Mandela Magdalene Memorial Fellow
The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University are immensely grateful to the Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer Foundation for a generous benefaction which will endow a new high-level research post: the Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Professorship of the Deep History and Archaeology of Africa.
The core focus of the Jennifer Ward Oppenheimer Professorship will be to lead ambitious research projects and teaching initiatives that will advance and expand our understanding of humanity’s deep-time to more recent history across the continent of Africa, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan regions; areas which as of yet has been significantly understudied. He or she will also work to extend Cambridge’s already broad network of archaeological collaborators in Africa, partnering with institutions to build native research capacity.
Professor Cyprian Broodbank, Head of the Division of Archaeology, commented, ‘the new professorship will help lead the world in forging a new understanding of Africa’s past and help shape a dynamic future built upon the continent’s unique history, cultural heritage and achievements.’
‘They will engage with leading institutions and sites of archaeological importance across the continent to not only push forward the bounds of our knowledge using the latest scientific technologies and ideas, but also work with communities to promote the protection and interpretation of their material heritage.’
Cambridge is committed to the principle of research-led teaching and the postholder will instigate unique collaborative research projects with African institutions. The resources of the digital age will enhance this potential, leading to Cambridge’s technological expertise promoting a better understanding of Africa’s deep history, to the benefit of local communities.
‘Future generations of Africans will be empowered and trained with the tools to write their own deep histories,’ Professor Broodbank concluded.
It is envisaged that the post holder of the Professorship will also be named the Mandela Magdalene Memorial Fellow at Magdalene College in memory of Nelson Mandela who was an Honorary Fellow of the College. Magdalene College established 'The Mandela Magdalene Scholarships' in 1994 which are awarded annually to up to three postgraduate students from South African universities. The Scholarships represent a deeply positive and fruitful relationship between the University of Cambridge and the people of South Africa.
Of the establishment of the Mandela Magdalene Scholarships, Dr Mandela said:
“I approve the use of my name for the Scholarship to assist South African students. Our country is in dire need of skilled men and women to service our new democracy. We are deeply grateful that Magdalene College took the initiative to assist.”
Magdalene has a proud tradition of association with Africa and this Fellowship will ensure the Professor joins a vibrant community of scholars and students undertaking research across the continent’s varied history and present.
Dr Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene, commented: “‘The College is delighted to continue its association with the memory of Africa’s greatest modern leader. We are committed as a College to doing what we can to promote his vision for Africa’s future by supporting as fully as we can the next generation of African scholars, teachers and thinkers, and we look forward enormously to this exciting new appointment.”
It is with thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Jonathan and Jennifer Oppenheimer Foundation that the successful applicant will be able to take up the post in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Fellowship at Magdalene as early as Spring 2018.