University of Bayreuth, Press Release Nr. 071/2022 - 11 May 2022
Joint research in the Cluster of Excellence: Representatives of the African Cluster Centres visit the University of Bayreuth
This week, representatives of the African Cluster Centres (ACC) of the Cluster of Excellence Africa Multiple are visiting the University of Bayreuth. The meeting will focus on a review of the work done so far, new opportunities for scientific cooperation and ideas for further research projects. "Research on Africa only together with Africa" will continue to be the credo of Bayreuth African Studies. In close exchange, the researchers involved in the cluster at the University of Bayreuth and at four universities in Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa are committed to work for new forms of knowledge production between the Global North and the Global South.
Since January 2019, the Cluster of Excellence Africa Multipel has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for an initial period of seven years. At the "half-time", the delegations of the four African Cluster Centres, which are located at universities in Burkina Faso (Université Joseph Ki-Zerbo, Ouagadougou), Kenya (Moi University, Eldoret), Nigeria (University of Lagos) and South Africa (Rhodes University, Makhanda), will meet with members of the Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth from May 9 to 14, 2022. "Even though in the last months, due to the pandemic, the collaboration with the ACCs could be continued seamlessly primarily via online platforms, we are very happy to finally welcome our African colleagues back in 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 Science Communication" portfolio. The five-day visit of the African delegations is characterized by an intensive exchange, in which the previous research and cooperation is 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 cluster facilities at the five locations. The topics of the multinational and interdisciplinary projects represent a broad spectrum of African studies and are located in the six research areas "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 have been pursuing a very ambitious agenda since the beginning, designed to create new forms of knowledge production between the Global North and the Global South."
Thematic content of the working meetings
During the working week, the participants repeatedly split up into working groups to discuss central topics of knowledge production in smaller numbers. Digital collaboration and the linking of archives and research results, from which in turn new questions can be generated, play a major role. Thus, the individual teams of the cluster centers will also discuss the issue of "fluid IT ontologies". In the working meetings of the "Gender & Diversity" officers (GDO) of the cluster centers, measures and intersectional perspectives that can be developed and implemented in the field of research will be discussed 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 serves to bring the mid-term of the Cluster of Excellence's funding phase by the German Research Foundation into focus for all involved. "Our gaze is naturally directed toward 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 centers even more visible and how the research that takes place in Africa about Africa can gain more recognition. We need to set the course for this today."