Perpetuating the ‘Third World’? Evaluating knowledge production in the field of German Studies in an African context

Carlotta Von Maltzan

Abstract


This paper critically revisits and examines the seemingly outdated concept of the ‘Third World’ by tracing its historical origins with reference to the Three Worlds Theory, and investigates the reasons for the persistent implied or direct usage of the term in public and scientific discourse when referring to contexts which are typically considered to be underdeveloped. Of particular interest is the way in which knowledge production in German Studies functions in an African context which, as is argued, is influenced by complex relations that straddle the divide between a so-called “Western” and a so-called “African” perspective of the African continent, given that these perspectives are essentially determined by asymmetrical relations of wealth and power. To this end, the paper evaluates the self-perception of two academic journals in the field of German Studies published in West Africa and Southern Africa, respectively, by querying whether they participate in the postcolonial project of ‘writing back’ or rewriting colonialism in order to develop a new understanding of their participation in knowledge production.


Keywords


Third World, knowledge production, German in South Africa, Acta Germanica, Mont Cameroun

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5842/49-0-668

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ISSN 2224-3380 (online); 1726-541X (print)

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