Prof. Dr. Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota

Curriculum VitaeProf. Dr. Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg

Pamela Feldman-Savelsberg erwarb ihren Bachelor of Arts in Sozialanthropologie an der Indiana University, Bloomington, bevor sie von 1980-1981 als Freiwillige im U.S. Entwicklungsdienst (Peace Corps) nach Kamerun ging. Sie kehrte dorthin in den Folgejahren mehrmals zur Feldforschung zurück, die durch zahlreiche Forschungsstipendien (u.a. Fulbright, Sigma Xi, Wenner-Gren Foundation, und die National Science Foundation) unterstützt wurde. An der Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore absolvierte sie 1985 ihren Master of Arts und 1990 den PhD am Department of Anthropology. Nach verschiedenen akademischen Anstellungen an der Universität Hannover, der University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, sowie der Hamline University, führt sie ihre Laufbahn seit 1993 am Carleton College fort, wo sie Inhaberin einer Stiftungsprofessur (Broom Professor of Social Demography and Anthropology) im Department of Sociology and Anthropology ist. Zurzeit wirkt sie gleichzeitig als Direktorin des African and African American Studies Programs. Zudem war sie von 2000 bis 2001 Andrew W. Mellon Fellow an der University of Pennsylvania, leitete von 1997-2002 ein durch die National Science Foundation finanziertes Projekt über soziale Netzwerke und reproduktive Gesundheit in Kamerun. Sie forschte von 2010 bis 2011 am Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung in Halle sowie am Institut für Ethnologie der Freien Universität Berlin (unterstützt durch ein Stipendium der Wenner-Gren Stiftung für anthropologische Forschung). Professor Feldman-Savelsbergs Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in der Afrikawissenschaft, den Gender Studies, der Medizinanthropologie und der anthropologischen Demografie. Aufbauend auf langfristiger Forschung in den kamerunischen Graslands und der Hauptstadt Jaunde beschäftigt sie sich aktuell mit Fragen der rechtlichen, sozialen, und kulturell-emotionalen Identität und Integration afrikanischer Immigrantinnen in Europa, insbesondere Kamerunerinnen in Deutschland. Von August 2013 bis August 2014 setzte sie dieses Forschungsvorhaben im Rahmen ihres Fellowships am Käte Hamburger Kolleg „Recht als Kultur“ fort.


Mothers on the Move: Birth and Belonging from Africa to the European Union

Mobility, including transnational migration, is one of the hallmarks of today’s globalizing world. In this world of movement, what does it mean to belong? More specifically, how do migrant mothers create a sense of belonging for themselves and their children? And how does law constrain movement while framing the categories and conditions of belonging? My aim during the fellowship year 2013-14 is to write a book exploring the palpable tension between mobility and rootedness in the lives of African migrants in Europe. Drawing upon years of ethnographic and archival research in rural and urban Cameroon as well as in Europe, I investigate these issues for the case of Cameroonian mothers in Berlin. This book project explains how children and communities are reproduced through movement and rootedness, and through circuits of care and exchange that anchor individuals and families in a sea of global mobility. It describes ambitious African women seeking a good life in which to form families and raise their children into a world of multiple, simultaneous belonging. It examines three types of mobility (spatial, social, and temporal) across three locales (a village, an African metropolis, and a European capital), focusing on three levels of interaction (the family, community organizations, and the state).

Four concepts frame my argument—reproductive insecurity, belonging, social networks, and legal consciousness. At the Käte Hamburger Center for Advanced Study in the Humanities “Law as Culture” I hope to deepen my understanding of the latter in light of this year’s theme on the genesis, interweaving, and conflicts among legal cultures. Considering how law shapes, and often hinders, African mothers’ hopes and goals, we may think first of immigration law, family law, and the regulation of residence, schooling, and health care within the receiving society (Germany, EU). Within Cameroon, traditional polities regulate belonging through customary law regarding kinship and fealty, while the state determines national citizenship and shapes more particularistic placed-based belonging through ethnic quotas. Rather than examining the law per se, I focus on legal consciousness—how law is experienced and understood by ordinary people, or as Susan Silbey states in her 2005 review article, “After Legal Consciousness,” how “actors construct, sustain, reproduce, or amend the circulating (contested or hegemonic) structures of meanings concerning law”. The stories African migrants tell each other about belonging and exclusion, about encounters with neighbors, teachers, physicians, and public officials, sediment into collectively held ideas about getting along with the law in a new place. It is here that legal cultures are formed, contested, and interwoven.

Publikationen (Auswahl)

  • Urbanites and Urban Villagers: Comparing ‘home’ among elite and non-elite Bamiléké women’s hometown associations (mit Flavien T. Ndonko), in: Africa 80(3), S. 371-396, 2010.
  • Gerüchtsgenealogie: Geschichte, Gedächtnis, und Gerüchte in Kamerun, in: Kuckuck: Notizen zur Alltagskultur 21(2), S. 20-24, 2006.
  • The Social Management of Fetal and Infant Death: Dual Disruptions to Reproductive Lives and Discourses (mit Flavien T. Ndonko und Song Yang), in: Curare 29(1), S. 7-15, 2006.
  • “Cucinare dentro”. Parentela e genere nel linguaggio Bangangté sul matrimonio e la procreazione, in: Silvia Forni, Cecilia Pennacini and Chiara Pussetti (Hrsg.): Antropologia, Genere, Riproduzione: La costruzione culturale della femminilita. Rome: Carocci 2006, S. 141-172 [Italian translation with translator’s introduction and footnoted updates of 1995 article in American Ethnologist].
  • Remembering “the Troubles”: Reproductive Insecurity and the Management of Memory in Cameroon (mit Flavien T. Ndonko und Song Yang), in: Africa 75(1), S. 10-29, 2005.
  • How Rumor Begets Rumor: Collective Memory, Ethnic Conflict, and Reproductive Rumors in Cameroon (mit Flavien T. Ndonko and Song Yang), in: G.A. Fine, V. Campion-Vincent, and C. Heath (Hrsg.): Rumor Mills: The Social Impact of Rumor and Legend. New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction 2005, S. 141-158.
  • Reproduction, Collective Memory, and Generation in Africa (Hrsg.), Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2005.
  • Is Infertility an Unrecognized Public Health Problem? An Emic View from the Grassfields of Cameroon, in: Marcia Inhorn and Frank van Balen (Hrsg.): Infertility Around the Globe: New Thinking on Childlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies. Berkeley: University of California Press 2002, S. 215-232.
  • Sterilizing vaccines or the politics of the womb: Retrospective study of a rumor in Cameroon (mit Flavien T. Ndonko and Bergis Schmidt-Ehry), in: Medical Anthropology Quarterly 14 (2), S. 159-179, 2000.
  • Plundered Kitchens, Empty Wombs: Threatened Reproduction and Identity in the Cameroon Grassfields. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 1999.
  • Cooking Inside: Kinship and Gender in Bangangté Metaphors of Reproduction and Marriage, in:American Ethnologist 22(3), S. 483-501, 1995.