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The African Studies Unit


[Published in Leeds African Studies Bulletin 2 (March 1965), pp. 1-2]


During the first six months of its existence, the work of the African Studies unit has been largely concerned with provision in the University of reference material on Africa. Following upon discussions between the staff of the Brotherton Library and members of the Senate Standing Committee on African Studies, departments participating in the work of the Unit have been encouraged to order books on African subjects for the Brotherton Library, without prejudice to the purchase of books for the general needs of these departments. Official statistical material from most English-speaking African countries is now on order for the Brotherton Library. The University is a member of the Standing Conference on Library Materials on Africa, and it is proposed that the Executive Officer of the African Studies Unit should be one of two delegates who represent the University on the Standing Conference.
Within the office of the African Studies Unit itself (housed for the present academic year in the Department of Economics and Commerce) a useful body of reference material is being built up.
The Unit is subscribing to the Cambridge Index of Current Publications on Africa, which consists of up to 5000 cards a year, with cross references. The Index is compiled at Cambridge, and contributions are made to it by a number of institutions which, by arrangement, scrutinise certain publications regularly to assist the Cambridge staff. The Leeds African Studies Unit is cooperating in this way, and the cards so far received are available for consultation by research students and members of staff.
The Unit is also subscribing to Africa Research Ltd. and several publications are already available;- Africa Research Bulletin, comprising both the Political and the Economic Series, consisting of extracts from newspapers and magazines and appearing monthly; Africa Economic Digest, appearing weekly; and from time to time a Documentation Series consisting of photostat copies of important articles on African topics.
The Unit has become affiliated to the International African Institute, and receives its quarterly journal, Africa, and its quarterly review of ethnographic, social and linguistic studies, African Abstracts. Also available is a new abstract, Cultural Events in Africa, issued by the Transcription Centre.
Short-term background information is being provided, country by country, through the taking of press cuttings from The Times. This is being carried out on an experimental basis, but Will be continued if time permits, and if, after some months, it is found to be useful to members of the University.
A collection is being made of the prospectuses of Universities in English-speaking African countries.
An index of names of persons engaged in African studies is also being compiled, and arranged with cross references. This is supplemented by-publications on a larger scale, such as the UNESCO Index of Social Scientists specialising in African Studies, and the MARCO survey, Who's Who in East Africa.
A beginning has been made in the collection of information on scholarships and fellowship's which could be available for the purpose of conducting research in African countries. The Unit considers it as a further part of its function to help smooth the way of members of the University who are visiting Africa, especially for the first time, and there is available in the office information regarding travel facilities, health regulations, entry permits etc.
The first issue of the Leeds African Studies Bulletin was distributed beyond the University to other Universities in the United Kingdom in which African Studies are in progress, and to organisations specialising in African studies. It was also sent to universities in Africa and to various institutes in France, Sweden and U.S.A.
On a number of occasions this session, Departments or Departmental Societies have arranged talks on African topics and have asked the African Studies Unit to make these known among members of the staff throughout the University who might be interested. This the Unit has been pleased to do, through the membership of the informal African Studies Group, consisting of members of staff who have personally an interest in Africa, or in an African country. Details of these occasions will be found below.

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