Carl Schlettwein Lecture

The annual distinguished lecture of the ZASB is held in remembrance of Carl Schlettwein, who played an important part in the development of African Studies in Basel and in the establishment of our Centre. His moral support was supplemented by the generous and farsighted assistance he gave to these activities.

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Past Carl Schlettwein Lectures

The Carl Schlettwein Lectures are published as a series by Lit Verlag (2005-2012) and Basler Afrika Bibliographien (from 2014):

Fredrick Ogenga (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2023)
Maskani Pan-African Digital Peacebuilding

Toyin Falola (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2022)
Decolonizing African History

Francis B. Nyamnjoh (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2019)
Decolonising the Academy: A Case for Convivial Scholarship 

Brian Larkin (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2018)
The Political Aesthetics of Generators

Mirjam de Bruijn (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2017)
Digitalisation and the field of African Studies

Nelson Kasfir (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2016)
Kingdom, State and Civil Society in Africa. Conceptual and Political Collisions

Ellen Namhila (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2015)
Native Estates: Records of Mobility across Colonial Boundaries

AbdouMaliq Simone (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2014)
Always Something Else: Urban Asia and Africa as Experiment

Lungisile Ntsebeza (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2013)
Trajectories of Land Conflicts in Southern Africa: Failed Decolonisation

Mamphela Ramphele (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2012)
Socio-economic Equity and Democratic Freedom in South Africa

Nancy Rose Hunt (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2011)
Suturing New Medical Histories of Africa

Jo Beall (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2010)
Invention and Intervention in African Cities

Trudy Harpham (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2009)
Urban Health in Africa. What do we know and where do we go?

Yacouba Konaté (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2008)
Croquis de frontières, profils de passeurs.  L'art contemporain africain en perspective

Robin Law (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2007)
The Impact of the Atlantic Slave Trade upon Africa

Matthias Winiger (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2006)
Afrika - ein Kontinent verändert sein Gesicht

Jean Comaroff, John Comaroff (Carl Schlettwein Lecture 2005)
An Excursion into the Criminal.  Anthropology of the Brave Neo South Africa

Dr. h.c. Carl Schlettwein (1925-2005)

Carl Schlettwein

Carl Schlettwein (Walter Sütterlin)

Carl Schlettwein was born in Mecklenburg in 1925 and emigrated to South Africa in 1952. Until 1963 he lived in South West Africa, the former German colony that was then under South African administration. When he married Daniela Gsell he moved to Basel.

In 1971 Schlettwein founded the Basler Afrika Bibliographien (BAB) as a library and publishing house in order to allow international institutions to access bibliographic information on South West Africa (Namibia). Accordingly, he published the first national bibliography on this African country. Through these activities the BAB contributed to documenting and researching a nation with a particularly difficult history. Other publications dealt with historical, literary and geo-methodological topics, and included titles on Swiss-African relations. From an individualistic private initiative, the BAB developed into an institution open to the public and became a cornerstone of the ZASB. As the Namibia Resource Centre – Southern Africa Library the institution is of world-wide importance.

The Carl Schlettwein Foundation, which was founded in 1994, runs the BAB and supports students and projects in Namibia as well as in other Southern African countries. In 2001, the Carl Schlettwein Foundation funded the establishment of the Chair of African History, providing the basis for today’s professorship in African History and the African Studies programme at the University of Basel. The Foundation works closely with the ZASB to provide support for teaching and research and in 2016 it enabled the Centre to establish a position on Namibian and Southern African Studies.

The University of Basel honoured Carl Schlettwein with an honorary doctorate in 1997.

veit arlt

Dr. Veit Arlt
Centre for African Studies Basel
Rheinsprung 21
4051 Basel

Tel: +41 61 207 34 86