P112
Cultural entrepreneurs in Africa: endeavors, constraints and pathways of success (EASA Africanist Network)

Convenors:
Tilo Gr├Ątz (FU Berlin)
Dmitri Bondarenko (Institute for African Studies)
Discussant:
Petr Skalnik (University of Wroclaw)
Stream:
Panels
Location:
M-342
Start time:
1 August, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:
1

Short abstract:

This workshop focusses on cultural entrepreneurs in Africa; e.g. advertising specialists, video entrepreneurs, private school founders, artists or tourism providers. The concept entrepreneurs is used in a wider sense; referring both to economic aspects and personal endeavours.

Long abstract:

This workshop aims to increase understanding and knowledge regarding an influential emerging category of actors in contemporary Africa: cultural entrepreneurs. These individuals currently enjoy a renewed importance due to the recent widespread economic and political liberalization throughout the continent. Thus, we will address these actors and their activities in the realm of cultural enterprises, including advertising specialists, video entrepreneurs, private school founders, artists and/or tourism providers. The concept entrepreneur is thus used in a wider sense; entailing economic aspects like subsistence activities, but also referring to personal endeavours, innovative visions, vocation and various modes of self-realization, respectively. Despite their diversity, these entrepreneurs share two central features that both emerged as a result of contemporary liberalization policies: First, although many initially entered the emerging market economy out of economic necessity, these actors have capitalised on the market through the utilization of personal skills, knowledge and networks. Secondly, they offer services often culturally embedded in the local societies, that consequently become commercialized market products. Thus, we must ask what the consequences of these processes are. What discourses are linked to them? How do the actors themselves view their own activities? What social and/or economic strategies and pathways of success are open to these entrepreneurs? How should we modify western notions of entrepreneurship according to our cases in Africa? We primarily invite papers based on local case studies, but also on wider reflections and theoretical contributions promoting a renewed understanding of entrepreneurs in Africa.