Professor of African history elected to the British Academy

Professor Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham has been named among sixty-six of the world’s leading minds elected as Fellows of the British Academy yesterday, Thursday 20 July.

Fellows of the British Academy represent the very best of humanities and social sciences research, in the UK and globally. This year’s new Fellows are experts in subjects ranging from feminist theory to the economic development of Africa; medieval history to Indian philosophy and face perception.

As part of the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham, Professor Moraes Farias works on epigraphic sources for the medieval history of West Africa and has developed new approaches to West African oral traditions and the 17th-century Timbuktu Chronicles.

He is one of the rare historians in Britain whose range of interests includes the early pre-colonial history of Africa. His Arabic Medieval Inscriptions from the Republic of Mali (2003) was a finalist for the Herskovits Award (2004) and won the Paul Hair Prize (2005) conferred by the USA African Studies Association together with the Association for the Preservation and Publication of African Historical Sources.

Professor Moraes Farias said: “I am delighted by this honour. It reflects recognition of the importance of the historical study of Africa”.

The British Academy’s newest cohort of Fellows reflects the growing diversity of research in the UK. The 42 UK Fellows of the British Academy span a wide geographic range, elected from 23 institutions.

The proportion of women elected to the Fellowship has doubled in the last five years. This year, 38% of the new Fellows are women, exceeding the 24% share of female Professors in UK universities, according to HESA data.

Today also marks the start of Professor Sir David Cannadine’s four-year term as President of the British Academy, as he takes over from Lord (Nicholas) Stern of Brentford, who has held the post since 2013.

New President of the British Academy, Professor Sir David Cannadine: “As I take on the role of the thirtieth President of the British Academy, I am aware that I am the latest in a long line of succession, dating back to the Academy’s foundation in 1902.

“Then as now, the times in which we live present us with many challenges. Yet we also have great opportunities to engage with them.

“At a time when institutions are distrusted and derided, and expertise is mocked and scorned, the British Academy stands for truth, reason, evidence-based learning, intellectual distinction, academic expertise, and quality and power of mind. In a world where parochialism, nativism, nationalism, xenophobia and populism seem in too many places to be on the march, it is our job to provide light and learning and hope.

“This is by no means an easy task, but I am looking forward to it, and eager to be getting on with it.”

Notes to editors

The British Academy is the UK's national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. We have three principal roles: as an independent Fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a Funding Body that supports new research, nationally and internationally; and a Forum for debate and engagement – a voice that champions the humanities and social sciences. For more information, please visit http://www.britishacademy.ac.uk/. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.