Introducing the BIEA

The British Institute in Eastern Africa has been active since 1960 and has its research centre  with accommodation, lecture facilities, work space and reference library in Nairobi, Kenya. The Institute is a registered charity which exists to promote research in all the disciplines in the humanities and social sciences within the wider region of eastern Africa. It offers financial support , affiliation services and logistical assistance to research projects, and runs a graduate attachment scheme. The Institute publishes a regular newsletter as well as the journal Azania: archaeological research in Africa and the Journal of Eastern African Studies.

Membership is open to all and we would be delighted if you would join us.


Call for Papers

August 31 – September 2, 2020.

JIAS (Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study, 1 Tolip Street, Westdene, Johannesburg

The Impact and Legacy of British 1820 Settlers in South Africa: A bicentennial retrospective and prospective.

Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS), in association with Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Johannesburg; Centre for Leadership Ethics in Africa, at the University of Fort Hare; and The Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

The 1820 settlers constitute a socially diverse vanguard of British Imperialism in the Eastern Cape with long-term implications for the Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaner nations, and the social, political and intellectual history of what was to become the Republic of South Africa. This conference marks the bi-centenary of this British colonial venture and seeks to explore its immediate and subsequent impact on the course of South African history from the perspectives not only of the colonialists, and their justifications of colonialism, but also from those peoples whose lives, livelihoods and cultures were threatened by the presence and expansion of British influence in the Eastern Cape and Natal (Zululand).

The conference will have a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary character. Abstracts may be submitted for consideration from a wide range of disciplinary fields; historical, sociological, anthropological, political and linguistic, to mention but a few.

Proximity between English and Xhosa speakers in the eastern Cape laid the basis for the dominance of the latter in indigenous southern African politics, education, literature, agriculture and Christianity, for the next 100 years. The liberal political tradition in South Africa owes its genesis to these circumstances. From a linguistics perspective, South African English and written Xhosa have their roots in the arrival of the 1820 British settlers. As a second language, English now predominates as the language of government, education, business, and media.

Papers to be presented at the Conference will be approximately 30 minutes in duration, followed by 30 minutes of questions.

Abstracts of proposed papers should be sent to Professor David Boucher, University of Johannesburg and Cardiff University. [email protected]

Deadline 30th April, 2020. Decisions will be communicated towards the end of May, 2020.

The JIAS conference will coincide with events/performances organised by Centre for Leadership Ethics in Africa, Fort Hare and the Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Call For 2020/2021 Applications (Graduate Attachment Scheme)

BIEA graduate attachments offer recent graduates, with an interest in further studies in Africa, the opportunity to gain practical experience of research. The June 2020 to May 2021 BIEA graduate attachment scheme will take up to nine successful applicants.  Graduate attachés will be involved in three types of work while at the BIEA:

  • Attachés will develop specific research interests in the region, gain practical experience of conducting fieldwork, meet a variety of active researchers, and take part in a number of innovative historical, archaeological and anthropological projects throughout eastern Africa;
  • Assisting with the administration of the BIEA including website, library, reading groups focused on key texts in African studies, workshops and seminars; and,
  • Doing their own research usually leading into developing a plan for a Masters or PhD. Their attachment involves the presentation of a paper in the BIEA Completion Seminar Series upon some aspect of the research they have carried out during their time at BIEA.

Graduate attachés will be given a total allowance of £1600.00 for the three months of the attachment to pay for accommodation, food, daily transport in Nairobi and medicine. The attachés will have to provide receipts for their expenses amounting to their total allowance (small food purchases can be written down weekly in a receipt book/ledger). The total costs for transport to and from Nairobi at beginning and end of an attaché’s stay will be paid separately on a needs basis. Graduate attachés will not be obliged to use the offered BIEA accommodation, but will be given preferential access to the dorm rooms, should they wish to use the BIEA guest house. The BIEA has free weekly Swahili lessons, at beginner, intermediate and advanced level that graduate attachés can join.

The timing of researcher projects often change due to budgets and administration so cannot be guaranteed but below is a list of researchers who have plans for the next year. Potential graduate attachés should also explore the BIEA Annual Review to find out about other possible projects that are on-going. Graduate attachés are eligible to apply for more funds from the BIEA for field research.

Graduate attachments are three months long. There may be opportunities to extend your stay but accommodation, food, visa and transport changes will be at the attaché’s own expense. You will need a strong academic record, some experience of studying/researching Africa, and a clear interest in developing your own research. You should also be able to show significant initiative and that you are equally adept at working and living alone or as part of a large team. You should be ready to offer enthusiastic assistance for various field projects and subsequent data analysis. Graduate attachés can arrive between 1 July 2020 and 1 January 2021. The scheme for this year will finish on 31 March 2021. Please specify the three-month time period(s) that you are available for this scheme in your application.

Deadline for applications 25th February 2020

To Apply.  Applicants should send a  CV and Cover Letter  to  [email protected]  explaining how participation in the scheme will assist the development of your career. You will need to arrange for two academic references to be sent directly to BIEA.


  1. Marakwet Project

The ‘UCL Institute for Global Prosperity (IGP) Marakwet Project’ run Dr. Matthew Davies and Professor Henrietta Moore will require several attachees as in previous years. The Project is ongoing with a number of fieldwork dates across the year. For more information see the following links (;  (  (

  • Wells Project

The ‘Indigenous wells as biocultural heritage: community archaeology for sustainable development in pastoralist communities of Kenya and Ethiopia’ is an archaeological project funded by the British Academy and run by Dr Freda Nkirote and Prof Paul lane

  • Marine Cultural Heritage Project

Palm, Sand and Fish: Traditional Technologies of the Daughters of the Azanian Coast of East Africa, funded by “Rising from the Depth” A network that is funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council, (AHRC). Project run by  Dr. Freda Nkrote and Dr Matt Davies , British Institute in Eastern Africa

  • Ishiara Archaeological Research

Investigations into Bantu Migrations giving it a higher resolution through Excavations of Iron Age sites around Mbeere area of Mt. Kenya region. Project Run by Dr Freda Nkirote.