British Academy award funding for African Ecologies project

The British Academy has awarded funding to the University of Leeds to support African early-career researchers working on the timely and critical topic of African ecologies.

The African Ecologies project will work with Africa-based early-career arts, humanities and social science researchers. The aim is to support them in developing their writing skills, preparing their work for publication, building their research profiles and strengthening their networks.

The project is led by members of the Leeds University Centre for African Studies (LUCAS), Prof Adriaan van Klinken and Dr Abel Ugba, together with Dr Damaris Parsitau of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

Further academic input and support are offered by the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute, the African Association for the Study of Religions, and the African Studies Association of the UK.

Writing and mentoring workshop for African researchers

At the centre of the project is a three-day interdisciplinary writing and mentoring workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, to take place in July 2023. Participants will receive feedback on draft papers from senior academics and journal editors while training their important academic skills such as interdisciplinarity, peer review and grant application.

This workshop is embedded in a process of continued mentoring and online training to enhance the career and research profiles of the participants.

Commenting on the award, Prof. van Klinken, who serves as Director of LUCAS, says: “As a Centre for African Studies in the UK, we are committed to building strong collaborative relationships with academics and institutions on the African continent. We are grateful to the British Academy for recognising our track record in this regard, and for helping us to expand it.

Personally, I’m excited to work with early-career scholars from a range of African countries, building capacity around this important theme of ecological knowledges.

Adriaan van Klinken, Professor of Religion and African Studies

The project builds on and helps to expand the impact of the Virtual Fellowship scheme for Africa-based academics, developed by LUCAS with the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI), which is currently running for the third year. 

African ecologies to global ecologies

The project adopts an explicit focus on the theme of African ecologies, driven by an intellectual and political commitment to ecological and epistemic justice. It will help participants to further develop their expertise and networks to undertake critical and impactful research in this area.

At the heart of the project is the question of how to generate and translate African and global knowledge from across the humanities and social sciences to support global efforts to generate effective responses to ecological change, both in Africa and worldwide.

“This project and the Africa-focused Virtual Fellowship scheme that preceded it are solid examples of ways that scholars and institutions in the West can make tangible and mutually-beneficial connections with scholars in the Global South”, says co-leader Dr Abel Ugba.

I’m delighted to take part in it not least because it’s one small way to give back to a continent that has given so much to the World. I thank LUCAS and LAHRI for their commitment to the project.

Dr Abel Ugba, Lecturer in Sociology

This is another way in which the University of Leeds delivers its vision of being “a truly international university with global reach and impact”, building strong networks and partnerships with researchers and institutions, especially in the Global South.