Mellon Migration & Urbanization Project

First Interim Grant Report
Grant Number 41600690
Submitted to the Andrew Mellon Foundation

Mobility & Sociality in Africa’s Emerging Urban

On 16 December 16, 2016, the Trustees of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation approved a grant of $844,700 to the University of the Witwatersrand for use over approximately five years. The funds were dedicated to supporting a research and graduate development program on changing forms of social engagement in Africa’s urban centres.

Although awarded to the University of the Witwatersrand, this initiative is effectively the first major research grant in support of the newly established African Research Universities Alliance.[1] It formally brings together five African Universities – a selected group of alliance members – dedicated to cultivating a generation of African scholars who can reshape global social theory and scholarly conversations on mobility, cities and social change. Selected due to their expertise on mobility and urban issues and previous collaborations, the five institutions together with their academic representatives and disciplinary affiliations are as follows:

  • University of Cape Town, Francis Nyamnjoh, Anthropology and Sociology
  • University of Ghana, Legon, George Owusu, Institute of Statistical, Social & Economic Research (ISSER)/ Centre for Urban Management Studies (CUMS)
  • University of Nairobi, Elias Ayiemba, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Loren B Landau, African Centre for Migration & Society (originally co-organised with Ingrid Palmary)
  • University of Zimbabwe, Vupenyu Dzingirai, Centre for Applied Social Sciences

It is worth noting that the University of Zimbabwe is not a full member of ARUA. Although once a significant research university in Southern Africa, more than a decade of economic and political crisis has left the university at a considerable disadvantage. However, it retains a highly qualified academic staff with aspirations of rebuilding the institution. Combined with the rapid levels of human mobility and urbanisation in the country, their inclusion represents an important opportunity to help rebuild the social sciences in Zimbabwe while generating insights into a relatively unexplored set of social phenomena.

Read the full report here