Raphaela von Weichs
Raphaela von Weichs is a social and cultural anthropologist and senior researcher in the ERC project “ARTIVISM – Art and Activism: Creativity and Performance as subversive forms of political expression” (Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Monika Salzbrunn, 2016-2022), hosted by the University of Lausanne, ‘Institut de sciences sociales des religions’ (ISSR), Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. Within ARTIVISM, she has conducted research on cartoons, comics, and graphic novels as well as mural art in Africa and Europe, with a special interest in the transnational links between Cameroon and France. Her research takes an event- and actor-oriented approach through the participation in festivals of fanzines, comic art, workshops, street art and other kinds of festive art and activism. She is particularly interested in methodologies that go beyond text-centered forms of ethnography and in experimenting with audio-visual means of production and restitution. She has co-authored three films in the ERC ARTIVISM project and uses drawing and comics as a means of restitution.
She holds a PhD in African Studies from the University of Cologne and has been trained in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Free University of Berlin, and the University of Freiburg.
Her main fields of research and teachings are in Political Anthropology, the Anthropology of Religion, Migration, Music and Pilgrimage, and more recently in the Anthropology of Art, Graphic Anthropology and Sensory Anthropology. She taught social and cultural anthropology at the Universities of Cologne, Bochum, Münster and the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf, at the Universities of Neuchâtel and Lausanne.
Former research projects
“The Transnationalisation of Religion through Music. African Pilgrimages and Choirs in Switzerland” examined the links between music and religion in the context of transnational migration (2011 – 2016). The research focused on religious music (choirs), travelling cosmologies and new forms of evangelization (reverse mission) in and between Africa and Europe. The postdoc project was conducted at the ‘Maison d’analyse de processus sociaux’ (MAPS), University of Neuchâtel, laboratoire d’etudes transnationales et des processus sociaux, and was funded by CRUS (Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities), the Universities of Lausanne and Neuchâtel.
“The Return of Kingship to Uganda. Political Culture and Modernity in Africa”. In her doctoral thesis, Raphaela von Weichs explored the revival of kingship in Uganda in the early 1990s. At the core of her study is the Kingdom of Bunyoro-Kitara in the Great Lakes area in East/Central Africa. This kingdom had been abolished in the 1960s in the process of modern nation-building and reinstalled together with neighboring kingdoms in the early 1990s. The study shows that the revival of kingship is a highly controversial but also regenerative process in the construction of modernity in East-Central Africa.
The revival and reinvention of kingship in its guise as a cultural institution depends on the postcolonial state and simultaneously challenges its hegemony. In the logic of decolonizing power, the revival of kingship also challenges the hegemony of Islam and Christianity through the revalorization of local spiritual belief systems and ritual practices. As a system of ruling, the institution is caught in the contradictions between the healing and reconstruction of a society marked by the long-term consequences of imperialism, war, and destruction, and the modern logics of power sharing, of new religions and hegemonies, that repudiate the legitimacy of kingship.
Fields of interest
Anthropology of art and activism, anthropology of religions, political anthropology, graphic and audio-visual anthropology, innovative methods (filming, drawing, comics, sound and music as methods and objects of research), creative industries, resistance and protest; new religious and social movements, pilgrimage, transnationalism; post-war reconstruction, political cultures, systems of kingship and heritage, neo-traditions and constructions of modernities,
Regions: East and West Africa, Europe