Erdmute Alber


Erdmute Alber is professor of social anthropology at the University of Bayreuth. Her research focusses on processes of social change and the interdependencies and mutual entanglements of politics and kinship, primarily in West Africa. Her work is based on historically informed field research and empirical fieldwork. Current topics are women in politics, new illiteracies education, and aspirations of youth. Alber has long done research on the politics and practices of child fosterage in West Africa as well as on power and chieftaincy, education, inter-generational relations, and middle classes. At MIASA, I am part of the IFG8. Within the broader interest of the fellow group in women´s representation in politics, I work with a focus on women´s biographies and life courses in the republic of Benin. First observations showed that politics, as an activity and engagement, is often realized in a specific phase of the life course and gets its individual sense through the embeddedness in the individual biography. In order to contribute to a better understanding of the weak presence of women in political institutions such as the parliament, as well as in other places of political engagement, I research how women understand and see political engagement in Benin, and how that changed over time. Theoretically, my research contributes to research on the life course and the entanglements of politics with kinship.

Recent publications:

The Politics of Making Kinship. Historical and Anthropological Perspectives. New Yorck, Oxford: Berghahn Books (with David Warren Sabean, Simon Teuscher und Tatjana Thelen)

Kinship and politics. A reader. New Yorck: Routledge, 2022 (with Tatjana Thelen)

Transfers of Belonging. Child fostering in West Africa in the 20th Century. Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2018

Age-Inscriptions and Social Change. Anthropology & Aging 39/1, 2018. University of Pittsburgh Press. (with Cati Coe);

Reconnecting State and Kinship. University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia, 2017 (with Tatjana Thelen)

Anthropological Perspectives on Care. Work, Kinship and the Life Course. Palgrave MacMillan: New York, 2015 (with Heike Drotbohm)

Senior Fellow IFG 8, March - June 2023
University of Bayreuth