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30 years of IAS: the umbrella of African Studies in Bayreuth celebrates its birthday

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University of Bayreuth, Press release No. 096/2020, 18 June 2020

The Institute of African Studies (IAS) at the University is turning 30! University representatives and leading municipal figures celebrated the anniversary at a small gathering (as dictated by coronavirus). IAS coordinates Africa-related research, teaching, and cooperation in Bayreuth. Research on Africa is an important and interdisciplinary focus of the University of Bayreuth and is leading throughout Germany.

(1) (from left) Prof. Dr. Cyrus Samimi, Speaker IAS, Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible, President of the University of Bayreuth, Dr. Ron Herrmann, Head of IAS; (2) Daniela Löbinger (IAS) and Prof. Dr. Eva Spies, Deputy Speaker IAS; (3) Prof. Dr. Cyrus Samimi, Speaker IAS; (4) County Governor Florian Wiedemann; (5) Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible, President of the University of Bayreuth; (6) Dr. Ron Herrmann, Head of IAS; (7) Mayor Ebersberger; (8) Dr. Franz Kogelmann, Managing Director of the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple" and Mirjam Strasser (EIMAS) ; Photos: Claudia Meier for UBT 

"We only do research on Africa together with Africa. A relationship that both sides have carefully nurtured. A relationship from which intensive friendships have developed. And a relationship that has become a success story", University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible explained yesterday at the anniversary event, describing the approach Bayreuth researchers have always followed. Leible emphasized: "Bayreuth represents Africa more than any other university in Germany today. Indeed, African studies is a unique selling point for our university."

This unique position has been built up piece by piece. An important milestone in African research in Bayreuth was the Collaborative Research Centre on "Identity in Africa", which was applied for as early as the 1980s and continued well beyond its funding period. This was followed by IAS, and then in 2007, by the "Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies", or BIGSAS for short. It was founded as part of the Excellence Initiative and has since been considered a shining light in international doctoral training. Finally, in 2018, the University of Bayreuth was awarded the Cluster of Excellence "Africa Multiple", in which the field of African studies will be oriented looking forward. In the 2020/2021 winter semester, EIMAS, the first European master’s course in African Studies will be launched together with the University of Porto (Portugal) and the University of Bordeaux-Montaigne (France). In addition, the IAS coordinates the Bavaria-wide Africa research network BRIAS consisting of the University of Bayreuth, TH Ingolstadt, TH Neu-Ulm and the University of Würzburg.

The speaker of the IAS, Prof. Dr. Cyrus Samimi, reminded of the founding period of the institute at the end of the eighties and emphasized especially the importance of the then president Prof. Dr. Helmut Ruppert. As the central coordinating office of the Africa focus, IAS promotes inter-faculty and interdisciplinary research and teaching, as well as the training of young scholars in Africa-related subjects, for example through interdisciplinary research projects and Africa-related third-party funding applications. It boasts some 60 doctoral members, including more than 20 professors.

Thomas Ebersberger, Lord Mayor of the city of Bayreuth, and Florian Wiedemann, Chief Administrator of the District of Bayreuth, praised the international profile that African research has attained under the umbrella of IAS, from which not only the University but also the City and District draw benefit. Both stressed the importance of the IAS in socio-political debates.


Dr. Ron Herrmann
Academic Coordinator of the Institute of African Studies
University of Bayreuth
Phone:  +49 (0)921 55-4516
E-mail:  ron.herrmannuni-bayreuth.de

Editorial office:

Anja-Maria Meister
Press & PR Manager
University of Bayreuth
Phone: +49 (0)921 / 55-5300
E-Mail: anja.meister@uni-bayreuth.de


Ralph Reindler​

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