The French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) has been active in East Africa since 1977; its offices are in Nairobi, Kenya.

Research is focused on the following countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi (as well as eastern DRC, in the Kivus).

IFRA promotes research in all the disciplines of the social sciences and humanities, mainly geography, political science, anthropology and history. Archaeology missions are also supported.

IFRA’s main missions are as follows:

  • To increase understanding of contemporary dynamics in East Africa and foster knowledge dissemination. Research undertaken leads to the publication of books, journals, reports and conferences.
  • To provide training in research to French, East African and European students (master, PhD) and junior researchers (postdoc) by supporting field work study, networking between both researchers and  institutions, integration within research programmes, and publications and visibility.
  • To strengthen institutional relationship between French and East African universities and research institutes by supporting collaborative operations, agreements for international cooperation, academic exchanges and mobilities at PhD and Master’s levels.

IFRA works under the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (France’s main research body).

It is part of the ‘French Research Centers Abroad’ network, called IFRE.

A Short History of IFRA-Nairobi

In 1977, a Centre of African Studies was established within the Maison Française in Nairobi by scholars from the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris, France). This Centre aimed at coordinating the work of African research centres in France, West and East Africa. In 1980, it became the Centre of Research, Exchange and Scholarly Documentation (CREDU). Its missions included strengthening collaborations between universities in East Africa and France in the social sciences and humanities. In 1992, CREDU became IFRA-Nairobi.

After years of research collaboration, IFRA and the BIEA (British Institute in Eastern Africa) moved in shared buildings in Nairobi (July 2009) and were joined later by the Rift Valley Institute.

Former directors: Denis-Constant Martin (1979-1981), Jean-François Médard (1981-1986), Jean Copans (1985-1989), Alain Ricard (1989-1991), Colette Le Cour Grandmaison (1992-1996), Bernard Charlery de la Masselière (1996-2000), Philippe Bocquier (2001-2005), Bernard Charlery de la Masselière (2006-2007), Bernard Calas (2008-2010), Christian Thibon (2010-2014), Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle (2014-2018).

Former Resident Researchers (and Deputy Director): Daniel Bourmaud (1981-1984), Ariel Crozon (1993-1997), Francois Grignon (1997-2000), Hervé Maupeu (2000-2005), Hélène Charton (2005-2008), Jérôme Lafargue (2008-2011), Marie-Aude Fouéré (2011-2014), Sylvain Racaud (2014-2016), Chloé Josse-Durand (2016-2021).

Former IFRA-based CNRS researchers: Jean-Phillipe Brugal; Maëline Le Lay (2018-2021).

Current Director: Marie-Aude Fouéré (since Sept. 2018).
Current Resident Researcher & Deputy Director: Francesca di Matteo (since Dec. 2021).

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