The Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) recently held its 2023 Public Lecture Series, which explored the topic “Cultural Intermediation and the Mediation of Culture: The Issue of Cultural Hegemonies in Social Gatherings.’’ The lecture featured Dr. Laure Carbonnel, a Senior Fellow at MIASA, as the keynote speaker.
Dr. Susann Baller, the German Director of the Institute, spoke about the importance of the lecture and the choice of speaker for the day. She highlighted that the lecture provided a platform for fellows to share their research briefs and engage in discussions with guests.
Dr. Carbonnel’s expertise in the creative economy made her an ideal speaker for the event, and the lecture aimed to inspire new ideas and perspectives among the fellows and the wider community.
Dr. Carbonnel discussed the connections between different people, groups, social worlds, and experiences in cultural centres, art schools, musical platforms, and dance gatherings.
She explored how certain social imagery, habits, and world views can impose themselves in the public space through private experiences and how this can lead to cultural hegemonies.
Dr. Carbonnel’s lecture also put into perspective different situations where cultural and artistic practices are presented as mediation. She discussed the universal versus local model in light of cultural hegemonies. She based her hypothesis for the research on the various ways nation-building through culture in the global context is influenced by a model of cultural intermediation.
This model connects people and nations but also conveys a dualistic scheme of the universal and the particular, or the global and the local, resulting in the two parties being kept apart in an asymmetrical position.
Dr. Carbonnel mentioned that the creative industry perceives culture as a chain of value where collaboration among participants is crucial.
She discussed the revenue from the collaboration between the artistic and creative specialists in a commodity-based chain of value, where each participant is responsible for generating revenue to pay another cultural entrepreneur.
The lecture also highlighted the rise of cultural entrepreneurs and their impact on the industry. Afrobeat musicians have succeeded in affirming an African identity within the realm of commercial pop music with the support of initiatives such as the Year of Return launched by the Ghanaian government in 2019.
However, Dr. Carbonnel also pointed out that programmes like AfroCuration still reaffirm a local-global dichotomy, despite their efforts to train young Africans to become knowledge creators.
Dr. Carbonnel advocated for a more inclusive scientific model that could take into account different cultural and economic dynamics and to look for universals in the anthropological sense of shared structures.
She hinted that the next step of her research in the country would focus more broadly on the circulation and anchorage of people, sounds, and movements, exploring how people connect, create shared spaces, and get money.
The MIASA Public Lecture Series provides a platform for fellows in residence at MIASA to share their research and insights with the public.
The lecture by Dr. Carbonnel was a great success, with attendees leaving with a deeper understanding of cultural intermediation and its impact on the daily lives of Ghanaians.