The University of Michigan African Heritage Initiative (AHI) explores how cultural assets in Africa are historicized, authenticated, accessed, and circulated. It supports collaborative research projects between scholars and artists at the University of Michigan and partnering African institutions. The initiative reflects the importance of heritage and its remaking across the continent of Africa.
As African societies enter the global economy, democratize, and move further away from colonial formations, almost every aspect of heritage is called into question. The collision of traditional beliefs and practices with contemporary social realities is crucial for how African communities respond to issues of public health, justice, family life, nation building, economic development, and legal reform.
The initiative is open to scholars at African universities and independent intellectuals from disciplines in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, who study African tradition, culture, ideas, or artifacts. Seed grants of up to $10,000 support collaborative research .
U-M is working to enhance connections between South Africa, Ghana, and other regions of the African continent. Over the next three years, AHI will focus on:
- Digital preservation and archiving of heritage documents, images, and time-based media (audio and video)
- Expanding access to these materials to the global scholarly community
- Three years of a revolving themed conference , hosted in South Africa, Ghana, or at U-M
- Engages partners from U-M, South Africa, and Ghana from academic and professional domains
- 2011 Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa: The Politics of Heritage in Africa
- Creation of a roving “on site” school which makes use of the amazing heritage sites in South Africa, Ghana, and Detroit
- Small groups of graduate students and early career faculty will jointly travel to all three sites for an ongoing, comparative discussion
- Expansion of African graduate and faculty exchanges in arts, humanities, and social sciences, as well as U-M’s Museum Studies Program