African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellowships

Through fellowship competitions, regional workshops, and peer networking, the African Humanities Program provides support to the humanities in five African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The centerpiece of the program is the distribution of fellowships to African scholars in these countries for work on dissertations, research projects, and scholarly manuscripts. Dissertation awards are listed below; also see postdoctoral awards. The program is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 


Mawuyram Quessie Adjahoe
Mawuyram Quessie Adjahoe  |  Abstract
This study addresses non-temperament, tonality, and modality issues as well as problems of notation in African music, especially in the gyil (xylophone) music of Ghana. It proposes an alternate notation system to the Western system which does not leave room to pitch tolerance as in gyil music. To determine the efficacy of the proposed alternate notation system, the thesis includes a twenty-minute composition with the gyil as the principal instrument.

Doctoral Student, Music, University of Cape Coast  -  The Notation System of Gyil (Xylophone) Music of Ghana: An Alternate Approach

Folasade Oyinlola Hunsu
Folasade Oyinlola Hunsu  |  Abstract
Cultures and histories are some of the elements that usually determine the discourse of autobiography criticism. Black and feminist studies have consistently interrogated longstanding conventions of autobiography and also developed theoretical paradigms applicable to black and women’s autobiography, whereas African women’s autobiography has mostly been studied merely as an offshoot of western autobiography and interpreted with tools that were developed from western experience and culture. This study develops a theory that points to contemporary African women’s concept of “self,” highlighting influences that shape this construction. It categorizes selected texts according to the choice of content and strategies of representation. It shows that the authors create an identifiable classificatory scheme through a series of complex differentiations of “self” from “other,” and sometimes the merging of both. It concludes that contemporary African women’s autobiography not only transgresses rigid definitions of “otherness” but also demonstrates the relationship between specifics of experience and theory.

Doctoral Student, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  Engendering an Alternative Approach to Reading African Women’s Construction of “Self” and “Other” in Autobiography

Jeremiah O. Arowosegbe
Jeremiah O. Arowosegbe  |  Abstract
Although Claude Ake is one of Africa's foremost political philosophers, most works on him have been limited to a celebration of his intellectual pedigree and stature. And, barring a few exceptions, most scholarly commentaries on political theorists in Africa have been treated as either part of the colonial liberation struggle or as part of the neo-colonial historiographical narrations of African anthropology or metaphysics, with the veiled objective of denying the existence and reality of African political thought. The consequence of this deliberate oversight is that—whereas in disciplines like history, philosophy, and the liberal arts, accomplished African (ist) scholars have been studied extensively—within the political science discipline very few studies have been carried out on African political theorists generally and on Ake in particular. This work fills this crevasse and demonstrates the relevance of Ake's works for understanding the pitfalls, precepts, constituents, and prospects for knowledge production in Africa.

Doctoral Student, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ibadan  -  The State, Democracy, and Development in the Works of Claude Ake

Evelyn Kisembe
Evelyn Kisembe  |  Abstract
Comments from the West African Chief Examiners Reports (WEAC) and media accounts carry one concern: poor performance by students of English in primary schools through tertiary institutions. This work examines the poor performance of English as a subject in Ghana, using the Senior Secondary Schools of Eastern Region as a case study. It argues that this performance is shaped by attitude, motivation, teaching, and learning styles. The discussion focuses on social and educational factors. First, the nature and extent of social support received by a learner influences his/her learning. Second, exploring variance in educational factors illustrates how differences between the learner’s learning style and the teacher’s teaching style affect the quality of learning and attitude towards English.

Doctoral Student, University of Ghana  -  Investigating Social and Educational Factors in the Success of English Learning: The Case of Ghana

Nasir Mohammed Baba
Nasir Mohammed Baba  |  Abstract
The Non-Formal Basic Education Curriculum for Qur'anic Schools that emerged in 2001 was meant to facilitate the integration of Qur'anic schools into Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education (UBE) by expanding their exclusively religious curricula and linking them with formal school system. This study examines how stakeholders of this school system (i.e. Qur'anic school teachers, pupils, and government officials involved in the implementation process) perceive that the curriculum and structures put in place are functioning to bring about full integration of Qur'anic school pupils into the socio-economic fabric of Nigerian society. This study considers that Qur'anic schools and their clients possess characteristics and value perspectives that are not often reflected in designing conventional school programs; this study asks to what extent these stakeholders perceive that the integration process addresses their peculiarities and concerns.

Senior Lecturer, Department of Curriculum Studies and Educational Technology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University  -  Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Integrated Qur'anic Curriculum as an Instructional Design for Dispensing Basic Education in Zamfara State

Augustine Uka Nwanyanwu
Augustine Uka Nwanyanwu  |  Abstract
Achebe’s work is anchored within concrete historical circumstances, and language forms the core of his narrative style. The underlying thesis of this study is that there is a dialectical interrelation between language and ideological position taken by the characters in Achebe’s fiction. Because the work is concerned with the way linguistic structures manifest world-view, Sociolinguistic Functional Stylistics (SFS) provides useful insights in the study of the ideological spheres in Achebe’s novel. Very few scholars have examined the implications of language in the perspectives of characters in Achebe’s fiction, and leaving this question of the role of language in world-view unresolved. Thus, the issue of language and the way it implicates differing power relationships remains problematic.

Doctoral Student, English Studies, University of Port Harcourt  -  Chinua Achebe’s Fiction: A Study in Stylistic Criticism

Dinnah Enock
Dinnah Enock  |  Abstract
Although much has been written on the eight established modern Makonde sculpture styles in Tanzania, created during the 1960s (Wembah-Rashid, 1985; Coote, 1989; Korn, 1974; Kasfir, 1999; Kingdon, 1996, 2002; Jengo, 2000), there has been no major, scientific study on sub-styles (styles with variations from the established modern Makonde sculpture styles) or new styles (styles that make no reference to the established styles of the modern Makonde sculpture). The present study is designed, therefore, to investigate and identify factors that influence form, content, techniques, and sizes in sub-styles and new styles of modern Makonde sculpture in Tanzania from the 1960s to the present.

Doctoral Student, Fine and Performing Arts, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Stylistic Evolution of Modern Makonde Sculpture In Tanzania

Celestino Oriikiriza
Celestino Oriikiriza  |  Abstract
Where a language is well-written, elicitation and arrangement of meanings of words for dictionary making is mainly done using document-based methods. Where a language is not well-written, or not written at all, elicitation and arrangement of meanings of words for dictionary making is mainly done using fieldwork methods, which makes the work tedious, expensive, and time-consuming. Given this scenario, the objective of this research project is to find an efficient and optimal method of eliciting and arranging multiple meanings of words in the lexicography of less documented languages. Derived using the situation-role theory, the central thesis is that multiple meanings of words can be optimally and efficiently elicited and arranged in accordance with the syntatic-semantic-syntatic bridge. The project’s scope includes different classes of verbs.

Doctoral Student, Linguistics, Makerere University  -  Elicitation and Arrangement of Meanings of Words in the Lexicography of Less Documented Languages

Chinwe Roseann Ezeifeka
Chinwe Roseann Ezeifeka  |  Abstract
Language has been implicated as a means of creating asymmetrical power relations among individuals and groups within social institutions. These dominant discourses have the characteristics of making ideological positions appear natural and opaque such that some groups are under-represented. Sometimes, even the dominated are unaware because these ideological positions have become part of the knowledge base, hence an unquestionable “order of discourse.” An attempt is made here to study this repressive language use within three social institutions in Nigeria, namely, the print media, with particular reference to the May to June 2008 editions of the Guardian Newspapers that reported the nation-wide industrial action by primary and secondary school teachers; political discourse using two political speeches by two past Nigerian leaders; and gender discourse using data from the above two sources. Five research questions are answered through textual analysis of the selected editions and speeches. Systemic functional grammar and content analysis, using insights provided by a research paradigm called Critical Discourse Analysis, are employed. Finally, a panel survey samples the awareness of those affected by these dominant discourses to be analyzed using simple percentages.

Doctoral Student, English Language and Literature, Nnamdi Azikiwe University  -  Power Relations and Linguistic Repression in Print Media and Political and Gender Discourses: The Nigerian Experience

Omon Merry Osiki
Omon Merry Osiki  |  Abstract
The worrisome phenomenon of trafficking has continued to generate academic interest because trans-border crimes such as human smuggling, trafficking of arms and ammunitions, and others have remained major obstacles to development in both developed and developing countries of the world. Tackling these problems has remained Herculean partly because of their dynamic nature. This project assesses the growth and development of human trafficking, arms and ammunition trafficking, as well as hard-drug trafficking as aspects of trans-border criminality across the Nigeria-Benin border. The work examines some of the causes of the three aspects of trafficking such as poverty, ignorance, and the greed for money. It also examines the intricacies and complexities of trafficking as a global crime from a historical perspective.

Doctoral Student, Department of History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos  -  A History of Trafficking Across the Nigeria-Benin Border, 1914 to 2005

Gbenga Fasiku
Gbenga Fasiku  |  Abstract
The old problem of the relationship between the mind and body in the philosophy of mind is revitalized in David Chalmers’ (1996) hard problems of consciousness. The hard problems, simply put, are in two strands. The first is the question of whether it is possible to separate all of the neuron firings, information processing, and behavioural responses of a mental experience, e.g. pain, from the phenomenal consciousness or qualia or “the raw feel” of pain. The second is the question on the relationship between these two (possibly separate) phenomena—the physical properties or processes and the qualia. These questions have been and are still being asked in different ways in the contemporary literature. This project argues that the neuroscientific representation of consciousness provides a basis for the physicalist understanding of consciousness, and, in a way, resolves the hard problem of consciousness.

Doctoral Student, Philosophy, Obafemi Awolowo University  -  A Physicalist Understanding of Phenomenal Consciousness