Category: Research Project

Haycock Research Grant: Sudan and South Sudan (Call for Applications)

The British Institute in Eastern Africa (BIEA) invites applications for grants from the Haycock Fund, to support projects of research in Sudan/South Sudan. Applications may be for any sum between £1,000 and £10,000 pounds sterling, and may be made in respect of projects in any area of the humanities and social sciences. Applications may be for a one-off project, or may form part of an established larger programme of research activity.

In awarding grants, preference may be given to projects which are interdisciplinary in scope and/or methodology. Applicants should make provision in their application for appropriate public dissemination of research findings to audiences in Sudan/South Sudan; successful applications will be expected to produce a report for BIEA, setting out research findings and accounting for expenditure; and to give a seminar or lecture under BIEA auspices in eastern Africa and/or the UK.

Applications may be made by individuals or institutions; preference may be given to individuals or institutions which have an established record of, and clear procedures for, successful management of research grants.

Applications should not exceed 1,500 words in length. Applicants should use the following headings in organizing their application: research questions; research context; methodology; dissemination strategy. The application should include a separate budget break down of not more than one side of A4, which justifies the costings for the application.

Applications should be sent to [email protected] by 17.00 hours GMT on 24 April 2015. Decisions will be communicated to applicants by 29 May 2015.

Queries should be addressed to Justin Willis: [email protected]

South Sudanese material culture in European museum collections.

Dr Leonardi is a senior lecturer in the Department of History, Durham University. 

Dr Zoe Cormack is a researcher at the Open University. 

This current research is exploring the material culture of South Sudan housed in museum collections across Europe. It builds on the BIEA’s long-standing commitment to supporting research on South Sudan’s cultural heritage, including historical and archaeological research and its own collecting activities in South Sudan dating back to the 1970s.

These relatively understudied, but significant museum collections offer enormous potential for exploring South Sudanese material culture and history. As well as their academic value, there is also potential for this material to open up a more positive discussion of South Sudanese culture and identity at a time when the overwhelming focus of national and international discourse is on conflict and crisis. Further, it is hoped that a better understanding of material kept outside the country will be useful for South Sudanese research and cultural institutions, help to raise the profile of cultural heritage in South Sudan and provide a potential point of sustainable collaboration.

Zande artefacts powell-cotton

The first stage of this project (2015-2016) will be scoping of the South Sudanese collections across Europe and developing directions for more substantial research.

For more information see archaeological research in South Sudan and historical research in South Sudan

For more information contact Zoe Cormack ([email protected])

Land, water and belonging in Southern Zimbabwe

Dr Joost Fontein is the Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.

This project is based on fieldwork carried out since the early 2000s in southern Zimbabwe, examining the ‘political materialities’ of water and land in the politics of belonging, sovereignty, and state-making in the context of Zimbabwe’s controversial fast track land reform programme. This project led to an international conference and a special issue of JSAS on ‘The Power of Water’ in 2008. Several journal articles have been published from this work and some of this research material, particularly that relating to the role of graves and ruins in contested materialities of belonging, was the subject of his RAI Curl Lecture in September 2009. In that lecture (published in Journal of Royal Anthropoligical Insititute in Dec. 2011),Dr. Fontein engaged with recent debates about anthropology’s so-called ‘ontological turn’, in order to present a case for the value of focusing less on ‘radical ontological difference’ and more on material, historical, political and conceptual proximities.

His new monograph Remaking Mutirikwi: landscape, water and belonging in southern Zimbabwe, will bring this project to a close when it is published in 2015.

Underwater Archaeological Investigations at Kilwa, Tanzania

Dr Edward Pollard (BIEA), Dr Richard Bates (University of St Andrews), Elgidius Ichumbaki (University of Dar es Salaam)

Kilwa has evidence dating back to the Middle Stone Age but the most significant period was the 14th and 15th centuries AD, when the Kilwa Sultanate controlled the gold trade that originated in modern Zimbabwe and was shipped north from Sofala in Mozambique. The assistant director Edward Pollard’s research on marine influences has involved coastal and intertidal surveying revealing shipwrecks, landing places, fish traps and navigational features, which indicate the high potential for archaeological discoveries underwater. An expedition to link the maritime sites such as settlements and shell middens with coral reefs, anchorages, fishing grounds and shipwrecks. Locating these sites and their analysis will provide further information on the long-distance trade, fishing and seafaring communities.

Read more…

African Farming: an interdisciplinary pan-African perspective

Henrietta Moore is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge  ([email protected])

Caleb Adebayo Folorunso is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ibadan Nigeria ([email protected])

Dr Matthew Davies is Fellow in East African Archaeology at the British Institute in Eastern Africa and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research at the University of Cambridge. ([email protected])

The African Farming (an interdisciplinary pan-African perspective) research network has been established to share knowledge and develop research capacity concerning the archaeology, history, development and current operation of farming systems across Africa. The network is funded by a three (2013-2015) year British Academy International Partnerships and Mobility Grant to Professor Henrietta Moore (University of Cambridge) and Professor Caleb Adebayo Folorunso (University of Ibadan Nigeria). The network is coordinated by Dr Matthew Davies (University of Cambridge).

Read more…

The Archaeology of Kakapeli: Integrating Rock Art Studies and Archaeological Research

Dr Emmanuel Ndiema is with the National Museums of Kenya. ([email protected])

This research project takes a multidisciplinary approach to establish the if there exists a behavioral relationship between rock art and archaeological material, and how Kakapeli rock art that depicts livestock and geometric circles relates to the archaeology of the surrounding area, including art that has been found at the Northern flanks of the cave.

Read more…

Modelling the Spatial Dynamics for Early Pastoralism at Koobi Fora, Kenya

Dr Emmanuel Ndiema is with the National Museums of Kenya. ([email protected])

This work in the Turkana basin seeks to document the manner, whether gradual or abrupt, in which pastoralism was introduced to the Turkana basin, northern Kenya.  Ultimately the study seeks to address the question of whether different populations co-existed practicing different subsistence strategies as an adaptive strategy to increased climatic variability).   The contrasting ecological settings at the Eastern shores of Lake Turkana offers a rare opportunity to investigate the causes and consequences of early Holocene aquatic intensification and the advent of animal domestication and the related social changes without domestic plants each of the chosen excavation localities.

Read more…

Mijikenda Union: Tradition and Authority on the Kenya Coast

Justin Willis is a Professor in History and Head of the Department of History at Durham University.

([email protected])

This project, looks at the history of the Mijikenda Union, one of the ethnic associations that flourished in late-colonial Kenya. Initial fieldwork was completed in January 2011, and the BIEA has continued to provide support and facilitation for analysis and writing-up.  Analysis has come to focus on the importance of the last few years of colonial rule as a critical juncture, in which politics were especially laden and powerful, and which has had lasting impact on the way that people in Kenya understand the relationship between politics and ethnicity. On the coast, those years saw successive debates on coastal autonomy and on regionalism, in each of which the idea of a collective and distinctive Mijikenda identity was repeatedly evoked – being instrumentalized by aspiring politicians, but also being taken up as a popular, everyday category through which people understood their interests and argued over claims and obligations. A spin-off from the research has been an interest in the current activities of the Mombasa Republican Council, which clearly echo the politics of the early 1960s.  An article on the MRC has been published in African Affairs (Jan. 2013)(see here); another on the Mijikenda Union has appeared in Comparative Studies in Society and History (May 2013) (see here).

Current Projects


Sealinks Project: Exploring ancient Indian Ocean connections in East Africa – Dr Boivin, Dr Alison Crowther, Professor Mark Horton and Dr Richard Helm 

Intensive Agriculture, Pastoralism and Applied Archaeology Among the Pokot and Marakwet, Northwest Kenya – Dr Matthew Davies

The Archaeology of Missing Communities in the African Archaeological Record – Dr Matthew Davies

Landscape, Environment and Settlement in Eastern Uganda and Northwest Kenya c. 2000 BP to Present – Dr Matthew Davies, Miss Rachel Goodall, Dr Kennedy Mutundu, Miss Sarah Pilliard

Drinking Culture: Looking at Somali Responses to Displacement Through the Lens of the Camel Milk Market in Nairobi’s Eastleigh Estate – Hannah Elliott

AFRICA500: The African Middle Stone Age – Archaeological Context for the Foundations of Humanity – Professor Robert A. Foley

Post-Conflict Heritage in Western Great Lakes Africa – Dr John Giblin

TRIBES: Molecular History, Geography and Adaptation of Some Kenyan Tribes – the Impact of Culture, Ecology and Demography – Dr Marta Mirazon Lahr and Denis Misiko Mukhongo

IN-AFRICA: The Role of East Africa in the Evolution of Human Diversity – Dr Marta Mirazon Lahr

Archaeological Research in the Southern Sudan – Professor Paul Lane and Dr Matthew Davies

Historical Research in South Sudan – Dr Cherry Leonardi, Zoe Cormack, Sarah Marriott

Truth and Justice: The Search for Peace and Stability in Modern Kenya – Dr Gabrielle Lynch

The Politics of Land Law Reform – Professor Ambreena Manji

Law in African Literature – Professor Ambreena Manji

Legal Education and Decolonization – Professor Ambreena Manji

Intimacy and Inequality: Women’s Reproductive Labour in Nairobi – Professor Ambreena Manji

Gamo Highlands and Marsabit National Park – Dr Robert Marchant

The Marakwet Community Heritage Mapping Project – Professor Henrietta L. Moore FBA and Dr Matthew Davies

Palaeoenvironmental History of Mangrove Forests – Paramita Punwong

Re-membering Mwanga: “Queer” Memory and Belonging in Postcolonial Uganda – Dr Rahul Rao

Life Taking Shape: Arts Practices for Engaging with the Past in Post-Genocide Rwanda, and Opportunities for the Future – Helen Rawling

ASEC-Dryland Forests – Dr Aida Cuni Sanchez

The Olduvai Geochronology and Archaeology Project (OGAP) – Dr Ignacio de la Torre, Dr Jackson Njau and Dr Lindsay McHenry

Risk, Impact, and Policy Implications for Expanding Financial Access in Kenya – Judith Tyson

Conversion to Camels and Meaning and Performance in the Era of Climate Change, Northern Kenya – Dr Elizabeth Watson and Hassan Kochore

Urban Space, Social Memory, and Materiality at Songo Mnara – Dr Stephanie Wynne-Jones and Dr Jeffrey Fleisher



Sealinks Project: Exploring ancient Indian Ocean connections in East Africa

Dr Boivin is a Senior Research Fellow with the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford and the Oxford Centre for Asian Archaeology, Art and Culture. ([email protected])

Dr Alison Crowther is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, University of Oxford. ([email protected])

Mark Horton is a Professor in Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Bristol. ([email protected])

Dr Richard Helm is a Project Manager at Canterbury Archaeological Trust. 

The first phases of Africa’s contacts with the wider Indian Ocean world remain stubbornly enigmatic.  Attempting to shed light on the continued puzzle of east Africa’s earliest Indian Ocean connections is one of the key activities of the Oxford based Sealinks Project.  To this end, the project is undertaking archaeological, botanical, and genetic studies in the region in collaboration with a variety of African and other international institutions.  Read more…