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  4. Critical Swahili Studies: A Collective Exercise in ‘Concepting’ Uswahili

Kresse, Kai; Abdalla, Abdilatif; Brunotti, Irene; Topan, Farouk

Critical Swahili Studies: A Collective Exercise in ‘Concepting’ Uswahili

Universität Leipzig, 2023
Reihe: Special issue: Critical Swahili Studies 30

Swahili-Forum, 30

S. 24-66


This contribution, enriched by Kai Kresse’s dibaji, is a collective Exercise – a mazungumzo – in ‘Concepting’ Uswahili that, rather than pointing to answers, conclusions or definitions, opens up to further debates on Swahili Studies. ‘Critical Swahili Studies’ cannot simply be the study of Swahili language and literature (only); nor the study of Swahili culture and society (only). It is to be qualified by a critical way of engagement, and a concern for the study of ‘human social life’, exploring different levels of meaningfulness for people on the Swahili coast, and within the wider Swahili context, with a view to the parameters of its validity. It includes perspectives on ‘thinking society’ and ‘understanding life’ from within, how it is lived, grounded upon, and seen and expressed through the lens of Swahili language-and-beyond-language. Critical Swahili Studies, then, will be about sensitive and engaged research on issues that are at the heart of society in Swahili contexts and with a focus on human experience, through the lens of a Swahili conceptual framework.