African Heritage Initiative (AHI)

The African Heritage Initiative (AHI) advances the critical study of heritage work in Africa. At present, “African heritage" is being reconfigured and marshalled as a resource by governments and by ordinary citizens eager to gain revenue and political leverage. It is also a critical means by which people engage with the past and define their ties to others in the present. AHI brings together scholars from Africa and U-M to query the many assumptions circulating about "heritage" and the uses to which it is put. A long-term goal is to deepen our intellectual engagement with the broader domain of African humanities through research projects with African colleagues already engaged in these issues.

To date, we have:

  • provided Seed Grants to facilitate cross-national collaborations between U-M faculty and African colleagues
  • facilitated smaller-scale workshops and consultations
  • coordinated archive preservation projects in South Africa, Uganda, Ghana, and South Sudan
  • collaborated with the U-M library in the digitization of the African music recordings of Leo Sarkisian of the Voice of America
  • convened art exhibitions
  • organized biennial  international conferences in Ghana and South Africa


FUNDING: AHI Seed Grants

Overview of Grant Opportunity




African Heritage Initiative (AHI) Seed Grants For Collaborative Research Projects


The African Heritage Initiative (AHI) of the African Studies Center is making research funds available to support collaborative research projects. The expected seed funding award will be between $5,000 and $10,000. We plan to offer two or three awards for work being undertaken in summertime 2014 and in SY2014-15.


These grants are intended to support scholarship produced by the University of Michigan's faculty in the arts, humanities and interpretive social sciences whose work illuminates the dynamic, contested process by which African cultures and histories are made. We aim to encourage the development of overlapping, intersecting research projects that bring African scholars into close conversation with U-M researchers.

Award Amount

Between $5,000 to $10,000

Example of Past Projects

We have over the past several years supported a range of projects, such as:

  • A collaborative study of opera in South Africa involving faculty at U-M and at the University of Witwatersrand
  • Joint research on the heritage market in post-genocide Rwanda involving a U-M historian and a political scientist at the National University of Rwanda
  • A museum exhibition in Kano, Nigeria displaying cloth manufactured in the city's old textile factory jointly curated by U-M and Nigerian scholars.
  • In these and in other grants our aim is to create a framework within which UM scholars can develop relationships with African scholars. The hope is that these seed grants will incubate work that can attract larger amounts of funding.


  • Applicants must be full-time members of the U-M faculty
  • Project builds upon existing scholarship, demonstrates originality and innovation, and offers notable academic value
  • Project deepens collaborative partnerships with African counterparts
  • Scope of work is reasonable for 12 to 18 months
  • Project has potential for future expansion / scale up.

Key Dates

Proposal Due Date: January 10, 2014
Notice of Award: February 14, 2014
Disbursal of funds: May 2, 2014 or after

Program Elements

  • Application cover sheet
  • Maximum 2-page description of the project must address: 
    • Context of work 
    • Specific activities proposed for funding 
    • Rationale, noting originality and significance of the work 
    • Partnerships (if any), and expected role of listed parties 
    • Plan for continuation of the proposed project 
  • Budget (max 1 page), distinguishing travel, salary, supplies/equipment, other. 
  • A list of any funding requests under review for the same project. 
  • Timeline 
  • CV(s) of the Applicant, listed partners, and students proposed for funding.

Submission Instructions

All application material should be emailed to as a single pdf. The coversheet can be completed via the form below. The pdf file name and email subject line MUST be labeled “HERITAGE SEED GRANT_[YOUR LAST NAME]”.



Workshop: African Print Cultures, December 2-4, 2012 | Ann Arbor, USA (PDF)

Conference: Politics of Heritage, July 2011 | Johannesburg, South Africa (PDF)

Conference: Heritage Matters!, December 15-17, 2009 | Accra, Ghana (PDF)

Workshop: Producing, Preserving and Repatriating Digital Cultural Assets,  December 9-11, 2008 | Rhodes University, South Africa (PDF)