Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces

Processes of Diasporisation among Comorians in Marseilles and Cape Verdeans in Lisbon


  • Ass.-Prof. Mag.a Dr.in Birgit Englert: Popular Culture and Diasporisation: Focus on Marseilles (Department of African Studies)
  • Mag.a Katharina Fritsch, BA: Diasporisation of Space through Popular Culture Practices: Focus on Marseilles (Department of Political Science)
  • Mag.a Hanna Stepanik: Popular Culture and Diasporisation: Focus on Lisbon (Department of Development Studies)
  • Andres Felipe Carvajal Gomez, BA: Audiovisual Documentation of the Project


Fields of Research

The project asks how various popular cultural practices, especially within the fields of music and new media, negotiate processes of translocalisation and diasporisation in the context of postcolonial power relations. Two port cities in the global North which became important locations for (post)colonial migration from insular states in the global South, are in the focus of our research: Marseilles (France) for the archipelago of the Comoros in the Indian Ocean, Lisbon (Portugal) for Cape Verde in the Atlantic.

The project addresses different discourses and practices of mobility. On the one hand, it deals with postcolonial genealogies of migration from the global South to the global North and the repression of migration regimes of the latter. On the other hand, ‘diaspora’ also manifests itself in form of visits and/or the realization of projects in the ‘home country’. Moreover, the projects deals with translocal mobility of popular cultural practices who also ‘mobilise’ certain norms and discourses on ‘diaspora’, postcolonialism and postcolonial subjectivations. Certain popular cultural practices are besides discursive and performative mobility also connected to material mobility in the sense of transfer of capital taking place. Further, also the research project itself in which researchers become ‘mobile’ in order to investigate into questions of migration and ‘diaspora’, needs to be situated in the context of postcolonial power relations and unequal mobility.

We are an interdisciplinary research team which comprises the disciplines African Studies, Development Studies, Political Science and Visual Anthropology. This cooperation is also reflected in the methodological approaches. Within a framework of qualitative methods, audio-visual means take up an important role - not only in the process of generating empirical material but also as part of the dissemination for our research results.

Positioning of the Research within Mobility Discourse

With reference to critical perspectives coming from Postcolonial Studies, Diaspora Studies and intersectional approaches, we analyse discourses and practices of mobility with respect to postcolonial and intersectional power relations. Our analysis hence focuses on such power relations and practices which constitute ‘diasporised realities’ in the sense of Avtar Brah’s ‘diaspora spaces’ (1996: 209); concrete fields of research are places and practices where these constitutions takes place.

  • (Unequal) Movement of Subjects: postcolonial migration, mobility of researchers
  • Mobile Spaces: Diasporisation, translocalisation
  • Mobile Media: popular cultural practices - music, virtual Spaces
  • Mobile research: audiovisual media, intersectional methodology