Conference: Elite Formation, Consumption and Urban Spaces (Tagung), 26. – 27.11.10, Berlin

Elite Formation, Consumption and Urban Spaces (Tagung)

Cultural Perspectives on African Decolonization

During the second half of the twentieth century the African continent was shaped not only by political but also by social and cultural change and crisis. In the rapidly growing cities, new social spaces and groups emerged. These actors often portrayed themselves as ‘modern’, and their emerging social practice not only mirrored this change but also played an active part in moving the boundaries of social distinction in colonial societies – between new elites, traditional elites, urban middle classes and workers as well as Europeans. This transcending of boundaries can be explored in many different ways. New marketing strategies for consumer products and luxury goods, promising a career, success, and high social status, aimed at urban elites and middle classes. Political imaginations were debated in the press; in clubs and associations an emerging collective identity could be negotiated. New cultural codes in language, clothing, behavior, leisure time and sociability evolved, at times challenging the colonial order. Focusing on the practice and discourse of African actors, the conference looks at decolonization not only as a political but also as a profoundly cultural process, and seeks connections between both approaches. The conference will be held in English.

Visitors are welcome. We kindly ask you to announce your participation by sending a mail to by 15th November 2010.

The conference is organized in cooperation with the International Research Centre “Work and Human Life Cycle in Global History”.


Friday, 26.11.2010

16:00-17:30: Enrolment

17:30-18:30: Address of welcome and introduction: Andreas Eckert/ Regina Finsterhölzl/ Daniel Tödt (Berlin)

18:30-20:00: Keynote by Sean Nixon (Essex): Cultural Intermediaries or Market Device? Some thoughts on conceptualizing advertising

20:00-22:00: Reception

Saturday, 27.11.2010

10:00-12:00: Panel 1 “Consumption and Advertising”

Senior Discussant: Hans Peter Hahn (Frankfurt)

Andrea Scheibler (Oxford): Materiality and sociality in late colonial Nairobi: consumption, contestation and the Tai Tai class

Regina Finsterhölzl (Berlin): Advertising, decolonization and social change in Ghana, 1940-1970

Simon Heap (Woking): Marketing Modernity. Star Beer in Nigeria, 1949-1966

12:00-13:00: lunch break

13:00-15:00: Panel 2 “Elite formation and sociability”

Senior Discussant: Michael Pesek (Berlin)

Jean-Herve Jezequel (Bordeaux): Living like and ‚Educated Man‘. Ponty Graduates’ cultural repertoires in Colonial West Africa, 1930s-1950s

Daniel Tödt (Berlin): ‘Quelle sera notre place dans le monde de demain?’ – Discourse and Sociability of the ‘Évolués’ in Belgian Congo, 1945-1960

Dominique Connan (Florenz/Paris): ‘Multiracialism’ and the Socialization of the African Elites in Late Colonial Nairobi: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the United Kenya Club, 1946-1963

15:00-15:30 coffee break

15:30-17:00: Panel 3 “Staging Decolonization? Urban spaces of change”

Senior Discussant: Andreas Eckert (Berlin)

Jinny Prais (New York): ‘Do Gold Coast Youth Think?’ The Struggle to Define a New Urban Aesthetic and Modernity in Colonial Accra, 1930s

Susann Baller (Basel): Urban Youth and Decolonization in Senegal: Sport and Culture Clubs in the 1950s and 1960s

17:00-17:30: coffee break

17:30-18:30: Final comments by Dmitri van den Bersselaar (Liverpool/Berlin)

Contact information:

Regina Finsterhölzl / Daniel Tödt
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Tel: +49-(0)30-2093-4984
Fax: +49-(0)30-2093-4893