African Digital Humanities : A call for proposals 1

The universities of Cape Town, Pretoria, Stellenbosch, Western Cape and the Witwatersrand have recently been awarded a generous grant from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation for a Programme in African Digital Humanities. The Programme will offer R3 million annually over five years in support of projects of digitisation, course design and research.

We invite one-page preliminary proposal descriptions from researchers and curators associated with any of the South African universities. Proposals should be sent to by May 20, 2018.

Examples of the kind of work we would like to support include the following, but they are not exhaustive. We invite:

1) Research into students’ current reading practices, pedagogies of reading, course requirements for reading and their teachers’ expectations. This could be done using qualitative methods, or use existing sources of automatically generated data that are available on the universities' networks or through the TENET (the Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa) backbone.

2) Digitisation projects aimed at:

  • developing digital archives of historical artworks, photographs and other visual material
  • new materials that shed light on the long term past and that might form part of the Five Hundred Year Archive (See
  • important and long-running official publications or statistical series that will strengthen the humanities and foster skills in XML markup, cataloguing and open source publishing platforms. (See the existing British http://hansard.millbanksystems and Australian Hansard projects.)
  • projects aimed at the development of on-line African language archives and the development of multi-lingual translations.

3) Curriculum development designed to foster

  • the technical skills required for standards-based sharing and discovery of African sources.
  • use of specific open source software tools, like Zotero or Omeka, bibliographic platforms like Atom or the key markup languages like XML.
  • understanding of the specific constraints and resources of reading currently available to humanities students (see, for example,
  • innovations in how reading may be taught in digital environments. This could include attention to multilingualism, multimodal and visual pedagogies.

We specifically encourage anyone interested to write to the programme coordinators:

Professor Keith Breckenridge

Professor Hlonipha Mokoena