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Seven Centers Named Partners in the CHCI African Humanities Map

Seven research centers and cultural organizations have recently been selected as partners and small grant awardees as part of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes’ African Humanities Map project. The awardees include two transnational, independent projects; three collaborative practice or humanities centers; one humanities department; and one project at the intersection of the arts and humanities. In all cases these are new organizational partners to CHCI. In addition to small grants between $3000 and $5000, each has also been offered a year of complimentary membership in CHCI.

These awards mark an important milestone in the African Humanities Map project, which is part of a larger initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to incubate cutting-edge research in the humanities in Africa and support the circulation of that research within Africa and throughout CHCI’s global humanities network. Over the last several months, CHCI has been actively cultivating relationships and gathering information to help the organization understand where and how institutions and centers of humanities activity exist on the continent.

Here is a brief overview of our awardees.

Ateliers de la pensée (Senegal)

Les Ateliers de la Pensée is an initiative to bring together researchers, writers, philosophers, politicians, professors, and the general public into conversation on the realities of the African continent. These meetings take the form of workshops where participants reflect, debate, test their respective proposals, and try to bring about a reflection enriched by the contributions of each other. The first edition was held in October 2016 in Dakar and Saint-Louis, Senegal, and brought together some thirty speakers. The second edition took place from 1 to 4 November 2017 in Dakar.

Bloco 4 Foundation (Mozambique)

Bloco 4 Foundation is an association that seeks to promote the construction of spaces for the exercise of activism, citizenship and social entrepreneurship in Mozambique. When it was created in 2007, its activities were limited geographically to the city of Maputo. Today, however, the Association is focused on activism, citizenship and social entrepreneurship at the national level, within a glocal perspective. The Foundation also intends to develop a set of alternatives within a field of possibilities, in which the youth can be central protagonist, in scenarios of democratic participation and social emancipation, through a platform of dialogue between different actors and social institutions, as a way of exploring a corridor of transformations and articulations between the new and old forms of social knowledge in contexts of change.

Center for African Popular Culture Studies, Ashesi University College (Ghana)

The Center for African Popular Culture Studies was established within the former Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ashesi University in January 2016. As a result of the continued growth at the University, the center has become an autonomous unit. Ashesi University College is not only Ghana’s first-ever liberal arts university but one of Africa’s first private institution of higher learning to adopt the liberal arts model of education. Thanks to the work of the Center there is now an undergraduate course on Ghanaian Popular Culture and programming that has allowed faculty, students and the larger Ghanaian community to experience musical concerts on Ghanaian highlife music, hear readings from the Nigerian novelist and poet Chuma Nkwolo, and see exhibitions on African leaders, political cartoons, highlife music cover art ,and hand-painted movie posters.

College of Humanities, University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)

The College of Humanities was formed in 2013 as a result of the 1994 Institutional Transformation Programme (ITP) that was designed to spearhead transformation in the University organizational structure in order to correspond to local and global changes and challenges. The College is organized in 6 academic departments (foreign languages and linguistics; history; creative arts; literature; philosophy and religious studies; and archaeology and heritage studies) and 1 centre (the centre for communications studies).

Kaleidoscopio: Research in Public Policy and Culture (Mozambique)

Operating since 2012, Kaleidoscopio was founded by an anthropologist, a media professional, and a musician and event manager. The point of departure was the idea that academic knowledge could be better communicated to society and policy makers. As the organization evolved, this perspective has come to influence the methods we conceptualize and share the results of our research projects. The organization started by bringing together a generation of young scholars, but has since grown to develop research projects in partnership with universities in South Africa, England, and the United States.

Reading Zimbabwe (New York and Zimbabwe)

Reading Zimbabwe is a digital archive that was initiated to try and locate ‘Zimbabwe’ in the global discourse. The project is a product of Black Chalk and Co., a creative think tank founded by Nontsikelelo Mutiti, a visual artist and Assistant Professor in Graphic Design at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Dr. Tinashe Mushakavanhu, a writer and literary historian.The project was born out of a curiosity for a deeper understanding of the nature and extent of knowledge production, dissemination, and use around the subject of Zimbabwe: the place and the people. Of the many facets this project attempts to deal with, Reading Zimbabwe highlights four in particular:

  • the paramount importance of hierarchies and power dynamics in the existing knowledge order
  • the relationship of reciprocal legitimation between knowledge and power
  • the transnational production of knowledge related to Zimbabwe
  • the political economy of the commercialization of knowledge.

Teatro em Casa (Mozambique)

Teatro em Casa is a project created by a group of theater students from the School of Communication and Arts of Eduardo Mondlane University. The initiative was launched in 2016 at the request of the public. After watching a theatrical performance presented by a group of students in one of the outlying districts of the city of Maputo, they felt the need to see them perform theatrical performances with them. Thus, the group of students saw this opportunity to apply the theatrical techniques learned in the academy back into the community. Specifically, Teatro em Casa aims to meet the following objectives:

  • performing theatrical presentations to the community
  • encouraging the emergence of theater groups in neighborhoods
  • establishing communication between actors, directors, playwrights, theaters
  • make theater a means of promoting and discussing ideas.