Christian Furrer earned a BA in Social Anthropology and General Linguistics at the University of Berne before enrolling in the African Studies Master`s programme at the University of Basel. He got his Master`s degree in 2016
His main interests lay in the two modules “Governance and Politics” and “Environment and Development” where he wrote a seminar paper each. These were a paper on ethnicity in the context of (post)colonial politics in Africa and a paper on the relevance and possibilities of evaluation in the development aid sector.
For his final exams, he chose the topics of ethnography and development under a social anthropological perspective and the topics of corruption and conflicts under a sociological perspective.
Christian Furrer wrote a Master`s thesis on the Tanzanian governmental organisation “Malihai Clubs” and its position within the debate of nature and culture.
Malihai Clubs. Eine afrikanische Regierungsorganisation und die Natur-Kultur-Debatte.
Theory: The thesis is a theoretically founded ethnographic description of the ecological sustainability organization called “Malihai Clubs” in Tanzania. The leading question thereby is how the nature-culture debate can help to conceptualise the activities of the clubs. To answer this question, there is a discussion of the term “nature” at the beginning. It is shown that the concept of the “park” is lying in the border area of “nature” and “culture”. Furthermore, there is an overview of how the conservation ideology has developed in Tanzania.
Methods: There are three key methods which lead to the thesis. First, ethnographic research to collect the data. Second, methods of the grounded theory approach to analyse and generate new data. Third and last, the “storied reality” to write down the final version of this partial ethnography.
Results: Malihai Clubs are an educational institution of the Tanzanian government. The voluntary members of these clubs are environmentally educated at the schools and universities which have such clubs. Thereby, a local and a global component can be stated. Members are confronted with global debates of conservation through expert presentations. As important as the global is the local component: The members create and sustain “parks” on the schooling grounds and campuses. There, they learn how to sustainably use their immediate surroundings through the keeping of plants and small animals.
Conclusion: In the global sphere, “Malihai Clubs” can be collated to the ideological conservation movement, which wishes to see a nature without much human influence in general. But regarding “Malihai Clubs”, there is a combination of nature and human influence on the local sphere. The created and thereafter sustained “parks” are an example of a nature, which is not thought free of human influence.
Assessment: This thesis was described by the referees as “solid” and “good”.