Overview of the Project


This project is a collaboration between Professor Megan Vaughan of the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, and Dr Rebekah Lee of the Department of History, Goldsmiths College.

The project commences in October 2006 and ends in February 2012. The aim of this multi-year project is to produce a dynamic historical account of the changing meanings and management of death in East, Central and Southern Africa from c1800 to the present day, to locate this account in a comparative perspective, and to generate new approaches to the subject.

This project draws on diverse fields such as demography, social anthropology, religious studies, cultural theory, and social history. It employs a range of social historical research methods including archival research (including missionary archives, legal records, family and business archives), demographic reconstruction techniques and oral historical research. In addition, anthropological techniques of participant observation are employed for some aspects of the project.

Primary research for this project is conducted by Professor Vaughan and Dr Lee, and two post-doctoral researchers who began two-year posts in Oct 2007. For more information on specific areas of research please see Project Members.

Two international conferences in the first and third year of the project will bring together scholars from different disciplines and regional specialisations to identify new perspectives on the subject and to identify gaps in our knowledge. Also, given the contemporary relevance of this research, it will be important to network with non-academic organisations.

The research outputs for this project will be in the form of conference papers, journal articles, edited collections and monographs. In addition, a 'living history' archive of the experience of HIV/AIDS in Africa will be created, and video, photographic and audio footage collected which highlight various themes of the project.