School of Advanced Study launches London hub for UK post-colonial studies

Wednesday 5 November 2014

The School of Advanced Study (SAS) is building on its role in the international government policy and consultancy arena with the establishment of its new Centre for Post-Colonial Studies (CPCS). 

The new venture, which opened on 1 September, is being run by the School's first Professor of Cultural History, Andrew Hussey, an expert in European and North African relations.

It will co-ordinate contributions from SAS's constituent institutes in London and the aim is two-fold: to promote and advance research into the post-colonial world, in accord with the School's international humanities research mission; and to facilitate dialogue between policy-makers and academic researchers.

Professor Hussey said he is excited about helping to ‘establish the University of London as an intellectual presence in Europe and elsewhere. Most importantly, I think that in political and cultural terms, the time is right for the School of Advanced Study, and indeed the University of London, to engage with new transnational forms of collaboration and research.’ 

The CPCS will be launched at a major British Council conference in Hammamet, Tunisia (13–16 November), which is being run in partnership with representatives from Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Tunisia. It is the first time, in the conference’s three years of existence, that a UK higher education provider has been involved. Professor Hussey, will also launch a new book he co-edited, The Challenge of North Africa, at the same event. The conference will bring together scholars from both sides of the Mediterranean to discuss present and future perspectives on the region.

'North Africa is going through fast and sometimes quite unpredictable changes,’ said Professor Hussey. ‘And that is why it is crucial that the Centre for Post-Colonial Studies begins its life in the crucible of change.' 

Professor Hussey's expertise in European and North African relations, honed during eight years as Dean of the University of London Institute in Paris (ULiP), will complement the current research activities of the School’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Institute of Latin American Studies, Institute of English Studies, Institute of Historical Research and Institute of Modern Languages Research. To this end, Professor Hussey is keen to draw on the expertise and international connections which SAS has already developed and to expand these further.

His own research focuses on French and North African politics and culture. As an essayist, broadcaster and public speaker, he communicates this research far beyond academic audiences to reach the general public. His work has led to debates about the contemporary significance of French and North African cultures in the 21st century.

The research being advanced and promoted by the new Centre will not be limited to critical theory, which thus far has tended to be the dominant prism through which scholars have viewed the post-colonial world. This ambitious project also seeks to engage with empirical research in the fields of law, media, governance, counter-terrorism, health studies and business.

With this in mind, the Centre will provide a London hub for UK post-colonial studies, activities and events, and for international research and postgraduate teaching. It will publish Francosphères, the University of London's bi-annual journal of transcultural and intercultural French Studies, edited by Andrew Hussey and published by Liverpool University Press

Regarding itself as an agent for change, the CPCS will bring together academics and practitioners to inform policy decisions through evidence-based research. It is expected that the Centre will develop a new Masters programme of European decolonisation, will register post-graduate research students, and will seek external funding to develop research activities.

There is already a series of planned activities for 2014–15. These include:
• Significant participation of the CPCS in the Hammamet Conference - 2014 is the third year of the conference - which brings together policy-makers from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia to discuss issues including human rights, democracy and gender rights

• The Centre's hosting of a forum on Ethics in International Journalism in Algiers, February 2015, in partnership from the British Council. Input will come from senior BBC journalists and young journalists from across the Maghreb

• A series of Executive Briefings on geo-political challenges to be held in Paris in summer 2015

‘Andrew Hussey is one of the UK’s leading public intellectuals,’ said Professor Philip Murphy, director of the School’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies and Deputy Dean of SAS. ‘This exciting new initiative represents an opportunity for SAS to make an important contribution to the field of post-colonial studies and to highlight the value of policy-relevant research in the humanities.’