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Neil Carrier publishes in the Review of African Political Economy

29 July 2016

Abstract: This article assesses the impact of drugs on agricultural production, trade and livelihoods more broadly by focusing on cannabis and khat in Lesotho, Nigeria and Kenya. It actively engages with research that has recently begun to explore the links between drugs and development in Africa and challenges some of its key assumptions. It argues that based on the available empirical evidence, the causalities between drugs and underdevelopment are not apparent. It proposes a more nuanced understanding of the impact of cannabis and khat, showing how they have provided farmers and entrepreneurs with opportunities not readily available in difficult economic environments.

To cite this article: Neil Carrier & Gernot Klantschnig (2016) Illicit livelihoods: drug crops and development in Africa, Review of African Political Economy, 43:148, 174-189

To download this articleplease click here

Miles Larmer participates in the History Faculty's debate on colonialism, Rhodes Must fall and the teaching of African history

23 June 2016

More than 100 students and staff from the History Faculty, including the African Studies Centre's Dr Miles Larmer, met on 14 June to debate Oxford’s historical relationship with colonialism and its impact on the lived experience of students today. For further information please visit the History Faculty website.

SIAS Green Impact Team goes GOLD!

16 June 2016

On Wednesday 15th June, the University’s Environmental Sustainability Team invited us all to the Blavatnik School of Government for their annual Sustainability Showcase.

We are proud to announce that the School’s Green Impact Team were presented with a Gold award – the highest accolade possible within the Green Impact scheme.

The Showcase is an opportunity to distribute awards to the numerous Green Impact teams and others involved in sustainability practices for their achievements over the past year and this year’s event was described by Professor William James, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources) as “the biggest celebration of social and environmental actions…at Oxford University ever” joining together the Sustainability Awards and the Social Impact Awards for the very first time.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson said “There really is an extraordinary amount of work taking place in the University, both within the Departments and most particularly across them, which is really very exciting.”

The evening itself not only gave us the chance to celebrate our achievements, but also to take part in a tour of the recently opened Blavatnik School of Government at the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter. The building was designed and built with energy efficiency and sustainability targets at the fore and is expected to consume 49% less energy in comparison to existing UK buildings of the same size and usage. It has received a “BREEAM Excellent”* rating and incorporates a multitude of environmental systems in its design.

After the awards, we were all able to celebrate with a glass of sparkling wine and canapes from a local sustainable menu.

We would like to express our great thanks to the Environmental Sustainability Team for all of their support in helping us and other Green Impact teams achieve our goals over the past year and for organising such a wonderful event; we can’t wait to start again next term!

If you are a member of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, staff or student, and would be interested in finding out more about the initiative or being part of the team, please contact us for details:



MSc African Studies students speak out on Rhodes Must Fall

17 March 2016

A number of our students have been involved in Rhodes Must Fall Oxford, a student-led movement to decolonise the space, the curriculum, and the institutional memory at Oxford University. The recent campaigning to remove a statute of Cecil Rhodes, led to a demonstration that took place on March 9th, following a similar protest last November. To find out more take a look at this articlepublished in last week's Guardian newspaper.

Dr Nic Cheeseman appointed the founding Editor in Chief of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics

4 March 2016

Dr Nic Cheeseman has been appointed the founding Editor in Chief of the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics, a new reference guide that will be published in hard copy and on-line by Oxford University Press. It is hoped that the Oxford Encyclopaedia of African Politics will help to mainstream research on and from Africa, and that in time the Encyclopaedia will become a touchstone for those interested in the continent. Articles are currently in the process of being commissioned, and a publication date in 2017 is anticipated.

Dr Cheeseman has put together a stellar team of Associate Editors to realise the Encyclopaedia, including:

Prof Lungisile Ntsebeza, the Professor and the holder of the AC Jordan Chair in African Studies at the University of Cape Town and the holder of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Research Chair in Land Reform and Democracy in South Africa.

Dr Peace Medie, Research Fellow in the Legon Centre for International Affairs and  Diplomacy (LECIAD) at the University of Ghana, and a winner of the African Affairs African Author prize.

Prof Richard Banegas, Professor of Political Science at Sciences Po, Paris, and the President of the Association des chercheurs de Politique africaine (ACPA).

Prof Rita Abrahamsen, Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottowa, and the former editor of African Affairs.

Dr Rachel Beatty Riedl, Assistant Professor in Political Science at Northwestern University, winner of the African Politics Conference Group’s Best Book award in 2014.

In a separate development, Dr Nic Cheeseman will also become the founding Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of African Politics, also with Oxford University Press.

The forgotten army of WWII: West Africa's soldiers in Burma – exclusive video

3 September 2015

Nigerians made up more than half of the total force of 90,000 West African soldiers deployed to south east Asia after 1943. But while the role of Indians and Gurkhas in the campaign to drive the Japanese out of Burma was celebrated in the recent VJ day anniversary commemoration, African soldiers' voices are not often heard. Olly Owen with collaborators Dan Susman and Robin Forestier-Walker made this film trying to capture their own perspectives on the war and its aftermath. It uses interviews in Nigeria, as well footage of West Africa divisions fighting in Burma and original recordings of soldiers' songs about their war, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

Two MSc African Studies graduates included in the Financial Times list of '25 Africans to Watch'

27 July 2015

Two MSc African Studies graduates, Robtel Neajai Pailey and Rafael Marques de Morais were included in the Financial Times list of '25 Africans to Watch' in this weekend's special feature magazine. Unfortunately we cannot provide you with a direct link to this article but if you search on '25 Africans to Watch Financial Times' using any internet browser you should find the article.

Podcast- African Studies Annual Lecture- Is Africa Rising? A personal reflection with Winnie Byanyima

3 July 2015

Listen to the African Studies Annual Lecture podcast- Is Africa Rising? A personal reflection with Winnie Byanyima

African Studies Annual Lecture Is Africa Rising? A personal reflection with Winnie Byanyima

1 July 2015

Watch the African Studies Annual Lecture Is Africa Rising? A personal reflection with Winnie Byanyima here

Rhodes House post article on Bram Fischer Memorial Lecture

18 June 2015

Justice Edwin Cameron delivers 2015 Bram Fischer Memorial Lecture at Rhodes House


Nic Cheesman's book Democracy In Africa tops Amazon's African Politics bestseller list

14 May 2015

Congratulations to Nic Cheeseman, whose book 'Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures, and the Struggle for Political Reform (New Approaches to African History)' became's best seller in the category of African Politics (13 May).

'Democracy in Africa' has been described as "an extremely rich study that follows some standard pathways, thereby doing justice to a multi-faceted body of research, that also digs deeper into largely neglected aspects meriting more attention, be it the "democratic dividend" for Africa on the one hand, or the devastating effects on democracy of the widely used "politics of fear" on the other."  (Andreas Mehler, Director, GIGA Institute of African Affairs)

The book is available from Amazon here:

Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures, and the Struggle for Political Reform (New Approaches to African History)


  • Thursday 30th April 2015
  • Published by: Cambridge University Press
  • Type: Book

"Accessible yet authoritative and often provocative, Nic Cheeseman's book provides an exceptional history of contemporary democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. His book's great strength is to combine attention to the varied historical and cultural roots of issues that emerged in the 1990s with a keen grasp of the political implications of the institutions that have been chosen to rule the countries of the region. Buttressed by compelling examples and statistics from seemingly every country in the region, this book is must-reading for anyone interested in African politics."

Nicolas van de Walle, Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government, Cornell University, New York

"Nic Cheeseman has embarked on a big adventure - to describe and analyse progress and setbacks of democratization processes on an entire continent, from Senegal to Kenya, from Mali to Zimbabwe. The result is an extremely rich study that follows some standard pathways, thereby doing justice to a multi-faceted body of research, that also digs deeper into largely neglected aspects meriting more attention, be it the "democratic dividend" for Africa on the one hand, or the devastating effects on democracy of the widely used "politics of fear" on the other. This book can serve as a compass in the bewildering complexity of Africa's political landscape."

Andreas Mehler, Director, GIGA Institute of African Affairs

"Explaining the causes and outcomes of the democratization process in Africa has preoccupied scholars for the last quarter of a century. In this lucid, engaging analysis, Nic Cheeseman brings both a balanced evaluation of previous scholarly research and fresh perspectives on the current state of democracy in Africa. Neither an Afro-pessimist nor a cheerleader for democracy's successes in Africa, Cheeseman recognises the many complexities and contradictions accompanying political change across the continent."

Anne Pitcher, University of Michigan


This book provides the first comprehensive overview of the history of democracy in Africa and explains why the continent's democratic experiments have so often failed, as well as how they could succeed. Nic Cheeseman grapples with some of the most important questions facing Africa and democracy today, including whether international actors should try and promote democracy abroad, how to design political systems that manage ethnic diversity, and why democratic governments often make bad policy decisions. Beginning in the colonial period with the introduction of multi-party elections and ending in 2013 with the collapse of democracy in Mali and South Sudan, the book describes the rise of authoritarian states in the 1970s; the attempts of trade unions and some religious groups to check the abuse of power in the 1980s; the remarkable return of multiparty politics in the 1990s; and finally, the tragic tendency for elections to exacerbate corruption and violence.


Current MSc student Sheriden Gunderson publishes in the Daily Nation: Chewing over change

21 April 2015

Chewing over change: Miraa farmers move on to passion fruit and dairy cows


Evans-Pritchard Lectureship 2015-2016

17 April 2015


Further Particulars:

Salary: Stipend of £3,000, board and lodging at All Souls College (or one of its properties) during the Lectureship, plus reasonable travel expenses.

Closing date: Friday 17 April 2015

Applications are invited for the Evans-Pritchard Lectureship during the academic year 2015-2016.

The Lecturer will deliver a series of four to six lectures in the course of a month, based on field work or other indigenous primary materials concerning Africa, the Middle East or the Mediterranean, and offering an empirical analysis of social relations. Scholars in the fields of social anthropology, classical studies, archaeology, modern history and oriental studies are eligible and, other things being equal, the electors will prefer a person at the beginning or middle of their career. It is hoped that the Lectures will be published in book form.

Candidates for election should send an outline of their proposed lectures, and a list of publications, to by Friday 17 April 2015. They should also ask two referees to send their references to evans‑ – also to arrive by Friday 17 April 2015.

All Souls College is an equal opportunities employer and particularly encourages applications from women and those with a legally protected characteristic.

Nic Cheeseman's article in Daily Nation: Lessons for Africa from Nigeria Elections

11 April 2015

Nic Cheeseman writes about lessons for Africa from Nigeria Elections

Dr Ian Cooper posts a blog - Namibia and President Pohamba's legacy

26 March 2015

Dr Ian Cooper has posted a blog- Presidential Power: Presidents and Presidential Politics around the World

Dr Cooper is Teaching Associate in the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge, and a Visiting Research Associate in the African Studies Centre at the University of Oxford.


Evans-Pritchard Lectureship 2015-2016

5 March 2015


Further Particulars:

Salary: Stipend of £3,000, board and lodging at All Souls College (or one of its properties) during the Lectureship, plus reasonable travel expenses.

Closing date: Friday 17 April 2015

Applications are invited for the Evans-Pritchard Lectureship during the academic year 2015-2016.

The Lecturer will deliver a series of four to six lectures in the course of a month, based on field work or other indigenous primary materials concerning Africa, the Middle East or the Mediterranean, and offering an empirical analysis of social relations. Scholars in the fields of social anthropology, classical studies, archaeology, modern history and oriental studies are eligible and, other things being equal, the electors will prefer a person at the beginning or middle of their career. It is hoped that the Lectures will be published in book form.

Candidates for election should send an outline of their proposed lectures, and a list of publications, to by Friday 17 April 2015.

They should also ask two referees to send their references to evans‑ – also to arrive by Friday 17 April 2015.

All Souls College is an equal opportunities employer and particularly encourages applications from women and those with a legally protected characteristic.

Watch The Rising Inequality in the Global South Event!

13 February 2015

Rising Inequality in the Global South: Practice and Solutions Symposium. Watch here!

2013-2014 MSc student Ryan Brown publishes her essay in Slate Magazine based on Ponte, South Africa's Tower of Dreams

10 February 2015

2013-14 MSc student Ryan Brown has just published a long essay in Slate Magazine based on her Masters dissertation on Ponte, a huge residential building in downtown Johannesburg's. Here's a link to Ryan's piece:

Dr Neil Carrier & Emma Lochery's article on Diaspora has been chosen by Taylor and Francis

9 February 2015

'Missing States: Somali trade networks and the Eastleigh transformation' co-written with African Studies MSc alumna and DPhil candidate Emma Lochery has been chosen by Taylor and Francis as a key article on Diaspora as part of their support for the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. They are offering free access here:

Book Launch-A Man of Good Hope by Dr Jonny Steinberg

5 February 2015

Please see the list of fantastic reviews!

Memorial Service for Terry Ranger

22 January 2015

A Memorial Service is being held on Saturday 28th February, at 11.00 am at Christ Church. All welcome to attend.

Terence Ranger obituary - the guardian online

19 January 2015

One of Africa's most radical and influential historians - Terance Ranger obituary

LIVE-STREAM: Rising Inequality in the Global South: Practice and Solutions

19 January 2015

To view a live-stream of this event, please click here.


Terence Ranger Obituary (1929 - 3 January 2015)

19 January 2015

Terence Ranger, who has died in Oxford at the age of 85, was one of the most stimulating and influential African historians of the last half century. A scholar of remarkable energy, Terry, as he was universally known, had the reputation of reading faster and writing more quickly than any of his peers. Over an engagement with Africa, and particularly with Zimbabwe, lasting 57 years he wrote ten major books and was editor or joint editor of some 15 others, as well as publishing innumerable articles and chapters. Yet Ranger’s special importance lies less in the volume of what he published than in his ability to open up new lines of enquiry in an attractive manner. His influence as an academic historian, moreover, was reinforced by his involvement as a political activist in Zimbabwe (a source of suspicion to some of his contemporaries) and by his role as a public intellectual, vigorously interacting with British and European historians and participating in a range of theoretical debates. On a more personal level, he was a deeply loveable man, with a good conceit of himself, as we say in Scotland, but generous, warm-hearted, and possessed of a very English, self-deprecating sense of humour.

There is a certain irony in the fact that a man perceived in the early 1960s by white Rhodesians as the very epitome of left-wing radicalism should have had an entirely conventional English middle-class upbringing. Born into a Home Counties Conservative-voting home, Ranger was educated at Highgate School in north London, at Queen’s College, Oxford as an undergraduate and at St Antony’s, Oxford  where he carried out postgraduate research into 17th-century Irish history under the remote supervision of Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper. From Oxford he took up a post at the heart of Empire: the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, traditional training ground for British naval officers, including several monarchs-to-be. On his own account, any signs of dissidence he displayed at this time were confined to slight eccentricities in dress: suede shoes worn at Dartmouth and a jerkin singled out as ‘revolting’ by Evelyn Waugh on a visit by the novelist to St Antony’s College.

The Suez Crisis of 1956 proved something of a wake-up call in demonstrating the duplicity of the Eden Government and the limits of British imperial power. But when Terry and his wife, Shelagh (they had met at St Antony’s where she was secretary to the Bursar) arrived in Southern Rhodesia in 1957 they came as political innocents, although innocents imbued with strong moral principles based on the desire to ‘do good’ in a multi-racial society. It may well have been precisely because of his impeccably orthodox academic credentials that Terry was chosen over the better qualified Richard Gray (known to be a nationalist sympathiser) as the first lecturer in history at the University College of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

If this were so, the error of their decision rapidly became apparent to the university authorities. Within a remarkably short time, Terry and Shelagh moved from principled protest against racial discrimination into active involvement in the nationalist movement as members of the National Democratic Party and, when it was banned, of ZAPU.  He also played a leading role with John Reed, a fellow lecturer at the university, in editing the cyclostyled broadsheet, Dissent, and, from 1961, in leading a well-publicised campaign against the colour bar. Meanwhile, he found time not only to finish his Oxford D.Phil. on the Earl of Cork, but also to carry out extensive research in the Salisbury archives which were to result in a cluster of seminar papers that quickly established his reputation as a leading student of African resistance. When he was deported in February 1963 he found himself swamped with offers of academic posts. The one he did take was as first Professor of History in Tanzania’s brand new university in Dar es Salaam.

If the six years he spent in Rhodesia provided the foundations for Ranger’s career, it was the further six years in Dar es Salaam that established him as a dominant influence in the development of African history. In many respects, he was fortunate in moving to Dar es Salaam when he did. This was a period when money was in relative abundance in African universities for book-buying, conferences and research and when Tanzania, under Julius Nyerere, was becoming a place of particular attraction to left-leaning scholars of a variety of political persuasions. There was no longer the possibility of political engagement of the intensity he had experienced in Rhodesia. But in compensation, there was the challenge of setting up a department from scratch involving both the creation of a lively undergraduate syllabus and the appointment of academic colleagues. There must have been those who wondered whether his initial four choices, all of them young white males with degrees from Oxbridge (John Lonsdale, John Iliffe, John Sutton and John McCracken), indicated a somewhat insular conservatism. But if this were the case, that fear was quickly dispelled by his later appointments, notably of the Tanzanians Isaria Kimambo and Arnold Temu, of Ned Alpers, from Harvard via SOAS, of the brilliant Guyanese radical, Walter Rodney and, as oral historian, of Andrew Roberts, one of Jan Vansina’s first postgraduate students at Wisconsin.

Even by Ranger’s high standards, the Dar es Salaam years were remarkably productive. Much of his research time was initially spent in completing Revolt in Southern Rhodesia (1967)his iconic, although deeply problematic study of the 1896-97 risings and of The African Voice in Southern Rhodesia (1970), a follow-up volume dealing with African politics to 1930. But he also threw himself into Eastern African history, most notably in two research topics, neither of them fitting into a narrow ‘nationalist’ agenda. These were the study of dance societies that was ultimately to result in the publication of Dance and Society in Eastern Africa (1975), one of his most original and innovative works, and his investigation into the interaction of Christian and ‘traditional’ beliefs, drawn in part from the voluminous logbooks of the UMCA mission at Masasi, entrusted to him by Bishop Trevor Huddleston. In his valedictory lecture before leaving Dar in 1969 Terry set out his fundamental, often criticised, belief that crucial to the understanding of Africa was recognition of the importance of African agency. Africans under colonialism should not be seen simply as victims in a morality tale. Rather they should be studied as resourceful protagonists operating in an environment not of their own making.

Ranger’s departure from Dar after almost twelve years spent continuously in Africa marked the beginning of what is best described as a transitional period in his life. UCLA, where he was Professor of African History from 1969 to 1974, was in many respects a wonderfully attractive base with congenial colleagues, enthusiastic students, generous research grants and a splendid climate. But it was not Zimbabwe, now plunged into a destructive war, nor was it Oxford, always Terry’s ideal of what a university should be. Aided by a major grant from the Ford Foundation he embarked on an ambitious project on African religion in its historical setting which resulted in the holding of three major regional conferences and the emergence of African Religious Research as the most innovative journal in its field. There were also new publications, in particular The Historical Study of African Religion (1972), which he edited with Isaria Kimambo.

With this phase of research coming to an end there was need for a new challenge. Each summer, while in California, he and his family had rented a house in a village near Oxford. Now, in 1974 he returned to his homeland as Professor of Modern History at the University of Manchester. The salary was far less than what he had been paid at UCLA. But to his friends he explained that this was not a specialist African History Chair but one that had been held in his day by the great Lewis Namier, one of the most influential historians of 18th Century England. His ambition was thus to use Manchester as a base for his attempts to persuade the British historical establishment of the need to incorporate African history into mainstream historical writing. His collaboration with Eric Hobsbawm as joint editor of The Invention of Tradition (1983), a hugely influential collection of essays of which his was the only one on Africa, went some way towards achieving this purpose, although the limited nature of the impact is demonstrated by the fact that, even today, the majority of British historians know nothing of Ranger’s work other than this single volume.

In later years, Terry sometimes spoke of his time in Manchester as a particularly unrewarding period in his life. This was unjust for a number of reasons: Manchester had an excellent History Department and a first-class library; bright students flocked to his Special Subject on the History of Zimbabwe. Government cutbacks, however, made the early 1980s a grim time for British universities, even Manchester and African Studies suffered disproportionally. There was a lack of fellow Africanists other than his good friend and frequent sparring partner, the anthropologist Richard Werbner.

Yet if Manchester was not all that he had hoped, political developments in Zimbabwe were working in his favour. In 1980, white rule ended with the triumph of ZANU PF. After 17 years as a prohibited immigrant, Terry was now free to return. The initial response in the still unreformed Department of History was less than friendly but the archives remained as rewarding as ever and at St Francis Mission, an independent community of nuns near Mutare, which he had first visited back in the late 1950s, he found a perfect base to carry out oral research for his new project, a study of peasant resistance in the Makoni District. Published in 1985 under the title Peasant Consciousness and Guerrilla War, the book can be seen as completing a trilogy of nationalist writings going back to Revolt in Southern Rhodesia in the 1960s.

In 1987 Ranger made the long desired transition to Oxford as Rhodes Professor of Race Relations. This in some respects offered him problems. He was no lover of Cecil Rhodes, although he had written perceptively about him; nor was he drawn as a scholar to the study of race relations, although he recognised the importance of the subject. His answer was to turn the post to all intents and purposes into a Chair in African History. Seminar series were arranged; conferences were held; postgraduate students flocked in increasing numbers to carry out research. Oxford, which had once spurned African history, now became a leading Africanist institution.

Freed of undergraduate teaching, Terry now took to research with greater enthusiasm than ever and with a subtlety of approach which was sometimes absent in his earlier work. In their different ways, the three monographs that followed were among his greatest achievements. In one, Are We Not Also Men?, a sensitive study of the remarkable Samkange family, based in large part on Thompson Samkange’s personal papers, he explored the intellectual growth from the 1920s of the emerging African elite. In a second, Voices from the Rocks, he turned his attention away from eastern Zimbabwe and demonstrated considerable personal courage by undertaking archival and oral research in Matabeleland at a time when the area was still traumatised by the effects of years of civil war and oppression. In the third, he embarked on a major collaborative project with two bright young researchers Jocelyn Alexander and JoAnn McGregor, now professors in their own right at Oxford and Sussex.. In Violence and Memory (2000), their account of social and political changes in the remote forests of the Shangani Reserve, they provide a bleak analysis of the horrors of colonial, nationalist and post-colonial armed struggle stripped of any vestige of romance.

Ranger’s research on his last two books was interrupted by the life-threatening heart attack he suffered while working in Matabeleland in 1996. His friends were therefore alarmed but not surprised when, on statutory retirement from Oxford in 1997, he returned for three years to the University of Zimbabwe, now suffering the full rigours of the economic downturn. There he took on a full-time job, teaching courses and stimulating research among a new generation of able, independent-minded young Zimbabweans. As one of the earliest white supporters of nationalism, he was initially reluctant to add his voice to the growing clamour of criticism of Robert Mugabe but, when he did, it was in typically original and incisive form. His article, published in the Journal of Southern African Studies in 2004, on the way in which Mugabe and his supporters had utilised Terry’s early writings for their own narrow political purposes, succinctly set out the concept of ‘patriotic history’, a term now utilised, perhaps too frequently, by many other writers. By this time, Terry’s mobility was seriously impaired. But this did not prevent him from making his first foray into urban history, Bulawayo Burning (2010) and in providing a valedictory account of his early years in Rhodesia, Writing Revolt (2013).

What are we to make of Terry Ranger? Should we see him, as in the engaging photograph on the front of Writing Revolt, at Salisbury airport on the eve of his departure from Rhodesia in 1963, wearing an African cap and surrounded by nationalist comrades, among them Joshua Nkomo, Robert Mugabe and James Chikerema? Terry himself was delighted to be portrayed in such a way but I personally share the opinion of George Nyandoro who, in a letter to Terry written in 1963, wrote that the Government should be thanked for restricting him to a three-mile radius from his home, thus forcing him to devote his time to working in the archives. No one could doubt Terry’s commitment to Zimbabwe. But it was probably expressed most effectively at the least dramatic level – the constant support over decades that he and Shelagh gave to Zimbabwean friends and their relations. Indeed it could be argued that, in terms of tangible results, it was Shelagh who achieved the most in her relentless campaigns against small-minded officialdom in Rhodesia and, later, in Britain aimed at ensuring that detainees, asylum seekers and their families received the rights that were due to them.

What then of Terry as a professional historian? Even before his death the discussion was well under way and there is no point repeating what has been said elsewhere. What is evident is that Terry did not construct an impregnable academic fortress. He was too keen on advancing risky propositions and in too much of a hurry to always check his footnotes with the care that they required. There is the odd factual error, the odd moment where he carries an argument further than his sources allow. Much of the central argument contained in Revolt in Southern Rhodesia can no longer be sustained. Yet to accept flaws is not to deny the central value of his work. Terry was not the first historian to examine African history in detail from below. George Shepperson’s and Thomas Price’s remarkable Independent African, with its compelling portrait of John Chilembwe, was published a decade before Revolt. But, from the very first, Ranger was able to sweep up his readers in the excitement of the African experience. There was the Ranger tone, relaxed, conversational and allowing Africans a voice through the regular employment of direct quotations. But also there was the Ranger approach, intelligent, questioning and drawing inspiration from a range of intellectual sources. As his critics were quick to complain, Terry was an empiricist, who rejected all-embracing theoretical models. Yet he was not averse to borrowing from those models when he felt his work could gain from them.  Right to the end he was taking on board new ideas and revising his position, while remaining constant to his fundamental beliefs.

What of Terry as the public intellectual? The starting point, as so often in his career, lies with his involvement with Zimbabwe: the creation of the British-Zimbabwean Society, the mounting of regular conferences on Zimbabwe, there and in Britain, and the encouragement given to young historians embarking on studies of Zimbabwean history. Those familiar with the Journal of Southern African Studies will be aware of his pivotal role in its development. He was Chairman of the Board from 1974 to 1992 and read submissions voraciously almost to the end. He was also an active member of the board of Past and Present, the ‘liveliest and most stimulating historical journal in the English-speaking world’, according to its website, where he saw his role as ‘bringing African historiography into the collective consciousness of history in general.’ For many it will be as a conference participant that he will be best remembered: an eloquent speaker at the lectern but often even more impressive in turning a discussion around through a lucid intervention. In all this, a curious paradox remained. Terry had a highly successful career conventionally defined – the first African historian to become a member of the British Academy, the holder of three chairs at prestigious universities; a past President of the African Studies Association of the UK; one of St Antony’s most illustrious Fellows. Yet by nature and conduct he remained, as he had begun in Rhodesia, one of A.J.P. Taylor’s troublemakers, a natural dissenter, never happier than when he was challenging authority or defending the marginalised and the obscure.

In 2009, to the concern of his doctors, Terry made an arduous visit to Malawi to attend a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1959 Nyasaland State of Emergency. He was there, not as an academic, but rather, alongside nationalist heroes, Rose Chibambo and Vera Chirwa, as a participant in the events that were being discussed. In 1959 during the emergency he had visited Nyasaland as editor of Dissent, interviewed recently released detainees and then published a highly critical account of conditions in Kanjedza camp which was given considerable publicity in Britain. The conference, however, took up only part of his stay. With assistance from Megan Vaughan, I was able to take him back to Likhubula at the foot of Mulanje Mountain, where his great friend Sketchley Samkange had drowned before his eyes in in 1961. On the last day, he accompanied me to Zomba’s run-down but resilient Archives. With unerring luck, he instantly obtained a fat file dealing with the witchcraft eradication movement, mchape, about which he had written back in the early 1970s. Within an hour, he was beginning to sketch out a new article. This is the Terry that I will remember: intellectually dynamic even when physically limited, always anxious to discover more; the African historian supreme.                 

 Terry’s wife Shelagh survives him as do his two daughters, Franny and Margaret. His youngest daughter, Jane died in 2011.

John McCracken

A Tribute to Terence Osborne Ranger

15 January 2015

One strand of Africanity, defines an ‘Africanness’ as determined by ideological commitment to the cause of African liberation. Terence Osborne Ranger fits into this category. He actively participated in the early phases of the nationalist struggle in Zimbabwe provoking the anger of the Rhodesian white colonial state, which eventually deported him. At the same time, Ranger used his skills as a historian not only to formulate anti-colonial nationalist historiography but to provide the struggling African nationalists with the desperately needed ideological resources. His uncovering of ‘Murenga’ (as a spiritual anchor in the 1896-7 Uprising) from the archives, gave birth to Chimurenga, which became a usable ideological resource in the armed anti-colonial struggle in the 1970s. Ranger’s expansive academic work was at once nationalist and decolonial, while remaining relentlessly fixated on capturing African initiative. Consequently, Ranger actively played a leading role in overthrowing what Valentine Mudimbe termed the ‘colonial library.’ While Ranger’s early work could be designated as part of mainstream ‘nationalist historiography’ of the 1960s and 1970s; with Zimbabwe’s attainment of political independence, he shifted his focus to ‘history of nationalism,’ delving deeper into its complex rural and urban dimensions. By the 1990s, Ranger became pre-occupied with trying to understand how Zimbabwean nationalism had mutated into an authoritarian, violent, intolerant, and repressive format, while at the same time highlighting how nationalist historiography contained in his early works had been appropriated and rechanneled by ZANU-PF into what he termed ‘patriotic history.’ Throughout his academic career Ranger demonstrated exceptional reflexive abilities of revisiting, revising and critiquing his own work in accordance with new evidence and changing perspectives. 


Professor Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni

Head of Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI)

University of South Africa (UNISA)






Professor Terence Ranger

7 January 2015

It is with great sadness that we announce that Professor Terence Ranger, Fellow of St Antony’s College (1987-97), died on 3 December at the age of 85.

Terry was the pioneer of Africanist history, he taught at the University of Dar es Salaam before taking professorships at UCLA, the University of Manchester, and Oxford where he was the Rhodes Chair of Race Relations. As well as authoring many highly influential studies of Zimbabwe and African history more generally, he co-edited (with Eric Hobsbwam) the groundbreaking study 'The Invention of Tradition' in 1983. Terry was a great supporter of the African Studies Centre and donated his library to us which is held in a reading room named in his memory.

Scholarship Announcement for 2015-16

19 December 2014

The African Studies Centre of the University of Oxford is proud to announce a number of Scholarships for the academic year 2015-2016. Full details of each are available here

Neil Carrier receives University Teaching Excellence Award

19 December 2014

Neil Carrier received a University Teaching Excellence Award in a ceremony at Rhodes House in December 2014. This award recognised his general teaching at the African Studies Centre, but in particular his hard work in inaugurating a Kiswahili language course. This course was very much a joint effort by Neil and Oxford DPhil student and Kiswahili teacher, Andrea Scheibler, who also attended the ceremony.

Research Excellence Framework: Area Studies

18 December 2014

SIAS and Oriental Studies are delighted to note that our REF2014 submission was the largest made to the Area Studies panel by a considerable margin. 

Moreover it was rated as the most impressive in terms of volume of material that was judged to be world leading (4*) - again by a considerable margin.  These results confirm the position of scholars in Oriental Studies and SIAS as being pre-eminent among those working in area studies in the UK.  They demonstrate the significance of our contribution to the understanding of the world beyond Europe and North America and to the global status of Oxford University.

Bjarke Frellesvig, Chair of the Oriental Studies Faculty Board
Ian Neary, Head of SIAS


We are pleased to announce the publication of Ghosts from a Biscuit Tin Exhibition Catalogue.

13 November 2014

The Exhibition Opening Reception, 11 Novemver 6-8pm in the Mary Ogilvie Lecture Theatre, St Anne’s College.

Ethnographies of Uncertainty in Africa

13 November 2014

We are pleased to announce the publication of Ethnographies of Uncertainty in Africa co-edited by Elizabeth Cooper and David Pratten. The collection emerges from a series of workshops funded by the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, and showcases the doctoral and post-doctoral research of several scholars from Oxford University. The collection includes chapters by Elizabeth Cooper, Adam Gilbertson, Nadine Beckmann and Marco di Nunzio who have all recently graduated from Oxford, along with Julie Archambault who is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Institute.

This collection explores the productive potential of uncertainty for people living in Africa as well as for scholars of Africa. The relevance of the focus on uncertainty in Africa is not only that contemporary life is objectively risky and unpredictable (since it is so everywhere and in every period), but that uncertainty has become a dominant trope in the subjective experience of life in contemporary African societies. The contributors investigate how uncertainty animates people's ways of knowing and being across the continent. An introduction and eight ethnographic studies examine uncertainty as a social resource that can be used to negotiate insecurity, conduct and create relationships, and act as a source for imagining the future. These in-depth accounts demonstrate that uncertainty does not exist as an autonomous, external condition. Rather, uncertainty is entwined with social relations and shapes people's relationship between the present and the future. By foregrounding uncertainty, this volume advances our understandings of the contingency of practice, both socially and temporally.

Dr Nic Cheeseman and Dan Paget’s research on political parties published in a new book

10 June 2014

Dr Nic Cheeseman and one of his doctoral students, Dan Paget, are co-authors of a new book called Politics Meets Policies: The Emergence of Programmatic Political Parties.


Nic and Dan’s analysis, which was based on the collective efforts of a team of four researchers, attempts to explain when parties move from more personality- or ethnically-based politics to more policy or programme-based strategies of mobilising support.


In doing so, they try to answer some of the most pressing questions in the field of democratization, such as what features do successful programmatic parties exhibit that others lack? Does the success of programmatic parties lead to better quality leadership, economic growth, and an increase in state capacity? Are programmatic parties necessarily better for democracy than personalistic or ethnic ones?


The research was commissioned by the International Institute for Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), which asked selected political scientists to examine what drives and strengthens programmatic politics, even under unlikely conditions. The different authors draw lessons from Brazil, Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, India, South Korea, Ukraine, Taiwan, Turkey, and Zambia, and use the most up to date and comprehensive research on democratic accountability and citizen-politician linkages. Other co-authors of Politics Meets Policies include Herbert Kitshcelt and Juan Pablo Luna.


The book is intended to reach both the policy and academic community, and findings are being disseminated to both communities in various meetings in Brussels, London, Stockholm, Sussex, and Washington.


For more information, to view an online copy, and to buy the book, visit

The Guardian publishes article on Lake Turkana report

6 March 2014

The article, "Ethiopian dam's ecological and human fallout could echo Aral Sea disaster" discusses the Lake Turkana report produced by Sean Avery and David Turton. A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley.

A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley. - See more at:

A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley. - See more at:

A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley. - See more at:


A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley. - See more at:

A short version of Sean Avery’s 2012 report for the AHRC Omo Valley Project has been published as an illustrated booklet. It summarises the potential impact on Kenya’s Lake Turkana of hydropower and large-scale irrigation development in the Omo Valley. - See more at:


Jonny Steinberg publishes essay in Granta Magazine

24 February 2014

In October 1999, in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, the son of a white farmer was killed by the black tenants on his land. This was the subject of Jonny Steinberg's 2002 book, Midlands. In an essay in the latest edition of Granta, Steinberg writes of returning to the same valley 14 years after the murder. You can read the essay here.

Podcasts now available online

21 February 2014

The following seminars are now available to listen to online.

Staying Out of Place: The Dialectics of Being and Becoming in Exceptional Spaces – Simon Turner


South Sudan Crisis Roundtable - Annette Weber, Douglas Johnson, Peter Biar Ajak, Dr Ahmed Al-Shahi


Live Dangerously, Brothers: Liberia's Ex-combatants and Their Place in the Post-war City –Danny Hoffman

Dr Nic Cheeseman awarded £800,000 ESRC grant to research elections in Africa

28 January 2014

Dr Nic Cheeseman and colleagues have been awarded almost £800,000 by the ESRC to research “The impact of elections: voting, political behaviour and democracy in sub-Saharan Africa”. The project aims to break new ground by addressing the role of popular ideas regarding the (im)morality of electoral (mal)practice. Seeking to move beyond a literature that has generally focussed on the way in which ruling parties have sought to manipulate elections, Dr Cheeseman and his colleagues will investigate the extent to which electoral practice has been both driven and constrained by popular expectations and demands.

The project will not just consider what legally counts as electoral malpractice in a given country – although this clearly represents an important framework of reference for candidates, donors, electoral commissions, and judiciaries – but will focus on what is regarded as legitimate and illegitimate by citizens. While the “menu of manipulation” available to electoral contestants is broad – including ballot box stuffing, vote-buying, constituency gerrymandering, bias development spending, and the intimidation of party activists and votes – these acts are sometimes accepted or at least tolerated by ordinary people, and in certain circumstances some of these practices are even popularly supported and demanded.

Taking off from this insight, the project asks how individuals’ political experiences of elections over time have shaped their own democratic attitudes and behaviour, and how this, in turn, has shaped the expectations and demands which they bring to the electoral process. The research will also investigate how election officials – at every level – have understood their role and sought to carry out their task and what have been the roles of executive pressure and popular expectation in shaping practice.

The project will focus on Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. These countries share a common point of departure: all were British colonies and all came to independence with a Westminster-style parliamentary system. But their subsequent histories embraced a range of electoral arrangements – single-party (Kenya), no party (Uganda), and military tutelage (Ghana and Uganda) – and while all currently have governments produced through multi-party elections, it is only in Ghana that the results have commanded widespread acceptance, while Kenya and Uganda stand as examples of increased violence and entrenched authoritarianism respectively.

In order to understand the evolution of democratic norms and practices the research will involve a wide range of methods including archival work, interviews, surveys, and games played under laboratory conditions. The research project will begin in early 2014 and last for three years.

The project is a collaboration between Dr Nic Cheeseman, Dr Gabrielle Lynch (Warwick), Prof Justin Willis (Durham), and Prof Stefan Lindberg (Florida/Gothenberg).

New article published by Dr Neil Carrier and Hassan Kochore

22 January 2014

Navigating ethinicity and electoral politics in northern Kenya: the case of the 2013 election has been published in the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Nic Cheeseman on Bloomberg

17 January 2014

Nic Cheeseman, Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford, has appeared on Bloomberg TV (22 December) to review the major events and trends of 2013. Bloomberg is a 24-hour business & financial live television network that reaches over 310 million homes worldwide, with an average working day audience of 426,721 viewers, surpassing audience figures for CNN International, CNBC Europe, Sky News International, BBC World News and Euronews.

In a special edition of African Business Weekly, Eleni Giokos and guests consider a number of the most important themes of the previous 12 months, including the International Criminal Court cases in Kenya, the impact of political instability on investment, developments in African energy sectors, and the death of Nelson Mandela.

To view the program, click here.

The African Studies Centre of the University of Oxford is proud to announce a range of fully funded scholarship opportunities for the academic year 2014-2015.

16 January 2014

The MSc in African Studies is a world leading three-term, nine-month course designed both as a stand-alone interdisciplinary introduction to current debates about Africa, and as a preparation for doctoral research on Africa. This advanced degree programme provides an excellent foundation for those who wish to expand their knowledge of African Studies, prior to working for NGOs, the civil service, international organizations, and the media, or in other professional capacities.

These scholarships cover both fees and maintenance. For more details see the attached document or visit MSc in African Studies.

Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach on BBC World Service's 'The Forum'

17 December 2013

You can hear Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach on "The Forum" by listening to the programme's podcast. The programme discusses how close South Africa is to achieving the ideal of freedom for all and whether there has been global progression in attitudes towards racism.

African Local Knowledge and Livestock Health

22 November 2013

On November 28th 2013 William Beinart and Karen Brown will launch their book: African Local Knowledge and Livestock Health published by James Currey.

African Studies Centre Newsletter 2013

20 November 2013

The African Studies Newsletter for 2013 has now been published. Please do have read about the highlights of the 2012-2013 academic year!

CPP team visit to HSE in Moscow, Russia

4 October 2013

On October 4th 2013, the CPP team visited the National University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, Russia, where it debated the early results of the project along with faculty and students of the Department of Comparative Politics. Among others, the event was attended by Andrei Melville (Head of the Department of Comparative Politics) and Mikhail Ilyin (Deputy Dean for Research).

Pictured (left to right): Mikhail Ilyin (HSE), Dmitry Efimov (HSE), Timothy Power, Zlata Sergeeva (HSE), Nic Cheeseman and Svitlana Chernykh.

CPP workshop in Ukraine

2 October 2013

On 2nd October, 2013 the CPP held its second regional workshop at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) in Ukraine. The Oxford team debated the early results of the project along with representatives of the National Institute for Strategic Studies, the Agency for Legislative Initiatives and the Academy of Public Administration under the Office of the President of Ukraine (Department for Parliamentarism) as well as the students and faculty of NaUKMA.


CPP present at Department of Political Science, University of São Paulo (USP)

23 September 2013

On 23rd September 2013, the Oxford team presented the CPP project to the Department of Political Science, University of São Paulo (USP). Discussants included Fernando Limongi (Professor and Chair, USP) Argelina Figueiredo (IESP, Rio de Janeiro), and George Avelino (Fundação Getúlio Vargas, São Paulo).

Pictured (left to right): Germán Bidegain Ponte (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Andréa Freitas (CEBRAP), Svitlana Chernykh, Fernando Limongi (USP), Paul Chaisty, Timothy Power, George Avelino (FGV), Nic Cheeseman, and Santiago Basabe-Serrano (FLACSO Ecuador and GIGA, Hamburg).

CPP team visit Feseral University of Parana

20 September 2013

On 20th September 2013, the CPP team visited the Federal University of Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil, where a symposium on comparative presidentialism was sponsored jointly by the graduate programs in Law and Political Science. The event was organized by UFPR professors Fabrício Tomio (Law) and Luciana Veiga and Renato Perissonotto (Social Sciences). 

The proceedings were streamed life on YouTube and the video is archived HERE

Pictured: Timothy J. Power, Renato Perissonotto.

CPP workshop in Brazil

19 September 2013

On 19th September, 2013 the CPP held its first regional workshop at the Federal Senate of Brazil in Brasília. The event was jointly opened by Senators Cyro Miranda, Flexa Ribeiro, and Lídice da Mata, by the Ambassador of the United Kingdom, HE Alex Ellis, and by the Director of the Brazilian Legislative Institute Helder Rebouças. The CPP team was joined by the researchers from Federal Senate of Brazil and the University of Brasilia. The event was attended by over 150 people and broadcast on TV in the Senate and online. 

Pictured (left to right) are Paul Chaisty, Leany Lemos (Federal Senate of Brazil) João Henrique Pederiva (Interlegis), Germán Bidegain Ponte (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Svitlana Chernykh (University of Oxford), Timothy J. Power, Santiago Basabe-Serrano (FLACSO-Ecuador and GIGA, Hamburg) and Nic Cheeseman

Paul Chaisty, Nic Cheeseman, Svitlana Chernykh and Timothy Power present cross-regional findings

16 September 2013

On 16th September 2013, Paul Chaisty, Nic Cheeseman, Svitlana Chernykh and Timothy Power presented cross-regional findings from the Coalitional Presidentialism Project.

They presented to an audience of graduate students and faculty at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFGM), Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

The events was opened by Antonio Mitre (Director of the Center for Latin American Studies); Josè Angelo Machado (chair of the Department of Political Science), Claudia Feres (coordinator of the Political Science Postgraduate Program), Jorge Neves (dean of Philosophy and Human Sciences FAFICH), and Magna Inácio (Centre of Leislative Studies).

Pictured (left to right) are Nic Cheeseman, Svitlana Chernykh, Paul Chaisty and Magna Inácio.

CPP team at international workshop on Coalition Management

13 September 2013

On 13th September 2013, The CPP team participated in an international workshop on “Coalition Management in Comparative Perspective” at EBAPE (Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration), Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro. Other participants in the event included Carlos Pereira, Octavio Amorim Neto, and Greg Michener (all of EBAPE), Marcus Melo (UFPE), Sérgio Praça (UFABC), Acir Almeida (IPEA), Marcelo Vieira (UFMG), and David Samuels (University of Minnesota).

Pictured: Nic Cheeseman

Learning from the Experts: Nigerian Masks and Masquerade

9 September 2013

David Pratten has recently been working with colleagues from the Pitt Rivers Museum on aspects of their collections and displays; explaining the history and politics behind the African Masks associated with the Annang and Ibibio peoples of Nigeria. For more information please see Learning from the Experts: Nigerian Masks and Masquerade.

SIAS twitter feed launch

3 September 2013

SIAS is on twitter (@SIASOxford). Please follow us to get notified about news and events from across the school.

Timothy Power keynote speaker at AMECIP

26 August 2013

On 26th August 2013, Timothy J. Power was the evening keynote speaker at the First International Congress of the Mexican Political Science Association (AMECIP) held at the University of Guanajuato. He presented some of the initial findings of the Coalitional Presidentialism Project to an audience of over 500 people on the first day of the conference. 

William Beinart publishes "Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination"

18 July 2013

William Beinart, together with Karen Middleton and Simon Pooley is publishing a new edited collection entitled: Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination

Wild Things: Nature and the Social Imagination assembles eleven substantive and original essays on the cultural and social dimensions of environmental history. They address a global cornucopia of social and ecological systems, from Africa to Europe, North America and the Caribbean, and their temporal range extends from the 1830s into the twenty-first century.

The book is being published by The White Horse Press, Cambridge and is available for purchase on their website.

Tope Folarin wins Caine Prize for African Writing

2 July 2013

African Studies Graduate Tope Folarin (MSc 2005-6) has won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing. Tope was awarded the prize for his short story ‘Miracle’, which can be read in full on the Caine Prize website.

The Chair of Judges, Gus Casely-Hayford, announced Tope Folarin as the winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held on Monday, 8 July at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.   Gus Casely-Hayford praised the story, saying: "Tope Folarin's 'Miracle' is another superb Caine Prize winner - a delightful and beautifully paced narrative, that is exquisitely observed and utterly compelling".

The Caine Prize is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer published in the English language. Because of the Caine Prize's connection to the Booker Prize, the award is sometimes called the "African Booker".

Janet Remmington has Plaatje article published

11 June 2013

African Studies graduate Janet Remmington (MSc 2008-09) has had an article arising from her MSc African Studies research published in the latest edition of the Journal of Southern African Studies (Volume 39, Issue 2).

The article, entitled ‘Solomon Plaatje's Decade of Creative Mobility, 1912–1922: The Politics of Travel and Writing in and beyond South Africa’ can be viewed in full on the Taylor & Francis Online website.

This article foregrounds the hitherto relatively unexplored travel–writing nexus that characterised the extraordinarily mobile and textually productive, if personally precarious, decade (1912–1922) of Solomon T. Plaatje, founding General Secretary of the South African Native National Congress (later African National Congress) and South Africa's first black novelist in English. Drawing on cross-disciplinary work, including ‘travel writing’ and ‘travel culture’ frameworks, it argues that Plaatje's strategic travel within South Africa and to Britain and North America combined with the production, publication and circulation of his writing during the tumultuous period of landmark South African segregationist legislation and the First World War were telling symbiotic means of African political assertion, cultural nationalism, and self-inscription as a modern global citizen. In effect, Plaatje's travelling and writing put him ‘on the map’, challenging the bounds of white exclusionary politics and intellectual space in the newly consolidated racist dominion state of the Union of South Africa, while also testing the tenets of Empire. Native Life in South Africa (1916), a construct of crisis and political charge against the 1913 Natives' Land Act and associated subjugation of the black majority, is read as a personalised political travelogue for multiple publics, not least aimed at calling for intervention by metropolitan Britain to aid the native cause. Mhudi (1917–1921/1930), with its no-less-resolute but more complex, searching impetus in the context of increasing disillusionment with imperial rule and two costly if provocative deputations to London, is treated as an historicised fictional travel account of the young, black female which challenges colonial, Afrikaner, and traditional African historiographies, while probing possible futures for South Africa in the light of betrayal of black peoples by white. The works concern themselves in part with excavating African, and particularly Bechuana, cultural stores for interplay in the modern world and national asset-building; however they – especially Mhudi – also register something of a modernist search for moorings in a world in upheaval and apparent retrogression. Plaatje's decade of creative mobility, in which travel fuelled his writing and writing galvanised his travel, bore striking witness to the immovable socio-political positions of the South African state and the British imperium, registering the great distance to go in racial equality being achieved.

Nic Cheeseman’s research makes front page news in Kenya

6 June 2013

An article by Dr Nic Cheeseman has made the front page of Kenya’s Daily Nation, the largest newspaper in East and Central Africa with a circulation of over 200,000. The piece,  “From Cold War to M-Pesa – events that shaped Kenyan history”, discusses 50 events that have shaped Kenyan history. It was selected to lead the Nation’s celebration of 50 years of Kenyan independence in an edition published on Makadara Day (June 2).

Writing with long time co-author Daniel Branch, Nic identified five key themes that the newspaper used to structure its coverage. He argues that in many ways the colonial legacy left Kenya a fragile nation. ‘Yet reviewing the 50 events that define Kenya’s history over the past half-century reveals that Kenyans have not simply accepted their fate. Instead, these milestones demonstrate that for all of the country’s fragility and occasional violence, the last 50 years has been marked by resilience, ingenuity, and triumph’. 

Nic also writes a regular column for the Nation. View his first column, “New laws helped numb the pain of poll defeat" and archive.

Nic Cheeseman is a University Lecturer in African Politics, the editor of African Affairs, and the founder of

Routledge Handbook of African Politics

8 May 2013

Faculty and former students at the African Studies Centre have worked together to produce a major state-of-the-art publication, the Routledge Handbook of African Politics.

The Handbook is a comprehensive summary of the key debates in African politics and features over 30 chapters written by the leading names in the field. Dr Nic Cheeseman and Prof David Anderson (now at Warwick) edited the volume together with former African Studies MSc student Andrea Scheibler, now a final year DPhil. Two other former MSc students also made a major contribution: Martin Williams authored a chapter, while Zoe Marks was Senior Editorial Assistant.

Andrea Scheibler has written an overview of the Handbook, which can be found here.

To order a discounted copy of the Handbook, please take a look at this flyer. The book can also be purchased on Amazon.

The editors would also like to invite you to the launch of this Handbook, to be held on Monday 20th May following the African History & Politics Seminar by Jeremy Seekings - who also contributed to the Handbook - at the Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, OX1 3TB. 

Gender in African Studies Research Day

8 April 2013

As part of its 30 year anniversary celebrations, the International Gender Studies Centre is co-hosting a research day focusing on gender in African Studies on Saturday 11th May 2013 at Lady Margaret Hall. The day will be an opportunity for students and others from diverse disciplines to come together and discuss the current status of gendered research into Africa. The day will provide an opportunity to review the key debates in gender within African Studies, to discuss current research and to reflect on the practical application of gendered research in African Studies to policymaking and programme design.
The event will showcase a number of short presentations on current research followed by a discussion session. If you are interested in participating, please send an abstract of up to 300 words by 19th April 2013 to . Those currently doing fieldwork are welcome to send an early hypothesis, as the event is intended to be helpful for those writing masters dissertations due in Trinity term.
The research day will be rounded off with a fun evening celebration featuring African food, music, dancing and good company.  For more details please contact: Kari Dahlgren (, Hannah Spens-Black (, Maria Jaschok ( or Angela Raven-Roberts (

Alum Alex Noyes's dissertation published in African Studies Quarterly

8 April 2013

African Studies alumnus Alex Noyes (MSc 2010-11) has had a shortened version of his MSc dissertation published in the latest edition of African Studies Quarterly (Volume 13, Issue 4).

The article, entitled ‘Securing Reform? Power Sharing and Civil-Security Relations in Kenya and Zimbabwe’, can be viewed in full on the African Studies Quarterly website.

Abstract: While international actors use power sharing to resolve a vast range of conflicts in Africa and view state security reform as critical to achieving durable peace, there is a distinct lack of studies that examine the relationship between power sharing and security sector reform. This paper argues that, in the cases of Kenya and Zimbabwe, two main factors have determined the divergent security reform outcomes of the respective power-sharing governments: the degree of political influence within the security sector and the strength of the security reform content of the power-sharing agreement. In Zimbabwe, the rise of “security politics” gave the security sector a high degree of political influence, which, combined with weak security reform content in the power-sharing deal, resulted in little movement on security reforms. In Kenya, the state’s loss over the control of violence gave rise to the practice of “militia politics,” leading to a low degree of political influence in the security sector, which, when coupled with strong security reform content, facilitated considerable—albeit halting and not fully implemented—progress on state security reforms.

Dr Timothy Power and Dr Mariana Llanos on New Directions in Comparative Presidentialism

15 March 2013

Dr Timothy Power and Dr Mariana Llanos (German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg) co-directed a workshop on “New Directions in Comparative Presidentialism”.

The workshop ran from 11-15 March 2013 at the 41st ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, Johannes Gutenberg Universität, Mainz, Germany.

Dr Power and Dr Svitlana Chernykh presented a co-authored paper using early CPP data on how Chilean, Ecuadorean and Brazilian legislators perceive the practice of coalitional presidentialism.

Pictured (left to right) are workshop participants Marcelo Camerlo (ICS Lisbon), Magna Inácio (UFMG), Oleh Protsyk (University of Flensburg and CPP Advisory Board member), Ana Craveiro (ICS Lisbon), Svitlana Chernykh, Timothy Power, Mariana Llanos, Cecilia Martínez-Gallardo (UNC Chapel Hill), John Ishiyama (University of North Texas and lead editor, American Political Science Review), Lucio Rennó (University of Brasília), Jack Blumenau (LSE, winner of the ECPR Wildenmann Prize for an outstanding paper presented at the 2012 Joint Workshops), Michael Widmeier (University of North Texas), Andréa Freitas (University of São Paulo), Koichi Kawamura (Institute of Developing Economies, Japan), David Doyle (Dublin City University), and Petra Schleiter (University of Oxford).

Jonny Steinberg awarded Windham-Campbell Literary Prize

5 March 2013

African Studies departmental lecturer Jonny Steinberg has been named one of nine recipients of the Windham-Campbell Literary Prizes. Described by the LA Times as 'one of the most significant in creative writing' each prize carries an award of $150,000. Steinberg was honoured for 'an established body of work of outstanding achievement' in the category of non-fiction. The other categories are fiction and drama. The award ceremony takes place at Yale University on 10 September.

New Scholarship available for the MSc in African Studies

18 February 2013

The African Studies Centre is offering a Canon Collins/African Studies scholarship in association with Linacre College for the MSc in African Studies for the 2013-2014 academic year.

The scholarship is open to applicants who ordinarily reside in southern Africa. Applicants for the scholarship should be a national of, or have refugee status, in one of the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

Applicants should intend on returning to their home country or to the region at the end of their studies. The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of outstanding academic merit and will cover all university and college fees as well as a grant for living expenses which should be sufficient to cover the costs of accommodation, food, utility bills and general living costs.

In order to be considered for the Scholarship candidates must indicate in the funding section of the admissions application that they intend to apply for the scholarship and must name Linacre as their college of choice. Applications for admission to the course must be submitted to the Graduate Admissions office by 15th March 2013.

This scholarship is supported by the Canon Collins Educational and Legal Assistance TrustLinacre College and the African Studies Centre.



Dance and Morality

13 February 2013

Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach was interviewed on the issue of dance and morality by Senegalese daily 'Sud Quotidien' during the 'Africa Nko - Africa in the World' colloquium held in Dakar from the 28th of January to 1st of February 2013. The colloquium was organised jointly by Point Sud, the Codesria and DFG.

A full copy of the interview can be viewed on the Sud Quotidien website.


Researching Africa Day 2013

5 February 2013

The programme for the 14th Annual Researching Africa Day has been released. The workshop will be taking place on Saturday, 23rd February 2013 at St Antony's College, Oxford.

Researching Africa Day provides graduate students with the opportunity to network with fellow researchers, exchange information, discuss research strategies and develop ideas in a constructive, stimulating and engaging environment. The workshop is open to all graduates working on Africa within the disciplines of history, politics, economics, development studies, literature, anthropology, social policy, geography, public health and the natural sciences.

The title of this year’s workshop is:

Researching Africa: The Flow of Research?

This year's workshop interrogates the process of researching Africa. We hope to explore how research progresses, as well as examine the issues and obstacles that confront researchers at various stages. We aim to question the idea that research always follows a sequence that begins in the library and ends on the word processor. We have divided the workshop into four panels that follow the accepted chronology of research. The papers being presented either investigate these stages (from the acquisition of material to its presentation), or challenge their relationship to one another, in order to understand the 'flow' of research as it actually is.

Below is a programme of the day:

9:00-9:25       Registration

9:25                Opening address

9:30-11:00     First Panel: Accessing

How do we access material? From gaining ethical clearance, to finding our ‘field sites’ and negotiating ‘gatekeepers’, what issues and difficulties do we experience as researchers in Africa?

11:00-11:30   Tea and coffee

11:30-13:00   Second Panel: Acquiring

How do we acquire material? From archives and life histories, to images and data-sets, what choices does the researcher make in the process of collection?

13:00-14:00   Lunch

14:00-15:30   Third Panel: Interrogating

How do we interrogate our material? From grounding personal experience to the application of theory, how do we make sense of what we have gathered during fieldwork?

15:30-16:00   Tea and coffee

16:00-17:30   Fourth Panel: Presenting

How do we present our material? From the format to the content, what dilemmas are faced and what impact do we make as researchers?

17:30-17:45   Closing remarks

All are very welcome. To give us an idea of numbers, please contact us by email if you would like to attend. Below is a map showing St Antony’s College.

View Larger Map


Ed Teversham, Juliet Gilbert, Khumisho Moguerane,

Organisers, Researching Africa Day 2013

About our new website

1 December 2012

Welcome to our new-look website. Our goal is to improve user experience with a responsive design, built to work on mobile devices as well as desktop computers. We'd really like your feedback. Please use our contact page to tell us what you think.

Dr Svitlana Chernykh and Dr Timothy Power present the CPP project at University of Salamanca

23 November 2012

On 23rd November 2012, Dr Svitlana Chernykh and Dr Timothy Power presented the CPP project to an audience of faculty and graduate students in the Department of Political Science, University of Salamanca. USAL has a long tradition of survey research in Latin American legislatures via the Parliamentary Elites in Latin America (PELA) project, and researchers from CPP and PELA will be sharing data and insights from ongoing fieldwork. Pictured (left to right): Svitlana Chernykh, Mercedes García Montero (USAL), and Magna Inácio (Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and visiting researcher at the Latin American Centre, Oxford). Photo credit: Timothy  Power.

African Studies Centre's 2012 Newsletter is now online

4 November 2012

Our latest annual newsletter is now available online and features a range articles written by our alumni, researchers and faculty.

This includes several research project profiles from African Studies staff and write-ups of many of the workshops and conferences we have supported throughout the year, such as the Oxford University Pan-Africa Conference, the 13th Annual Researching Africa Day workshop and the Horn of Africa Seminar Series.

In the 'alumni updates' section you can find out more about our former students including careers, projects and doctoral research they have engaged in since finishing the MSc in African Studies.

To view the newsletter in full please, or access newsletters from previous years please visit our Alumni page.

If you would like us to send you a print version of our annual newsletter or you have information for future issues please email us at

Jonny Steinberg and Olly Owen receive British Academy Award

10 September 2012

Dr Jonny Steinberg, together with doctoral student Olly Owen, has received an award from the British Academy's International Partnership and Mobility Scheme. Steinberg and Owen will use the award to bring two scholars of African policing to Oxford for an extended period. Their stay will culminate in a workshop that will bring together leading scholars to discuss comparative questions about European and African policing and security.

Timothy Power gives inaugural lecture of a new MA programme in Legislative Studies

7 August 2012

On 7th August 2012, Dr Timothy Power gave the inaugural lecture of a new MA programme in Legislative Studies sponsored by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies in Brasília.

The MA course, administered by the Chamber's Center for Training and Professional Development (CEFOR) is the first accredited postgraduate programme operated by a national parliament anywhere in the world. The programme will admit 12 new MA candidates per year from among the Chamber's professional staff. Continuing the public outreach of the CPP team, Dr Power's lecture addressed the politics of executive-legislative relations under coalitional presidentialism. Click HERE for more info (in Portuguese). 

Photo credit: Alexandra Martins.

Social Integration Through Dance

25 July 2012

Dr Hélène Neveu Kringelbach was recently a guest on France Culture's 50-minute radio programme Culturesmonde, on dance as a factor of social integration. This was the last session in a 4-part series on dance and society around the world entitled Le Monde en Piste. The programme (in French) was broadcast live on the 28th of June 2012, and can be listened to as a podcast on France Culture's website.

Albino Witchcraft Murders

10 July 2012

A documentary that Dr Gregory Deacon worked on as a translator has aired on BBC4 and can now be viewed on BBC iPlayer. The documentary charts the attempts of two people with albinism to follow their dreams in the face of prejudice and fear in Tanzania. Against the backdrop of an escalation in brutal murders of people with albinism, quietly determined 15-year-old Veda still dreams of completing his education. Josephat Torner has dedicated his life to campaigning against the discrimination of his people, confronting communities who may be hiding the murderers. Harry Freeland's film reveals a story of deep-rooted superstition, suffering and incredible strength.

African Studies Annual Lecture 2012

14 June 2012

The 2012 African Studies Annual Lecture was delivered by Professor Emmanuel Akyeampong from Harvard University and is now available on Oxford University's Podcasts website and iTunesU. The title of the lecture is "Diaspora and Spiritual Awakening: Religion and the Politics of Race and Empire in the Life of Kwame Nkrumah". The lecture was held at St Antony's College on May 22.

Dr Nic Cheeseman To Become Co-Editor of African Affairs

24 May 2012

Dr Nic Cheeseman will take over as Co-Editor of African Affairs, the journal of the Royal African Society, in July, working alongside Dr Rita Abrahamsen. Dr Cheeseman will replace Dr Sara Rich Dorman, who is stepping down after five successful years as Co-Editor. During that period African Affairs became the # 1 journal for African Studies and the # 1 journal for all of Area Studies.

Nic is keen to encourage submissions to the journal and would like to remind former students and colleagues that African Affairs has two important prizes:

Please visit the journal and find out how to submit articles.