In this thesis, I explore imaginations of state and statehood in Kankan, Guinea’s second-largest city in terms of population size. The imagination of the state and actual statehood practices constantly influence each other; both are an outcome of the interactions between state and non-state actors. The aim to gain a better understanding of how these imaginations influence everyday practices and how they shape the relationship between Kankan’s inhabitants and the local authorities, namely the local government and so-called ‘traditional’ authorities. Actors in Kankan have for example, depending on the circumstances they face, various imaginaries of how the Guinean state and their society should look like. Furthermore, I document and analyse practices that local actors adapt to deal with the continuous economic, political and social insecurities that emerge in times of political transformations which offer a privileged access to institutional framing.

One focal point of this book are women. The aim is to provide insight into how female social actors articulate themselves politically within and outside the institutional political sphere. I am not primarily interested in how women’s associations and its members make claims. Therefore, I do not look at forms of popular resistance and struggles or at how collective actions unfold. I am rather interested in modes of silent politics; in what happens before ordinary women’s claim making becomes visible for a larger audience or before they unite in institutionalised associations. That is, I investigate moments when social problems become recognized as such and thus turn political. I call women’s forms of political articulations ‘silent politics’ because they are hardly perceptible, not easy to grasp and because women typically do not perceive their agency as political. They mostly emerge in everyday life; thus, I focus on different forms of everyday politics.

Project Period



Prof. Dr. Till Förster (University of Basel) and Prof. Dr. Dorothea Schulz (University of Cologne)


Marie Heim-Vögtlin Grant, Swiss National Science Foundation (2016-2017)

Research Fund Junior Researchers, University of Basel (2014-2015)

Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) (2011-2012)

Fieldwork grant: Freiwillige Akademische Gesellschaft’ & Josef and Olga Tomcsik-Foundation (2012-2013)