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The African Studies Centre (Afrika-Studiecentrum) is an independent scientific institute in the Netherlands that undertakes social-science research on Africa with the aim of promoting a better understanding of historical, current and future social developments in Sub-Saharan Africa. The present director is Jan-Bart Gewald.[1] The institute is located in the Pieter de la Court Building of Leiden University’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

African Studies Centre, Leiden
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen Leiden.jpg
The Pieter de la Court-building in Leiden, where the African Studies Centre is located
AbbreviationASC Leiden



The main objectives of the African Studies Centre (ASC) are to promote and undertake scientific research on Sub-Saharan Africa in the social sciences and humanities, to function as the main focal point for African studies in the Netherlands and contribute to education and teaching in this field, and to promote the dissemination of knowledge and an understanding of African societies.

The research programme of the African Studies Centre for the period 2012-2016 is entitled ‘African Dynamism amidst Global Restructuring’.[2] It will focus on four major fields of inquiry, with flexible and shifting emphasis by its members of staff and members of the ASC Community temporarily present at the ASC. The four fields of enquiry are:

  1. African trajectories of improved well-being, and its impact on people and resources
  2. Mediating identities of Africans in Africa and beyond
  3. Constellations of Governance in Africa: historical and contemporary studies
  4. Africa’s connections to the World: Africa negotiating an increasingly multi-polar world



The Centre’s library consists of some 90,000 books and about 2,000 journals (including electronic journals), government reports, brochures, African newspapers and about 1,700 documentaries and feature films on video and DVD. The Centre has also developed a web service, Connecting-Africa, with links to more than 58,000 online articles about Africa.[3] The library also has a collection of archival material including archives of African government publications and a number of personal archives.[4]


The Centre was founded on 12 August 1947 as the academic division of an Afrika Instituut, which initially also had an economic section, later spun off as the Netherlands-African Business Council. Over the years, many well-known Dutch Africanists have worked at the African Studies Centre, including the poet Vernie February, the activist Klaas de Jonge,[5] the sociologist Robert Buijtenhuijs and the law professor and film director Emile van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal. Legal scholar Hans Holleman[6][4] served as a director from 1963 to 1969. Barbara Harrell-Bond worked at the Centre in the 1970s. Kofi Abrefa Busia, who later became prime minister of Ghana, worked at the African Studies Centre between 1959 and 1962. Former director Stephen Ellis was editor in chief of Africa Confidential.[7][8] Petrus Johannes Idenburg, lector of African constitutional law at Leiden University, was one of the founders of the Centre.

The Centre was one of the founders of AEGIS, a network of African Studies Centres in Europe that was set up in 1991 to build upon the resources and research potential available within Africanist institutions in Europe.

As of 1 January 2016, the African Studies Centre is a part of Leiden University.[9] On 1 September 2017, Jan-Bart Gewald became the new director of the ASC replacing Ton Dietz who had been director since 2010.[10]


Publications of the ASC

The Centre publishes extensively, sometimes in cooperation with publishers such as Brill Publishers in Leiden. Among the ASC publications are:

  • Africa Yearbook (ISSN 1871-2525)
  • African studies abstracts online (ISSN 1570-937X)
  • Kroniek van Afrika (1961-1975, ISSN 0023-4893)


  1. ^ "Jan-Bart Gewald". African Studies Centre, Leiden.
  2. ^ "The ASCL's Research Programme 2012-2016". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Collection". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Archives". African Studies Centre, Leiden. Retrieved 20 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Klaas de Jonge". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  6. ^ "About the ASCL". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  7. ^ "History of Africa Confidential". Africa Confidential. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  8. ^ "History of the African Studies Centre". African Studies Centre Leiden. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Universiteit lijft Afrika-Studiecentrum In". Leidse Universitair Weekblad: Mare. Retrieved 13 June 2016.
  10. ^ "Organization". African Studies Centre, Leiden.

External linksEdit