Africa Multiple

A person in a very colourful and artful outfit
Impression of FAVT – Future African Vision in Time. The roots of this long standing touring exhibit lie in the University of Bayreuth’s Academy of Advanced African Studies and is supported by the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence. (© Universität Bayreuth)
Clusters of Excellence

Africa Multiple: Reconfiguring African Studies

The cluster is conceived as a transformative space within which to systematically advance the study of Africa and its diasporas via the pursuit of transdisciplinary research, with a strong emphasis on critical area studies, in addition to the disciplines involved. Building on decades of internationally outstanding research in African studies at University of Bayreuth, the cluster develops new approaches to the analysis of African and African diasporic lifeworlds through the lens of multiplicity.

The proposed structure of the cluster will set unique standards for collaborative research in this field, connecting a wide range of academic disciplines; building an innovative digital research environment; and integrating scholars and institutions in a global research network, with particularly strong nodes on the African continent. The cluster’s research (infra-)structure is designed to overcome existing power imbalances in the production and transmission of knowledge in African studies, and thus to set unprecedented standards for collaborative research in this field. Together with our African colleagues, we establish four “African Cluster Centres” on the African continent.

The defining concept of our research programme is multiplicity. This both describes our joint field of research, and emphasises that it is in and through multiple relations that the phenomena under study emerge. In order to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach to the study of multiplicity, we will also draw on the concepts of relationality and reflexivity as analytical tools; making up our three key concepts. The key concept of relationality refers to the (reflexive) relational processes in and through which phenomena materialise. To further analyse and conceptualise these processes, we have developed the four heuristic categories, or “angles” of modalities, medialities, temporalities and spatialities. We consider that these angles are particularly well-suited to the cluster, not only in terms of gaining methodological access to relationality and, through it, multiplicity, but also to initiate the cluster’s joint discussions across disciplines and empirical fields, without forcing them into one epistemological frame. The four angles will also be key tools for the research projects organised in and by the Research Sections.

Podcast on the Cluster of Excellence