Martin Loeng

Former Editor


Discipline: Social Anthropology & African Studies

Research Interests: My current research revolves around the themes of globalisation, consumption, commodities and gender (focusing on masculinity) in urban East Africa. I am researching how young East African men's masculine aspirations (which often revolve around a desire to be able to give generously to friends and potential lovers and wives) facilitate the 'appropriation' of imported objects like beer, clothes (and even concepts). I'll be asking 'how do urbanites of East Africa use goods and commodities from 'other places', what uses do they have, and how are we to think about imported commodities as integral to the workings (or not workings) of a society?'

If you were a box of cereal what would you be and why: I'd be an empty one, standing on the floor next to a brimming paper-and-cardboard recycling bin. I'd be bristling with excitement because I knew that once I again I'd do that shape-shifting trick.Once I was huddled up with lots of other sheets of paper in service of a neurotic, very systematic student.Another time I contained a book on origami bought online. After that I stood for a very long time in an attic, getting really friendly with the local dust. Now I'm a box of cereal. What will be next? Who knows! Gosh, what a thrilling world it is.

What did you want to be when you grew up: Biologist or zoologist. I used to call it 'animal scientist' or «Dyreforsker» in Norwegian. If you had presented me with a documentary on hyenas and leopards on the African savannahs, you'd have to use a tow-truck to get me away from the screen.

Where are you right now: In bed, feeling like a marooned mariner on an island in a sea of books, articles and clothes.

Tell us something about another staff writer: Nichole loves jars. Her attachment to certain jars is moving to watch. One day, one of her most cherished jars broke. Jars do break sometimes when they grow restless, reckless and get up to tomfoolery like flinging themselves off of shelves. The city of Edinburgh was pierced by an eerie, despondent cry. Pigeons burst panicking into flight, bus-drivers almost swerved off the road and the fabric of reality wobbled a little. Later, we were at a bar, grieving collectively. I saw there was a jar in the bar. So I sort of 'appropriated' it. And gave it to her.

Martin's Articles