The Institute

The humanities have long been vital to the creative and critical energies of societies in the throes of profound change. Launched in 2010, HUMA – the Institute for Humanities in Africa – intends to create a space of dynamic interdisciplinary community for scholars and students in the humanities at large. Fostering top-end academic research, HUMA draws on its work to nurture critical public debate, promoting UCT’s vision of itself as a civic and 'Afropolitan’ university contributing to the making of democratic citizenship.

Located in the Faculties of Humanities at the University of Cape Town (UCT), HUMA takes a broad view of the humanities, encompassing other scientific endeavours such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) that place the humanities at the core of their work.

HUMA is a hub of innovative research that opens up new areas of interdisciplinary inquiry and establishes strong connections between scholars in the institute, within UCT, nationally and with comparable institutes elsewhere.


HUMA's international connections


HUMA's international connections

HUMA situates South Africa in Africa and looks to building intellectual and institutional links with researchers and knowledge communities on the continent and globally, in line with UCT’s ‘Afropolitan’ vision – that is, in the name of a cosmopolitan version of Africa’s worldliness, rather than an essentialised version of shared Africanness.

HUMA has an Afropolitan outlook with a Pan-African approach. This guides the Institute’s work on building Pan-African scholarship, research, collaborations and nurturing the next generation of African intellectuals. HUMA's work is informed by one central theme – On Being Human – organised around four research clusters: (1) Humanity and its limits, (2) Human/Non-human, (3) Humane/Inhumane, and (4) Humanist/Anti-humanist.

Our work

HUMA's activities include:

  • Research, research development, doctoral and post-doctoral training
  • Knowledge activism, publishing, science communication
  • Networking, knowledge exchange, residential fellowships
  • Seminars, workshops, conferences, interdisciplinary dialogues
  • Public engagement, public debates, policy analyses and policy dialogues

Our mission

HUMA strives to

  1. Provide intellectual leadership in interdisciplinary and transnational research into key issues in thinking the human in Africa, and Africa’s place in thinking and producing the world;
  2. Contribute to nurturing the next generation of scholars in the humanities in Africa and the world at large;
  3. Foster a lively hub of scholarly exchange, collaboration and public debate;
  4. Promote collegial, hospitable and productive intellectual linkages between scholars and associates of the Institute;
  5. Invigorate independent and critical public debate.

HUMA's funders

HUMA is a donor-funded research institute.

Current funders

Past funders