Carole Ammann: The Work of State Imageries: Coping with Intricacies of the Everyday in Guinea

PhD-project in Social Anthropology, University of Basel

This PhD project aims at a comprehensive understanding of state imageries, governance and everyday life in an urban and peri-urban space of Guinea, a country affected by the West African Conflict. The project documents and analyses the practices through which the local (female) population tries to cope with the political and economical crisis and how that shapes its relationship to the state.


Imageries of governance and the state are continuously shaped and reshaped by all social actors in everyday encounters. Anything regarding statehood is in many cases implicitly masculine. Agency of African women is mostly not recognized because they do not become as visible as men in the public sphere. Nevertheless women, who often bear the main responsibility for the family, often formulate their expectations towards the state precisely.

Specific Objectives/Research Questions

The aim of this project is to examine the relationship between the state and the female population in a time of political unrest and transformation. What are the issues of government practices women talk about? What is seen as a political activity and in what ways are women political actors? Which social and political spaces should women occupy according to the state?


The methodology is based on the circular procedure of the Emic Evaluation Approach (EEA). The triangular EEA relies on three pillars: a) mapping of the social actors; b) social discourse analysis; and c) practice analysis. Methods such as observation and participation, interviews, informal discussions and media analysis are applied.


This project adds to a better understanding of women’s role in society, how they organize and fill in the gaps of a limited state.


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Till Förster

Funding: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF 100012-124528)

Collaboration: Université Julius Nyéréré de Kankan

Duration: April 2011 - April 2015

Download Poster: Women and the Imageries of the State in Guinea (2012)

Keywords: Guinea, gender, statehood, political participation, transition, everyday life