Introduction: new ethical fields and the implicitness/explicitness of ethics in Africa

The journal Africa published a special issue: Ethical Fields in Africa. Throughout history, people on the African continent have experienced momentous transformations of their lifeworlds and ways of living, some of them irruptive, uncompromising and cataclysmic, others of a more subtle and negotiable nature. What remains to be dealt with in more detail by anthropologists are the manifold ways in which these transformations are reflected in, and have a bearing on, people's ethical demeanours, commitments and debates. Given the complexity and variability of these processes, it is not possible or even desirable to give a conclusive answer to this question. Instead, taking account of historical and socio-cultural specificities, this special issue features in-depth case studies of ethics as ideals in practice from several countries in sub-Saharan Africa (Botswana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania).

More about this article.

Africa, Volume 87, Issue 3, September 2017, pp. 447-461

Author(s) / editor(s)

Astrid Bochow, Thomas G. Kirsch, Rijk van Dijk

About the author(s) / editor(s)

Astrid Bochow is a social anthropologist at the Georg-August Universität Göttingen. She researches and publishes on the family, youth, religion and health in Kumasi, Ghana, and Gaborone, Botswana. Since September 2015 she has held a DFG-funded project grant on ‘Social and Religious Activism: Health and Family in Law and Politics’.

Thomas G. Kirsch is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Konstanz. He has published two books on African Christianity in Zambia and articles in some of the major refereed anthropology journals. Since 2003, he has conducted fieldwork on issues of security, crime prevention and volunteering in South Africa.

Prof. Rijk van Dijk is a senior researcher at the African Studies Centre Leiden. He co-edited The Quest for Fruition through Ngoma (2000) and The Social Life of Connectivity in Africa (2012). His current research is on Pentecostalism, consumerism and marriage in Botswana.

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