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Doctoral dissertation project of Janine Traber

Ruin of the reception desk of a closed down German all-inclusive hotel at the Senegalese coast (Traber 2021)

Working title: The material culture of Senegalese migration and European tourism: evidence of encounter

In this research project I will document the influence of tourism on migration from Senegal to Europe by using methods of Contemporary Archaeology and approaches of Postcolonial Theory. I will examine the architecture, souvenirs and tourist-related services in these sites of encounter as well as objects that are meaningful for individuals during the process of migration. This way, I want to explore the influence of everyday objects on the enterprise of being-en-route, as well as to look at connected linguistic practices and emotions. The main research question is to what extent such postcolonial encounters can be traced in the tangible or are even made possible by it. Thus, I look at various material stemming from encounter spaces that are located along the migration routes as well as their remains and ruins. This may include sunglasses that are sold along the beach and that are used as a strategy to open a conversation and teach a lesson on hospitality from a migrant to a tourist; a leftover shower gel from a tourist that is kept on a shelf in a Senegalese household and is never touched because it resembles a motivation to prepare another voyage; or the paper of a German high school degree in a tour guide’s pocket that cannot be used because it carries the name of another identity. My project aims at developing an innovative methodology and contributing to recent interdisciplinary theoretical debates. Meanwhile, it will engage with essential phenomena of capitalism and modernity in regard to their material culture.


Short biography

During my studies in Egyptian and prehistoric archaeology as well as African studies at the University of Cologne, I became interested in joining these disciplines methodologically in my research. Since working as a student assistant in a project on tourism, migration and language in Mallorca, the inventiveness of people in contemporary encounter spaces in regard to its material matter became fascinating to me. In April 2021 I have started my PhD project under the supervision of Prof. Anne Storch, Prof. Nick Shepherd and PD Angelika Mietzner and as a member and scholarship holder of the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School’s Integrated Track (class 7).