The Africa Institute in Sharjah, UAE Appoints New Faculty, Fellows, and Launches Creative Writing Fellowship Program

The Africa Institute in Sharjah, UAE—a center for research, documentation, and study of Africa and its diaspora—has announced seven new faculty appointments, fellows of its Research Fellowship Program, the fellows of its inaugural class of Global Africa Translation Fellows, and the launch of a new Creative Writing fellowship program.

The new faculty members specialize in African history, political science, art theory and more, starting their positions in 2021 and in 2022:

  • Emery Kalema, Assistant Professor of African History – Emery Kalema is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Studies in Historical Trauma and Transformation at Stellenbosch University, South Africa, and a Summer Program in Social Science Fellow (2018-2019) at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, New Jersey, USA.
  • Françoise Vergès, Professor of Political Science – Françoise Vergès is a political scientist by training and a well-known scholar and public intellectual.
  • Amy Niang, Associate Professor of Political Science – Amy Niang’s research interests are broadly centered around the history of state formation and sovereignty, Africa’s International relations, and the history of geopolitics.
  • Binyam Sisay Mendisu, Associate Professor of African Languages ​​and Linguistics – Binyam Sisay Mendisu completed his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Oslo in 2008. Between 2008 and 2016, he taught full-time at Addis Ababa University (AAU) as an assistant and later associate professor.
  • Elizabeth W. Giorgis, Associate Professor of Art History, Theory and Criticism – Elizabeth W. Giorgis received her PhD in the History of Art and Visual Studies from Cornell University in 2010 and her Masters in Museum Studies from New York University in 2004.
  • Surafel Wondimu Abebe, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies and Theory – Abebe studied Literature (BA) and Cultural Studies (MA) at Addis Ababa University (AAU) (2010).
  • Premesh Lalu, Professor of History – Professor Premesh Lalu was a founding director of the Center for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. Under his leadership, the CHR was awarded the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Flagship on Critical Thought in African Humanities.

The Africa Institute Research Fellowships Program provides the opportunity for both junior and senior scholars of African and African diaspora studies to focus on a research project and participate in ongoing scholarly and intellectual activities during their term at the Institute.

The Ali A. Mazrui Senior Fellows in Global African Studies is in honor of the esteemed late Professor Ali A. Mazrui, whose contributions to the field of African Studies have left a remarkable and transformative impact on the world. This fellowship is open to senior scholars whose work shows emphasis on African and African diaspora studies and their intersections with social sciences and the humanities.

  • Naminata Diabate – Naminata Diabate is associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University. She is a member of the core faculty in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (FGSS), and affiliated faculty in Romance Studies; African Studies and Research Center (ASRC); Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Studies; Performing and Media Arts; and Visual Studies.
  • Abdul Mohammed Hussein Sheriff – Abdul Sheriff was born and educated in Zanzibar, and completed his bachelors and master’s degrees at the University of California in Los Angeles in 1966. He went on to receive his PhD from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS) , University of London in 1971.
  • Ahmad Sikainga – Ahmad Sikainga is a professor of African History at the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, USA. His academic interests embrace the study of Africa, the African Diaspora, and the Middle East with a focus on slavery, labor, urban history, and popular culture. The geographical focus of Sikainga’s research is the Sudan, the Nile Valley, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.

The Fatema Mernissi Postdoctoral Fellowship in Social and Cultural Studies is named in honor of the world-renowned Moroccan scholar, the late Professor Fatema Mernissi, whose contributions to gender, feminism, sociopolitical change and Islam, have been critical and transformational. The fellowship is open to emerging scholars in the field of social sciences with specific emphasis on gender, feminism and cultural studies and visual cultures, as long as they intersect with African and African diaspora studies.

  • Netsanet Gebremichael – Netsanet Gebremichael holds a PhD in interdisciplinary Social Studies from Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University Uganda in 2019. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University.

The inaugural Okwui Enwezor Postdoctoral Fellowship in Visual Culture, Performance Studies and Critical Humanities is named in honor of the late Okwui Enwezor, the famed scholar, curator and art critic, whose contributions to the disciplines of art history, art criticism and cultural studies have left a groundbreaking and dynamic impact. This fellowship is open to emerging scholars whose work focuses on visual and performance studies and intersections with discourses of art history, performance studies and critical humanities. Eligible applicants must have earned their doctoral degree (PhD) within the last five years, prior to assuming the fellowship.

The Global Africa Translation Fellowship Program offers grants toward the translation of historic and contemporary African poetry, novels, and more into English and Arabic, welcoming applicants from across the Global South to submit a request for a grant of up to $5,000 to complete translations of works from the African continent and its diaspora. Selected works may be retranslations of classic texts or previously untranslated contemporary works, collections of poetry, novels, prose, or critical theory.

The 2021 grantees are:

  • Reem Abou-El-Fadl, for translation and editing of the Arabic-language memoir of Egyptian intellectual and activist Helmi Sharawy, Sira Misriyya Ifriqiya (An Egyptian African Story), which was first published in 2019 by independent Cairo press Dar Al-Ain;
  • Adil Babikir, for the translation of Sudanese author Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin’s book Samahani from Arabic into English;
  • Claretta Holsey, for the translation of four scholarly essays from René Ménil’s Tracées: Identité, Négritude, Esthétique aux Antilles from French into English;
  • David Shook, for the translation of Francisco José Tenreiro’s collected poems from Portuguese into English, including his seminal 1942 debut Ilha de Nome Santo (Island with a Holy Name).

The 2022 grantees are:

  • Hussein El Hajj, for the translation of author Salma Khalil’s unpublished book Where Will We Go in Winter? – an anthology of young Arabs’ personal reflections on their experiences of diaspora and exile since the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings of 2011 – from English into Arabic.
  • Margaux Fitoussi, to translate Waiting for Omar Gatlato, written in French by Wassyla Tamzali and published in 1979, into English. Waiting for Omar Gatlato is an early sourcebook on Algerian and Tunisian experimental cinema from the end of the 1960s through the late 1970s. The monograph is split into two parts – “A Look at Algerian Cinema” and “A Fragmentary Introduction to Tunisian Cinema” – and includes film analysis, stills, shooting notes, production documentation, and interviews with individual filmmakers.
  • Myriam Amri & Margaux Fitoussi, to complete the translation of Tunisian Yankee (2016), written by Cecile Oumahni and published by Elyzad Editions (Tunis, Tunisia) -from French into English- of the historical novel.
  • Nathalie Handal, for translation and editing of Récitatif au pays des ombres, Recitatif in the Country of Shadows from French (with some Creole) into English.
  • Salma Khalil, for the translation of Coptic-Egyptian author Shady Lewis’s third novel A Brief History of Genesis and East Cairo, published by Dar al-Ein in 2021, from Arabic into English.

The creative writing fellowship, the Tejumola Olaniyan Creative Writers-in-Residence Fellowship Program, honors the late Nigerian Professor Tejumola Olaniyan and his remarkable intellectual legacy in the field of African literature and critical theory. The residency program welcomes applications from novelists, short story writers, playwrights, poets and script writers related to Africa and the African diaspora for a grant of up to $12,000. Applications are now open with a deadline of February 28.

As a research-based think-tank and institute for postgraduate studies, the Africa Institute also offers both masters and PhD programs dedicated to training a new generation of critical thinkers in African and African diaspora studies and evolving a new model for academic research, teaching and documentation in the field.

For more information on the programs and how to apply, please visit or see below for more on the staff and fellowships below.

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