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Pan-African Frontiers and Identities: the remaking of Africa in world politics

Pan-African frontiers is a multi-sited collaborative four-year research project based at SOAS University of London, funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship scheme. We explore the contemporary intellectual, political and policy efficacy of pan-Africanism, the idea that people of African descent worldwide share a common history and destiny. ​

The Project

This project will for the first time bring together contemporary policy discourse around pan-Africanism with a broader analysis of it as an ideology with a long-standing and multifaceted tradition and history. The idea of pan-Africanism first emerged among Africans in the diaspora, especially in America and the Caribbean Islands. Originally a cultural and intellectual movement that challenged racial definitions and the segregation of people of African descent in the diaspora, it was eventually adopted by African nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana in the 1950s as a philosophy for anti-colonial struggle. It later evolved into a drive for political independence in the new states created by colonial rule. Since the 1980s, pan-Africanism has become topical in new ways in Africa, utilised for policy purposes in the Africa Union's regional integration and international relations strategy.

Pan-African frontiers is a global comparative project

Our project is based on a simultaneous studies of specific security and development policy in three regional institutions: the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD); and across six African countries (Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia and South Africa), and in diaspora identities in Afro-diaspora communities in the UK. We will bring evidence from these areas together to apply a cross-site comparative analysis linking findings across geographically dispersed and culturally diverse field sites.

We are aware that black identities worldwide are not commensurable and of our need to explore the multiple frontiers and expressions of identifications, thoughts and practices which very rarely manifest in a straightforward and unified manner.



Centre for Pan African Studies, SOAS University of London is engaging with a broad range of organisations to foster added value through the development of pan-African and multi-national research collaborations that encourage global and regional co-operation and the work of researchers in Africa and the diaspora. We believe collaborative approach has the potential to advance a reliable knowledge base for evidence-informed and meaningful policy-making.

Pan-African frontiers has 6 partners across Africa and in the UK. These are:

Centre for Pan African Studies
University of Ghana
Royal African Society
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