Cadbury Fellowships 2014

The Cadbury fellowships programme is run every year by the Department of African Studies and Anthropology at the University of Birmingham, thanks to a generous bequest from the Cadbury family. 

We invite applications from early-career researchers who are based in African institutions and wish to spend a period of ten weeks with us discussing and developing the results of their primary research. Fellowships will cover return air-fare, accommodation and living costs for this period.

The programme will culminate in an international conference to be held at the University of Birmingham from 15 to 17 May 2014. The visiting fellows will present their papers alongside a range of established and younger participants who share their interest in this year’s theme.

Class in Africa: a reassessment

This year’s theme is Class in Africa: a reassessment. Developing the dialogues arising from the Africa Talks series at the University of Birmingham in Autumn 2013, we seek to revisit old debates about class in Africa, and connect them to new research and emerging trends.

Since the heyday of debates about class analysis and its relevance to Africa during the 1970s and 1980s, there has been a noticeable shift in the nature and focus of academic interest in class. In more recent studies of socio-economic behaviour and transformations, scholars in the arts, humanities and social sciences have formulated new concepts and terms. For example, research into livelihoods has complicated occupational categorisations and stimulated debate about the nature and significance of the ‘informal’ economy, whilst work on consumption and performed identities has resulted in a focus on class-based status, alongside competing understandings of group formation and social differentiation. Recent media and policy interest in the emergence of a ‘new middle class’ in Africa, Asia and Latin America invites new questions about the economic, political, social and cultural significance of this ‘class’ at a variety of scales, including the global and trans-national. This challenges us to reconsider how Africa is implicated in processes of globalisation and neo-liberalism, how such processes manifest themselves in specific contexts, and whether they can be interrogated effectively through questions about class formation, reproduction and struggle.

We invite applications from scholars working across the arts, humanities and social sciences, whose work touches on one or more of the following areas:

  •  Conceptual / historical - Is class still relevant in the analysis of historical and contemporary transformations in Africa? If so, how should the study of class proceed?
  •  Cultural / comparative - How can idioms of class in particular linguistic and cultural contexts offer the basis for comparison between different African settings, and those beyond Africa? Does literary and cultural production shed new light on African understandings of class?
  •  African workers and the global economy – Are Africans experiencing new forms of proletarianisation as a result of new trans-national flows of capital? How do these ‘new workers’ understand their social and economic position, and are new forms of solidarity emerging?
  •  Rural / urban Africa – Is landlessness on the increase, and if so, how is this altering the livelihoods and coping strategies identified in seminal studies of African labour migrants? What is the place of a labour / working class focus in settings where widespread joblessness and increased informalisation make wage-earners look like aristocracies of labour?
  •  The state against the middle class – Have Africa’s middle classes been overly-dependent on the state since the colonial period, and in what sense has the state turned upon the middle classes since the 1980s?
  •  Who is middle class now? – Have the expansion of formal education, new remittance flows and dramatic increases in the value of urban land contributed to new forms of social and economic mobility? In what respects do men and women aspire to middle class status, and do they adopt different strategies in their efforts to achieve this? How are we to relate these approaches to the middle class with recent policy-focussed research definitions which emphasise levels of income?


Who is eligible for a Cadbury Fellowship?

We invite applications from early-career researchers based in African institutions. Applicants should have completed their main period of primary doctoral research and be either in the stage of writing up their dissertation or, if they have completed their dissertation, be looking to develop publications from it.

Applicants’ research should be relevant to the theme of Class and Africa, and they should be ready to discuss their findings and interpretations in a series of reading groups, seminar presentations, journal workshops and other activities over a ten-week period, before presenting their paper at the international conference. It is expected that fellows will seek to publish their paper as a journal article.


How to apply for a Cadbury Fellowship

Please email your application to Tom Penfold on by 22 Nov 2013. Applications are by short CV (up to three pages, including names and contact details of two referees) and covering letter (also up to three pages). In your letter please include the following information:

  • How you learned about this programme;
  • Whether you will be able to spend ten weeks at University of Birmingham from 10 March to 17 May 2014 (i.e. will you be able to secure leave from other responsibilities such as teaching?);
  • The thematic, geographical and chronological scope of your research;
  • What research you have already undertaken and what you would work on during the fellowship.