Twin talks

Our twin talks series brings together two AfriStadi researchers from different disciplines in African Studies to connect their research to an overarching theme.
Twin talk V: Gender, Performance and Citizenship in Uganda

16 April 2024, 16:00-18:00

Topelia C120

Speakers: Dr. Linda Cimardi (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) and Dr. Karembe Ahimbsibwe (University of Jyväskylä).

Zoom link for remote attendance



A focus on gender and power relations in Uganda binds together the scholars dialoguing in this seminar, discussing issues of music and dance performance and citizenship in relation to patriarchy, women’s empowerment, associationism, and agency.

Today, various types of associations (cultural heritage ones, women’s groups, NGOs) support and host ensembles performing runyege – the traditional music and dance genre of Banyoro and Batooro people from Western Uganda – with purposes of cultural representation in the multicultural nation, entertainment, competition, and as a raise-funding activity. The exploration of the multiple forms of performance, embodiment, and negotiation within runyege shows that it can be the space to both reaffirm and challenge traditional gender roles, while at the same time it hosts opportunities for negotiating those roles if not challenging them.

Similarly, gender shapes the lived forms of citizenship in Uganda, where women’s citizenship in particular appears as torn between their legal status granted by law and their personal experiences and conceptions of being a citizen, which are affected by the long-lasting patriarchy, poverty and prevailing political environment. Associations are the main venue for different forms of citizenship to develop, shape, and spread in rural areas of the country. Women participate, for example, in village savings and lending associations which are important platforms where financial awareness, economic citizenship, and personal confidence are built. Moreover, in the performance of community roles and functions, vocabulary for citizenship provides a dynamic but contestable understanding of the kinds of rights, privileges, and responsibilities women can enjoy and perform at the locale.



Linda Cimardi is an ethnomusicologist currently leading the DFG-funded project “Black Musics in the Region of (Former) Yugoslavia” at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Her book Performing Arts and Gender in Postcolonial Western Uganda was published in 2023 by the University of Rochester Press. She has been A. von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin and Guest Researcher at KUG in Graz. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Bologna. Her research interests are Eastern African musics and dances, Black musics in the Yugoslav region, gender, and world music ethics and aesthetics..

Karembe Ahimbisibwe is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. He completed his Ph.D. in Development Studies at the University of Jyväskylä in 2022 with the doctoral thesis “‘Poor citizens cannot advocate’: Learning Citizenship in Constrained Settings in Uganda”. He is also a lecturer at Makerere University, Uganda where he teaches political economy, citizenship studies, participatory learning, and philosophy. He researches citizenship studies, participatory livelihoods, NGOs, and grassroots learning.

Twin talk IV: Women, Church and Belonging

7.11 4-6 pm

Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (Fabianinkatu 24 A), Common room (3rd floor)

Zoom link for remote attendance

Speakers: Nina Öhman (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki) and Clementine Nishimwe (University of Johannesburg, Africa Early Career Researcher Mobility Programme, University of Helsinki).


Belonging as Empowerment for Researchers and Interlocutors: A Comparative Exploration of Women's Experiences within Religious Spaces in South Africa and the United States

Fieldwork in humanities and social sciences is rapidly changing. Recently, urgent calls for methodological renewal point to a need to critically examine such issues as representation, reciprocity, ethics, and power asymmetries between researchers and communities of study. This Twin Talk brings two scholars into a cross-cultural conversation about their experiences in studying women’s religious cultures in South Africa and the United States. The speakers share frank perspectives on their scholarly choices and discoveries. At the core of the talk, they explore the concept of belonging and its potential as an empowering instrument for researchers and interlocutors. They emphasize how the sense of belonging can significantly influence the encounters of both researchers and interlocutors within the realm of religious spaces. Belonging emerges as a valuable tool, with the potential for guiding approaches to community engagement in research and fostering genuine relationships with our interlocutors.

Nina Öhman is currently a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki. She is a musicologist/ethnomusicologist studying women’s roles in music cultures, the singing voice, and American popular music. While situated broadly in musicology her work incorporates varied branches of knowledge including, inter alia, economic ethnomusicology, gender studies, postcolonial studies, religious studies, anthropology, and sociology. In parallel, she is interested in academically-based community engagement and collaborative research methods. Recently she has worked as a University Lecturer in Musicology at the Department of Philosophy, History and Arts, University of Helsinki. She completed her doctoral degree at the University of Pennsylvania. She also has a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently the president of the board of the Finnish American Studies Association (FASA) and the vice-chair of the board of the Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology (SES).

Dr. Clementine Nishimwe is a lecturer in the Department of Religion Studies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ). Her academic specialization centers on Christian studies, with a research focus that spans migration, gender dynamics, the Anglican church, and Pentecostal churches. Driven by her commitment to amplifying the voices and perspectives of African migrants, particularly women, in theological conversations, her research framework is deeply rooted in African women's theologies. Furthermore, she maintains an interest in subjects related to conflict resolution and interreligious dialogue. Her research methodology comprises empirical approaches, with an emphasis on ethnographic theologies.

Twin talk III: Re/presenting conflict

9.11.2022, 4-6 pm

Room 210 (second floor), Swedish School of Social Sciences (Snellmaninkatu / Snellmansgatan 12)

Speakers: Liselott Lindström (Journalist, former YLE and SVT correspondent to Africa) and Matti Pohjonen (Helsinki Institute of Social Sciences (HSSH))

Journalism and academic research have historically developed different ways to communicate complex events in the world to audiences. Similarly, both Western journalists and researchers have strived to represent Africa as “truthfully” as possible, sometimes failing in the process. Through a friendly dialogue between a journalist and an academic researcher working on Africa, the third Twin Talk negotiates complex questions related to the practices, methods and politics of representation. It discusses, in particular, how the Ethiopian conflict/war that began in 2020 has been covered in journalistic and research accounts and what some of the challenges of doing such work are.

Liselott Lindström is a freelance journalist and former Africa correspondent for the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle and Swedish TV SVT. She has a master's in conflict reporting and during her four years covering Africa she followed developments in Ethiopia closely and reported from the war in Tigray.

Matti Pohjonen is a University Researcher at the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH), University of Helsinki. For the past 10 years his research has focused on digital politics in Africa, including current work on the use of social media during the war in Tigray.  

This event is co-organized by AfriStadi, the FA-project WIRE, the HSSH and the GGRIN network at the Swedish School of Social Science.

Twin talk II :  Language and education 

04.05.2022, 4-6 pm 

Hybrid event @ Minerva Plaza K232, Siltavuorenpenger 5A and Zoom  

Speakers: Ibrahima Cissé (Institut de Pédagogie Universitaire, Bamako) and Josephine Moate (University of Jyväskylä)

Focus: Multilingualism and language awareness 

Ibrahima Abdoul Hayou Cissé will speak about multilingualism in Mali from various perspectives. Around 60 languages are spoken in the country. However, these languages are not equal in terms of not only political status and geographical distribution of speakers but also in terms of attitudes and domains of usage. The talk is a journey into the heart of linguistic diversity in Mali through a description of individual (child and adult) and social multilingualism thus revealing mismatch between linguistic and ethnic identities, and geographical mobility and inter-ethnolinguistic marriages as main factors shaping multilingualism. It will, in particular, address issues such as language attitudes vis-à-vis French (official language but spoken by only about 17% of Malians and learnt almost exclusively at school), Bambara (the most widely spoken language in the country but perceived as a “colonial” in some regions in the country) and Minianka (an ethnic group reported to have negative attitudes towards its own mother tongue). Patterns of oral language usage (characterized by translanguaging), domains of usage (formal and non-formal settings) and the coexistence of various writing systems also will be covered to present a holistic picture of multilingualism in Mali.    

Josephine Moate will focus on the introduction of a language awareness pathway as a cross-curricular theme recently introduced into class teacher education at the University of Jyväskylä. This pathway is a response to the increasing diversity that is part of Finnish society and education in Finland and has been developed as part of an Erasmus+ project – Linguistically Sensitive Teaching in all Classrooms (Listiac). The LA pathway has been the focus of the JYU partner and begins in the first year of teacher education and continues until the final teaching practice. The LA pathway comprises eight steps explicitly integrated into existing courses and activities. Josephine’s talk will explain why and how the pathway has been developed within the Finnish context, as well as the benefits and challenges of developing the pathway. 

The event is co- organized by AfriStadi and the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL)   

To receive the zoom link / to have coffee in the event, kindly register through here by 29 April

Twin talk I : LAND

23.3.2022, 4-6 pm 

Faculty room of the Faculty of Theology, Fabianinkatu 24, room 524

Instructions to enter: Enter the building from a courtyard between Vuorikatu 3 and Fabianinkatu 24, from Café Portaali, take an elevator to the 5th floor.

Speakers: Friederike Lüpke (Department of Languages, Faculty of Arts) and Gutu Wayessa (Global Development Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences) 

How are relationships to land conceptualised ? How are land rights related to environmental and linguistic justice ? Our twin talk combines linguistic and environmental justice perspectives on land, land rights, migration and displacement.  

Friederike Lüpke will focus on language territorialisation in West African language ecologies. While individual land ownership and land grab are on the rise, land rights are hold collectively by descendants of founders or landlords, who also act as stewards and hosts of strangers. Through a deictic process, the founders’ language becomes associated with spaces. Inhabitants either identify as founders or maintain connections to places where they are perceived to be the founders. The talk introduces how heterogenous and mobile inhabitants index connections to multiple places through their language use, explores how language is related to land stewardship and environmental protection in ritual practice, and investigates how individual landownership and land deals impact on the relationship between language and land.  

Gutu Wayessa will present on the topic of social-environmental (in)justices of land deals in Ethiopia: Premises, promises, and realities. Land deals are often justified in terms of the premises of growth rationale and the promises of livelihood improvement. Gutu’s research conceives livelihood and environmental-justice implications of a land deal as a cumulative outcome of changes in local land rights, extra-local opportunities that may accompany the investments, and the processes leading to the outcomes. It employs social-environmental justice as a theoretical lens, constituted of recognition and representation (processes) and (re)distribution (outcomes). The study critically examines the promises pledged by the government and investment companies in relation to the realities lived by the local people, while providing evidence of exclusion and adverse incorporation by illuminating specific processes and outcomes of the land deal cases.