The African Critical Inquiry Program is a new initiative linking public scholars based at a variety of institutions in South Africa including the Centre for Humanities Research, the District Six Museum, and others with Emory University. Its goal is to promote critical interdisciplinary debate about the roles of artists, curators and scholars as well as cultural institutions in post-apartheid South Africa. Through the ACI program Emory’s Laney Graduate School will also expand opportunities for graduate students to interact with international colleagues, including international graduate students. The program will organize an annual workshop and public lecture as well as a series of research grants for African doctoral students working in the humanities and human sciences.

The program grows out of the longstanding relationship between Emory’s former Center for the Study of Public Scholarship and several South African institutions of public culture. These include the University of the Western Cape, the University of Fort Hare, Iziko Museums, the Robben Island Museum, and the collaborative African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies. Funds for the program come from the Ivan Karp/Corinne Kratz Fund, founded in memory of Ivan Karp, who was the National Endowment for the Humanities Professor at Emory as well as the co-director of the Center for the Study of Public Scholarship.

As the fund grows, it will organize the African Critical Inquiry Program’s activities in two stages. Part I is organized around an annual workshop on a theme relating to South African cultural production, institutions, politics, and history. The first workshop will be held in early 2014 in Cape Town. A Public Scholar in Residence will participate in all activities for the week of the workshop. She or he will also give a public lecture.

The annual workshops are intended to spur intellectual discussion on issues of pressing conceptual and theoretical concern, and also to broach methodological and logistical issues that limit and facilitate innovation and collaboration among public culture professionals. Some proposed themes for upcoming workshops include Festivals, Performance and Public Humanities; Forms of Visuality in Africa; and Curating Culture, Framing Heritage.

Part II of the program’s activities revolves around the Ivan Karp Memorial Doctoral Research Grants and will begin once sufficient funds become available. These grants, for African PhD students in the humanities and human sciences, are intended to help address the serious dearth of funding available for students in South Africa who wish to specialize in museum and heritage studies, public history and related fields.

The awards will be given to African students in the humanities and social sciences enrolled in doctoral programs in South Africa (regardless of citizenship) who are working on topics related to African Critical Inquiry. Awards would particularly support projects focused on institutions of public culture, public scholarship, particular aspects of museums and exhibitions, culture and communication, and the theories, histories and systems of thought that shape and illuminate public culture and public scholarship. Applicants must have completed all PhD requirements except onsite research by the time the award begins. Eligible applicants will submit a research proposal outlining their project, its significance for the program’s themes, and a proposed budget. In any year, two awards of up to $4,000 each will be made, with selections based on the merit and strength of the application.

The African Critical Inquiry Program’s administration will be based at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. In conjunction with the ACI program initiative, the Centre will name one of its postdoctoral positions in Ivan Karp’s honor and the postdoctoral fellow will take part in the ACI Workshop.

Those interested in learning more or in donating to support the African Critical Inquiry Program and the Ivan Karp/Corinne Kratz Fund should visit http://gs.emory.edu/about/special/acip.html.

 

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