The Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA) is an international research center at the University of Ghana in Legon, Accra. The Institute facilitates the cooperation of Ghanaian scientists with their international peers beyond disciplinary and geographical boundaries. In order to achieve this goal, MIASA is awarding scholarships to junior and more established researchers. These researchers will work during a pre-project phase from 2018 till 2020 on the central topic Sustainable Governance. Governance shall be defined as the interplay of informal and formal rules that guide public affairs and are embedded into the social, material and cultural practices of daily life. The three research foci of MIASA, under the heading of Sustainable Governance, are: transformation towards sustainability, sustainable Conflict Management, and sustainable democracy.

MIASA is committed to reducing global asymmetries in the production of knowledge and aims to facilitate stronger cooperation among and between researchers in both Anglo- and Francophone Africa. The central goal of MIASA is to enhance the visibility of scientific research conducted by researchers from Sub-Saharan Africa who are working in the social sciences and humanities.

The Arnold Bergstraesser Institute (ABI) and additional consortium partners in Germany (Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies – FRIAS;  Centre for Interdisciplinary African Studies, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt; German Historical Institute in Paris/Max-Weber-Foundation; Institute of African Affairs, German Institute of Global and Areas Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg; Department of Politics and Public Administration, University Konstanz), France (Point Sud), Senegal (Centre de Recherches sur les Politiques Sociales - CREPOS) and Ghana (Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre - KAIPTC and The Ghana Center for Democratic Development - CDD-Ghana) are involved in the establishment of the research center. The Centre de Recherches sur les Politiques Sociales in Dakar/Senegal serves a second site of MIASA.

Professor Andreas Mehler (Director of the ABI) is the Chair of the Executive Council of MIASA and the initiator of the project. Based upon its academic and country specific expertise, the ABI is working with MIASA in developing and designing its research program, as well as in identifying multiples actors in academia and society that will be active in the MIASA network. Furthermore the ABI will be hosting delegations from Africa within the framework of MIASA.

The establishment of MIASA will be matched with the establishment of an Africa Center at the University of Freiburg under the direction of the ABI. This Africa Center will serve as a leading center in Europe informing about recent innovations in research and teaching within the field of Africa Studies. Reciprocity will be the guiding motive. This means that the Africa Center will be designed and developed in cooperation with our African partners in MIASA and as well with German and European colleagues conducting research on Africa. This approach centers the promotion of African-European exchange on equal terms.

The results of the research conducted within the framework of MIASA and the Africa Center will be made accessible to a broad scientific audience, as well as to the general public by the ABI, e. g. through public lectures, (open access) publications, conferences, workshops and summer schools.

The African-European exchange of knowledge through MIASA –the 4th Maria Sibylla Merian Centre for Advanced Studies – is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research/ Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF). The costs for staff, administration and operating costs will be incurred by the University of Ghana.


Additional information on MIASA can be found here: www.mias-africa.org

The current press release about the opening conference of MIASA in Accra / Ghana can be found here.


Information about the other Maria Sibylla Merian Centers can be found here: https://www.bmbf.de/de/maria-sibylla-merian-centres-5181.html  


Current events

International workshop: Issues of Restitution and Repatriation of Looted and Illegally Acquired African Objects in European Museums

  • 13-14 December 2018
  • Institute of African Studies, Conference Room, University of Ghana

Issues bordering on the demands for repatriation and restitution of looted and illegally acquired African cultural objects in European museums back to their Africa source communities are gaining currency. Though scholars have shied away from intellectually debating these issues on the African continent, French President Macron’s speech on his promise to return such objects in French museums to their respective countries in Africa has provided an impetus. Thus, the need for such intellectual debates on this discourse in order to find common grounds for fairness and as a way of informing policy decisions among African governments for historical justice, has become pertinent. Engaging in constructive talks about returning objects is an arduous task with varied hydra-headed political, legal, ethical, economic, socio-cultural and human rights ramifications. Cultural objects that are under such restitution demands are not limited to only African objects or by Africans or African countries. There are inter and intra-European as well as Euro-Asian and Euro-American demands.

Workshop program (download PDF)

By invitation only.