Monkey in the mirror –


“That’s where I wanted to go!” Hike Behrend already knew that as a teenager: for Africa, for completely different people to experience their weird elsewhere. After studying ethnography, he traveled to the Tugen Mountains of Kenya for the first time in 1978 for a research stay for several months. She moved to a hut in Baratabwa village and went to work: ethnographic field research as “participatory observation”, as she had learned at university. She started questioning elders and neighbors.

Then it fell from all the clouds on how strongly reciprocity was reflected by the Africans. Because she herself was seen with a sharp eye, with an unpleasant result: she came to know that she deserved the laugh of the village, “monkey” – a funny name for ignorant, illiterate primitive people. Only later did it move up in position and become a “thing”. He finally understood the table manners – never eat the plate empty! -, the elders decided to place their “relatives” next to them: an old woman named Kopcherutoi. Since then she was the “little Kopcherutoi” – and finally to the rank of human.

During further research, she lived in Uganda, then went on to become a “spy” and a “cannibal”. Behrend explains it all with frequent and dry humor – an eye-opening lesson about an ethnographer’s image of himself and others. And a great book on Africa.Thorwald ewe

Hike behrend
Became a monkey
Maths and Sets, 278 s., € 25, –
ISBN 978–3–95757–955–3

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