Simukai Chigudu wins BA/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship to work on new book

Posted:
24 May, 2022

Congratulations to Associate Professor Simukai Chigudu, who has won a highly competitive British Academy/Leverhulme Senior Research Fellowship, which will enable him to spend a year working on a book project.

The awards give established scholars relief from teaching and administration and a sustained period of leave in order to provide time to bring to completion a significant piece of research. A maximum of just nine fellowships are awarded annually.

Dr Chigudu will spend the fellowship year at Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS).

During the fellowship Dr Chigudu will be working on his book: When Will We Be Free? Living in the Shadow of Empire and the Struggle for Decolonisation, to be published by The Bodley Head in the UK and the Commonwealth and by Crown in North America.

The book is a work of literary nonfiction that combines an intergenerational memoir with political history and cultural criticism.

Despite the formal end of the British Empire, colonialism has cast a dark shadow over the public sphere in the anglophone world. It looms large in identity politics, patterns of social division, questions of migration and nationhood, what and how we choose to remember and forget in our collective memory.

Drawing on extensive research and lived experience in Africa and the UK, Dr Chigudu will interweave his personal and family story with the history of Africa’s anti-colonial struggles from the 1950s to the present in order to provide an intimate and nuanced account of colonisation not merely as a historical or political phenomenon but as something that inescapably affects a person’s heart and mind, a person's sense of identity and home – and investigates what it would mean to be truly free of it.

“I have been thinking about the fraught, at times unspeakable, and always divisive colonial past and present for a long time, not only as a scholar but also as a teacher, activist, and postcolonial subject,” Dr Chigudu says. “What was once for me an interior struggle to claim freedom from this past has converged with academic and public debates about freedom from the legacies of empire in the modern world. I am delighted to receive this award which will grant me the time and space to reflect on such a politically charged and personal subject matter and to write my book with the patience, delicacy and depth of thought it requires."

Read the announcement from the British Academy here.