Centre for African Studies

The Centre for African Studies is a virtual Centre linking African(ist) scholars and students at Dalhousie in support of research, teaching, seminars and publications on Africa. The Centre sustains and builds upon a long tradition of African Studies and scholarship at Dalhousie. Its current Director is Professor Theresa Ulicki of the Department of International Development Studies. This Department also provides infrastructural and logistical support for the Centre.

Members and Contributors

The Centre is supported by at least nine full-time Africanist faculty members:

  • Drs. Phil Zachernuk and Gary Kynoch (History)
  • David Black (IDS and Political Science)
  • Theresa Ulicki and Owen Willis (IDS)
  • Peter Arthur (Political Science)
  • Robyn Oakley (Sociology and Social Anthropology)
  • Raymond Mopoho (French)

In addition, Professors Jane Parpart and Tim Shaw remain active members of our community as Emeritus and Adjunct Professors respectively.Other faculty members who sustain active interests in Africa include:  Don Cherry in Business and Ian McAllister and Al Sinclair in Economics.

The research and teaching activities of these scholars are complemented by the project-oriented work of the Lester Pearson International Centre. In addition, there are Africanist scholars at both Saint Mary’s University and Mount Saint Vincent University who are part of the broader Halifax-based network of the Centre.

Graduate students researching African topics are concentrated primarily though not exclusively in History, IDS, Political Science, and Development Economics. Dalhousie graduates continue to make their mark as scholars of Africa, all over the continent and in Europe and the United States as well as Canada.

Leadership and Expertise

Dal Africanists have also played key leadership roles in the wider African Studies communities of Canada and North America. For example, both Phil Zachernuk and Jane Parpart are Past Presidents of the Canadian Association for African Studies, from which Parpart received a lifetime achievement award. Parpart was also a Board member of the African Studies Association (of the United States). Gary Kynoch and Theresa Ulicki were on the Organizing Committee for the North Eastern Workshop on Southern Africa (NEWSA), to be held in Vermont. In addition, Halifax-based NGOs work with the Centre to promote study/work abroad opportunities for students as well as hosting African guest speakers on Dalhousie campus.

Workshops, Seminars, Conferences and Publications

Centre Faculty and students are involved in a wide range of research and teaching activities. The Centre sponsors seminars, sometimes in collaboration with the IDS Global Development Speakers Series, that showcase and workshop the research of our own members and scholars from other institutions.  Our speakers have included Kalpana Hiralal of the University of Kwazulu Natal, Professor Tim Shaw, Professor Peter Vale (Nelson Mandela Chair of Politics at Rhodes University in South Africa), and Dr. Alfred Nhema, Director of the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern Africa (Ossrea) and a former Dal PhD.

Centre personnel are also involved in a variety of Workshops, Conferences, and Publications. For example, Political Science Doctoral Candidate Susan Thomson and Dal graduates Erin Baines (now UBC) and Zoe Wilson (now Kwazulu-Natal) organized a workshop in November 2004 on the implications of the Doctrine of the “Responsibility to Protect” for Africa, emphasizing the situation of people in communities at the “grassroots’. Thomson also orchestrated a series on “Remembering Rwanda” to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide and featuring distinguished speakers such as Howard Adelman and Gerald Caplan.

Study Abroad Opportunities

Finally, through the Department of IDS, new opportunities for Study Abroad in Africa have been created. Dalhousie has forged a link with the Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda, to which a group of Dalhousie undergraduates have gone for a summer “Field School” over the past several years. In addition, Dalhousie students have participated in Special Topics courses in Kenya and Malawi. 

As African issues once again rise on international and public policy agendas, Dalhousie’s Centre for African Studies is well positioned to inform and analyze these important trends and contribute to the vitality of teaching, research, and knowledge concerning the continent, locally, nationally, and internationally.