Albinism. Forms of Cultural Categorization and Their Social Consequences

Sub­pro­ject within the scope of DFG Research Group FG 1939 Un/doing Dif­fer­ences: Prac­tices of Human Dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion

This project investigates the historically and socially contingent categorization of people with albinism. Due to their striking phenotype, those affected by albinism are treated differently than ‘normally’ pigmented people in many societies, some of which may even question their classification as humans. This project aims to understand various historical and contemporary classification forms that can be found in different frames (science, magic, popular culture) with regard to their cultural and social contexts. It also raises the question as to which consequences result from specific practices of differentiating people with albinism. One sub-project concentrates on the analysis of academic and pop-cultural primary and secondary sources, while a second is designed as an ethnographic case study in Tanzania, where people with albinism have been persecuted for magico-religious reasons and are currently fighting for their ‘humanization.’