About us

Established by the French Department of Foreign Affairs on the 12th of May 1995, IFAS-Research has been founded to answer France’s wish to take part in the construction of the new South Africa concerning research in the Human and Social Sciences. Its regional mandate over Southern Africa is bringing IFAS-Research to develop cross-projects on the countries of the region as well as partnerships with the Institutes of Ibadan and Nairobi on continental programmes. IFAS-Research supports around 80 researchers every year coming from the most prestigious French and European centres on Southern Africa. Its mission is to promote the creation of mixed research teams through calls for proposals as per annual programmes. IFAS-Research hosts French students and researchers during their field trips in Southern Africa and assists Southern African researchers doing research work in Europe.

Since its inception, the Institute has emphasized the reconstruction of space and identities in post-apartheid South Africa, and the observation of social and political change indicators by favouring an interdisciplinary approach. Past programmes have for example focused on security and governance in Sub-saharan African cities, democratic transformation in developing countries and land redistribution in constitutional, liberation and post-liberation regimes in Southern Africa. Recently, new programmes in Archaeology and History of Southern Africa have been launched.

Mission and mandate of IFAS–Research

A regional mandate over the whole of Southern Africa: South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Republic of the Congo, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The work of IFAS-Research revolves around three main research themes: 1) Archeology & Paleo-archeology ; 2) History & Heritage ; 3) Contemporary dynamics.

Four main objectives:

  • Acting as a catalyst for scientific exchange between French, European and Southern African researchers and organisations to promote the creation of networks and mixed teams;
  • Giving rise to and supporting the projects (missions, conferences, seminars) of European and African researchers who contribute to the development of expertise in Human and Social Sciences on Southern Africa;
  • Publishing results in books and articles in French and English, and organising public events (international conferences, book launches);
  • Welcoming young researchers and contributing to their training in research by integrating them into international research networks.

Institutional Functioning of IFAS-Research

Under the authority of the Embassy of France in South Africa, IFAS-Research, based in Johannesburg, is the research section of the French Institute of South Africa that includes a research as well as a cultural section, under the management of the Cultural Attaché of the Embassy. IFAS-Research falls under the administrative and scientific authority of the Division de l’Archéologie et des Sciences humaines et sociales (“Archaeology and Social Sciences Division”) of the Sous-direction des échanges scientifiques et de la recherche (“Sub-Directorate for Scientific exchanges and Research”), within the Direction Générale de la Mondialisation, des partenariats et de l’attractivité (DGM / “Directorate General for Globalisation, partnerships and attractiveness”) of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. As such, it is part of a global network of 27 institutes for research in Human and Social Sciences falling under the same authority, of which 7 are on the African continent. Since April 2007, IFAS Research has become a joint CNRS (French National Research Centre)-French Department of Foreign Affairs Research Unit. This means that IFAS, like its other African counterparts, is now officially an UMIFRE (Unité Mixte des Instituts de Recherche Français à l’Etranger), more precisely UMIFRE 25. IFAS Research is also part of an USR (Unité de Service et de Recherche) of the CNRS with the Institutes of Khartoum (Sudan), Nairobi (Kenya), and Ibadan (Nigeria) under the name of USR 3336 – Afrique au Sud du Sahara. IFAS-Research operates as per an annual budget programming approved by its supervising authorities (French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs & French National Centre for Scientific Research). Calls for proposals are sent annually late during the administrative year (see IFAS Funding section).

IFAS-Research is also part of the academic network Groupement d’Intérêt Scientifique des études africaines en France (GIS).

> More information on the UMIFRE network

> Plus d’informations sur les UMIFRE