Rhodes University’s Deputy Dean of Humanities (Research), Professor Enocent Msindo, and the Manager, Research and Development Projects, Noëlle Obers, recently represented Rhodes University at a week-long series of meetings at the University of Bayreuth, Germany.
The purpose of the meetings was for the University of Bayreuth’s Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence to convene for first time with the four African universities, selected out of a pool of 55 African university applicants, who have each been awarded an African Cluster Centre status within the Germany Foundation funded Cluster of Excellence initiative. The other three African universities are: University of Lagos in Nigeria; Joseph Ki Zerbo University at Ougadougou Burkina Faso; and Moi University in Kenya.
Over the past four decades, the University of Bayreuth has grown to become one of the leading African Studies institutions on a global scale, with significant international partnerships. The ‘Africa Multiple’ Cluster of Excellence seeks to realign Bayreuth's African Studies focus in close cooperation with these African partner institutions. The purpose is to increase collaborations with established researchers on the African continent whose expertise is on various areas of African studies.
The research conducted in the ‘Africa Multiple’ Cluster will highlight the continental and transcontinental entanglements of cultural, linguistic, social, religious, political, economic, and ecological processes in Africa, thus enabling a more precise understanding of these processes. As a result, Africa's relationships with Europe, Asia, and America may also appear in a new light.
“We want to approach this Cluster relationship from our vantage point,” said Prof Msindo. “Our goals are to facilitate collaboration at different levels – from postdoctoral fellows, graduates, PhDs and even staff exchanges. We are coming into this collaboration as equal partners to share theoretical insights with the Global North from the Global South. We will engage researchers from a variety of disciplines such as art, history, and political science, which will help us rethink African Studies in the current age.”
According to Ms Obers, “Rhodes University looks forward to developing the synergies between our university, the University of Bayreuth and the three other African Cluster Centres, and working on collaborative projects to ‘reconfigure’ African Studies.”
The project, which will run over the next seven years, has received 37 million euros in funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), which will be utilised by Bayreuth African Studies as well as the four Cluster Centres. A team of at least thirteen scholars, mainly from the Humanities and Sciences, are members of the Rhodes University Cluster Centre.