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Anthropology of Human Security in Africa

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ANTHUSIA (Anthropology of Human Security in Africa)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2022-12-31

The ANTHUSIA EJD offers an innovative, interdisciplinary and multi-sectoral approach to the analysis of crises and opportunities in contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa. These dynamics are critical to Europe and beyond. On the one hand, human creativity and innovation feed growing economies across the African continent. At the same time, severe disruptions in human safety are caused by multiple and interweaving factors, including the economy, the environment and politics with significant consequences for social relations, gender and generational dynamics. Growing economic inequalities create tensions reaching beyond local, regional and national borders and make human security a global issue for African as well as for European countries. Human security problems, as well as population growth rates in Africa have obvious ramifications for European home security and economy. Refugee and migration crises due to insecurity in the African continent are likely to continue evolving in the future, and they call out for long-term analysis and engagement.

Now that he project has come to its end, the ANTHUSIA EJD has fulfilled its objectives:
- It has established a sustainable EJD programme between the four universities: Aarhus, Edinburgh, Leuven, and Oslo. Joint degrees between these institutions have been awarded.
- It has provided training to 16 excellent Early Stage Researchers who are all well on track in their career paths.
- The ESRs have conducted anthropological empirical research in various parts of Africa on urgent Human Security issues.
- A European and International research network has been established that has effectively supervised the ESRs, organised joint training and has collaborated closely with a wide range of African partners and academic colleagues. The collaboration in this network continues beyond the current project.
- The ANTHUSIA has been successful in creating and maintaining research collaborations with partners in Africa both through the secondments that the ESRs have undertaken but also through the joint training events, where African partner organisations have been invited to join as trainers, co-organizers or representatives of their organisation. The collaboration with non-academic organisations has been essential for ensuring that the research findings of the ESRs will have an impact on the human security problem areas they are dealing with.
-The ESRs have been disseminating their research since the start of the project and it has been a focus area of all training events where training in using visual methods and in writing policy briefs among other things have been taught. Research findings have been presented at all training events and at national and international conferences and workshops. The ESRs have also returned to their research sites to disseminate their research findings to interlocutors and policy makers. The ones who haven’t been able to go yet, still have plans to do so in 2023. PhD dissertations, peer-reviewed articles, visual products and policy briefs have been produced. One edited volume and an edited ANTHUSIA online journal are underway.
This first period of the project focused on recruitment to get the best candidates for the ESR positions, their initial training in Human Security topics, fieldwork preparation and supervision of the individual ESRs. Two training events took place during the first period of the project: Opening Workshop in Oslo in 2018 and Summer School 1 in Nairobi in 2019.
The second period of the project was a period of data collection for all ESRs as they have been doing 12 months of fieldwork at their different research sites in various places in Africa. Most of them have also finished their secondment with the local partner organizations during this period. The third training event, Summer School 2 in 2020 marked the end of fieldwork for most ESRs. After this the main focus was on analysing their data and disseminating their research findings.
The final period of the ANTHUSIA project was impacted by the global pandemic. Some training events had to be postponed or converted to an online or hybrid format. Most ESRs could not go on the secondary stays with their universities and many of them experienced delay or stress over the situation. Due to these circumstances the project was granted a no-cost extension of 12 months which allowed it to finalize its activities. Summer School 3 was held as a hybrid training event and four writing retreats in either online or psychical form were held in 2022. The final ANTHUSIA conference took place in November 2022 where ESRs, supervisors and African partners were invited to participate. Now that the project is finished 7 ESRs have successfully defended their PhD dissertations and have obtained joint degrees. The rest are expected to submit and defend in the course of 2023. The ESRs have all produced excellent research in urgent Human Security topics which they have presented at local and international conferences as well as disseminating the results to their secondment places, interlocutors and partners in Africa.
The impact of the ANTHUSIA EJD is obvious on the three levels that the project sought out to influence: 1. Developing relevant individual researcher skills. 2. Building a sustainable and innovative European research school and network. 3. Influencing stakeholders’ and policy-makers’ development and implementation of human security related projects and policies.
All ESRs have now started to establish themselves as part of international research and professional networks. Through their training they have become independent and critical researchers with insight into different and interdisciplinary research environments. So far 12 out of the 16 ESRs are employed.
In the process of creating training and doing supervision together the universities and supervisors have learned and continue to learn from each other - also in terms of organizing PhD courses, writing retreats, summer schools and supervision. On an administrative level all PhD schools and administrative personnel have been in close contact and dialogue when developing the Framework Agreement and following Assessment Agreement. The knowledge exchange involved in designing this complex agreement will also have a future and lasting impact when designing new joint or double degrees between the institutions.
The ESRs have disseminated their research findings to relevant parties and shared their findings whenever relevant. Further dissemination of research findings to local policy makers are undergoing as most ESR plan to go back to their field, if they haven’t already done so, to disseminate their research findings to interlocutors, local stakeholders and policy makers. On another level the ANTHUSIA project seems to have had an impact on EU policies. Under the Horizon 2020 call African partners could not be included as beneficiaries, which the project and its African partners raised as a critical point at the launch of the PhD calls and during the progress check meeting with our EU project officer in Nairobi in 2019. It was a very important inclusion under the Horizon Europe call that it is now possible to include African partners as beneficiaries on equal terms with their European counterparts, which will undoubtedly have a huge impact on future research collaborations in the African continent.
ANTHUSIA ESRs gathered at Summer School 1 in Nairobi January 2019