Elísio Macamo

Elísio Macamo is Associate Professor of African Studies at the University of Basel. Previsouly (until 2009) he taught development Sociology at the University of Bayreuth, where he was a founding member of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies. Elísio Macamo was born and grew up in Mozambique. He studied in Maputo (Mozambique), Salford and London (England) and Bayreuth (Germany) and holds an MA degree in Translation and Interpreting (Salford), an MA degree in Sociology and Social Policy (University of North London) and a PhD and “Habilitation” in General Sociology (University of Bayreuth).

A post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Bayreuth, a research fellowship at the Centre for African Studies in Lisbon (Portugal), an AGORA-Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin and a visiting lecturersjoü at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique are some of the stations in his academic career. As a member of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) he regularly offers methodological workshops to Portuguese speaking African doctoral students. Furthermore he regularly engages in teaching in Brazil.

Fields of specialisation in research and/or teaching

Major interests are the sociology of religion, technology, knowledge, politics and risk. Elísio Macamo takes a special interest in phenomenological and interpretive approaches to empirical social research. His current research projects focus on the politics of the rule of law and comparative studies of development (Africa, Latin America and Asia).

Elísio Macamo is commited to further develop African Studies by way of tackling the particular challenges posed by cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary research.

Research projects

Current research interests focus on four main areas:

  1. Interdisciplinarity and methodological challenges
    SUK Graduate Training Module "Interdisciplinarity and Methodological Challenges in Area Studies"

  2. Technological artefacts >
    Technological artefacts of the urban waterscapes in Lusaka, Zambia (Stephanie Bishop)
    The constitution of road traffic in Ouagadougou’s two-wheeler mobility regime (Pierrick Leu)
    Travelling technologies of the environment: Knowledges of water management and the transformation of land in South Africa (James Merron)

  3. Political culture and contention;
    Construire son avenir: Self-Conception and Career Practices of Young Graduates in Burkina Faso and Mali
    Safeguarding Democracy: Contests of Values and Interests - Case Studies of South Africa and Switzerland
    Explosive youth. Political protests in Conakry and Kampala (Joschka Philipps)
    The role of authority in African political culture – a case study of Zambia (Esther Uzar)
    Dynamics of Assertive Unionism in Ethiopia
    (Samuel Admasie)
    Technocrats at the Hydrocarbons Frontier: Changing Stateness in Mozambique (Jon Schubert)

  4. Development Studies
    Stakeholders Dialogue. Multinational Corporations, Host Communities and Consensus Building (Albert Tibaijuka)

Memberships in learned societies

Elísio Macamo serves on the scientific advisory board of the journals “Afrika Spektrum”, “Indilinga – African Journal of Indigenous Knowledge Systems” and Revista Angolana de Sociologia. He is co-editor of the African Sociological Review and Book Series of the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies.

He is a member of council of the International Africa Institute, a board member of the Swiss Society for African STudies and member of the extended committee of the executive board of the German African Studies Association (VAD e.V.). Between 2006 and 2011 he was a member of the scientific committee of CODESRIA (the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa, Dakar, Senegal).

Recent Publications

Peer-reviewed article

  • 2016 oder 2017: “Power, conflict and citizenship: Mozambique’s contemporary struggles”. Journal of Citizenship Studies (angenommen)

  • 2016: “Violence and political culture in Mozambique”. Social Dynamics – A Journal of African Studies, 42(1), 85-105.

  • 2015: “The belated Phoenix: The practice of philosophy in Portuguese Speaking Countries of Africa in Philosophia Africana – Analysis of Philosophy and Issues in Africa and the Black Diaspora”, Special Issue: Philosophy in Lusophone Africa, Vol. 17 (1), 11-26.

  • 2014: „Kunstgriffe gegen die entwicklungspolitische Rechthaberei“. Politische Vierteljahreshefte. Sonderheft 48: Entwicklungstheorien: Weltgesellschaftliche Transformationen, entwicklungspolitische Herausforderungen, theoretische Innovationen. Nomos, 488-500.

  • 2012: “Social Criticism and Protest: The Politics of Anger and Outrage in Mozambique and Angola”. STICHPROBE, Vienna Journal of African Studies, S.45-69.

  • 2010: Making Modernity Accountable: A Case Study of Youth in Mozambique”. Caderno de Estudos Africanos (Sonderausgabe, Jugend und Moderne in Afrika), S.19-46.

  • 2010: “Relações entre o Brasil e a África: os desafios da produção dum conhecimento crítico”. Estudos de Sociologia, Vol. 15 (2), S.49-68.

  • 2010: „Entwicklungsforschung und Praxis – Kritische Anmerkungen aus der Sicht eines Beforschten“. Geographische Rundschau, Jahrgang 62, Heft 10, S.52-57.

Book contributions

  • 2016: “Before we start: science and power in the constitution of Africa”. In: Maano Ramutsindela, Giorgio Miescher, Melanie Boehi (eds.): The Politics of Nature and Science in Southern Africa. Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel.

  • 2015: “Global modernity, social criticism and the local intelligibility of contestation in Mozambique”. In: Bringel Breno (ed.): Global Modernity and Social Contestation: Sage, London, 121-136.

  • 2015: “Science versus Metaphysics. The Importance of Everyday Life Experience for the Interpretation of Disaster”. In:  Egner, Heike; Schorch, Marén; Voss, Martin (eds.): Learning and Calamities; Practices, Interpretations, Patterns. New York: Routledge, 272-290.

  • 2014: “Cultura Política e Cidadania em Moçambique: Uma Relação Conflituosa”. In: Luis de Brito, Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco, Sérgio Chicharva, Salvador Forquilha and António Francisco (eds.): Desafios para Moçambique 2014. Maputo: IESE, 41-60.

  • 2014 (mit Dieter Neubert): “Modernity and the Globalisation of Scientific-Technological Rationality”. In: Dieter Neubert and Christine Scherer (eds.): Agency and Changing World Views in Africa. Beiträge zur Afrikaforschung Vol. 40. Berlin: Lit-Verlag, 15-40.

  • 2014: Vorsprung durch Aufklärung: Ein Märchen, an das Europäer nach wie vor glauben. In: Armin Nassehi, Armin und Peter Felixberger (eds.): Kursbuch 179: Freiheit, Gleichheit, Ausbeutung. Hamburg: Murmann Verlag, 170-176.

  • 2013: “O pós-colonial ante portas: algumas notas de rodapé”. In: Júlia almeida, Adelia Miglievich-Ribeiro & Heloisa Toller Gomes (orgs.): Crítica pós-colonial – panorama de leituras contemporâneas. Rio de Janeiro. Viveiros de Castro Editora Ltd. S.247-256.

  •  2013: „The compulsion to do the right thing: Development knowledge and its limits“. In: Ulf Engel and Manuel João Ramos (eds.): African Dynamics in a Multipolar World. Leiden. Brill, pp.175-194.

  • 2013: „Living Effervescence. The Social in African Urban Settings“. In: Brigit Obrist, Veit Arlt and Elísio Macamo (eds.): Living the City in Africa. Processes of Invention and Intervention. Berlin: Lit Verlag. S. 291-297.

  • 2012: „Afrikanische Moderne und die Möglichkeit(en), Mensch zu sein“. In: Hans Joas (ed.): Formen der Moderne – Perspektive der Moderne. Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Verlag. S. 137-170

  • 2011: „Flood disasters“. A sociological analysis of local perception and management of extreme events based on examples from Mozambique, Germany, and the USA. In: Ute Luig (ed.), Disaster politics: Coping strategies, representations and memory. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (mit Dieter Neubert)

  • 2011: Über die konstitutiven Regeln Afrikas. In: Manuel Assner et al (eds.): AfrikaBilder im Wandel? Quellen, Kontinuitäten, Wirkungen und Brüche. Frankfurt am Main. Peter Lang. S.29-40.

  • 2011: Afrika stört. Ein Totengespräch über Norm und Wirklichkeit in den Sozialwissenschaften. In: Julia Fleischhack/Kathrin Rottmann (eds.): Störungen. Medien/Prozesse/Körper. (Schriftenreihe der Isa Lohmann-Siems Stiftung, Bd.5, hrsg. Von Wolf-Dieter Hauenschild, Thomas Hengartner und Bruno Reudenbach) Berlin 2011, S.23-43.

  • 2010: “Overwhelmed by Well-Meaning Partners – the Politics of Direct Budget Support in Mozambique” In: F. Stehnken et al (eds.): Afrika und externe Akteure – Partner auf Augenhöhe? Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlag. S.201-216.

  • 2010: Die Begehung der Kontinuität: Kultursoziologische Anmerkungen zu “Kaffee und Kuchen” in Oberfranken. In: Gabriele Cappai, Wolfgang Lipp und Winfried Gebhardt (eds.): Nach der kulturalistischen Wende – Festschrift für Arnold Zingerle zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin. Duncker & Humblot. S.251-266.

  • 2010: “Social Theory and Making Sense of Africa” In: M. Diawara, B. Lategan and J. Rüsen (eds.): Historical Memory in Africa – Dealing with the Past, Reaching for the Future in an Intercultural Context. New York: Berghahn Books. S.13-26.

  • 2009: Africa and Humanism. In: Jörn Rüsen and Henner Laass (eds.): Humanism in Intercultural Perspective – Experiences and Expectations. Bielefeld. Transcript Verlag. S.65-78.


  • 2012: Review of Fernando Arenas: 'Lusophone Africa: beyond independence'. In: Africa. The Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 82, No. 3, 507-508.


  • 2016: Sociologia prática – como alguns sociólogos pensam. Maputo. Imprensa Universitária.

  •  2016 : The Taming of Fate, Dakar: CODESRIA.

  • 2013: L’abbecedario della nostra dependenza. Erikson. Trento.

  • 2008: Planícies sem fim. Maputo: Texto Editores (Essays);

  • 2006: Um País cheio de soluções. Maputo: Edições Meianoite;

  • 2006: Trepar o País pelos ramos. Maputo: Editora Ndjira;

  • 2005: Abecedário da nossa dependência. Maputo: Editora Ndjira;

  • 2004: A leitura sociológica. Maputo. Imprensa Universitária (wird 2017 neu aufgelegt);

  • 2004: Como aprender a estudar. Maputo. Imprensa Universitária (mit Teles Huo)

Edited volumes

  • 2017: Elusive Futures – Young African Graduates and their Future Careers. Lit Verlag (Herausgegeben mit Noemi Steuer und Michelle Engeler, Vertrag unterschrieben)

  • 2017: Translation: Disputing the Meaning of African Social Realities. Cambridge University Press (Herausgegeben mit Jean-Bernard Ouedraogo und Mamadou Diawara – Vertrag unterschrieben)

  • 2013: Living the City in Africa. Processes of Invention and Intervention (Herausgegeben mit Brigit Obrist und Veit Arlt). Berlin: Lit Verlag.

  • 2012: Risk in Africa: Conceptualising risk in contemporary Africa (Herausgegeben mit Lena Bloemertz, Martin Doevenspeck und Detlef Müller-Mahn). Münster: Lit Verlag.

  • 2005: Negotiating Modernity – Africa’s Ambivalent Experience. London/Dakar: Zed Books/CODESRIA.

Consultancy reports for Development Agencies

  • 2009: “Mozambique Case Study: Anti-Corruption Discourses and Practices and their Legal Scope”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finland;

  • 2009: “Report on Post-Conflict Consolidation in Mozambique”, Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, Germany;

  • 2008: PÖK Study on Mozambique, GIGA Hamburg (on behalf of German Ministry for Development Cooperation, Bonn);

  • 2007: Report on Pro-Poor Growth in Mozambique’s Poverty Reduction Strategy for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, Rom);

  • 2006: Mozambique Political Governance Report for DFID;

  • 2006: Report on Socio-Economic Development in Mozambique for NEPAD’s Peer Review Mechanism;

  • 2005: Assessment of “Education for All” in Angola for UNESCO on behalf of Education for Change, London, UK;

  • 2005: Policy Paper for GTZ, Germany, “Poverty Reduction and Disaster Risk Management”.


Prof. Elisio Macamo
Zentrum für Afrikastudien Basel
Petersgraben 11
CH-4051 Basel
Office 202

Tel.: +41 (0)61 207 34 85
Tel.: +41 (0)61 267 34 82 (secretariat)

In the media

Things you should know about Africa (Sendung Djoliba, RadioX, 20.06.2015)

Ebola – Afrika ist herausgefordert (Sternstunde Philosophie, SRF TV, 28.09.2014)

Es gibt keine Urheberrechte auf die Moderne (Wendekreis 7/2014)

China hat Afrika Hoffnung gegeben (ECO SRF TV, 20.01.2014)

Realität ist: Nichts kann die Migration stoppen (Basler Zeitung, 15.10.2013)

Das Schicksal zähmen (on Elisio Macamo's latest book)

Mehr Afrika (Sternstunde Philosophie, SRF TV; 30.5.2010)