17th Karlsruhe Dialogues – Speakers

The ‘In-Between Society’: Tradition and Modernism in Conflict

Prof. Dr. Elísio Macamo



Prof. Dr. Elísio Macamo, born in Mozambique, is professor of African studies and spokesman of the center of African studies at the University of Basel, where he also teaches sociology. He studied in England and Germany and completed both his doctorate and his habilitation in general sociology and development sociology at the University of Bayreuth.

He is one of the associate editors of the AEGIS book series African Studies and the African Sociological Review. He was an AGORA fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. Macamo is interested in risk, political development, religion, and methodological issues.


Preservation in the face of change: From your point of view, what does this mean in the light of the processes of globalisation and glocalisation?

I see processes of globalisation and glocalisation – whatever that may mean – sceptically, as they have always been neglectful of Africa. If ‘preservation in the face of change’ is supposed to mean that these processes will continue on familiar paths, I see a dark future ahead of us.

In the face of increasing disorientation, what is it that holds a society together in the age of globalisation, and what drives it apart?

Holding together and drifting apart are constitutive aspects of every society in my opinion. In this respect, globalisation does not represent a special challenge. Everything is determined by whether the individuals that make up the society are capable of dealing with their society critically. Luckily, as far as I know, no society has ever disappeared because of a lack of orientation.

Our society stands between traditional values and local everyday routines on the one hand, and between rapidly changing attitudes and behaviours on the other hand. What is the role of women concerning these processes of change in the realm of civil society?

They play the same role that is played by the losers of the globalisation in the world. Through their ability and their courage in reminding society of its promises, they ensure that the hope which has been left in Pandora’s Box influences our actions. Their voice and their self-assurance are characteristics of the rapidly changing attitudes and behaviour.