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. 


Shehu Jawondo Ayinde
Shehu Jawondo Ayinde  |  Abstract
Since inception, Ilorin Emirate has been a center of Islam with many Sufists. Due to inadequate knowledge, dearth of materials, and the difficult nature of the Sufi Arabic literature, Sufism suffers misunderstanding and neglect. Earlier works on Sufism in Ilorin are not holistic, instead concentrating on individuals and their works and further compounding this poor understanding. This project aims to correct this by study Sufism in a holistic and simplified way. It relies on interviews conducted among Sufists and non-Sufists using the ''General Analytical Method,” and includes histories of Sufism, the establishment of Ilorin Emirate, the development of Sufi literature, as well as contents as well Sufi poetry itself.

Lecturer, Education, Kwara State College of Education, Ilorin, Nigeria  -  Sufi Arabic Poetry among Tijaniyyah Scholars in Ilorin Emirate, Nigeria

Peter Muhoro Mwangi
Peter Muhoro Mwangi  |  Abstract
This study explores the world of contemporary female performing artists who work in community Women Self-help Groups, and how this influence their positions, philosophy, and thinking as decision-makers and how their decisions affect their lives. Attention is given to the way content and form of Nduumo pooetry portray gender issues. The study further investigates how style and figurative features project, reflect, and construct gender in relation to women's emancipation dispensations. It contends that the performance of Nduumo Poetry is a situated artistic and social practice that women use to tackle societal problems and challenges they face. It further examines women's search for identity, freedom, and empowerment and how resistance manifests in their quest for liberation from patriarchal hegemonies.

Doctoral Student, Literature, Makerere University  -  The Politics of Gender in Gikuyu Nduumo Poetry: A Performance and Gender Approach

Antoni Majémbe Keya
Antoni Majémbe Keya  |  Abstract
This study is on courtroom interaction between the lay witness and the opposing counsel during the speech event of cross-examination. The objective of the study is to explore the courtroom setting and discourse practices in order to see whether, how, and the extent to which discourse and practices in Tanzanian courts affect the search for justice. The research questions are: 1) How do lay witnesses and opposition counsels exercise control of turns at talk, topic initiation, maintenance, and development during the adversarial speech event of cross-examination? 2) In what way(s) can the courtroom setting and the ritualized formulaic talk (primary reality) affect attempts by the witness to engage in recollection (of secondary reality) and production of evidence sought? The data are collected through observation and audio recording, after which the spoken texts are transcribed and then analysed. The analytical framework for this study is Critical Discourse Analysis, basing on Norman Fairclough's three-dimensional framework—looking at discourse as text (description), discourse as discursive practice (interpretation), and discourse as social practice (explanation).

Assistant Lecturer, Foreign Languages and Linguistics, University of Dar es Salaam  -  A Critical Discourse Analysis of Cross-Examination in the High Court of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam

Narteh Moses Nii-Dortey
Narteh Moses Nii-Dortey  |  Abstract
This project studies 'Kplejoo' festival, which is celebrated by the Ga communities of Nungua and Tema, as a composite performance of music, dance, ritual, and possession drama. Though 'Kplejoo' by its designation is performance oriented, most of the earlier scholarly attention it attracted leaned heavily on anthropology and ethnography. This study argues that the two communities commemorate Kplejoo festival not only as a religious obligation but also as reencatment of their histories, myths, and sociopolitical structures for social cohesion and renewal, and also for the celebration of their artistic/aesthetic values. It further argues that a study of the functional and aesthetic interrelationships that exist among the synergized sub-genres of 'Kplejoo' can help to discover the 'Kplejoo' aesthetic/performance concepts and model, and explores the implications of such discovery for contemporary Ghanaian theatre.

Research Fellow, African Studies, University of Ghana  -  Music, Ritual, and Dance of Nungua and Tema 'Kplejoo' Festival: A Performance Study

Shakila Halifan Mteti
Shakila Halifan Mteti  |  Abstract
The Kisi of Southwest Tanzania and the Pare of Northeast Tanzania are famous for pottery recovered by archaeologists that dates back to 1000 AD. The Kisi and Pare still make pot until today. This study examines the role played by men and women in pottery production and distribution from 1930 to 1980. It uses qualitative research methodology including interviews, participant observation, film, and photography to capture pottery making processes, raw material collection, and marketing practices in order to illustrate gender roles and relations. The project demonstrates the value of qualitative research as a method, and illustrates daily life and narrates the human stories that surround craft industry.

Doctoral Candidate, Archeology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  Pottery Production in Tanzania from a Gendered Perspective: Comparative Study on Kisi and Pare, 1930 to 1980

Izuchukwu Ernest Nwankwo
Izuchukwu Ernest Nwankwo  |  Abstract
Stand-up comedy has emerged in Nigeria as one of the most popular performance forms in recent times, rivaling the ‘Nollywood’ video film and clearly ahead of conventional theatre. However, in spite of its popularity, theatre scholars still elide stand-up comedy as unworthy of serious academic attention. What engenders the exclusion of stand-up comedy from the corpus of academic discourse in Nigeria today? Is this art form theatre? What traits make it either theatre or non-theatre? By answering these questions, this project lays bare the dramatic/theatrical aspects of Nigerian stand-up comedy and describes it as theatre, thereby extending the frontiers of theatre scholarship. It further argues that Nigerian stand-up comedy is a postcolonial art form being a (formerly) colonized people’s way of making their own cost-effective theatre—an analysis that will lead to a remapping of the boundaries of postcolonial epistemology.

Assistant Teacher, English, Gombe State University  -  Theatrical Appraisal of Contemporary Nigerian Stand-Up Comedy

Olisa Godson Muojama
Olisa Godson Muojama  |  Abstract
Various works have been done on the general theory of international economic integration, yet studies on Nigeria and the international economy during the colonial period remain rare. In the available studies, the international dimension of the Nigerian economy is implied rather than emphasized. This work examines Nigeria’s integration into the international economy using cocoa exports as a case study on the place of Nigeria within the world economic system in the colonial period. The study relies on primary sources for its analysis, including documents on cocoa exports kept in Nigeria’s National archive at Ibadan and Enugu as well as of the surviving trading companies during the colonial period will be used. The study corrects the lopsidedness and imbalance in the history of Nigeria, and creates frontiers for more research in produce exports. It also provides information for cross-temporal comparison between colonial and post-colonial economic integration and development of the country. This will add to the growing literature on the international dimensions of economic history of Nigeria.

Assistant Lecturer, History, University of Ibadan  -  Nigeria and the International Economy, 1914 to 1960: A Case Study of Cocoa Exports in Colonial Nigeria

Musa Sadock
Musa Sadock  |  Abstract
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) constitute a major health problems. They afflict all social groups, yet many works on STDs are synchronic and focus on specific social populations. This study reconstructs the forces underlying the spread of STDs and responses to them across all social populations in the Mbozi district from 1905 to 2005. The project involves the collection of archival and oral information in Dar es Salaam and the Mbozi district, and argues that the high prevalence of STDs is associated with varied socio-economic, cultural and political factors. It examines the factors of stigma, marital conflicts, government interventions, and the control of the sexuality of the marginalized. In this era of HIV/AIDS pandemic, this project provides us with past lessons that could be applied in our current efforts to combat the pandemic.

Assistant Lecturer, History & Archeology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  A History of Sexually Transmitted Diseases in Mbozi District, Tanzania, 1905 to 2005

Peace Musiimenta
Peace Musiimenta  |  Abstract
This study focuses on educated, married, and working urban women who have been constructed as advantaged but whose voices have been neglected by both feminist and non-feminist researchers. It aims to unravel what has been taken for granted by liberal feminists who identified education (particularly at a higher level) as key to improving gender relations. To get to the depth of educated women’s lived experiences, naturistic and feminist methods of inquiry such as interactive interviewing, native ethnography, and observation of body language are employed. The project argues that while education elevates women to a higher level in the social hierarchy, it redefines their subordination in a subtle manner particularly in the home. Education opens up space for women’s negotiation with patriarchy but does not change the patriarchal template that supports men’s dominance and women’s subordination.

Doctoral Student, Women & Gender Studies, Makerere University  -  Redefined Subordination: Interrogating Educated Women's Life Experiences in Contemporary Uganda

Plan Shenjere
Plan Shenjere  |  Abstract
This project investigates the animal economy of prehistoric farming communities in Manicaland, eastern Zimbabwe, within a culture historical methodological framework. It examines behaviors of farming communities in terms of procurement, use, and discard of animal food through time and space through archaeological evidence, ethnographic inquiries, observations, and historical sources. The project argues that animal meat consumption by these communities was not ordinary meat eating, but a practice deeply rooted in their belief systems and cosmology, and embedded in sociocultural practices of these communities. Unlike previous research, which was basically quantitative, this research adopts a qualitative approach that allows for the study of prehistoric behavior and ways of thinking. The results of intergrating archaeological data, ethnographic inquiries including observations and historical information provides more keys to unraveling the behavior of the Early and Later Farming Communities.

Doctoral Student, Archaeology, University of Dar es Salaam  -  The Animal Economy of Prehistoric Early and Later Farming Communities