Media, policy, and academic representations of Africa emphasise poverty, crisis and dependence. The point is not to confirm or deny these conditions: they exist for some people in some places. The point for us, as a research institution, is to ask real questions.
The Africa Hub is hosted by the Department of African Studies and Anthropology (DASA) which incorporates the Centre for West African Studies (CWAS) of the University of Birmingham. For half a century, CWAS has been an internationally leading centre for the study of African history and society.
CWAS was founded in 1963 by John Fage, one of the most significant figures committed to the institutionalisation of African Studies in the UK and worldwide. Key contributors to Africa-focussed research have been based at CWAS as researchers and teachers including A.G. Hopkins, Thomas McCaskie, Paulo Fernando de Moreas Farias, Margaret Peil, Douglas Rimmer, Ken Swindell, Karin Barber and, more briefly, David Henige and Robin Law, Marion Johnson, Finn Fuglestad, Gareth Austin, and Richard Higgott.
Since its inception, collaboration with African scholars and universities has been central to work carried out at CWAS. A distinctive feature of this work consists in researching African societies on their own grounds. In this sense, asking real questions is about asking questions that are not shaped by cultural legacies and disciplinary trends; questions whose scope is as broad as the field being investigated and which consider answers from a variety of different perspectives.
The Africa Hub (AHub) promotes and disseminates research conducted across Colleges and Departments at the University of Birmingham, as well as by invited scholars and international research partners, students and alumni. Africa is still marginal in school curricula and public culture. Many of the images associated with African society reproduce stereotypes that say more about the particular perspectives that generate them than about the issues they claim to represent. AHub is a space for thinking Africa differently. By foregrounding innovative research on various fields of African studies, AHub contributes to creating a break of self-evidence.
AHub is funded by the Annual Giving Programme.
The editing team
AHub is run and maintained by a team of staff and students:
Dr Benedetta Rossi
"My current research focuses on emancipation from slavery in West Africa. My recent work and publications consider issues related to slavery, migrations, government, ethnicity, and planned development in Niger and Northern Nigeria (Hausa and Tuareg societies)".
"My background is in video, television, web and multimedia. I was based in the Centre of West African Studies for two years, and when I was on the team that built the new CWAS website. My continued work on AHub comes from a real appreciation of the value of the research being done on Africa here and further afield, and I can't wait to help get that research out there through this site."
"I am an anthropologist at DASA. During my undergraduate degree, I spent an exchange year in Lagos, and I have been fascinated by Nigeria since then. I am currently studying the ways in which Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists in the Yoruba-speaking South-West of Nigeria interact mostly peacefully with each other, despite violent conflicts elsewhere in the country."
"I am a second year Anthropology and African Studies student at the University of Birmingham. I have an interest in different cultures and traditions, and also believe that Africa is a place of great potential and has a great role to play within the modern world. After I've finished my degree I would like to go onto post-graduate education, and I hope to have a career in journalism one day.
"I am currently a third year student in Anthropology and African studies. I love learning about different cultures, lifestyles, values and beliefs. I love to work towards building a world where individual creativity and uniqueness is appreciated whilst seeing it as a vital component of unity and cohesiveness."
Benita is currently in her final year of her African Studies with Development degree, and has been responsible for sourcing information on volunteering for the site.