ACLS AHP Awards 2016


The ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) African Humanities Program (AHP) awarded 11 dissertation fellowships and 27 postdoctoral fellowships to applicants from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Selections were made from a pool of 345 applicants in a rigorous peer review process by 74 scholars at African universities. A generous Carnegie Corporation of New York grant to ACLS for AHP provided more than $600,000 in one-year stipends to the selected Fellows. In addition to research and writing, fellowships make possible residential stays at six institutes for advanced study in sub-Saharan Africa. The residencies offer time and space for completing projects in a stimulating intellectual atmosphere.

I have selected the awards relevant to the study of the religions of Africa and its Diaspora, and those to Gender Studies. These 2016 awards demonstrate (1) the multidisciplinarity of the academic study of the religions of Africa; and (2) that no competitor from Departments of Religious Studies in Anglophone African universities was successful.

Application materials for the upcoming competition (2016-17) are available on the program’s page: The program is open to humanities scholars in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The deadline for the 2016-17 competition is November 2, 2016.

African Humanities Program Dissertation Fellows

= Olubunmi Funmi Adegbola, PhD Candidate, English Department, University of Ibadan:  Linguistic Representations of Public Reactions and Points of view in the Discourses of Homosexuality in the Nigerian Print Media

[The discourse of homosexuality gained more prominence in the Nigerian print media following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the U.S. This study, therefore, explores the linguistic representations of people’s opinions about the discourse of homosexuality in the Nigerian print media.This is because the language use of an individual reveals the ideologies of the individual. Studies on homosexuality in the Nigerian context have focused on Nollywood movies and the topic has been seen from the sociological, philosophical and the religious perspectives, neglecting the linguistic perspective in the Nigerian print media, which is the focus of this study. The study seeks to identify the prevalent themes/issues in these discourses, explore how homosexuality/homosexuals are linguistically represented in the Nigerian print media, discuss the discursive strategies that have ideological imprints and explore the attitude of Nigerians about the subject, using linguistic tools. For the purpose of the study, five popular Nigerian newspapers (Vanguard, Punch, Guardian, Tribune and the Sun) will be critically examined and subjected to both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. Homosexuality issue covered in the Nigerian print media for a period of three years (2013-2014) will be analyzed and presented in this study. Data will be purposively selected from Editorials, news reports, open letters and comments based on homosexuality and same sex marriage which is the focus of this study. Data analysis will be done using Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis and Halliday’s Systemic Functional Linguistics.]

= Ada Agada, Assistant Lecturer, Benue State University: The Problem of God’s Existence in the Philosophy of Immanuel Kant
[Immanuel Kant comprehensively criticized and rejected the classical ontological, cosmological, and teleological proofs of God’s existence on the grounds of their probabilistic status. He turned to the moral field for justification of the belief in God. His analysis of the summum bonum, or the highest good, yielded the notions of virtue and happiness. Since it is logical for virtue to be rewarded with happiness and since nature itself cannot bring this about, there must exist an omnipotent Being outside the world who harmonizes virtue with happiness. Kant identified this Being as God. This work critically examines Kant’s dismissal of the classical metaphysical arguments and rejects the basis of his dismissal. This work asserts that empirical scientific evidence from Big Bang cosmology lends to these proofs a level of probability and plausibility high enough to restore their pre-Kantian integrity.

= Ashura Jackson, Assistant Lecturer, History Department, Mkwawa University College of Education, Tanzania: Socio-economic and Political Dynamics on the Development of African Independent Churches in Mbeya Region, 1920s-1985
[This research is a historical analysis of how socio-economic and political dynamics influenced the development of African Independent Churches in Mbeya Region, Tanzania, 1920s-1985. The goal is to assess how the changing socio-economic and political dynamics influenced the emergence, development and persistence of African Independent Churches in Mbeya from the 1920s to 1985. The study relies on evidences drawn from written archives documents and in-depth interviews. From a scrutiny of these data, the study establishes that specific economical, social and political contexts facilitated the emergence and development of AICs. Therefore, there was a relationship between, on one hand, the human beings’ socio-economic and political undertakings and the emergence of AICs. The significance of this study lies in uncovering the material basis of AICs in Tanzania by documenting the interplay between AICs and socio-economic and political changes. The study also highlights the importance of AICs in opening up and expanding the opportunities for freedom of worship in Tanzania starting from the 1920s.]
= Hauwa Sani Mohammed, Assistant Lecturer, Department: Department of English and Literary Studies, Ahmadu Bello University: A Linguistic Stylistic Analysis of Gender Variations in Selected Television News Reportage
[The project will examine 58 news reports in the three selected television channels of British Broadcasting Corporation(BBC), Nigerian Television Authority(NTA) and Channels Television Lagos. Content analysis would be used to determine whether or not there were linguistic gender differences in the themes and rhemes of the reporters and in the type of stories they reported. A survey in the form of personal and structured interviews would be conducted to find out the implications of the linguistic gender variations on the target audience. Halliday’s (2004) textual analysis of themes and rhemes would serve as both theoretical and analytical model for the study.]
= Gideon Yohanna Tambiyi, International School of Prophecy and Biblical Studies: Recovering Matthean Text of the Holy Family in Africa: A Greek and Coptic Reconstruction in African Biblical Scholarship
[This research focuses on an unpublished discovered Sahidic Coptic bi-folio 4th century parchment of Matthew 2:11-16 which preserves the early account of Jesus and his parents coming to Africa. Dated c. AD 300-350 and discovered in Egypt, it is owned by a private collector in California with number P.Aslan.112. It has two leaves of the middle of the quire and contains 11 lines with approximately 10 letters per line. This thesis will embrace transcription, descriptive-analytical method laid down by Bentley Layton, collation, palaeography and historical method for analysis. New Testament textual scholarship will be enhanced through the analysis of this Coptic parchment supplemented by 70 and the result will be made available to the academic world as a means to contribute and restore the original text of Matthew 2:11-16 in the Sahidica and the Greek New Testament. It will be the first ground-breaking textual research in Sub-Saharan Africa.]

African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships 2016

= Elinaza Mjema, Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Heritage, University of Dar es Salaam: Archaeological Investigation of Early Swahili Burial Practices at Pangani Bay on the Northern Tanzania Coast

[The study seeks to examine burial practices and thus infer beliefs and social structure of the early Swahili communities at Pangani Bay from 8th to 15th centuries AD. Archaeologists working on the East African coast have often reported the accidental encounter of human remains during excavation, however, specific information concerning social identity of the buried individuals has not been published yet. In the context of the proposed study an excavation at burial site at Kimu, situated on the southern bank of Pangani River shall be conducted in order to investigate the social structure of early Swahili communities. The study will focus on issues such as age, gender, social status and identity of the buried. It will employ approaches from mortuary archaeology during excavation and analysis of archaeological and osteological materials. The study will be to the benefit of historical understanding and identity of the local community at Pangani.]
= Henrietta Mambo Nyamnjoh, Department: African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town, South Africa: Religious Transnationalism and the Quest for Physical and Spiritual Healing: The Case of Cameroonian Migrants in Cape Town
[Drawing on qualitative research amongst Cameroonian migrants living in Cape Town, South Africa, this study explores the trans-local and (trans)national interconnections migrants are forging with various religious denominations to seek healing and deliverance in their daily lives and emotional challenges in the host country of South Africa. It focuses on how (trans)national and trans-local religious activities find fertile ground for salvationist Pentecostalism among migrants desperately seeking physical/emotional wellbeing in a challenging host context, and their leaning towards ‘prosperity gospels’ that combined spiritual and socio-economic success. This study examines the under-documented (trans)national religious activities of Cameroonian migrants who are in search of answers to existential problems – illness, sorcery/spiritual attack, challenges of obtaining legal status, prosperity and joblessness, family feuds and marital issues. It questions to what extent are Pentecostal churches in Cape Town relevant to migrants’ everyday lives and how do migrants navigate and negotiate the different religious spheres?]
= Ngozi Ugo Emeka-Nwobia, Senior Lecturer Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies, Ebonyi State Universit: Ideology and Identity Construction in the Discourse of Nigerian Pentecostal Pastors
[The study is a critical evaluation of how linguistic resources are utilized by Christian Pentecostal preachers to construct individual and collective ideologies and identities, legitimize their actions, and persuade listeners, through their sermons. The study shall be carried out within the framework of Norman Fairclough (1995) and van Dijk (2001)’s model of Critical Discourse Analysis. This is to enable us establish the relationship between language, ideology, gender institution and power in a social system. The Systemic Functional Linguistic (SFL) theory shall also be utilized to contextualize the discourses within a socio-cultural framework thereby reinforcing the interrelationship between language and the social system. The corpus draws from interviews and observations of church services of three Pentecostal churches, namely; Living Faith Church, Mountain on Fire Ministry and Christ Embassy churches. It seeks to demonstrate how religious groups persuade or coerce others to accept their ideologies.]
= Iwebunor Okwechime, Lecturer I, Department of International Relations, Obofemi Awolowo University: Spirituality and Youth Militancy in the Niger Delta, Nigeria
[This study examines the role of spirituality in the struggle of Ijaw youth militias against the Nigerian state and the multinational oil companies operating in the region. Essentially, it seeks to demonstrate why youth militias which proliferated in all parts of pre-amnesty Niger Delta drew inspiration from the history of resistance to internal and external oppressors through the invocation of the Ijaw war god, Egbesu. In doing so, it lays bare the contradiction inherent in the projection by youth militias of Egbesu as a god of discipline, justice and liberation and the barefaced criminality and lawlessness perpetrated by youth militias across the region in the name of Egbesu. Among the ethnic minorities of the Delta region, the Ijaw represent a classic example of oil-producing communities that have had to fall back on the spiritual resources of their people in the course of their resistance against the Nigerian state and the oil companies. By examining the role of spirituality in the struggle against perceived oppression, the study highlights the place of spirituality in youth militancy in the Nigeria’s Niger Delta region]

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