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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa




Venue: Dakar, Senegal

Date: 8-12 August 2022

Applications deadline: 30th June 2022


The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and The Centre for African Studies in Basel (CASB) call for applications for their 5th Summer School in African Studies and Area Studies in Africa. The Summer School is offered with the generous support of the Oumou Dilly Foundation (Switzerland) in cooperation with CODESRIA and aims at strengthening the links between the CODESRIA community of scholars and scholars from the African Studies community in Switzerland.

The overall objective of the Summer School is to stimulate and consolidate interdisciplinary approaches to research on Africa, but also on other regions of the world undertaken from within the African continent. It focuses on African Studies as an instance of area studies and seeks to identify themes that are theoretically, conceptually and methodologically relevant to the reflection on the intellectual challenge of Africa as an object of knowledge and its contribution to general scholarship while inquiring into the relevance of the findings to African approaches to other regions.

The goals of the Summer School are the following:

  • Give PhD students and emerging scholars the opportunity to engage critically with new theoretical, conceptual and methodological developments in African Studies and enhance the relevance of the methods to their work under the guidance of senior scholars.
  • Encourage PhD students and emerging scholars to reflect on the potential relevance of knowledge on Africa to the task of improving theoretical, conceptual and methodological tools both in the disciplines as well as in interdisciplinary work.
  • Foster among PhD students and emerging scholars a sense of belonging to a community of scholars in pursuit of knowledge and scholarship.
  • Stimulate emerging scholars to work towards carving a space for African Studies in the broader field of scholarship and, in this way, helping African Studies to claim a place right at the center of knowledge production.

Concept note

The Summer School addresses the question “How Political is Knowledge?”. No serious scholar of African affairs can afford to ignore the role politics has played in shaping the language of science addressing Africa and the goals of the knowledge produced. It has been a staple of African critiques of knowledge production on the continent to suspect that such knowledge is consistent with discourses speaking to regimes of power and truth likely to represent Africa problematically. The question arising from this concerns the methodological implications for research in Africa.

There is a political economy of knowledge production in Africa requiring critical reflection. It raises general questions about the relationship between knowledge and politics. To address these questions, however, we have to reflect even more intensely on what it means to claim that knowledge is political. Does it mean that knowledge is a function of the exercise of power? What are the standards based on which we can validate knowledge? More broadly speaking, what is the basis of intelligibility in scholarly conversations?

Application procedure

The 5th CODESRIA/ZASB Summer School invites applications from doctoral students interested in exploring these issues as part of a larger framework of engaging with methodological challenges in African Studies.

The Summer School is open to PhD students and emerging scholars enrolled and working at Higher Education institutions in any country. Applications from PhD students registered in African and Swiss universities and in the following disciplines are highly encouraged: Social Anthropology, Sociology, History, Religion, Philosophy, Gender studies and Political science. Travel, accommodation and meals during the Summer School will be provided for participants from African Institutions.

Those wishing to be considered for participation should submit an application with the following:

  • A letter of motivation with a clear statement on how you approach the challenge of “objectivity” in the social sciences and humanities as practiced in Africa and elsewhere
  • A five-page concept paper which should highlight: (a) what they are working on (b) how their work relates to the theme of the Summer School; (c) their expectations from the Summer School should they be selected.

With regard to (b) applicants should challenge themselves to look critically into their work and ask themselves what role any of the issues listed below play in it:

      1. What normative assumptions underlie your research?
      2. What regimes of power and truth, but also resistance and contention, speak through your research?
      3. What does the idea that “knowledge is political” mean in your research, and how do you go about it?
      4. How “objective” are the standards for the validation of your research findings?
  • Curriculum vitae
  • One letter of recommendation from the candidate’s institution of affiliation
  • A copy of the applicant’s passport

Applicants are requested to make their submissions using the following link,  https://submission.codesria.org/

Applications can be made in French, Portuguese, and English.

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