Culture and Society
***While the museum building is closed for
renovation, scientific research will continue at Tervuren.***
The mission of the ‘Culture & Society’ scientific service is to carry out research on populations from Africa or with African roots, particularly Central Africa, using approaches from linguistics, anthropology, musicology, and history as well as the viewpoint of art history.
This research also supports one of the missions of the service, that of disseminating knowledge and putting it in the service of society (scientists, civil society, political decision-makers, and so forth) to contribute to a better knowledge of African societies and their role in the history of humankind. This goal is designed in direct cooperation with African partners.
The service’s main areas of research are:
- Linguistic diversity and dynamics in Africa, languages as mirrors of culture and history, and testaments to migrations and contact between populations (projects include the description and documentation of Bantu langauges, Bantu expansion, and Swahili expansion);
- Cultural expression in Central Africa (projects include Tsogho music (Gabon) and Congolese popular culture);
- Social practices and systems of representation relating to trade dynamics in Africa with regard to the use, outflow, transformation, and consumption of natural resources (for instance, gold);
- Cultural rationales, people’s rights and the environment (How Central African forest dwellers deal with designs upon their land, for example);
- Space and cultural identities of Central Africa over time (projects include Yombe and Kongo presence in the Americas);
- Social dynamics of Africans and people with African roots in Europe (projects involving Belgium and Italy);
- Cultural expression of Europeans in Africa (projects include Belgian and Jewish communities in the Congo).
Finally, the service strives to enhance the value of the collections and archives at its disposal, either through its own research or in collaborations with other parties.