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Inaugural African Humanities Association Conference, Cape Town, SA

American Council of Learned Societies to Celebrate Completion of Its African Humanities Program at Inaugural African Humanities Association Conference

Fellowship Program Funded More Than 500 Early-Career African Scholars in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda

Inaugural Academic Association Conference Will Feature Prominent African Scholars, Artists, and Activists at the University of Cape Town in November 2023

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is pleased to announce the completion of its celebrated fellowship initiative, the African Humanities Program. ACLS will join past fellows and advisors of the program in celebrating the success of the program at the inaugural conference of the African Humanities Association on November 26-29, 2023, at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

The African Humanities Program (AHP) was created in 2008 with generous support from Carnegie Corporation of New York to fund early-career scholars working and living in Africa. The program awarded more than 500 dissertation and post-doctoral fellowships to scholars in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, and created a vital network of more than 100 senior scholars at African universities who served as program advisers and peer reviewers. The program provided program fellows with opportunities for residencies at African centers for advanced study, manuscript development workshops, and professional development and mentoring. In addition, the program’s African Humanities Series has published 23 books by AHP fellows to date, circulating African humanities research to the international scholarly community.

The momentum generated by the program now continues through the African Humanities Association (AHA). This new academic society, created and led by past fellows and advisors from AHP, has already won an independent research commission from the African Academy of Science. The 2023 conference will host 150 scholars from across the continent.

“Thanks to the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York, the African Humanities Program strengthened the creation and circulation of humanistic knowledge by supporting early-career scholars in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, and by establishing strong networks for scholarly communication throughout Africa and with Africanists worldwide,” said ACLS President Joy Connolly. “We are excited to join the African Humanities Association for their inaugural conference in South Africa, which will gather and celebrate a dynamic community of scholars. We look forward to their continued work advancing the humanities across the continent.”

The AHA conference will bring together a wide range of scholars, performers, practitioners, authors, artists, and activists to discuss the relationship between scholarly knowledge and the public. The conference will examine the conditions African scholars and communities are facing, offering platforms for deciphering the social, political, economic, linguistic, cultural, and artistic challenges facing the continent.

ACLS President Joy Connolly will speak at the General Assembly on Monday, November 27, and as part of the ACLS panel Diaspora/Africa Dialogue on Tuesday, November 28. She will be joined at the conference by Deena Ragavan, ACLS Director for International Programs.

Additional keynote speakers at the conference include:

Malika Ndlovu, a Pan-Africanist poet whose radio and podcast programs celebrate diverse voices and foster connections across the continent

Issa Shivji, a celebrated Tanzanian lawyer, multidisciplinary scholar, activist, and advocate for social justice in Africa

Ari Sitas, an influential South African researcher, sociologist, dramatist, and poet, with a focus on social change, culture, and post-colonialism

“The African Humanities Association is excited to sustain and build upon the vibrant humanities community and exceptional scholarship fostered by the African Humanities Program, with an emphasis on a Pan-African perspective and collaboration across disciplines and countries,” said Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, African Humanities Association President and University of Ghana Vice-Chancellor. “This year, our first annual conference will center the intersections of the humanities, social sciences, and arts in Africa with multifarious crises across the continent, creating space to raise critical issues and imagine new possibilities.”

Formed a century ago, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) is a nonprofit federation of 80 scholarly organizations. As the leading representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences, ACLS upholds the core principle that knowledge is a public good. In supporting its member organizations, ACLS utilizes its endowment and $37 million annual operating budget to expand the forms, content, and flow of scholarly knowledge, reflecting our commitment to diversity of identity and experience. ACLS collaborates with institutions, associations, and individuals to strengthen the evolving infrastructure for scholarship. In all aspects of our work, ACLS is committed to principles and practices in support of racial and social justice.

The African Humanities Association (AHA) was established by the adoption of its constitution at an African Humanities Program (AHP) Regional Assembly in Abuja in February 2020. After fifteen years of AHP activity the time has come for a new initiative, driven by the circumstances and needs of African scholars and locally designed to extend the transformative impact of the AHP on the continent. The AHA envisages a future in Africa of confident, self-referring communities of Humanities, Social Science and Arts scholars who enjoy the respect of peers in other disciplines and in wider society through their engagement with multifarious challenges facing the continent. The mission of AHA is to revitalize and promote Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts research, publications and mentoring across the continent.