Research Project: Zeruzeru and Diverse Shades of Difference. A Study of People with Albinism in Tanzania
Albinism is a congenital disorder present within all ethnic groups that has attracted lots of attention in Tanzania, since around 2010, when media debates and world-wide newspapers have brought to world prominence the outbreak of alleged albino killings in the country’s north-west mining frontier. Even though there was such an outcry regarding this phenomenon in Tanzania, little attention has been paid to life experiences of people with albinism, local explanations for the congenital disorder and the ways awareness of what albinism is, within the local population, has been modified by international and national media actions and debates.
My ethnographic research intends to examine the life situations and everyday experiences of people with albinism in Tanzania. The main goal of my study will be pursued through an investigation which will deal with the social, political and moral discourses and ideas about albinism, as they are articulated by diverse subjects between local and global settings. The main objectives of the present research will be: (1) to discover the social position of people with albinism within their families and communities; (2) to understand which moral terms members of the communities use in order to conceptualize and explain the social status of people with albinism; (3) to examine what it means to be living as an individual with albinism as an everyday experience and the ways through which people with albinism construct their ‘self’ as a reaction to their condition; (4) to understand in which way traditional discourses concerning the inheritance of albinism have been becoming interconnected to (bio-)medical explanations for the disease and, furthermore, which gender discourses are active within these explanations; (5) to analyze in which ways the Tanzanian government and international campaigns on behalf of people with albinism influence local perception of albinism e.g. through media and policies debates.
Funding: Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD)
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger