Publication: Ethnographic Vignettes - Social Change and Social Encounters in Solwezi, Northwestern Zambia
In the latest double issue of the Basel Papers on Political Transformations, master students in Social Anthropology and African Studies engage with the question of how to present social change with the help of vignettes.
What is social change, and where is it coming from? How can we see it when it happens, and is there ever any moment of time where there is no change? Societies never stagnate, of course, but is there something like accelerated change or the beginning of social change? What are the conditions for it? And how can we not only recognise it when it happens but also relate it to a readership?
These questions shaped the discussions during two terms in the seminar rooms of the Chair of Social Anthropology, University of Basel and – albeit in the background – during six weeks of guided field research in Solwezi town in Northwestern Zambia (and in one case in Alice Springs, Australia) in January and February 2018.
In this Basel Paper issue, master students in Social Anthropology and African Studies present the results of this enquiry. The issue’s contribution is threefold: First, it engages with the question of how to present social change with the help of vignettes, second, it offers a diverse tapestry of insights into a central region of today’s capitalist world and, third, it attempts a refine-ment of the ethnographic method of participant observation.