Archie Mafeje Research Institute (AMRI)

About the Institute

Click here for AMRI Brochure or Prospectus (PDF 984KB)


The institute aims to become a dynamic pan-African research institute and a repository of knowledge on Africa’s social formations – past, present and future – with the aim of influencing progressive social transformation in Africa.


To become an African knowledge production think-tank that, thorough ongoing research in areas of social change, will contribute towards Africa’s renewal agenda and global peace.

To contribute towards Africa’s renewal and global reform through alternative knowledge, dynamic academic and policy conversations and cutting-edge publications, as a sought-after repository of information on African societal transformation and community engagement.


The main purpose of the Archie Mafeje Research Institute is to enhance endogenous and pan-African research for application in resolving Africa’s social challenges.


The institute aims to:

  • create new and alternative knowledge through critical research on Africa, based on theories and epistemologies reflecting endogenous thought
  • build, sustain and strengthen pan-Africanist research communities in order to leverage a critical mass of endogenous scholarship for social transformation
  • promote innovative ways of influencing change on the continent through research that informs policy processes, training and community empowerment and information dissemination.

AMRI's Intellectual Agenda

Given the Pan-African outlook of AMRI, its research will primarily entail

  • generating knowledge that affirms Africa and contributes to the renaissance of Africa
  • Understanding the social condition of the people of Africa on the continent and globally
  • Enhancing an Africa-centred perspective on social transformation, based on endogenous knowledge and the articulation of local experiences
  • Promoting comparative applied policy research in African countries and the diaspora, including comparative studies.

Methodological Orientation

  • AMRI emphasises endogeneity in relation to universal knowledge as a basic aspect of a research methodology grounded n sound scholarship and applied and sustained research.
  • AMRI will value multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary approaches (MIT) by seeking to bridge the compartmentalisation of knowledge disciplines.
  • AMRI will influence change by promoting debate and dialogues around varied perspectives and discourses, while disseminating its work widely

AMRI's Thematic Areas for Research

The broad thematic areas that constitute the institute’s intellectual agenda include:

  • Critical enquiry into African knowledge production and epistemological systems, with the aim of generating endogenous Afrocentric perspectives and paradigms
  • Understanding African families in the context of demographic change, based on rigorous ethnographic approaches
  • Understanding the social institutions that are relevant to transforming the African state
  • Conceptualising the land and agrarian reforms that redress inequality and eradicate poverty
  • Rethinking the concepts and processes of inclusive development for the 21st century.

AMRI's Publications Agenda

AMRI intends to publish the following:

  • Policy briefs to provide trenchant analysis of topical policy issues and questions for the benefit of policy actors and broader civil society in Africa.
  • Research papers to provide in-depth analysis of major themes relating to societal transformation in Africa and South Africa.
  • Books (edited and authored) dedicated to wide-ranging analysis of conceptual and policy questions related to the institute’s intellectual agenda.
  • A journal to provide space for seasoned and upcoming scholars to engage with a variety of theoretical, empirical and policy questions.
  • Website and other e-publications for easy consumption by the broader public.

Governance, Funding / Sponshorship


The institute is governed by a non-executive board of directors, comprising a representative of the Vice-Chancellor of Unisa, accomplished scholars and policy practitioners. Their primary task is to provide strategic guidance and oversight of the work of the institute, including overseeing the work of the director and formulating policy and regulations that govern the operations of the institute. This board also provides the link between the institute and the university’s governance structures. The board meets once every quarter and the final board meeting of the year also considers its composition. Ultimately, the institute resides within Unisa’s College of Graduate Studies.


Although the institute was established through seed funding from Unisa, it supplements this core funding through external grants and contracts. It also accepts applications for corporate membership from universities, companies and NGOs that value a partnership with the institute.

Scientific Committee

A Scientific Committee comprising renowned African academics and policy practitioners guides the institute’s intellectual agenda, including the design of long-range and short-term research plans, strategic dialogues, publications and community engagement. It provides an intellectual platform for AMRI to brainstorm social research issues of relevance to the continent and to support the incubation of strategic research ideas of AMRI. The board appoints members of the Scientific Committee, and the chair of the Scientific Committee reports to the board. The Scientific Committee isthus a subcommittee of the board.

Last modified: 2019/05/09