Amal A. Abdrabo – Joining the Center for African Studies
Joining the Center for African Studies at Basel University in Switzerland as a visiting scholar on a six-month Oumou Dilly postdoc fellowship (2017-2018) was a great opportunity to expand my academic and personal perspectives. Academically, attending professor Till Förster’s RG weekly seminars (Research Group Political Transformations and Visual Culture) helped a lot in articulating some of the theoretical aspects of my research. Thank you very much, Professor Till Förster, for allowing me to be part of the deep rich discussions within this research group.
The gratitude is also extended to Professor Maurus Reinkowski who enabled me to give a workshop under the theme: „Urban Transformations and Cultural Practices Letters to the Governor; Death, Mobility, and Claims of the City“ at the Seminar for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Basel. Many thanks to Professor Elisio Macamo, Dr. Noemi Steuer, Dr. Lucy Koechlin, Dr. Veit Arlt, and Dr. Pascal Schmid for giving me the opportunity, academically and logistically, to be part of the academic body of the Center for African Studies in Basel University for 6 months.Being part of CASB (Centre for African Studies Basel) opened a gateway for other prestigious academic opportunities for me as I’ve been selected as a member of the research project „Liminal spaces as sites of socio-cultural transformation and knowledge production in the Arab World“ with Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin and funded by Volkswagen Foundation.
This academic research opportunity wouldn’t be possible without having in my resume that I’m currently part of the CASB as a prestigious academic center for African Studies in Europe. So, I would like to thank all of you so much for giving me the opportunity to come to Basel and be part of the Center for 6 months. The experience is adding to me academically, personally, culturally, and in many other ways, I never imagined. I will be always indebted to all of you and your sincere efforts crafting my in-beginning academic career and for having faith in me that I could be something good in academia despite being freshly graduated as a PhD lecturer.
On the personal level, before coming to Basel, I was hoping to have my own place to live in to enjoy the privilege of having my own space in life; however, I found that sharing „home“ with many friends means experiencing life in all its beautiful aspects. To share your meals with friends coming from all over the world, sharing jokes and sometimes concerns, all meant a lot to me. So, for all those beautiful souls with whom I lived for six months in Basel, thank you for all the movie nights, popcorn, pizzas, hiking, and travels. Another personal reflection is about seeing the beautiful city of Basel through the eyes of an Egyptian African anthropologist and observing its dynamics and its people’s movements. For example, Herbstmesse means to me: how to bring a city together! Swiss people are a nation of three languages, French, German, and Italian. Talking about nations, scholars tend to insist on the idea of one modifying language that will give the people, and the nation, their unified identity. So how to do that in a nation that recognizes the languages as official languages!
Through many ways that one of which is the brilliant festive Herbstmesse, Autumn Fair, that changes the face of the city of Basel in a way that allows the Basler citizens to explore, occupy, utilize every inch of their beautiful city in many activities that bring the family, children, old-timers, friends, and acquaintance together and help strengthen their bond with their city.