Dr. Laure Carbonnel Speaks on Cultural Intermediation at MIASA Public Lecture

(L) Dr. Laure Carbonnel during her presentation

The Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) has held its 2023 Public Lecture Series on the topic “Cultural Intermediation and the Mediation of Culture: The Issue of Cultural Hegemonies in Social Gatherings.’’ 

The public lecture featured Senior Fellow at MIASA Dr. Laure Carbonnel as the keynote speaker.  

In a remark to kickstart the lecture, the German Director of the Institute, Dr. Susann Baller, highlighted the importance of the lecture and the choice of speaker for the day.  

"In selecting Dr. Carbonnel as our speaker for today's MIASA Public Lecture, we aimed to provide a platform for our fellows to share their research briefs and engage in fruitful discussions with our esteemed guests. The creative economy is a fascinating and rapidly evolving field, and we are honored to have Dr. Carbonnel here to share her expertise with us. We hope this lecture will inspire new ideas and perspectives among our fellows and the wider community" she remarked.  

Dr. Carbonnel, a Senior Fellow in residence at MIASA, explored the connections between different people, groups, social worlds, and experiences in cultural centres, art schools, musical platforms, and dance gatherings.  

She discussed how certain social imagery, habits, and world views can impose themselves in the public space through private experiences and how this can lead to cultural hegemonies.  

Her lecture also put into perspective different situations where cultural and artistic practices are presented as mediation. She also discussed the universal versus local model in light of cultural hegemonies.  

According to Dr. Carbonnel, she based her hypothesis for the research on “the various ways nation-building through culture in the global context are all influenced by a model of cultural intermediation. This model connects people and nations but also conveys a dualistic schema of the universal and the particular, or the global and the local, resulting in the two parties being kept apart in an asymmetrical position.” 

Commenting on the economic understanding of cultural intermediaries, Dr. Carbonnel mentioned that the creative industry perceives culture as a chain of value where collaboration among participants is crucial. 

In her view, “the cooperation between different artistic and creative specialists is common and necessary. For example, a videographer may create a video clip for a musician who, in turn, may provide music tracks for the videographer’s project.”  

She observed that the revenue from the collaboration between the artistic and creative specialists in a commodity-based chain of value, is such that each participant is responsible for generating revenue to pay another cultural entrepreneur.  

Dwelling on the creative economy, Dr. Carbonnel discussed the rise of cultural entrepreneurs and their impact on the industry. She noted that, “Afrobeat musicians, in particular, have succeeded in affirming an African identity within the realm of commercial pop music with the support of initiatives such as the Year of Return launched by the Ghanaian government in 2019”.  

However, she also pointed out that “programmes like AfroCuration still reaffirm a local-global dichotomy, despite their efforts to train young Africans to become knowledge creators”. 

Dr. Carbonnel believes that the creative economy should be nuanced, by taking into account more popular ways of learning from culture and other ways of connecting people.  

She advocated for a more inclusive scientific model that could take into account different cultural and economic dynamics and to look for universals in the anthropological sense of shared structures.  

She hinted that the next step of her research in the country would focus more broadly on the circulation and anchorage of people, sounds, and movements, exploring how people connect, create shared spaces, and get money.

The MIASA Public Lecture Series provides a platform for fellows in residence at MIASA to share their research and insights with the public. The lecture by Dr. Carbonnel was a great success, with attendees leaving with a deeper understanding of cultural intermediation and its impact on the daily lives of Ghanaians.