Center for African Studies Fellows

Hosting and supporting visiting African scholars and practitioners at Harvard is part of the Center’s core mission. The Harvard South Africa Fellowship Program, the flagship fellowship program at the Center, the Center for African Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Senior Visiting Fellows program make up the core of the Center’s fellowship opportunities.


Senior Research Fellow

The Center for African Studies welcomed Professor Achille Mbembe as the Center’s Spring 2016 Senior Research Fellow. A major figure in African history, politics, and social science, Mbembe is widely regarded as one of the most important public intellectuals writing about contemporary African and global phenomena in the world today. Professor Mbembe presented “The Open Laboratory: South African’s Fanonian Moment” at the African Studies Workshop on February 1, 2016, with comparative commentary by Professor Brandon Terry. Mbembe also delivered a keynote address at Harvard’s African Development Conference in March 2016 and served as faculty for the CAS-sponsored Institute for Global Law and Policy in Cape Town, South Africa.

Achille Mbembe

Achille Mbembe

Professor, University of the Witwatersrand

Professor Achille Mbembe is a major figure not only in the fields of African history, politics, and social science, Mbembe is widely regarded as one of the most important public intellectuals writing about contemporary African and global phenomena in the world today.

Professor Mbembe is Research Professor in History and Politics at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research, University of the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is the convener for the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism and serves on the editorial boards of Political Theory, Atlantic Studies, and African Identities. Mbembe obtained his Ph.D in History at the Sorbonne in Paris and his D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, a Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C., Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, Executive Director of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal, visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and visiting Professor at Yale University.


Postdoctoral Fellows

Mekonnen Firew Ayano

Mekonnen Firew Ayano

Doctor of Juridical Science, Harvard Law School

Mekonnen Firew Ayano completed a doctoral degree at Harvard Law School, in February 2016. Mekonnen holds an LL.M. degree from the American University in Cairo and an LL.B. degree from Addis Ababa University. His previous experience includes working as a legal counsel for the World Bank, as a judge in Ethiopia, and as a lecturer at Addis Ababa University.

Mekonnen’s doctoral studies at Harvard Law School focused on law and development, law and social change, legal theory, private law, and property. His dissertation, based on field research in a rural community in Ethiopia, examines institutional structures and processes that shape local customs governing rural land title and the resulting impact on the economy and society of rural Ethiopia. Through this work he explores the formalization of rural land title in the context of developing countries more broadly.

Mekonnen’s research and teaching interests include law and development, legal theory, private law, property, and land and agricultural policies. As a Postdoctoral Fellow, he intends to continue his research into current issues in law and social change, with a focus on the steadily intensifying process of globalization and its consequences for the economy and society of rural Africa.


Grieve Chelwa

Grieve Chelwa

PhD in Economics, University of Cape Town

Grieve Chelwa recently completed his PhD in economics at the University of Cape Town, where he focused on the economics of tobacco control in South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. Previously, Grieve was a researcher at the Center for Financial Regulation and Inclusion in Cape Town, where he worked on public policy issues in the Southern African region. Grieve also worked as a Management Associate for Citibank in their Africa Division, based in Johannesburg. Grieve obtained his Masters degree in economics from the University of Cape Town and his Bachelors degree also in economics from the University of Zambia. His home town is Lusaka but he has lived in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Kinshasa, Lagos and Nairobi.

As a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for African Studies, Grieve will conduct research on the economics of education in his native Zambia. He frequently blogs for the influential online blog Africa Is A Country and some of his writings have appeared in Quartz Africa.