Forward, Upward, Onward? Narratives of Achievement in African and Afroeuropean Contexts


Eva Ulrike Pirker; Mpho Tshivhase; Jo Littler; Steve Tonah; Joseph Oduro-Frimpong; Tasun Tidorchibe; Manuela Boatcă; Issa Fofana; Katja Hericks; Mina Godarzani-Bakhtiari; Vanessa Noble; Florian Elliker; Lena Kraus; Charlotte Williams; Abdoulaye Gueye; Mandisa M. Mbali; Kwabena Opoku-Agyemang; Ruby Magosvongwe; Cezara Nicola; Tina Steiner; Joseph McLaren; Suzanne Scafe


Achievement-orientation is a powerful global discourse that impacts on all aspects of social and individual life. Whereas the 'achievement principle' was intensely debated in the mid-twentieth-century as part of a framework of rationalisation and global progress in economics and the social sciences, it has attracted research across a wider disciplinary spectrum in the twenty-first century. What remains problematic about these debates is their implicit limitation to Western contexts and perspectives. Achievement-orientation, however, and its manifestation in meritocratic principles permeates and informs cultural narratives across the globe that impact on social and individual lives in multiple ways.

It is present in African societies and in communities across the African diaspora. This collection of short essays seeks to initiate a conversation that can help generate a better understanding of the ways in which achievement and merit are defined, negotiated, represented and embedded, and of the connotations they carry in African contexts, among African social groups and strata, and in communities across the African diaspora, especially in Europe. The collection thus draws attention to the existence of a diversity of concepts of achievement prevalent in these contexts and to embark on explorations into the question of their relations.



March 10, 2020


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