Common Roots, Shared Traits, Joint Prospects? Cultures of Innovation of the African Poor - on the Articulation of Multiple Modernities in African Societies and Black Diasporas in Latin America

Posted: 13 Jul 2006

See all articles by Dirk Kohnert

Dirk Kohnert

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs

Date Written: June 30, 2006

Abstract

The globalized western culture of innovation, as propagated by major aid institutions, does not necessarily lead to empowerment or improvement of the well-being of the stakeholders. On the contrary, it often blocks viable indigenous innovation cultures. In African societies and African Diasporas of Latin America, cultures of innovation largely accrue from the informal, not the formal sector. However, cultures of innovation of the formal and informal sector differ fundamentally both concerning their structure and political valuation. Moreover, they rely on common roots in transnational social spaces rather than on national cultures. The expansion of the informal sector, caused by globalisation, requires new venues for the poor to guarantee their survival through innovative actions. This implies unsettled questions of multiple modernities, local life worlds and the related innovative agencies of strategic groups at the grass-roots level. Crucial for the proper understanding of these agencies is a threefold structural differentiation and articulation of cultures of innovation, according to social class, ethnicity, and gender. Informal innovation cultures are not per se better alternatives. They may be complementary, mutually reinforcing, or conflicting, thus leading in extreme cases even to a 'clash of cultures' at the local level. The repercussions of competing, even antagonistic agencies of innovative strategic groups are demonstrated in light of the fate of the African poor in Benin and the African Diasporas of Brazil and Haiti.

Keywords: Innovation, culture, informal sector, cultural change, social structure, Benin, Brazil, Haiti, African Diaspora

JEL Classification: O31, Z1, E26, Z12, Z13, O57

Suggested Citation

Kohnert, Dirk, Common Roots, Shared Traits, Joint Prospects? Cultures of Innovation of the African Poor - on the Articulation of Multiple Modernities in African Societies and Black Diasporas in Latin America (June 30, 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=913722

Dirk Kohnert (Contact Author)

GIGA - Hamburg, Institute of African Affairs ( email )

German Inst. of Global and Area Studies (GIGA)
Neuer Jungfernstieg 21
D-20354 Hamburg
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://dirk2011.jimdo.com/

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