Supporting the next generation of researchers in African linguistics

  • Date

    Fri 19 May 23

Group of researchers involved in international linguistics writing workshop (in Africa)

The British Academy has renewed its support for funding for international writing workshops to support early career researchers in developing countries.

Dr Hannah Gibson, from the Department of Language and Linguistics, is one of the 21 project leaders to receive £30,000 funding which will allow her to deliver further workshops for early career researchers, in her case with a focus on those based in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, these workshops aim to further build participants’ professional networks, develop research partnerships, encourage skills development, provide advice on career development and promote the uptake of research from developing countries.

Dr Gibson will deliver the project, ‘De-Centering knowledge and training opportunities: Supporting the development of the next generation of researchers in African linguistics’, with colleagues Dr David Barasa, from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology in Kenya, and Professor Lutz Marten, from SOAS University of London.

These workshops build on a previous project called ‘Eroding dichotomies: description, analysis and publishing in African linguistics’ which was held in South Africa in 2022. The project will include a follow-on series of two in-person workshops which will bring together participants from the previous workshop as “senior participants” who will be joined by ten new “junior participants” from the research community in Kenya.

One workshop will be held at the University of Nairobi, which is based in Kenya’s capital city, and the second workshop will be held at Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) in Kakamega in Western Kenya.

Dr Gibson said: “We are delighted to have received the follow-on funding to allow us to continue working together on the project. It is a great opportunity to build on from the success of the 2022 workshop, and to draw on the expertise and enthusiasm of this dynamic cohort of participants.

“It’s great that the British Academy recognises not only the importance of this scheme, but also the importance of the ongoing support for projects like these.”

The project will take place over two years, and as well as the in-person workshops there will be a range of ongoing online activities, with the aim of strengthening the development of the network, increasing the opportunities for interaction and exchange.

The inclusion of the workshop in Kakamega is a recognition of the importance of working with research communities outside of capital cities, and seeks to reverse the concentration of these types of opportunities around economic and political centres.

Dr Gibson said: “The programme of workshops aims to fill a gap for early researchers, many of whom teach very large classes and are under considerable administrative pressures, meaning that research often ends up taking a back seat. The expectations on students and staff at many institutions in Africa are very high, and yet there is often a lack of infrastructural systems to support these aims.

“We hope that the second workshop series serves to somewhat address some of the concerns voiced by participants at our previous workshop, and make a continued and lasting difference to the research environment and individuals’ career trajectories.”