The documentary film “Histoires de Twarab à Marseille” is now online and open access

Le documentaire ‘Histoires de Twarab à Marseille’ réalisé par Andrés Carvajal et Mounir Hamada Hamza et écrit ensemble avec Katharina Fritsch est maintenant librement accessible via vimeo:
en version française:

et en version anglaise:
Partagez et faites-le circuler! Tous commentaires et critiques sont bienvenus!


The documentary ‘Twarab Stories from Marseille”, directed by Andrés Carvajal and Mounir Hamada Hamzra and written together with Katharina Fritsch is now freely accessible on the Vimeo portal:

French version:
English version:

Feel free to circulate the documentary! We are looking forward to your comments and critiques!


Also have a look at the Facebook-page of the Film:




New article by Birgit Englert published in “Identities” – online and open access – have a look!

Looking through two lenses: reflections on transnational and translocal dimensions in Marseille-based popular music relating to the Comoros | Open Access
Birgit Englert
Pages: 542-557 | DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2018.1507959

The article is part of the special issue

“Connecting and Confronting Transnationalism: Bridging Concepts and Moving Critique” (Vol.25/5 – 2018)

edited by Sara de Jong (Open University) and Petra Dannecker (University of Vienna):

Here is the link to the whole special issue:

Zugänge zu Forschungen über/in Afrika

Von 19. – 21. April 2018 findet die 4. Tagung des Netzwerks „Afrikaforschung in Österreich“ am Institut für Afrikawissenschaften, Universität Wien statt.

Das Projekt “Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces” ist Mitveranstalterin.

Das vollständige Programm der Tagung finden Sie hier:


Alle Abstracts und Kurzbios der TeilnehmerInnen finden sich hier: ABSTRACTS_Afrikatagung_Wien_2018_FINAL

Besonders hinweisen möchten wir auf:

Filmvorführung // Movie Screening

„Histoires de Twarab à Marseille / Twarab Stories from Marseille“:

Dokumentarfilm von Andres Carvajal, Mounir Hamada Hamza und Katharina Fritsch (Marseille/Barcelona/ Wien 2016, 74 Min., Französisch/Komorisch mit Englischen UT)

Donnerstag, 19. April 2018, 18.15 – 19.30 im Seminarraum 3 und

Freitag, 20. April 2018, 11.30 – 13.00 im Seminarraum 1

Katharina Fritsch wird jeweils eine kurze Einführung geben, im Anschluß an die Screenings können Fragen gestellt werden.


Panel “Musik, Religion & Diaspora”

 Moderation: Katharina Fritsch (Uni Wien)

Teresa-Barbara Stacher (Universität Wien): “A Syncretistic Prayer? – Experiences of Young Adults during Prayer and the Influences of Religious Movements in Accra within the Presbyterian Church of Ghana“

Katharina Gartner (Universität Wien): „Rehearsing for Greatness: Young music makers and their (trans)local creative spaces in Accra, Ghana, and beyond (2013 – 2017)“

Hanna Stepanik (Universität Wien/Universität Brighton): “On the diasporisation of “tradition”: Negotiations of Batuku in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area”

Martina Anissa Strommer (Universität Wien): “Religion in der afrikanischen Diaspora in Moskau”


Die CFPs zur Tagung:

CFP_AfricaConference_2018_FINAL (English)

CFP_AfrikaTagung_2018_FINAL (Deutsch)


Institut für Afrikawissenschaften, Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Wien



New documentary “Twarab Stories from Marseille” available on DVD

We are very happy to announce that the documentary film which was realised as part of our research project is available on DVD (French version only!):

„Histoires de Twarab à Marseille / Twarab Stories from Marseille“:

Documentary by Andres Carvajal, Mounir Hamada Hamza and Katharina Fritsch (Marseille/Barcelona/ Wien 2016, 74 Min., Französisch/Komorisch mit Englischen UT)

Here you find a long trailer :

(the trailer is in Comorian/French with English subtitles)

Please contact birgit.englert(at) if you want to receive a copy of the DVD for the price of 10,- Euro.



Workshop “Popular Culture in Africa- and Diaspora-related Research”

Invitation to join us for a



Popular Culture in Africa- and Diaspora-related research:

Politics and Positionalities


24 May, 2017

1:00 – 6:00 pm


Seminarraum 4,

Department of African Studies

University of Vienna Spitalgasse 2-4, Hof 5.1.

1090 Vienna


Has scholarly thinking about popular culture in Africa changed in the discipline of African Studies since Karin Barber (“ Popular Arts In Africa,” 1987) published her highly influential article on popular arts in Africa 30 years ago? If so, how might we tie these changes to new social and cultural ways of perceiving and narrating societies in Africa in the last twenty years or so? What, if anything, does the rise of the new media have to do with the way popular culture is produced, disseminated and consumed?

On the basis of some selected texts dealing with the issues raised above and drawing from insights from current research projects by Onookome Okome, who is visiting the Department of African Studies, and members of the research project “Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces” at the same department, this workshop revisits key issues raised in Barber’s essay as entry points into questions such as:

Is the category of popular culture still useful in Africa- and diaspora-related research and in what sense?

How does it relate to other categories such as popular arts or, more recently, social media?

How can the relationship of popular culture and politics be thought through?

How might we think through the politics of popular culture and the representations of politics in the age of the new media?

What are the positions and what are the methods from which we can approach research on popular culture?


All are welcome to join the discussion – especially also interested students and younger scholars!


Preliminary Schedule:

1:00 – 1:30 pm:                 Introduction of the aims and format of the workshop,  introduction of all participants

1:30 – 3:30 pm:                 Discussion of concepts and approaches on the basis of selected texts

3:30 – 4:00 pm:                 Coffee break

4:00 – 6:00 pm:                 Panel with short inputs and time for discussion, with contributions by


  • Onookome Okome (University of Alberta) on „Nollywood“
  • Birgit Englert (University of Vienna) on film translation into Swahili in Tanzania
  • Katharina Fritsch (University of Vienna) on popular culture in the context of ‘Franco-Comorian diaspora’ in Marseille
  • Hanna Stepanik (University of Vienna) on ‘Cape Verdean’ popular cultural practices and ‘diaspora’ in Lisbon


Key texts as input for discussion:

Englert, Birgit. 2008. Popular Music and Politics in Africa – Some Introductory Reflections. In: Englert, Birgit (ed.). Popular Music and Politics in Africa. Special Issue of Stichproben. Vienna Journal of African Studies, Nr. 14, 1-15.

Newell, Stephanie; Okome, Onookome. 2014. Introduction. Popular Culture in Africa: The Episteme of the Everyday. In: Newell, Stephanie; Okome, Onookome (eds.) Popular Culture in Africa: The Episteme of the Everyday. New York / London: Routledge, 1-23.

Willems, Wendy; Mano, Winston. 2017. Decolonizing and Provincializing Audience and Internet Studies. Contextual Approaches from African Vantage Points. In: Willems, Wendy; Mano, Winston (eds.). Everyday Media Culture in Africa. Audiences and Users. New York / London: Routledge, 1-26.

Further suggested reading:

Barber, Karin. 1987. Popular Arts in Africa. African Studies Review 30(3): 1-78.


Please register until 22 May 2017 by sending an email to

The texts will then be sent to you via email.


Organised by Birgit Englert, Katharina Fritsch and Hanna Stepanik of the research project „Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces“


funded by the Austrian Science Foundation (FWF) together with Prof. Onookome Okome, (University of Alberta).

In cooperation with the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna


Article on”YouTube as an Archive from an African Studies Perspective” now published and available open access

has now been published in the open access African Study journal
No. 31/2016,Vol. 16, 27-56.
In this paper I reflect on the characteristics of YouTube as an archive, with a focus on its relevance for African Studies. I discuss the challenges of dealingwith the audiovisual sources stored in this archive of popular culture and beyond, given the mobility that characterises the platform and its sources.
I explore how to contextualise audiovisual sources found on YouTube and reflect on which ethical aspects need to be considered when using them for research purposes, and how to refer to them in citations.

“A tale of two Olympans: Race, Gender, Nation”

–  Talk by Prof. Dr. Shirley Anne Tate, University of Leeds, UK.

organised by Katharina Fritsch and Hanna Stepanik of the research project POCUTRAS in cooperation with „Forschungsverbund Geschlecht und Handlungsmacht / Gender and Agency“ and the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna.

30 November 2016, 18:00

Alois Wagner Saal, C3 – Centrum für Internationale Entwicklung,

Sensengasse 3, 1090 Wien

First screening of “Histoires de Twarab à Marseille” at the Tropikal Palace in Marseille


We are excited to announce that on 24 November 2016, we present our documentary “Histoires de Twarab à Marseille” (“Twarab Stories from Marseilles”) for the very first time.

The documentary is an international project by the Colombian visual anthropologist and film editor Andrés Carvajal, the Comorian artist Mounir Hamada Hamza and the Austrian researcher Katharina Fritsch. This audiovisual work is the visual part of the research project “Popular Culture in Transnational Spaces” run at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna.

The main aspect of the documentary portrays the social situation of Comorian artists based in Marseilles, France, within the milieu of Twarab, a musical genre that is very popular in East Africa, as well as on the Comorian Islands. As the presence of Twarab music is a strong red line connected to the migration of Comorians to Marseilles, the documentary attempts to trace the history and the development of this music genre from its origins on the Comoros and in Marseilles, from the perspectives and musical trajectories of the artists themselves. Stretching as far back as the mid-1990s, this music has come to dominate events organised by Grand-Comorian associations, mainly based in Marseilles.

We have attempted to place particular emphasis on the role of Twarab as a “cultural work”, to depict the difficulties faced by the artists in terms of the recurring issue of art not being recognised as work on the Comoros, on their position as migrants in Marseilles, as well as the role of Twarab as a means of raising money in a diasporic context. In this regard, the film not only depicts the challenges that the artists face, but also examines strategies and possibilities for change.

Documentary in HD; 74 minutes;

Original in Comorian/French with subtitles in English


More screenings to follow!


“Transnationalität, Translokalität, Diaspora – Gedanken zu verschiedenen Ausprägungen von Mobilität anhand populärkultureller Praktiken”

Vortrag von Birgit Englert im Rahmen der Ringvorlesung “Mobilität und Medialität” unter der Leitung von Annegret Pelz am Institut für Germanistik in Kooperation mit der Forschungsplattform “Mobile Kulturen und Gesellschaften”.

22. November 2016, 13:15 – 14:45 im Hörsaal 31, Hauptgebäude, Universität Wien – alle Willkommen!

“Reflections on using YouTube as an archive from an African Studies perspective”

is the contribution of Birgit Englert to the workshop “Zugänge und Einordnungen”of the Africa Study Network Austria which takes place at the University of Linz, Austria on 17-18 November 2016.

The paper draws on reflections and experiences from our research project on popular culture practices in translocal spaces and will be published in the journal “Stichproben. Vienna Journal of African Studies” shortly.

“Feminist Postcolonial and Decolonial Performativity Approaches“

Workshop with Prof. Dr. Shirley Anne Tate from the University of Leeds, UK.

Organised by Katharina Fritsch and Hanna Stepanik of POCUTRAS in cooperation with the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna.

The workshop takes place on 1 December 2016, 10 – 16, at the Department of African Studies, Spitalgasse 2-4, Hof 5.1., 1090 Wien


Please register until 7 November 2016 and indicate in which sub-group you would like to participate:

(1) Performativity and subjectivities (questions of belonging, identity etc.)

(2) Performativity and artistic performances / popular culture practices

(3) Performativity and Positionality/-ies (self-reflexivity etc.)

“Reflections on the Role and Production of Research Films in African Studies”

is an article which draws on experiences of producing audiovisual output within our research project.

Here are all the details:

Englert, Birgit. 2016. Reflections on the Role and Production of Research Films in African Studies. in A. Exenberger, & U. Pallua (Hrsg.), Africa Research in Austria.: Approaches and Perspectives. (Edited Volume Series). Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, (S. 43-64).

Radio broadcast “Leben in der Diaspora”

Birgit Englert and Katharina Fritsch were interviewed for a radio broadcast which is part of the series “Dimensionen – die Welt der Wissenschaft” on the radio channel Ö1

Therefore tune in on Monday 30 May, 2016 at 7:05 p.m. in order to listen to

“Leben in der Diaspora. Einblicke in die Vielfalt afrikanischer Communities in Österreich und anderen europäischen Ländern.”

a programm which has been created by Gabriele Anderl.

For details see (the programm is in German!)



Talk and Film “Diasporic Popular Cultural Practices” :23 May 2016

The Global African Diaspora Studies Plattform invites to a seminar on

“Diasporic Popular Cultural Practices in Marseille and Lisbon: Focus on Twarab and Batuku”

 with Katharina Fritsch, Hanna Stepanik, Andres Carvajal and Birgit Englert (University of Vienna)

Date: May 23, 5pm to 7pm

Location: Kleiner Saal, Afro-Asiatisches Institut in Wien, Türkenstraße 3, 1090 Wien (1st floor)

We will present work-in-progress from an ongoing project on popular cultural practices in diasporic contexts. Diaspora is often used as homogenising term, which ascribes people to one group on the basis of an assumed “shared origin”. Therefore, differences in terms of class positions or gendered experiences – to give just two examples – are often overlooked. This is why we take an intersectional perspective in this project by focusing on specific popular cultural practices, which contribute to the construction of diasporic identities. The aim is to analyse if and why certain group constructions gain relevance in specific contexts and what this says about broader societal structures in which they are embedded.

After a short introduction of the project by Birgit Englert, the presentation will focus on the popular music/dance genres Twarab and Batuku which are in the focus of research by Katharina Fritsch and Hanna Stepanik, respectively.

The presence of Twarab in Marseille, a popular music genre in Eastern Africa and on the Comoros, has been strongly related to histories of migration from the Comoros to Marseille. Since the mid-90s, this music genre has becomes dominant within events organized in the realm of Franco-Comorian associations. Batuku – presumably the oldest musical style on the Cape Verde islands – only became relevant in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area in the 60s / 70s and is now practiced in a number of contexts.

Further, filmmaker Andres Carvajal will present short sequences (about 15 min) of a research film that he realised as part of the project together with artist Mounir Hamada Hamza, in cooperation with Katharina Fritsch. The film deals with the social situation of artists working in the milieu of Twarab in Marseille and is currently in the post-production phase.

 We look forward to discussing the work-in-progress – written as well as visual – with you!

Workshop “Writing and Publishing about Africa: Challenges and Strategies”

“Stichproben – Vienna Journal of African Studies” invites you to the

Workshop: „Writing and Publishing about Africa: Challenges and Strategies“

Date: Friday, 27th of May, 2016 14:00-19:00 Uhr

Location: Department of African Studies, Seminar room 1 Spitalgasse 2, Hof/Yard 5.1, 1090 Vienna

Birgit Englert of the POCUTRAS-Team will give a talk on

„Reflections on the Role and Production of Research Films in African Studies”

and chair the panel discussion with Katrin Bromber, Tunde Adeleke, Tomi Adeaga and Kirsten Rüther.

See here for the full programm: 2016_05_Workshop Stichproben_programm_endversion

No Registration necessary.

We are looking forward to welcome you at our Department!

Miša Krenčeyová on behalf of the Editorial Board of the ‘Stichproben’

FWF-Research project at the Department of African Studies, University of Vienna: “Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces: Processes of Diasporisation among Comorians in Marseilles and Cape Verdeans in Lisbon”