Prof. Dr. Carola Lentz

Seniorforschungsprofessur of Anthropology


Research interests
Nation building, ethnicity, politics of commemoration, middle classes, ethnography of the state, colonialism, land rights, theories of culture

Research areas
West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso)


Foto © A. Leuchter, Wissenschaftskolleg, 2018

ModernGhana.Com Article
Discussion about a global culture of remembrance
Final panel of the conference „Beyond – Towards a Future Practice of Remembrance“, Frankfurt, 23rd September
Interview for Forschung und Lehre 3/2022
Interview for Magazin Einblick
New publication: A History of the Goethe Institute
Cross-Border Creativity

Paper with Johannes Ebert for Deutscher Kulturrat, 28.10.2021

Why Carola Lentz was adopted by a Ghanaian Family

Video of the interview by Nicole Köster for the German radio programme "Leute" (SWR1, 8 September 2021).

The Future of Anthropology

Article for the Rotary Magazin 9/2021, p. 60-61

Interview for the German Anthropological Association

Carola Lentz was interviewed by GAA president Prof. Dr. Dorle Dracklé and GAA secretary and editor Dr. Martin Gruber on her new role as president of the Goethe-Institut (DGSKA Mitteilungen 54/2021).

Latitude - an online magazine of Goethe-Institut

Interview with Carola Lentz
"What interests me is how are global debates shaped - both locally and regionally"

Carola Lentz, an internationally acclaimed anthropologist, has been president of the Goethe‑Institut since mid-November 2020. She talks to “Latitude” about her focus on central themes of the global discourse and the role of educational and cultural work in a globalised world.cademy and future president of the Goethe-Institut Carola Lentz talks about her new book on politics of remembrance, about her own adoption by a Ghanaian family and about European-African relationships in the time of corona.

An Academic Quarter with Carola Lentz

Podcast of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (18.04.2020): The anthropologist, vice-president of the Academy and future president of the Goethe-Institut Carola Lentz talks about her new book on politics of remembrance, about her own adoption by a Ghanaian family and about European-African relationships in the time of corona.

Sophie Scholl Salon 2020

„Welten bauen“ (“Building Worlds”): in January 2020, Carola Lentz conducted a discussion with Michaela Alejandra Oberhofer from Museum Rietberg (Zurich) in the context of the Sophie Scholl Salon at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, this year under the theme “Weltbilder” (“World Views”). World views are cultural constructs. They shape the diplomatic and cultural communication between states and are implicated in power relationships. Accompanied by His Majesty Emperor Wilhelm I’s Cornet Quartet, Dörte Schmidt, musicologist and member of the Academy, talks to Trumpeter Matthias Kamps (Berlin) about Prussian military music as an export hit, and Carola Lentz, anthropologist and vice-president of the Academy, talks subsequently to curator Michaela Alejandra Oberhofer (Zurich) about diplomatic guest gifts from Cameroon.
View the video under „Welten bauen“, 21:00.

Goody Lecture 2019 held by Carola Lentz

Title: Class and Power in a Stateless Society: revisiting Jack Goody’s ethnography of the LoDagaa (Ghana)
Speaker: Carola Lentz
13 June 2019 | Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale)

Carola Lentz receives senior research professorship from 1.10.2019

Since 2002, Carola Lentz has been Professor at the Department of Anthropology and African Studies of Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (JGU). Through her research projects and her teaching as well as her commitment to doctoral training and various collaborative research programmes she has contributed significantly to the department’s national and international reputation. The award of one of the few senior research professorships in Rhineland-Palatinate is in recognition of these merits. She is the first member of the Faculty of History and Cultural Studies (Fachbereich 07) and the first woman at JGU to receive this senior professorship. ...

Carola Lentz elected new president of the Goethe-Institut

Carola Lentz will be the new president of the Goethe-Institut. She was elected unanimously by the Goethe-Institut’s Board of Trustees at its meeting on 27 September 2019. From 19 November 2020, the renowned anthropologist will take over the office of sitting president Klaus-Dieter Lehmann....

Carola Lentz fellow to the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (South Africa)

From mid-February to mid-April 2019, Carola Lentz has been invited as fellow to the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (South Africa). She is member of a working group chaired by Deborah James (LSE) that examines the new African middle classes in a comparative perspective. Lentz explores the intersections between class membership and extended family networks. Furthermore, she studies how subnational memberships and loyalties - organised around locality, region, ethnicity, or religion - defy or drive the emergence of national middle classes. ...

Family History as Family Enterprise? A Wissenschaftskolleg Focus Group’s Views of a West African Family – After Six Months Work

Our focus group’s work at the Wissenschaftskolleg has shifted over the past months from trying to write a book and make a documentary film on the history of an extended West African family to exploring a polyphonous process of remembering.  ...

Family History as Family Enterprise? A Wissenschaftskolleg Focus Group’s Views of a West African Family

Family history as family enterprise: this is the title under which the journalist Manuela Lenzen recently published an article on research on family history being undertaken by our focus group at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin since September 2017.  ...

Remembering Independence

Remembering Independence explores the commemoration and remembrance of independence following the great wave of decolonisation after the Second World War. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, and with reference to the Pacific, the authors find that remembering independence was, and still is, highly dynamic. From flag-raising moments to the present day, the transfer of authority from colonial rule to independent nation-states has served as a powerful mnemonic focal point. ...

Book Review: Remembering Independence
Christoph Marx: Rezension zu: Lentz, Carola; David Lowe: Remembering Independence. New York 2018, in Dhau 4 (2019). Jahrbuch für außereuropäische Geschichte. Christoph Marx und Tilman Frasch (Hrsg.).169-173 ...
Geert Castryck: Rezension zu: Lentz, Carola; David Lowe: Remembering Independence. Abingdon  2018, in: Connections. A Journal for Historians and Area Specialists, 03.01.2020, <>.
Katrin Bromber, Book Review: Carola Lentz and David Lowe: Remembering Independence , in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 18.10.2018, ...
Interview with 2014 Herskovits prize winner, Carola Lentz

ASA News Winter 2015

The ASA awarded the 2014 Herskovits Award to Professor Carola Lentz, for her book entitled Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa, published by Indiana University Press.

Read the interview with Professor Lentz. ...

The House of Yob: Family History as a Family Enterprise

The pursuit of scholarship within the family unit is a rarity – not only at the Wissenschaftskolleg. The members of this year’s focus group “Family History and Social Change in West Africa” have been brought together not only by dint of their shared ethnological interest in today’s West African societies; it just so happens that Carola Lentz, Isidore Lobnibe and Stanislas Meda Bemile are all members of the same family, thus lending their research a unique dynamic. The journalist Manuela Lenzen recounts her meeting with the three of them.  ...

Carola Lentz invited to the Institute for Advanced Study, Berlin

Carola Lentz, has been invited as a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin from September 2017 to July 2018. While staying at the Institute, she will direct a focus group on “Family history and social change in West Africa.” In cooperation with two African scholars, Isidore Lobnibe Western Oregon University and Stanislas Meda Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Burkina Faso, she will be working on a scholarly monograph and an audio-visual documentation about the history of one extended family originating in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso.  ...

Conference Report: The Making of Middle Classes: Social Mobility and Boundary Work in Global Perspective

Venue: Berlin
Host/Organizer: Carola Lentz, Mainz; Jan Budniok, Hamburg; Andrea Noll, Hildesheim/Mainz
Date: 06.11.2014 - 08.11.2014

By: Lena Kroeker, Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, Universität Bayreuth; Carola Lentz, Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz ...

Carola Lentz receives Melville J. Herskovits Award for publication on land tenure and the politics of belonging in northern Ghana and Burkina Faso

Mainz anthropologist Carola Lentz received the 2014 Melville J. Herskovits Award for her book "Land, Mobility, and Belonging in the West African Savanna," published by Indiana University Press in 2013. The most important international African Studies book prize is named after the founder of interdisciplinary African Studies in the USA and has been awarded every year since 1965 by the African Studies Association ASA for the best English-language scholarly work on Africa. In its laudation, the jury praised Lentz's book as "a finely wrought and beautifully argued account" of the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial appropriation of land by immigrating agriculturalists in northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso. More than 100 publications were nominated for the prize this year, the 50th time the award has been presented. Books by European authors have rarely won to date and Carola Lentz is the first German academic to receive the Herskovits Award.  ...

Video messages from the world: the future with/of anthropologies
On the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Japanese Society of Cultural Anthropology Professor Junji Koizumi (President, JASCA, Secretary-General, IUAES) invited all members of the World Council of Anthropological Associations (WCAA) to a short video message on the future with/of anthropologies.
The Video Message of the DGV president Carola Lentz.  ... 
Completed research project

Performing the nation and subnational differences in African national days
Subproject of the DFG 1939 Research group „Un/doing Differences. Practices of human differentiation“  ...

Ways of Belonging in Africa: the Dynamics of Differentiation - to be translated

A symposium for and with Carola Lentz
Friday, May 2, 2014
Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz


JGU Magazin 13 March 2014: Anthropologist from Mainz becomes a Ghanaian chief

It was the first time that the title of "maalu naa" had been awarded in Nandom, in Ghana's Upper West Region – and it was bestowed on Professor Carola Lentz from the Department of Anthropology and African Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU). The title makes her a kind of chief, or, to be more precise, a "development chief" of a district that encompasses some 100 settlements with around 50,000 inhabitants.


Online Archive: African Independence Days

The online archive “African Independence Days” consists of 20,000 images from twelve African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria and Tanzania). It also includes a catalogue of documents/grey literature, newspapers and objects. The approx. 150 documents/grey literature and 6,000 newspaper articles listed can be consulted in the archives of the Department of Anthropology and African Studies. The approx. 150 objects (paraphernalia featuring anniversary logos and merchandise) are preserved in the department’s Ethnographic Collection.
The research database comprises ethnographic material which was collected as part of the research-project “The poetics and politics of national commemoration in Africa” (2009-2013). The Online-Archive is continued for Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso, in the context of the follow-up research project “Marking ethnic and national differences in African national-day celebrations” (2013-2016).   ...

Staging the State, Celebrating the Nation: The 2010 Independence Jubilees in Africa

Video-Blog: Archive for the ‘GGK/GCSC Keynote Lecture’ Category. Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Friday, August 31st, 2012