Challenges of the future - care for the afterlife in Africa and its diaspora
Sabine Klocke-Daffa, Universität Tübingen, Asien-Orient-Institut, Abt. Ethnologie
Sophia Thubauville, Frobenius-Institut, Universität Frankfurt
In many African countries and diaspora communities funerals are figuring among the most elaborate and costly social events. This panel wants to discuss the creative way Africans on the continent and in the diaspora deal with the challenges they face due to the high cost of caring for the afterlife.
Among the many challenges African societies are facing, social security is one of the most pressing issues to be addressed. Since most African states have few social benefits to offer, individuals must make own provisions for times of crisis. Rather than relying exclusively on informal ways of support, new possibilities have been sought which allow for maintaining familial obligations and social norms without threatening individual economic achievement. However, some forms of social security have been so successful that they have been adopted in diaspora communities in host countries with very
sophisticated social security systems. Caring for the future entails the care for the life of the living as well as for the afterlife of the dead. Funerals are figuring among the most elaborate and costly social events of a family or community consuming large amounts of financial and material resources. Some diaspora communities are also faced with the high costs of repatriation of bodies of the deceased. In order to cover the expenses, new forms of safeguarding have been accessed or creatively been developed. Among them are rotating credit associations, funeral and life insurances, and the negotiation of "death benefits" as
part of work contracts. Getting engaged in one of the "caring units" are locals as well as external family members and international diaspora communities.
This panel wants to discuss the creative way Africans on the continent and in the diaspora deal with the challenges they face due to the high cost of caring for the afterlife. We invite papers that focus either on forms of social security, on funerals, and /or care for the afterlife.