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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Week of workshops of the five Cluster Centres marks the Half-time at the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence


From 9 to14 May 2022, 21 representatives of the four African Cluster Centres (ACC) of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence visited the University of Bayreuth to discuss the future direction and new opportunities for cooperation at the halfway point of the Cluster of Excellence's funding by the DFG - German Research Foundation.

The Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence, which began its work in January 2019, will soon reach the halfway point of its term. To mark this occasion, the five cluster institutions met in Bayreuth in the week from 9 to 14 May 2022 to take stock and determine new cooperation opportunities. In a series of thematic working meetings and plenaries, the delegations of the four African Cluster Centres, which are based at universities in Burkina Faso (Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou), Kenya (Moi University, Eldoret), Nigeria (University of Lagos) and South Africa (Rhodes University, Makhanda), discussed this with members of the Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth.

"Even though in recent months, due to the pandemic, the collaboration with the ACCs could continue seamlessly primarily via online platforms, we are very happy to finally welcome our African colleagues back to Bayreuth in person and to discuss new collaborative projects," explains Prof. Dr. Ute Fendler, co-spokesperson of the Cluster of Excellence and Vice Dean of the "Internationalization and Public Engagement" department. The five-day visit of the African delegations focused an intensive exchange, in which previous research and cooperation were also critically discussed.

Cluster more than the sum of its research projects

Since the beginning of the Cluster of Excellence, a total of 70 research projects have been launched in the five Cluster institutions. The topics of the multinational and interdisciplinary projects cover a broad spectrum of African studies and are located in the six Research Sections "Arts and Aesthetics", "Affiliations", "Knowledges", "Learning", "Mobilities", and "Moralities". "However, the Cluster of Excellence is not the sum of its research projects alone," explains the Dean of the Cluster of Excellence Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Seesemann. "Rather, we are creating new synergies together and since the beginning have been pursuing a very ambitious agenda, which is designed to create new forms of knowledge production between the Global North and the Global South."

Thematic agenda of the meetings

During the visit, the participants repeatedly split up into smaller working groups to discuss central topics of knowledge production. Digital collaboration and the linking of archives and research results, from which in turn new questions can be generated, play a major role here. The respective teams of the Cluster Centres for instance discussed the issue of "fluid IT ontologies". The meetings of the "Gender & Diversity" officers (GDO) of the Cluster Centres will in turn debate measures and intersectional perspectives that can be developed and implemented in the Cluster’s research in addition to questions of equality in the various contexts of the Cluster of Excellence's work.

Setting the course for the future

However, the meeting in Bayreuth primarily served to shift the mid-term of the funding phase of the Cluster of Excellence by the German Research Foundation into focus for all participants. "Naturally, our gaze is directed towards the future," explains Rüdiger Seesemann. "Especially with regard to a possible extension of the funding of our Cluster of Excellence by the DFG, we have to keep asking ourselves how we can make the work of the African Centres even more visible and how the research that takes place in Africa about Africa can gain more recognition. We have to set the course for this today."

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