Current third-party-funded projects

Project title: "Rastafari 'Reasonings' zu Afrika in historischer Perspektive"

Project sponsor: FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Project number: P 35987 (Einzelprojekt)
Project funds: 155.505,00 €
Project manager: Birgit Englert
Project staff: Dominik Frühwirth

Project duration: 01.10.2022-31.08.2024

Keywords: Rastafari, Africa, African History, Translocal History, Reasonings, Mobilities

Project title: "A history of Kenya's female parliamentary pioneers"

Project sponsor: FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung - Elise-Richter-Stipendium
Project funds: 263.982,18 €
Project manager: Anais Angelo
Project duration: 01.07.2022-30.06.2025  

In the last decades, the number of female parliamentarians has tremendously increased in African countries. Nevertheless, national realities vary greatly: Kenya is among the countries which face enduring difficulties to implement gender parity in legislative institutions. Contemporary political, economic, financial, cultural and social barriers hindering women’s representation in parliaments are well researched. But one question remains: what impact has the erasing of women’s politics from national history on the building of a gender-inclusive democracy in Africa/Kenya?

This project seeks to redress the gaps in the current knowledge about Kenyan women’s political history through the lens of parliamentary politics. Despite their contribution to the decolonization struggle as freedom fighters or political activists, Kenyan women have been largely sidelined in Kenyan politics and political history. Yet, preliminary research on Kenyan women’s fight for parliamentary representation in the 1960s and 1970s shows that the few who dared campaigning for a parliamentary seat in a patriarchal political system and society were particularly vocal about their political ideas and ambitions. Who were these women? Why did they campaign and what did they do afterwards? How can we document and write about their political endeavor?

Building on previous research on Kenyan political history, this project will document the political ideas and agenda these women defended during their parliamentary campaigns and, for the happy few, once in office. At stake is to make women’s political contribution to formal, national politics visible (instead of accounting of their marginalization, absence or invisibility). Extensive archival research will be conducted to retrieve written, oral, public, personal, visual sources from local, national, and global contexts.

This project challenges historical narratives that only remember (male) winners in African politics. Academic and non-academic outcomes will contribute to a more inclusive writing of African history, one that bridges formal and informal politics, focuses both on winners and losers, and introduces diverse sources to both an expert and general audience.


Project title: Summer School “Spaces for Future: Processes of Rural and Urban Transformation in Southern Africa”

Project sponsor: Volkswagen Stiftung Programme “Knowledge for Tomorrow - Cooperative Research Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa”
Project funds: 49.900 Euro

Project participants:

Prof Reimer Gronemeyer, Institute of Sociology, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen
Dr Carmen Ludwig
, Institute of Sociology, Justus-Liebig-University Gießen
Prof Mutjinde Katjiua
, Head of Department of Land and Property Science, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST)
Dr Lameck Mwewa
, Agriculture and Natural Resources Sciences, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST)
Prof Kirsten Rüther
, History, African Studies Department, University of Vienna
Prof Antje Daniel
, Development Studies, Institute of Development Studies, University of Vienna

The summer school aims at offering an interdisciplinary space for scientists coming from the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences in order to get an comprehensive understanding of rural-urban relations and recent challenges of migration and climate change.

Countries in Southern Africa are in the process of a major transition from rural to urban-based societies. As estimated by the UN, 77 percent of the population in Southern Africa will live in urban areas by the middle of this century. These developments increase the already existing challenges in the provision of urban infrastructure, transportation, social services and housing. It furthermore raises questions on the development of social and spatial inequalities that follow in the wake of the expansion of urban centres.

On the other hand, land reforms to overcome the strains of apartheid and colonialism and to address its spatial structures of inequality remains one of the most pressing issues in Southern Africa.  The unresolved land question in rural and urban spaces significantly impacts societies' capacities for cohesion or severe social conflict.

While research mostly either focusses on rural or urban challenges the summer school seeks to interrogate the dynamics of change by combining the rural and urban studies for a new understanding and will address the following questions:

  • In which ways are processes of transformation between rural and urban spaces interconnected and shape each other?
  • Who are relevant agents of transformation processes and resistance?
  • In which ways can the future of urban and rural areas be imagined in new ways or by learning from past concepts and experiences?

Two important dimensions - climate change and migration - identified as particularly influential in shaping the dynamics of rural-urban transformation in Southern Africa will provide a useful analytical lens to analyse rural-urban-transformation processes and its interrelations.

Project title: “PhD Programme Cultural Mobility Studies” (doc.funds)
Short title: "Cultural Mobility Studies"

Project sponsor: FWF - Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung
Project number: Doc56-G30

Project manager: Kirsten Rüther (01.07.2019 - 28.02.2021)
Principal investigators: Pelz, Annegret; Ganser-Blumenau, Alexandra; Rüther, Kirsten; Sakdapolrak, Patrick; Macho, Thomas; Sauer, Birgit; Dannecker, Petra.

with 7 prae-doc posts.

Project collaborator: Daniela Atanasova (Department of African Studies)
Project duration: 01.10.2019-30.09.2023
Project funds: 1.331.836,48 Euro

Project website:

Project title: “Research Platform: Mobile Cultures and Societies.”

Project sponsor: Universität Wien - University of Vienna

Project manager: Kirsten Rüther (01.07.2019 - 28.02.2021)
Second manager: Birgit Englert(01.07.2019 - 28.02.2021)

Project collaborators: Immanuel Harisch (Department of African Studies), Sigrid Thomson (Department of Comparative Literature)

Key Researcher: Kirsten Rüther, Birgit Englert

Project duration: 01.12.2018-30.09.2023
Project funds: 349.000,00 Euro

Project website: