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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa



Meaning making Research Initiatives (MRI) 2023-2024 : Advanced Senior Research Fellowship

Application deadline: February 20, 2024

Founded in 1973, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) promotes research by African and Diaspora scholars in the Social Sciences and Humanities with the view to better understand social phenomena in Africa. This commitment is rooted in the belief that a sound knowledge base about the continent is invaluable to collective efforts to foster opportunity and equity, rights, and well-being in the continent.

In 2017, CODESRIA introduced the Meaning-Making Research Initiative (MRI) as its principal tool for research support, amalgamating the National Working Groups, Multinational Working Groups, Comparative Research Network, Transnational Working Groups and Post- doctoral Grants. The MRI is designed to facilitate research that contributes to agendas for im- agining, planning, and creating African futures. A key objective of the MRI is to increase the legibility and visibility of the research supported by the Council.

The adoption of MRI marked a renewed commitment to the task of interpretation and expla- nation that saw CODESRIA produce ground-breaking work on thematic issues such as democratization and economic reform in Africa. The Advanced Senior Research Fellowship (ASRF) builds upon the base provided by the MRI to encourage senior African academics who already have conducted adequate empirical work to proceed into the task of data analysis and writing. The aim of the Fellowship is to create conditions of comparatively limited dis- ruption for scholars to produce high-quality, properly conceptualized and empirically rich manuscripts for consideration for publication by CODESRIA. Alternatively, scholars who qualify for this support could propose alternative outputs that demonstrate a capacity for train- ing younger academics, developing innovative curriculum material for teaching, production of audio-visual material that demonstrate a high level of innovations that is equivalent of a standard knowledge product. This Fellowship will be marked by reinforced support for re- searchers and their better integration into the Council’s work. As has been the tradition in the MRI, this Fellowship encourages scholars to explore diverse, innovative, and alternative ways to present their work beyond the traditional book format.

The Purpose of the Advanced Research Fellowship:

The fellowship is intended for accomplished African scholars at the senior level who have established themselves as leaders in their respective fields, showcasing a proven track record of significant professional achievements. We assess seniority based on intellectual leadership or

the potential for such leadership, not necessarily age. Up-and-coming scholars will be evalu- ated based on the anticipated contribution of their project to the advancement of knowledge. Scholars have the freedom to explore a wide array of themes, problematiques, and questions that align with the four thematic fields outlined in the 2023-2027 CODESRIA Strategic Plan.

We are seeking to support bold, innovative, ambitious, and forward-looking projects.

Successful applications will strive to reorient thinking and enhance our understanding of the interactions of African agency and its influences across historical experiences. They will also seek to spur new ideas that advance or challenge conventional wisdom and established knowledge on African phenomena. In sum, the ASRF aims to support projects that can contrib- ute to the advancement of a body of research or innovative ideas, showcase new methodologies or analytical tools, or test bold theories.

Scholars are expected to produce a book or equivalent that will make ground-breaking contri- butions to their field. It is expected that researchers applying for this grant will be at an advanced stage of data analysis so that the grant can directly support the completion of a manuscript or related knowledge output. If accepted for publication, manuscripts will appear in the CODESRIA monograph series or posted on platforms of the Council. Moreover, beyond the traditional book format, we encourage a diverse range of formats for presenting research out- comes. All grants are individual and will have a duration of 16-months.

Selected scholars must commit to engaging with emerging and middle-level researchers par- ticipating in other Council activities. The specific format of this engagement will be agreed upon between CODESRIA and the fellow.

The Council especially encourages applications from African female scholars. While priority will be given to Africa based scholars, we will consider a limited number of applications from scholars in the Diaspora.

Key selection criteria: Projects funded under this initiative should meet most of the follow- ing criteria:

  • Propose research on key aspects of African social realities that fall under CODESRIA’s priority themes as outlined in the CODESRIA 2023-2027 Strategic Plan;
  • Be grounded in a thorough exploration of the continent’s societies, peoples, institutions, and contexts while paying attention to issues of diversity, including gender;
  • Engage constructively and rigorously with African futures;
  • Be theoretically ambitious with a clear goal of providing innovative ways of making sense of African social phenomena and Africa’s place in the world;
  • Explore multiple spatial, temporal and sectoral configurations where relevant to the process of meaning-making;
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the knowledge already produced by CODESRIA on the subject researched;
  • Be guided by clear questions, a sound methodology and conceptual framing;
  • Applicants must have received their PhDs at least 15 years prior to the application deadline.

Thematic priorities: All applications must engage with CODESRIA’s 2023-2027 thematic priorities and cross-cutting issues:

  1. Higher education dynamics in Africa

Role of higher education in economic and political transformation in Africa; the transformation of the African higher education landscape; higher education reform and innovations; higher education governance and leadership; academic freedom and popular struggles; Dias- pora engagements with African universities; valorization of Indigenous Knowledge Systems; outmigration and education; education funding; higher education and Agenda 2063; massifi- cation, privatization and liberalization of higher education, universities and their changing associational life.

  1. The State and Democratisation in Africa: Trends and Prospects

Reconnection with CODESRIA’s work on democratization and related themes; link between power, peace, and security; institutional variations, histories and contexts; debates and critiques of procedural democracy; challenges of the liberal democratic model; substantive democracy and its operationalization; typology for comparative studies on the state and democratization; state, politics, and citizenship.

  1. Transformations in African Economies

Economic policy-making in Africa; dependency and structural transformation; export econ- omies and industrialization; informalization of economies; histories and evolution of labor unionization; public private partnership; multilateral governance; the idea of planning in current economic thinking; heterodox traditions and welfare policy; alternative economic theories; reinventing economic systems; structural and institutional challenges of develop- ment; interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary conversations on economic policy; policy sovereignty for Africa.

  1. Ecologies and Society in Africa

Interactions between people and ecological systems; land, food sovereignty and poverty in the developing world; histories and trajectories of environmental interactions; complex interactions of the urban and the rural; mineral extraction and the transformation of habitats; structural transformations in agriculture and industrialization; conservancy practices, com- modification and impact on societies.

Cross-cutting themes: Applications should indicate the ways in which the 4 cross-cutting themes that guide CODESRIA’s 2023-2027, namely:

    1. History, Memory and Archive
    2. Gender
    3. Generations
    4. Rurality and Urbanity inform their project

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit application packages containing the following required ma- terials as Word documents. Please note that applications that lack any of these elements will not be considered.

    • A proposal with the following clearly titled sections: an introduction; statement and contextualization of question(s) around which the project is centered; brief review of literature and/or competing hypotheses; study design and research methodology; theoretical and practical significance of the study and research plan. Proposals must be submitted as Word documents and should not exceed 10 pages long (font type: Times New Roman; font size: 12; line spacing: double).
    • Budget: The budget should employ the template attached to this call and should take into consideration the fact that these grants have strict 16-month lifespans.
    • Annotated plan of deliverables: One-page annotated plan for the book to be written.
    • A cover letter listing full details- names, email and physical addresses and tel- ephone number. The letter should make a strong case for the innovative nature of the proposal.
    • CV of the scholar, including full contact details.

The deadline for submission of applications is February 20, 2024, through the CODESRIA online submission system using the following link https://submission.codesria.org/. Candidates will be informed of the results of the selection process by April 20, 2024.

Applicants who have not received feedback by this date should consider that their application has not been selected.

Budget Template

PDF File

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