Online workshop 4: "History talks to ethnography. A view from colonial archives, life history and everyday observation" by Prof Laurent Fourchard
IFRA-NIGERIA ONLINE WORKSHOPS PROGRAMME
As you may know, in accordance with the latest government statement regarding measures to contain the COVID-19 virus, IFRA-Nigeria's offices are closed until further notice, library included. However, IFRA’s team has come up with alternative solutions to continue its training activities.
We are hosting a series of online events using Facebook Live as a platform.
4TH ONLINE WORKSHOP: "HISTORY TALKS TO ETHNOGRAPHY: A VIEW FROM COLONIAL ARCHIVES, LIFE HISTORY AND EVERYDAY OBSERVATION"
This fourth workshop on "History talks to ethnography. A view from colonial archives, life history and everyday observation" was facilitated by Prof Laurent Fourchard (CERI, Sciences Po Paris). It was held on Tuesday 5th of May 2020 at 1pm (Nigerian time) on our Facebook page.
Laurent Fourchard is currently Research Professor of history and political science at the Centre for International Relations (CERI) at Sciences Po in Paris, France. His research is located at the intersection of African history and African politics and his interests focus on urban comparative research, violence and exclusion, citizenship and process of identification in Nigeria and South Africa. He has published Classify, exclude and police: Urban lives in South Africa and Nigeria in 2018 with Sciences Po Press.
What is the workshop about?
This presentation explored the interests and limits of articulating historical and ethnographic methods in doing comparative research in African environment. The very colonial oriented documentation and the messiness and contradictions of colonial action could easily be revealed by exploring several archival depots. Looking into alternative historical sources (from newspapers to oral interviews) is very much necessary to give a voice to African men and women but also to uncover actions not informed by the colonial power which was often ignorant to social reality. These are key conditions without which an African history could not be written. To retrace historical narratives from colonial period to present day require also to articulate these different historical sources with ethnographic materials. Participant observation, oral interviews and a careful collection of life histories are methodologies which could help to provide some historical depth of current situation but are faced with two opposite challenges : ‘presentism’, interpreting the past in the context of contemporary issues, and ‘leapfrogging legacies’, interpreting the present based on vague analogies with the distant past without examining how the two remain connected through the intervening periods.
Re-watch the workshop:
A recorded video of the workshop is still available on the links bellow: