The Center for African Area Studies (CAAS) was established in April 1986 as a research center for joint-use in Kyoto University. CAAS was initially organized with three divisions, namely the Division of Arid Zone Ecosystems, the Division of Tropical Forest Zone Ecosystems, and the Division of History and Prehistory, as well as an Information Resource Room and an Administrative Office. The establishment of CAAS is based on the accumulation of active field research output in Africa that Kyoto University researchers have been carrying out since 1958.

Today, with the spread of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) and the prevalence of mutant strains of the virus there is an increasing number of infections and deaths in African countries. In some countries and regions, cities have been locked down, people’s movements and economic activities have been restricted, and police and security forces have taken measures to prevent infection. There are also fears that the deteriorating economy and employment situation will lead to a deterioration in public safety, and that political mistrust will lead to protests, demonstrations and riots. While progress is being made in the development of vaccinations and treatments, the spread of the disease and the resulting rapid changes in social conditions are expected to lead to a search for new ways of life.

One of the characteristics of African studies at Kyoto University is field research. Although we have not been able to resume fieldwork in Africa on a full-scale since March 2020, we continue to publish our research findings and participate in academic conferences in anticipation of the resumption of field research and use online tools to collaborate with researchers in Africa and around the world. We also continue to develop academic exchanges with a wide range of universities and research institutions, creating a solid foundation for academic exchange.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of CAAS, and we are continuing our research activities to promote African studies at Kyoto University even more than before, and to make it a centre of excellence for African studies in Japan and around the world. We are pleased to announce the renewal of our website, which will serve as an archive of our past activities and which will continue to disseminate the results of our academic research. We hope that you will continue to support us in this endeavor.

Centre for African Area Studies, Kyoto University
Director Motoki Takahashi