The Institute of Afrikanistik was renamed Institute of African Studies. This new name expresses our identification as an Area Studies institute and points to our interdisciplinary orientation within the social sciences. Afrikanistik (as the study of languages and literatures) remains an integral part of African Studies.

  • after1989
    Following the fall of “the Wall”, a restructuring and reduction in staff took place. The Department of African and Middle Eastern Studies was initially integrated into the “Division of Middle Eastern and Oriental Studies and African Studies”. At the end of 1993, it was finally transformed into the “Institute of Afrikanistik”. Subsequently a number of professors have been appointed for various areas of African Studies. In the mid-1990s a Master's course on “Small Enterprise Promotion and Training” (SEPT) was added.
  • after 1975
    In 1975, the “Department of Basic Questions on National Liberalisation Movements” (Lehr- und Forschungsbereich “Grundfragen der Nationalen Befreiungsbewegungen”) was added to the original department and chairs for contemporary history, economy, sociology, state and law and education were established. However, the chairs were not focused specifically on one region only. African and Middle Eastern studies united lectures and research on topics that included history, linguistics, literature, economy, law, sociology and philosophy/ideology. In 1989, twenty-five academics were working on Africa within the Department of African and Middle Eastern Studies.
  • after1960
    From 1960 onwards, the Africa Institute in Leipzig developed into a multidisciplinary, Marxist-Leninist centre of research on Africa in the GDR. The Institute thus distanced itself from the research on Africa at (East-)Berlin's Humboldt University, which was judged to be highly linguistic and bourgeois in its orientation. Leipzig's Africa Institute was initially organised in three departments – history, economics and African languages and literatures. Additionally, a working group on “State and Law” was founded. Only six years later, the Institute was integrated into the “Department of Asian, African and Latin American Studies”, which was supposed to encourage collaboration between the regional sciences. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall, research on Africa and teaching was conducted within the framework of the “Department of African and Middle Eastern Studies”.
  • after1945
    Teaching and research on Africa was interrupted in the first years after the end of the Second World War. After the foundation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), from the late 1950s onwards, political and economic attention was again attracted to Africa due to the independence movements, and Africa became part of the syllabus of the Karl-Marx University. Under the historian Walter Markov, Comparative Colonial History was introduced as a central course at the Institute of Cultural and World History, part of it being taught by specialists on Africa. Simultaneously it was decided to extend Middle Eastern and Oriental studies and to include Africa and Asia as a form of area studies with contemporary relevance. A first step towards this goal was taken in 1958 with the foundation of the Department of African Studies at the Institute of Middle Eastern and Oriental Studies. In 1960 the department was transformed into an independent “Africa Institute”. Head of the Institute was Markov’s former assistant Kurt Büttner. Initially, with regard to staff and teaching content , African studies was dominated by historical science.

  • 1880s
    Academic interest in Africa received an impetus in Leipzig as in other places from the acquisition of colonies in the late 19th century. In Leipzig, research on Africa originally developed within the framework of independent disciplines at the University, i.e. in linguistics, ethnology and geography. Under the influence of the linguist Hans Stumme, Middle Eastern and Oriental studies were extended to include a course of studies and research on African languages. In 1930 an Institute of African Languages was established for the first time with the appointment of Stumme’s successor August Klingenheben. This Institute existed until Klingenheben moved to Hamburg six years later. With the appointment of the future curator of the ethnographic museum, Karl Weule, to the newly established Chair of Anthropology, Ethnography and Pre-History in 1901, the ethnology of Africa - with an initial special interest in psychology - was introduced to the university's curriculum. Finally, Africa attracted even more interest in the framework of the Chair of “Colonial Geography and Colonial Policy” which was established in 1915. The chair was given to the explorer Hans Meyer, famous for his ascent of Kilimanjaro. Four years later, the “Seminar for Colonial Geography and Colonial Policy” emerged.


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