ACMS as a Centre of Excellence in Mobility and Migration
ARUA is pursuing its goal of enhancing research and graduate training in member universities through a number of channels, including the setting up of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) to be hosted by member universities – one of them being the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
The 13 CoEs that had been established are in 13 focus areas – some are in the natural sciences, while others in the social sciences or the humanities. The two CoEs at Wits are in ‘Mobility and Migration’; and in ‘Materials, Energy and Nanotechnology (CoE-MEN)’.
Robin Drennan, head of research development at Wits says that the idea of ARUA and the CoEs is to set up a mutually beneficial network of research universities to research topics that are multinational.
“Global change, for example, climate change, migration and mobility are not topics that stop at borders, they go across borders. So, it’s useful to have a network of researchers across the continent to tackle these problems.”
He hopes that the centres are valuable to research and the people of the continent.
Lesley Cornish, head of the CoE-MEN states that the centre aims to build up African science and engineering to solve African problems.
“Having a brand as a centre of excellence in Africa says to people, we’re good, we’re recognised.”
She thinks that being labeled as a CoE will help to generate more funding for projects in the sub-Saharan African context. Since most funding comes from European institutions – which measure the amounts of funding according to European standards without necessarily taking the different conditions on the African continent into account.
A similar aim is followed by Jo Vearey, director of the ACMS and the CoE in Mobility and Migration. The centre is dedicated to generating scholarly insights that are globally relevant, but not shaped by questions framed by ‘Western’ policy interests.
She also wants the CoE in Migration and Mobility to focus on the development of a new generation of African scholars with an explicit emphasis on leveraging partnerships to support the development of an integrated African academy that can help us to better understand the challenges – economic, social and political – characterising the continent.
As part of the ARUA initiative and in cooperation with universities based in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa (Wits, and the University of Cape Town), ACMS will be conducting a five-year research programme entitled Mobility and Sociality in Africa’s Emerging Urban. This initiative is a scholarly response to unprecedented levels of urbanisation and mobility driven by conflict, ambition, and respatialising economies. It is intended to develop African-based contributions to theories of human mobility and transforming modes of social engagement, authority, representation and expression, with a focus on fostering interdisciplinarity, engagement with the arts, and creative research and outreach methodologies.
About the author: Esther V. Kraler is an MA student in Ethnic and Migration Studies at Linköping University. She completed her BA in Transcultural Communication at the University of Vienna. With her work, Esther wants to tackle the unspoken, to shed light on how who we are and what we do is influenced by structural and personal realities and to support alternative possibilities of knowing/being/feeling in the world. She is currently an exchange student at ACMS, and is also a maHp intern.
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