What is MALEXA?
MALEXA is an Aarhus University research structure dedicated to methodological innovation and integration in the study of culture. By combining in-depth qualitative and quantitative research with experimental work, it seeks to pioneer new methods and facilitate international cross-disciplinary synergies, offering a new research paradigm in the study of human behaviour. Unlike previous team fieldwork structures, such as the famous Rhodes-Livingstone Institute in East Africa, which entailed various individual projects applying the same method to different subjects, we seek to set up interdisciplinary teams who will tackle common problems from different but complementary perspectives.
What is “Experimental Anthropology”?
Experimental Anthropology views experiments as a method, as an object of study, and as a research aesthetic. Rather than taking “subjects” out of context and moving them into sterilised laboratory settings where they become “objects” of experimentation, we attempt to take the laboratory into context by moving it into the field. Through this combination of anthropological and experimental techniques, experiments become for anthropologists a new form of obtaining data as well as a new way of being in the field, while at the same time allowing them to problematize some of the standard methods used to study behaviour and reflect on their merits, limitations, and ways to improve them.
Mauritius affords tremendous ethnic, religious, and linguistic variety within a small-scale, relatively isolated and politically stable geographical area, features which make it an ideal place for anthropological studies of social interaction. A number of researchers from Aarhus University have been engaged in social scientific research in Mauritius and have received tremendous support from local communities. This project is an attempt to follow up on and systematize this work with the involvement of local and international collaborators.