Welcome to "Africa Multiple"
PEOPLE & PARTNERS
The “Africa Multiple” Cluster of Excellence pursues an ambitious and innovative agenda, expressed in the subtitle “Reconfiguring African Studies”. The cluster is based on a long and stellar record in African Studies at the University of Bayreuth. Initially comprising the twenty-five Principal Investigators but steadily growing in membership, it will eventually host more than one hundred scholars from a diverse range of academic disciplines, who will develop und pursue joint research interests together with academic partner institutions in Africa, as well as cooperation partners in Germany, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
NEW CONCEPTS AND FORMATS FOR RESEARCH
Our key concepts are multiplicity, relationality, and reflexivity. These are particularly well suited to capture the dynamic interrelationship of diversity and entanglement that characterise African and African diasporic ways of life and world-making. As the cluster’s intellectual core, the Knowledge Lab serves as the focal point for connecting our theoretical, epistemological, and methodological issues, sparking debates and intellectual exchange, stimulating synergies and new theoretical advances. Six thematic fields, organized into Research Sections, provide a coherent structure to our research projects. Most projects pursue an inter- and/or transdisciplinary agenda and involve close cooperation between researchers from Bayreuth, Africa, and our global network.
MORE THAN A CHANGE OF PERSPECTIVE
Our understanding of the reconfiguration of African Studies is not limited to stimulating new theoretical approaches. Most Africa-related initiatives and strategies—whether in the field of development, policy, or research—promise to take new and different perspectives on matters pertaining to Africa. However, such perspectives are usually informed by perceptions and positions developed in the Global North. In our cluster, we will pursue research questions and theory-building together with our academic partners in Africa and elsewhere. For this purpose, we seek to reduce the impact of hierarchies and imbalances that continue to characterise knowledge production with a focus on Africa. The cluster is based on the idea of creating new avenues for academic collaboration through the establishment of four African Cluster Centres (ACCs). Here, our African academic partners will benefit from efficient research infrastructures that will enable them to become active partners of the cluster, rather than passive recipients of input from the Global North.
CREATING A TRANSFORMATIVE SPACE FOR AFRICAN STUDIES
The cluster as a whole is designed as a flexible research setting that allows for the inclusion of a wide range of themes, theories, methods, and approaches. Apart from the Research Sections and the ACCs, the cluster features the Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies, which runs a fellowship scheme for junior and senior researchers, recruited by invitation as well as through regular international calls for applications. The Academy also offers special formats for the training of postdoctoral researchers and hosts four independent Junior Research Groups working on cluster-related topics. Doctoral students pursue their degree through the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), established in 2007 and now serving as the cluster’s graduate school. The internationally renowned Iwalewahaus (founded in 1981), a vibrant center for engagement with African arts, will enrich our work in the cluster through exhibitions, documentation, research, and transdisciplinary working formats with artists.
All cluster members, whether in Bayreuth, Africa, or elsewhere on the globe, are connected to our Digital Research Environment (DRE). Beside communication, the task of the DRE is to integrate highly heterogeneous analogue and digital data, both qualitative and quantitative into a common digital research platform that is accessible to all researchers involved. The database will offer tools that allow us to share data and provide working formats reflecting the heterogeneity, complexity, and dynamism of the cluster’s research through the establishment of innovative and fluid IT ontologies that generate new research topics, knowledge, and concepts.
In our endeavor to build a joint research space free from personal and structural discrimination, the cluster features a Gender & Diversity Office (GDO). The GDO promotes equal opportunity and diversity at three levels: the individual level focuses on the needs of individual researchers by promoting gender equality and supporting measures to counterbalance disadvantages; the structural level connects individual needs to broader systemic (in)equality and thus addresses change in higher education policies; the third level focuses on expanding research in gender, queer, intersectionality studies within the cluster and the University of Bayreuth more broadly.