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The John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies

The John and Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) has been based in the Division of Peace Studies and International Development (PSID) at the University of Bradford since 2002 and funded by the Allan & Nesta Ferguson Trust since 2005. Its current mission is to support academic and applied research, teaching and knowledge transfer concerning Africa within the University academic theme of Sustainable Societies.

African people dancing and others looking on

JEFCAS Mission

The John & Elnora Ferguson Centre for African Studies (JEFCAS) has been based in the Division of Peace Studies and International Development (PSID) at the University of Bradford since 2002 and funded by the Allan & Nesta Ferguson Trust since 2005. The centre is widely-known for its focus on academic and applied research, teaching and knowledge transfer concerning conflict and peace in Africa. In line with its historic focus and the original intent of the Trust grant but expanding on these themes, the centre now focuses on Africa in three broad core areas – peace, security and conflict; sustainable development and the environment; and culture and heritage. This focus marks it out as distinct from other Africa Study Centres in the UK, which can struggle to continue with their wider-ranging remits.
 
These core areas are also broad and inclusive of multi-disciplinary areas across the university, and present important elements within the University’s theme of Sustainable Societies and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The theme of Sustainable Societies supports growth in economic, political and relational well-being for current and future generations through innovative research and teaching and knowledge transfer programmes.

JEFCAS invites colleagues from across the university who are participating in teaching, research or knowledge transfer on issues and processes directly related to Africa and encourages engagement from students particularly at postgraduate level. The centre focuses on rigorous academic work and plays a key role in fostering the research, teaching and knowledge transfer environment in the university through seminars, conferences and student-staff engagement. It stimulates and facilitates publications, knowledge transfer and grant applications. Finally, JEFCAS functions as a national, regional and international centre of excellence and seeks to build on its existing position in networks such as the Yorkshire Africa Study Network and relations with many institutions in Africa such as the African Union and the International Peace-keeping Support Training Centre; sub-regional organisations in Africa, for instance ECOWAS; national and sub-regional police organisations such as the Sierra Leone Police; and numerous universities and research institutes in Africa. It also seeks to encourage researchers and practitioners outside the university to take a role as Associates.

In order to facilitate transparent management and to make informed decisions, the JEFCAS Director is supported by a Management Committee and an Advisory Board.

JEFCAS Themes

JEFCAS is a multidisciplinary centre located within the university’s academic theme of Sustainable Societies which supports growth in economic, political and relational well-being for current and future generations through innovative research and teaching and knowledge transfer programmes.

The centre focuses exclusively on Africa and on work in three broad core areas:

  • Peace, security and conflict;
  • Sustainable development and the environment; and
  • Culture and heritage.  

Many university disciplines and inter-disciplinary work can be situated within these themes, such as in the following examples:

  • International relations – aid, trade, trafficking, relations with old and new world powers, and regional blocs
  • Politics – government, democracy, civil society, state reform, security sector reform, and conflict
  • Development – aid, trade, governance, health, education, infrastructure, and the environment
  • Economics - work, economic growth, poverty reduction, and war economies
  • Psychology - war trauma, health and well-being
  • Management – Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, and counterfeit goods
  • Law – Responsibility to Protect, International Humanitarian Law, the International Criminal Court and other tribunals, and International Development Law
  • Life Sciences - digital humanitarianism, and forensic post-conflict investigations
  • Engineering – water, sanitation, and agriculture
  • Archaeology – understanding and protecting architectural and cultural heritage
  • Health – good health and well-being
  • Gender – cross-cutting all of the above

JEFCAS Events and Announcements

JEFCAS Special Panel: ‘The Nobel Peace Prize, Leadership and Conflict in Africa’

5.00-6.45, December 10th 2019, in Bright Building R01.02
  • Dr Awol Allo, School of Law, Keele University 
  • Dr Sarah Njeri, African Leadership Centre, King’s College London 
  • Dr David Harris, JEFCAS Director, University of Bradford
Chair
  • Moses Wawich, CESCA South Sudan
This JEFCAS Special Panel examines the relevance and value of the Nobel Peace Prize for leadership, conflict and peace in Africa.
 
In October 2019, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his “efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea”. His achievements since coming to power in April 2018 were said to be the peace deal, which ended a nearly 20-year military stalemate with Eritrea following the 1998-2000 border war, and reforms at home in what was regarded as a repressive state, which included the release of a large number of political prisoners. However, awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize rarely comes without controversy. In Ahmed’s case, he was and still is part of the EPRDF state apparatus. In Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s case, the award was made a month before the 2011 Liberian presidential elections where she aimed to be re-elected. Wangari Maathai won the 2004 prize but recent commemorations of her death in 2015 were decidedly muted in Kenya. The 1993 Prize was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela and FW de Klerk, the former being co-founder of the armed wing of the ANC and the latter president of apartheid-era South Africa.
 
The Special Panel looks at the criteria, motivations and challenges of awarding Nobel Peace Prizes, but crucially explores the issue of leadership which the Prize is endeavouring to address. What is the relationship between leadership and conflict or peace in an African environment? What can be reasonably expected of African leaders given the historical and political difficulties that they face? To what extent is the Nobel Peace Prize achieving its aims in rewarding ‘good’ African leadership? The three panelists will reflect on leadership, conflict and the Nobel Peace Prize, in particular in the cases of recipients in Ethiopia, Liberia and Kenya.

 

JEFCAS Seminar Series

Please find the 2018/19 Seminar Series in the archive.

 

Seminar Series 2019-20

 

Semester 1

Book Launch - ‘Tanzanian Development: A Comparative Perspective’

Wednesday 30th October 2019 4-6pm

Dr David Potts, University of Bradford (retired)

Book Launch - ‘Tanzanian Development: A Comparative Perspective’

Religion and Politics in Dar es Salaam

Wednesday 13th November 2019 4-6pm

Dr Benjamin Kirby, University of Leeds

Religion and politics in Dar es Salaam

 

The Blue Economy and Sustainable Development in the African continent

'Postponed due to strike action'

Dr Ife Okafor-Yarwood, King’s College London

The Blue Economy and Sustainable Development in the African continent

Semester 2, dates to be confirmed

The Political Life of an Epidemic

Speaker: Dr Simukai Chigudu, Associate Professor of African Politics and Fellow of St Antony's College

The Political Life of an Epidemic

Kimberley Process in Sierra Leone

Speaker: Dr Marcus McCorkell

Kimberly Process in Sierra Leone

 

tbc

Speaker: Dr Sarah Njeri, King’s College London

Title tbc

Africa Study Visit

The Africa Study Visit is available to Masters and 3rd year Undergraduate students (see programme handbooks for details). The aim of the Study Visit is to allow students to broaden and deepen their understanding and practical experience of the complexities involved in peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa.

The Study Visit provides students with the opportunity to have first-hand experience of a war-torn and post-conflict environment in Africa. The choice of country is decided each year - bearing in mind safety and security priorities, as well as cost implications for the student.

The learning and teaching strategy has been developed specifically on the basis of the field research component of the country visit. Before departure, seminars and individual meetings are held to discuss research topics, suggested background readings, as well as individual planning requirements. The field research visit includes scheduled meetings with key stakeholders in government and the donor community, inter-governmental humanitarian and development agencies, as well as lectures and seminars with leading in-country experts and NGOs.

Africa Study Visit 2018/2019 – The Gambia 
Africa Study Visit 2017/2018 – Ethiopia

View the Ethiopia study visit report from 2018 >>

Africa Study Visit 2016/2017 – Ghana
Africa Study Visit 2014/2015 – Ethiopia
Africa Study Visit 2013/2014 – Sierra Leone
Africa Study Visit 2012/2013 – Liberia
Africa Study Visit 2011/2012 – Rwanda

Africa Study Visit video

A video about the JEFCAS Africa Study Trip to Sierra Leone.

Visiting The Gambia

This video of the 2018/19 study visit is made by our students. It has been compiled by Cami Taylor and includes media footage both by Cami Taylor and Maiko Shimizu.

Meet the team

Staff associates

Network Partners & Links

Scholarship Opportunities

African Partner Universities

Botswana

  • University of Botswana - Centre for Culture and Peace Studies (CCPS)

Sierra Leone

Liberia

Nigeria

Sudan

Uganda

Ethiopia

Kenya

Tanzania

South Africa

  • University of Free State, Centre for African Studies

Zimbabwe

African Political & Regional Economic Communities (REC)

African News: Daily News

Africa-related Academic Journals

Network Links