna and has grown to include an international team of organizers (in alphabetical order): 

- Anaïs Angelo (University of Vienna)
- Lennart Bollinger (Humboldt University, Berlin)
- Joseph Udimal Kachim (University of Cape Coast)
- Doreen Kembabazi (Ghent University)
- Tony Yeboah (Yale University)

Together, we organize online discussions every two months, inviting scholars to discuss a broad range of issues and sources and to share their insights and tips about how to  work with sources in the most creative and ethical ways! 

For any information, question or suggestion, please contact Anaïs Angelo (