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A Professor in Ghana: Norbert Elias, civilising processes and the African challenge. An introduction by the editors

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Norbert Elias (1897–1990) is now recognised as one of the greatest sociologists of the twentieth century. Such recognition, however, came very late in his long life. Only in the 1970s did his magnum opus, Über den Prozess der Zivilisation—although first published obscurely in 1939—become widely known in the German speaking world, and not until the 1980s was its English translation On the Process of Civilisation (or The Civilizing Process) widely read in English.

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  1. 1.

    In the corresponding German Gesammelte Schriften, there are 19 volumes, because they also include his collected poetry and aphorisms, which have not been translated into English; see Gedichte und Sprüche, Gesammelte Schriften Bd. 18 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2004).

  2. 2.

    See Hermann Korte, Biographische Skizzen zu Norbert Elias, (Wiesbaden: Springer, 2013), pp. 61–62.

  3. 3.

    ‘Norbert Elias’s story of his life’ (1984), in Interviews and Autobiographical Reflections (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013 [Collected Works, vol. 17]), pp. 131–4.

  4. 4.

    ‘Introduction to the catalogue African Art from the Collection of Professor Norbert Elias, April 24th–June 14th 1970, Leicester Museum and Art Gallery’, in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, vol. 16]), pp. 201–8.

  5. 5.

    Essays III, pp. 209–32.

  6. 6.

    See Robert van Krieken, Norbert Elias (London: Routledge, 1998), pp. 10–11.

  7. 7.

    ibid., p.11. Richard Kilminster, in Norbert Elias: Post-philosophical Sociology (Abingdon: Routledge, 2007), pp. 137–40, argues that, in developing his sociogenetic and psychogenetic view, Elias went beyond Cassirer, who never developed a sociological approach.

  8. 8.

    Notably Sigmund Freud, Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (Vienna, Internationaler Psychanalytischer Verlag, 1930); trans. James Strachey, Civilization and Its Discontents (London: Penguin, 2002 [1930]).

  9. 9.

    Later, Elias made his critique of a certain type of psychiatry more explicit, referring to what he called ‘homo psychiatricus’. The term refers to the image of human beings ‘stripped of most attributes that one might call social’; see his essay ‘Sociology and psychiatry’, in Essays III, On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, vol. 16]), pp. 159–179, at p. 164. See also Marc Joly’s reconstruction of a text that Elias was dictating in the last months of his life: ‘Freud’s concept of society and beyond it’, in Supplements and Index to the Collected Works (Dublin: UCD Press, 2014 [Collected Works, vol. 18]), pp. 13–52.

  10. 10.

    Reinhard Blomert, Intellektuelle im Aufbruch: Karl Mannheim, Alfred Weber, Norbert Elias und die Heidelberger Sozialwissenschaften der Zwischenkriegszeit (München: Carl Hanser Verlag, 1999).

  11. 11.

    Apart from their friendship, one reason for the move was that Mannheim, as a new Professor, held out the possibility of an earlier Habilitation; there were many others ahead of Elias in Weber’s list.

  12. 12.

    In the course of his emigration the Habilitationsschrift was lost, and it was only rediscovered among his papers in the 1960s. It was finally published in 1969, with additions and many re-arrangements, as Die höfische Gesellschaft: Untersuchungen zur Soziologie des Königtums und der höfischen Aristokratie (Neuwied/Berlin: Luchterhand, 1969). Revised English edition, translated by Edmund Jephcott: The Court Society (Dublin: UCD Press, 2006 [Collected Works, vol. 2]).

  13. 13.

    ‘Beitrag zur Diskussion über Richard Thurnwald, Die Anfäng der Kunst’, Verhandlungen des 6. Deutschen Soziologentag vom 17.–19.9.1928 in Zürich (Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1929), pp. 281–4. English translation: ‘On primitive art’, in Elias, Early Writings (Dublin: UCD Press, 2006 [Collected Works, vol. 1]), pp. 71–5.

  14. 14.

    Bryan Wilson, ‘A tribute to Elias’, New Society, 7 July 1977, pp. 15–16.

  15. 15.

    There were only a few reviews of Prozess, including those by Franz Borkenau, S. H. Foulkes, Menno ter Braak and Raymond Aron; see Korte, Biographische Skizzen zu Norbert Elias, pp. 18, 21, 24. In English, see Johan Goudsblom, ‘Responses to Norbert Elias’s work in England, Germany, the Netherlands and France’, in Human Figurations: Essays for/Aufsätze für Norbert Elias (Amsterdam: Amsterdam Sociologisch Tijdschrift, 1997), pp. 37–97.

  16. 16.

    Elias, ‘Studies in the genesis of the naval profession: gentlemen and tarpaulins’, British Journal of Sociology, 1: 4 (1950), pp. 291–309. This essay was reprinted, together with unpublished papers from the naval profession project, in The Genesis of the Naval Profession, eds René Moelker and Stephen Mennell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2007).

  17. 17.

    Reprinted in Elias, Involvement and Detachment (Dublin: UCD Press, 2007 [Collected Works, vol. 8], pp. 68–104. The other major essay in that book, ‘The fishermen in the maelstrom’ written in 1980–1, is very directly relevant to the question of fears and dangers as impediments to the detours via detachment necessary for the growth of knowledge, and thus to the chapters on the development of Krobo society.

  18. 18.

    Norbert Elias and John L. Scotson, The Established and the Outsiders: A Sociological Enquiry into Community Problems, London: Frank Cass, 1965; enlarged edition, Dublin, UCD Press, 2008 [Collected Works, vol. 4]).

  19. 19.

    See also ‘Group charisma and group disgrace’, in Elias, Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, vol 16]), pp. 73–8. This originated as a lecture given in 1964 at the German conference in Heidelberg marking the centenary of Max Weber.

  20. 20.

    See also the earlier study on kitsch style: ‘The kitsch style and the age of kitsch’ (1936), in Elias, Early Writings, pp. 85–96.

  21. 21.

    Norbert Elias and Eric Dunning, Quest for Excitement: Sport and Leisure in the Civilising Process, enlarged edition (Dublin: UCD Press, 2008 [Collected Works, vol. 7]).

  22. 22.

    Published posthumously in Jan Haut, Paddy Dolan, Dieter Reicher and Raúl Sánchez García, eds, Excitement Processes: Norbert Elias’s Unpublished Works on Sports, Leisure, Body, Culture (Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 2018), pp. 23–76.

  23. 23.

    A minor exception is chapter 10, ‘The formation of states and changes in restraint’, a paper given by Elias at the conference on ‘Civilisations and Civilising Processes’ that he hosted at Bielefeld in 1984. The proceedings of the conference have recently been published in Civilisations, Civilising Processes and ModernityA Debate (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), edited by Artur Bogner and Stephen Mennell.

  24. 24.

    Stephen Mennell, ‘The Collected Works: note on editorial policy’, in Supplements and Index to the Collected Works (Dublin: UCD Press, 2014 [Collected Works, vol. 18]), pp. ix–xiv.

  25. 25.

    When he was supervising Eric Dunning’s MA thesis in the early 1960s, Elias told him he should expect to make about eight drafts.

  26. 26.

    Scholars may of course examine the whole file at the DLA, Marbach; the document reference is GHAN–ESSAYS 3/a.

  27. 27.

    Richard Kilminster interviewed some of Elias’s last assistants about the modus operandi in his last years, which were plainly quite difficult. See his Note on the Text in The Symbol Theory, rev. edn (Dublin: UCD Press, 2011 [Collected Works, vol. 13]), pp. xx–xxii.

  28. 28.

    This chapter is the typescript archived under the number Ghan-ESSAYS’ no. 2a (Preface, 10 pp.) (1964), Preface to Ghanaian essays, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar Orig.: Preface to Ghanaian Essays, GHAN-ESSAYS, no. 2, 1964-M-eng-3.

  29. 29.

    Chapter 3 is a shortened version of the document archived under the number Ghan-Essays, no. 3a (1964), Problems of Ghanaian communities, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  30. 30.

    We have to thank Barbara and Stephen Mennell who were able to find out the identity of this second author who was only named on the manuscript as H. King.

  31. 31.

    Chapter 4 is the first part of the manuscript archived under the number 802 (up to page Krobo 9), A Tribe on the Move: Outline of an early state formation process, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  32. 32.

    Noa Akunor Aguae Azu, Adangbe (Adangme) History (Accra: Government Printing Office, 1929).

  33. 33.

    This chapter is is archived under the number 805, Krobo Introduction: The development of Krobo society [‘A Tribe on the Move’, Manuscript 3], in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  34. 34.

    Fission and Fusion contains the second part of the manuscript archived under the number 802 (from the page Krobo 16 onwards), A Tribe on the Move: Outline of an early state formation process, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  35. 35.

    The original text of chapter 7 is archived under the number 807 until pg. KII 41, Stage II: Development of a hill-top tribe, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  36. 36.

    Bible, 1 Samuel.

  37. 37.

    The original text of chapter 8 is archived under the number 807 from pg. KII 41 onwards, Stage II: Development of a hill-top tribe, in the DLA, Marbach.

  38. 38.

    Leviticus, 16.

  39. 39.

    The original text is archived under the number Ghan-Essays 22 (1964), Notes for the essay on Dente, in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  40. 40.

    Wilhelm Rottmann, Der Götze Odente: Ein Bild aus dem westafrikanischen Heidentum (Basel: Verlag der Missionsbuchhandlung, 1894).

  41. 41.

    Elias, ‘Spontaneity and self-consciousness’, pp. 23–76.

  42. 42.

    The original text is archived under the number 708, ‘The Formation of States and Changes in Restraint. Speech by Professor Elias’ (Korrekturen vom Juni 1986), in the DLA, Marbach. It was edited by Artur Bogner and Stephen Mennell and published in Civilisations, Civilising Processes and ModernityA Debate (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2022), pp. 65–79.

  43. 43.

    V. Gordon Childe, Man Makes Himself (London: Watts, 1936).

  44. 44.

    William H. McNeill, Europe’s Steppe Frontier: 1500–1800 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964).

  45. 45.

    The original text is archived under Soc.Anthrop., no. 1 (pp. 1–23), Sociology and Anthropology (1963-eng-1, Sig. MISC-E XI) in the Deutsches Literaturarchiv, Marbach am Neckar.

  46. 46.

    René König (1906–2002), Professor of Sociology at Cologne University, founder of the Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie and, at the time Elias wrote to him, President of the International Sociological Association.

  47. 47.

    Elias, letter of 1 November 1962 to René König, quoted by Hermann Korte,‘Der ethnologische Blick bei Norbert Elias’, Biographische Skizzen zu Norbert Elias (Wiesbaden: Springer, 2013), p. 61.

  48. 48.


  49. 49.

    Goody, ‘Elias and the Anthropological Tradition’, Anthropological Theory 4: 2 (2002), pp. 401–12. Sir Jack Goody (1919–2015) was already teaching at the University of Cambridge, becoming William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology in 1973. He was a prolific author and came to be regarded as the doyen of British anthropologists; in his later writings he paid increasing attention to Elias—see The Theft of History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), without ever quite overcoming his initial impressions.

  50. 50.

    Nkrumah was influenced by Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) and W.E.B. Du Bois (1868–1963); see Jeffrey S. Ahlman, Living with Nkrumahism: Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana, (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2017). Nkrumah was seen as the ‘father of African nationalism’; see David Birmingham, Kwame Nkrumah: The Father of African Nationalism (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1998).

  51. 51.

    Indeed, Nkrumah linked the country’s name with the historical empire of Ghana which, however, was located far away in todays Mauritania and in the Northwest of Mali. Ancient Ghana had no real connections to modern Ghana; see: Harcourt Fuller, Building the Ghanaian Nation-State: Kwame Nkrumah’s Symbolic Nationalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

  52. 52.

    The erection of the Akosombo Dam led to some social and environmental problems. The megalomania of the dam project was result of Nkrumah’s modernist doctrine, his naive belief in technical progress, the cult of the political leader, and his Pan-African socialism. Like Nasser’s Aswan Dam project or Chinese Banqiao Dam, erected at the same time, the Volta dam did not fulfil its promise. People living close to the Volta suffered from bad harvests caused from drying of water sources, from Schistosomiasis (snail fever), from disruption of its farming and fishing economy—and above all from the loss of dignity. Many people were forced to resettle. The government promised modern housing conditions, but many of these housing projects never were realised. Instead tens of thousands of inhabitants of these areas had to migrate into big cities; see Joe Geker ‘The Effects of the Volta Dam on the People of the Lower Volta’, in Chris Gordon and Julius K. Amatekpor, eds., The Sustainable Integrated Development of the Volta Basin in Ghana (Accra: University of Ghana, 1999), pp. 122–5.

  53. 53.

    Ulrich van Loyen, Strände der Vernunft: Norbert Elias im inneren Afrika (Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2012), p. 17. However, van Loyen was perhaps right in pointing out that it was the intensity of the art, the songs, and the rituals of Ghanaian traditional societies that fascinated Elias. In his eyes all these resemble the art and rituals of ancient Greeks, a civilisation Elias had studies and admired from his schooldays (ibid. 14–15); see also Elias, Interviews and Autobiographical Reflections, p. 131.

  54. 54.

    In today’s Ghana, the group of Akan speakers is the biggest ethnic group (48 per cent). The Akan speakers consist of 11 subgroups like the Asanthe, Fante, Denkyira, the Akyem, or the Akwamu. The Mole-Dagbani living in northern Ghana are the second largest ethnolinguistic group of the country (about 17 per cent). They comprise Dangimba and other traditional Islamic cattle-rising peoples. In contrast to the matrilineal system of the Akan, the Dangimba organise their family system patrilineally. The Ewe (about 14 per cent) is the third largest socio-linguistic group in Ghana. They traditionally settled east of the Volta river. Apart from a few hints, Elias did not focus on these groups either. The Ga-Dangme (7 per cent) is the fourth largest ethnic group. The Ga settled in today’s Accra region. Like the Fante, they also served as middlemen towards the Europeans and converted early to Christianity. The Ga-Dangme belong to the West Kwa language family (like the Ewe). They are subdivided into Ga and the Dangme (Adangme) speakers living in the Accra Plains in Southeast of Ghana. The Krobo people, the most important of these groups for Eliases writings, belong linguistically to the Adangme. Although the Ga and the Dangme peoples traditionally organised their family structure according to a patrilineal system, due to Akan influence and inter-ethnic marriages they partly adopted matrilineality. Ga and Dangme have adopted many other feature of Akan tradition, like symbols and insignia of power (such as ‘stools’) or words from the Twi language. Ga, Dangme, and Krobo were the groups living closest to Elias’s own residence.

  55. 55.

    Johnson Narh, Yilo Krobo Past and Present. An Anthropological Study of a West African People (Charleston: Create Space, 2017), p. 51.

  56. 56.

    Hugo Huber, The Krobo: Traditional Social and Religious Life of a West African people, (St Augustin: Anthropos Institute, 1973), pp. 24–26.

  57. 57.

    Veit Arlt, Christianity, Imperialism and Culture. The Expansion of the Two Krobo States in Ghana, c. 1830 to 1930 (Basel: Copy Quick, doctoral dissertation, 2005), p. 42.

  58. 58.

    Wilson (1987: 475) in Louis E. Wilson, ‘The Rise of Paramount Chiefs among the Krobo (Ghana)’, The International Journal of African Historical Studies 20(3) (1987), pp. 471–495.

  59. 59.

    Arlt, Christianity, p. 58.

  60. 60.

    Narh, Yilo Krobo, p. 42.

  61. 61.

    Wilson, The Krobo People of Ghana to 1892. A Political and Social History (Athens, OH: Center for International Studies, 1991), p. 16.

  62. 62.

    Ibid., p.17.

  63. 63.

    Elias also criticised Claude Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism as ahistorical in attributing ‘to mind a structure prior to all learned knowledge’; see The Symbol Theory, p. 87.

  64. 64.

    Van Loyen, Strände der Vernunft, pp. 75–7.

  65. 65.

    Van Loyen remains unclear. He draws the picture of Elias as an agent of Nkrumah’s megalomanic, nationalist policy and as an intellectual supporter of the systematic replacement of traditional local chieftaincies in favour of a ‘centralised government order along the idea of the Führerprinzip (the leader/Führer principle)’. Van Loyen reports that 78,000 persons were transferred from their traditional villages into ‘faceless’ multi-storey buildings. He implies that Elias supported this policy, which resembled his concept of the ‘integration into a higher level’. Van Loyen asks about the responsibility of researchers in such an environment. He refers to anthropologists (without quotations or mentioning specific names) who have warned that such kinds of projects detract from any protection for traditional societies. As a result, Van Loyen moves Elias close to Nazism. He states that this type of Ghanaian policy provoked dreams of Führerapologeten (apologists of the Führer); see Van Loyen, Strände der Vernunft, pp. 17–18.

  66. 66.

    Lévy-Bruhl, Les fonctions mentales dans les sociétés inférieures (Paris: F. Alcan, 1910), translated as How Natives Think (Eastford: Martino Fine Books, 2015 [1926]); and La mentalité primitive (Paris: F. Alcan,1922), translated as Primitive Mythology: The Mythic World of the Australian and Papuan Natives (Brisbane: University of Queensland, 1984). It should be noted that the phrase ‘the question of the logical unity of humankind’ is not Lévy-Bruhl’s own, but is rather an encapsulation by the British anthropologist Rodney Needham of the question posed by Lévy-Bruhl: see Needham’s Belief, Language and Experience (Oxford: Blackwell, 1972), p. 160.

  67. 67.

    Elias’s view on Lévy-Bruhl can be found in: ‘Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and ‘the question of the logical unity of humankind’, in Supplements and Index to the Collected Works, pp. 53–140.

  68. 68.

    Elias, The Court Society (Dublin: UCD Press, 2006 [Collected Works, vol. 2]), pp. 120–3, to which he also refers on On the Process of Civilisation, pp. 449–56.

  69. 69.

    Especially Noa Akunor Aguae Azu, Adangbe (Adangme) History (Accra: Government Printing Office, 1929).

  70. 70.

    Leicester Museum and Art Gallery (1970) African Art from the Collection of Professor Norbert Elias, Catalogue of an Exhibition at Leicester Museum and Art Gallery, April 24th–June 14th 1970 (Leicester: Leicester Museum, 1970). Elias’s introduction to the catalogue is reprinted in Essays III: On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009 [Collected Works, vol. 16]), pp. 201–8. In 2002 the introduction was first re-published and translated into French by Jean-Bernard Ouédraogo and Françoise Armengaud by including photos and comments about masks and figures: Elias, Ècrits Sur L’Art Africain (Paris: Éditions Kimé, 2003).

  71. 71.

    Elias formulated the same argument in a paper written before he went to Ghana, ‘Spontaneity and Self-Consciousness’, p. 67.

  72. 72.

    Elias, ‘African Art’, p. 207.

  73. 73.

    See Stephen Mennell, ‘Elias and the counter-ego’, History of the Human Sciences, 19: 2 (2006), pp. 73–91. It was finally published in Essays III, On Sociology and the Humanities (Dublin; UCD Press, pp. 209–23.

  74. 74.

    The same argument was made by Elias in ‘Spontaneity and self-consciousness’, p. 32ff., as well as in Mozart: The Sociology of a Genius, in Mozart and other Essays on Courtly Art (Dublin: UCD Press, 2010 [Collected Works, vol. 12]), which he had drafted in the late 1970s although it remained unpublished until after his death.

  75. 75.

    Elias, What is Sociology? (Dublin: UCD Press, 2006 [1970] [Collected Works, vol. 5], pp. 71–5. How to translate the word Vorspiel was the topic of prolonged and sometimes hilarious discussion between Elias and Stephen Mennell; ‘primal contest’, though far from literal, was Elias’s own choice for solving the problem.

  76. 76.

    The term of ‘function’ is used by Elias quite in contrast to its meaning in functionalism. It is closer to its mathematical usage expressing a relation between different elements. In particular, Elias always stressed that all human interdependencies involve power balances, relatively equal or unequal and always changing and fluctuating. See What is Sociology?, pp. 72–3, 121–3.

  77. 77.

    Humana Conditio: Observations on the development of humanity on the fortieth anniversary of the end of a war (8 May, 1945), in The Loneliness of the Dying and Humana Conditio (Dublin: UCD Press, 2010 [Collected Works, vol. 6]).

  78. 78.

    Elias, An Essay on Time (Dublin: UCD Press, 2007 [Collected Works, vol. 9]), pp. 43–4.

  79. 79.

    Elias, The Symbol Theory (Dublin: UCD Press, 2011 [Collected Works, vol. 13]), pp. 166–7.

  80. 80.

    See also his detailed discussion of Comte in chapter 1 of What is Sociology?

  81. 81.

    Elias, On the Process of Civilisation, pp. 4–5. Elias points out that each person undergoes an ‘individual civilising process’. Therefore, ‘the structure of a child’s affect and consciousness no doubt bears a certain resemblance to that of “uncivilised’ peoples…” (ibid.)—but it is not the same. The term ‘censorship’ undoubtedly proves that Elias was not an advocate of European civilisation or colonialism. He emphasis that the process of civilisation goes along with a heavy price people have to pay. For the costs of such a process of civilisation, see also Helmut Kuzmics, Der Preis der Zivilisation: Die Zwänge der Moderne im theoretischen Vergleich (Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 1988).

  82. 82.

    Elias, ‘Lucien Lévy-Bruhl and “the question of the logical unity of humankind”’, pp. 53–140.

  83. 83.

    Lévy-Bruhl, How Natives Think.

  84. 84.

    See Peter Burke, ‘Civilisation, discipline, disorder: three case studies in history and social theory’, Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, 87 (1996), pp. 21–35. Burke judges that ‘Elias accepted the idea of social or cultural evolution’ (p. 23). Jack Goody contended that ‘One problem about the thesis is that it is seen as one of unilineal development that took off in Europe, at the time of the Renaissance’; see: Jack Goody, ‘The ‘Civilizing Process’ in Ghana’, European Journal of Sociology, 44: 1 (2003), pp. 61–73. And according to Gerd Schwerhoff, the civilising theory is ‘old-fashioned’ evolutionism; see Schwerhoff, ‘Zivilisationsprozeß und Geschichtswissenschaft: Norbert Elias’s Forschungsparadigma in historischer Sicht’, Historische Zeitschrift Band 266 (1998), pp. 561–605, at p. 595.

  85. 85.

    Elias, ‘Towards a theory of social processes’, in Essays III, pp. 9–39.

  86. 86.

    Hans-Peter Duerr Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeß. Band 3: Obszönität und Gewalt (Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1997).

  87. 87.

    Max Weber, Economy and Society (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1978), vol. I, p. 54.

  88. 88.

    For Anton Blok’s accusation of eurocentrism see Nico Wilterdink, ‘Die Zivilisationstheorie im Kreuzfeuer der Diskussion: Ein Bericht vom Kongreß über Zivilisationsprozesse in Amsterdam’, in Peter Gleichmann, Johann Goudsblom and Hermann Korte, eds., Macht und Zivilisation. Materialien zu Norbert Elias’ Zivilisationstheorie 2 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1984), pp. 280–304 (at p. 287ff). An English summary can be found in Stephen Mennell, Norbert Elias: Civilization and the Human Self-Image (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), pp. 228–31. (Later editions published as Norbert Elias: An Introduction.) Other such accusations can be found in Boike Rehbein, ‘Eurozentrismus in Norbert Elias’ Zivilisationstheorie, in Helmut Staubmann, ed., Soziologie in ÖsterreichInternationale Verflechtungen (Innsbruck: Innsbruck University Press, 2016), pp. 171–80.

  89. 89.

    Goody (2003: 70) erroneously writes ‘childish’, the meaning is subtly different from ‘childlike’; see Jack Goody, ‘The ‘Civilizing Process’ in Ghana’, pp. 61–73. For more criticism of Elias by Goody see Goody, ‘Elias and the anthropological tradition, and Goody, The Theft of History, pp. 154–79. For reactions to Goody’s critique, see Eric Dunning, ‘Some comments on Jack Goody’s “Elias and the anthropological tradition”’, Anthropology Today, 2: 4 (2002), pp. 413–20, and Katie Liston and Stephen Mennell ‘Ill Met in Ghana: Jack Goody and Norbert Elias on Process and Progress in Africa’, Theory, Culture & Society 26: 7–8 (2009), pp. 52–70.

  90. 90.

    Hans-Peter Duerr, Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeß. Bd. 1: Nacktheit und Scham (1988); Bd. 2: Intimität (1990); Bd. 3: Obszönität und Gewalt (1997); Bd: 4: Der erotische Leib (1999); Bd. 5: Die Tatsachen des Lebens (2002), all published by Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main. See Elias’s response in ‘What I mean by civilisation: reply to Hans Peter Duerr’, in Essays II, pp. 8–13, and also Johan Goudsblom and Stephen Mennell, ‘Civilising Processes—Myth or Reality?’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 39: 4 (1997), pp. 727–31.

  91. 91.

    Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents.

  92. 92.

    Elias, On the Process of Civilisation, pp. 569–70. See the more detailed discussion in Elias, ‘Freud’s concept of society and beyond it’.

  93. 93.

    Schwerhoff, ‘Zivilisationsprozeß und Geschichtswissenschaft’, p. 596; and Axel T. Paul, ‘Die Gewalt der Scham: Elias, Duerr und das Problem der Historizität menschlicher Gefühle’, Mittelweg 36, Zeitschrift des Hamburger Instituts für Sozialforschung, 16 (2007), pp. 77–99. See also Hans-Peter Waldhoff, Fremde und Zivilisierung: Wissenssoziologische Studien über das Verarbeiten von Gefühlen der Fremdheit: Probleme der modernen Peripherie-Zentrums-Migration am türkisch-deutschen Beispiel (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1995).

  94. 94.

    Elias, Involvement and Detachment, pp. 58 and The Society of Individuals, pp. 176–77, 180–81; see also Elias, Studies on the Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013 [Collected Works, vol. 11]), p. 281 (original German, 1989).

  95. 95.

    Cas Wouters, ‘Duerr und Elias: Scham und Gewalt in Zivilisationsprozeßen’, Zeitschrift für Sexualforschung 7: 3 (1994), pp. 203–16.

  96. 96.

    Schwerhoff, Zivilisationsprozeß und Geschichtswissenschaft, pp. 561–605.

  97. 97.

    ‘He recalls driving to a village “deep in the jungle” with his chauffeur (there is a picture of the author with his cook and driver)’, in Jack Goody, The Civilizing Process in Ghana, p. 69.

  98. 98.

    Most notably the anti-evolutionism of Franz Boas (1858–1942) anti-evolutionism, following on from the approach of Adolf Bastian (1826–1905) and Johann Gottfried von Herder’s (1744–1803) to ‘culture’ (Kultur).

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Reicher, D., Jitschin, A., Post, A., Alikhani, B. (2022). A Professor in Ghana: Norbert Elias, civilising processes and the African challenge. An introduction by the editors. In: Reicher, D., Jitschin, A., Post, A., Alikhani, B. (eds) Norbert Elias’s African Processes of Civilisation. Springer VS, Wiesbaden.

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