Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

2015 Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition

Deadline: March 15, 2015

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CODESRIA is a Pan-African membership research organization established in 1973 with the broad goal of promoting the work of African and Diaspora social scientists. A key goal of CODESRIA at its inception was to increase African contributions to social scientific work on the continent, in an era when scholars from outside of Africa dominated efforts at understanding the continent. Funding research by African scholars and publishing the results of such work were key tools in this struggle.

While the goal of increasing the quantity of work produced by African social scientists seems to have been mostly met, the key challenge today is one of quality. There is a global division of labor in knowledge production in which Africans are often confined to empirical work while the higher order work of theory building and meaning making are still dominated by scholars from outside of the continent. Work by African scholars is still too often confined to empirical analysis or disciplined by borrowed theoretical frameworks from scholars from elsewhere with little effort to take steps to build innovative theoretical frameworks on the empirical work done. This has meant that Africans are making only limited contributions to global understandings of processes and structures on the continent.

This flight from theorization among African social scientists has to be understood as the result of the continent’s political economic conjuncture instead of evidence of the lack of a capacity to theorize. Indeed many scholars (and scholar-statement) in the immediate post-independence era made significant contributions to global understandings of Africa’s pre-colonial and colonial structures and processes as well as its nascent post-colonial realities. Today some African scholars still constitute leading voices in global debates on Africa and on the world.

Unfortunately a series of factors are militating against the infusion of much of the empirical work conducted by African scholars with theoretical outlooks. One of these is the pervasive practice of consultancy work by African researchers, whose causes and effects are already the subject of much work. The frequent production of consultancy reports has often habituated a mode of writing that often does not surpass the empirical analysis of data, fashioning of policy recommendations, a focus on the present and avoidance of history. The ‘vocationalization’ of university training, as aptly put by Mahmood Mamdani, has contributed to this problem by watering down the training university students on the continent get in the critical skills of reflection and exposure to contemplative work that seeks to escape the purely practical. The meagre resources that many scholars in African universities can access also limit their ability to dedicate time to significant and sustained work on research projects.

CODESRIA’s postdoctoral fellowship program is meant to give scholars at different levels of their careers the resources to undertake sustained work over multiple years on a project of their choice with the goal of producing empirically grounded and theoretically innovative work that will constitute original contributions to their field of work and to the understanding of Africa in the world. In addition to a financial grant of USD 15,000 over a 15-`month period, selected scholars will be provided access to CODESRIA’s library. On account of the strict time lines, the program will privilege support for researchers already involved in work that shows great promise to complete research, analysis and writing. The end result of such work will be a book manuscript or series of articles.

Priority thematic areas from which the Council seeks to draw participants for its 2015 postdoctoral fellowships are:

1. The evolving meanings of ‘youth’ in African communities, intergenerational conflict and collaboration, the location of youth in emerging African economies, youthfulness in the era of emerging threats, evolving African politics through the lenses of youth
2. Structural economic transformation, extractives and natural resource sectors, inequality and the inclusive economies agenda, property rights, rule of law and the social governance of markets, the economics of climate change adaption and mitigation
3. Human rights, democratic consolidation, emerging threats, state evolution, social security and social welfare systems, institutions in African political economies
4. Imagining alternative African worlds in African arts; transcendence in African arts and popular culture; evolutions and revolutions in African popular culture; popular culture, the arts and social policy in Africa
5. Evolution in African higher education, ‘marketable skills’ acquisition and reflective ability development in higher education curricula, intra-African scholar mobility, the political economy of Diaspora involvement in African higher education institutions, rural learning ecologies
6. The gendered analysis of social transformations in mutating African societies

Interested researchers should submit application packages containing the following required materials. Please note that applications that lack any of these required materials will be discarded.

- A cover letter
- A proposal on the project that will be pursued during the fellowship period, which should contain an introduction; statement and contextualization of question; brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses; study design and research methodology; significance of study and brief budget; Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 7 pages (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: single). Brief budgets, which should be incorporated into proposals, should take into consideration the fact that fellowships have a strict 15-month lifespan. No specific format is required for the presentation of budgets but the Council covers the following costs:

  • Field work
  • Books and other materials purchased
  • Honorariums

- A progress report: a 3-page report on progress made so far in research project to be pursued during the fellowship period

- A CV with full contact details including email and phone
- A completed version of the identification sheet attached to this call

The deadline for submission of applications is March 15, 2015. Notification of the result of the selection process will be made by April 15, 2015. All applications should be sent by email to Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, CODESRIA at When sending your email kindly use the subject line ‘Postdoc 2015’ to ensure your application does not get lost. Those lacking access to email can send their applications by post to:

Postdoctoral Fellowship Program;
_ CODESRIA; Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop X Canal IV; B.P. 3304, CP 18524, Dakar, Senegal
Tel. (221) 33 825 98 21/22/23; Fax : (221) 33 824 12 89;
E-mail :
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