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Axel Fleisch

Born 6 December 1968, Langenhagen (Hanover), Germany

MA African Studies, 1995, Univ. of Cologne; PhD African Studies, 2000, Univ. of Cologne

Professor in African Studies 2008–, University of Helsinki
University lecturer 2007, University of Leipzig
Senior researcher 2005–2006, University of Cologne
Postdoctoral fellow “Cognitive semantics, Nguni languages” 2002–2004, University of California, Berkeley
Junior Researcher of Namibia/Angola 1995–2001, Collaborative Research Centre “Arid Climate and Cultural Innovation”, University of Cologne

Main research interests:
Descriptive linguistics, documentation of African languages (especially Bantu and Amazigh/Berber)

Publications, projects and other scientific activities

Prized and awards:
German Research Council. Postdoctoral fellowship 2002–2004.
Fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study 2010, 2013–2014.

Photo: Joaquín Fanego Palat
Written by: Axel Fleisch and Tomas Sjöblom (ed.)

My dream: a society which appreciates diversity

My dreams? There are quite many: for instance, to see our University become a more thoroughly international work environment. I would also like to experience the day the first person with an African background takes office as the president of Finland.

And then of course, what would make me really happy is to live in a society where diversity is cherished and people could be proud of who they are. Unfortunately in Europe, we still tend to build this kind of self-confidence around ideologies that exclude others.

Finding ways to make people appreciate difference (beyond token diversity!) is perhaps not so much a dream, rather a utopian vision. As such, in any case, it is really inspiring and motivating for the work we conduct dealing with African languages and cultures here in Europe.

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