The Social Sciences and Humanities Laboratory (LAB) is a research centre of the Angolan Catholic University created in March 2017. According to the general legal framework, the LAB is a unit endowed with scientific, cultural and administrative autonomy. It is dedicated to the development and promotion of research in the fields of social sciences and humanities in an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary perspectives.
The LAB is organized around a constellation of research projects bringing together faculty and students from across the humanities and other disciplines, as well as civil society and local communities. It is designed to foster formal collaboration as well as informal exchange. Shared technological resources will enable to experiment with new research methods, new lines of inquiry, and new ways of engaging with the public.
The LAB aims to reflect upon the contemporary challenges of the fields of social sciences and humanities. Those challenges have a global character and include the demand for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches in order to reinforce inter-cultural dialogues in the context of globalization. Given the central focus on inter-cultural dialogues, its general goal can be summarized as follows: to promote and enhance an inclusive and participated process of knowledge construction aimed at a comprehensive and multidimensional understanding of contemporary social life in different places of enunciation and experience. In this sense, one main concern is the promotion of the development and visibility of knowledge production in the social sciences and humanities realms in Africa. Thus, a particular attention to imperatives and practices of internationalization, partnership and networking is at the core of LAB’s agenda. On the other hand, the contribution to institutional building and empowerment and to the creation of research dynamics that can, in its turn, enrich Angolan higher education system are fundamental objectives.
Its main goals correspond to the strategical and methodological guidelines:
- To promote the development of knowledge production in social sciences and humanities in dialogue with the epistemological diversity.
- To contribute to an inclusive and just social development through fundamental and applied research.
- To promote interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research through the investment in national human resources and the development of national and international networking settings for collaborative research;
- To reinforce scientific collaboration within the academic community and to enhance the relationship between teaching and research;
- To develop instruments and theoretical, analytical and methodological approaches able to produce a multidimensional understanding of contemporary social life, especially in postcolonial contexts;
- To disseminate scientific knowledge, making it available to the general public.
- To contribute to curricula innovation and good practices in terms of learning, teaching and research.
- To provide a technological and creative structure available for research projects and academic community to work on their materials and on collaborative manner, while promoting creativity in producing outcomes able to reinforce the relationship between the academic community and local communities.
- To engage undergrad and graduate students in advanced research alongside faculty and graduate student mentors and collaborators.
Documentation Centre’s (DC) description: The DC aims to be a free and public space of knowledge access and production, supporting not only the academic community, but also external communities, including LAB’s partners, civic society organizations, as well as engaged citizens. The DC makes available to the general public a multi-disciplinary bibliographic collection (physical and virtual), and a cinematographic collection, giving special emphasis to African cinema.
LAB’s recent and current research projects:
- Public Humanities: Thinking About Freedom in the African University. Collective book to be published in 2021 by CODESRIA
This is a book resulting from an exercise: to re-enact freedom in the African University(-ies). Gathering some of the essays presented at the International Conference ‘Public Humanities: Thinking Freedom in the African University’, organized in 2018 by the LAB (Social Sciences and Humanities LAB) of the Catholic University of Angola, with the support of CODESRIA, this collective work mobilizes the concept of Public Humanities in order to reflect upon: (i) the current emptying of emancipatory possibilities in African Higher Education that has been feeding itself from the prevalence of undemocratic rule in the shadow of neo-liberal policies, transfiguring what liberation struggles set out to do into normative and disciplinary politics; and (ii) decolonial and citizenship contemporary aspirations and the current and institutionalized attacks on critical thinking and pedagogy at the university, as well as the need to qualify the relationship between the institutionalized site of the university and the production of emancipation and freedom. In the Public Humanities approach rehearsed here, humanity is not a soliloquy; it is a matter of ontological insurrections, solidarity and justice against zones of non being. Consequently, the university should not be the site of an authoritative conformity; it needs to become a sort of contemporary Ondjango where our humanities, comprising disciplines and being, are valued and not commodified or subjugated. (Ondjango: a home to hold conversations).
- Angola-Norway Programme Enhancing the research environment in Angola. 2020-2004:
Funded by Norway, this large-scale programme is being implemented in partnership with Scanteam (https://www.scanteam.no/) and Chr, Michelsen Institute (https://www.cmi.no/). During the next 4 years, the LAB will develop two main research projects on political accountability in Angola (horizontal accountability and vertical accountability).These 2 projects are divided into 6 sub-projects, namely:
a) Horizontal accountability: public policies, political parties, general state budget and constitutional process
b) Vertical Accountability: civil society and social, youth and women's movements.
- 2020 Report Corrigindo o que está mal e melhorando o que está bem? Uma perspectiva cidadã sobre a governação em Angola:
The report is the result of the research project ‘Monitoring governance in Angola: From 2017 elections to governmental action’, funded by Open Society – Angola (OSISA).
Coordinated by the LAB, the project was conducted by a multidisciplinary research team, encompassing the School of Economics of the Catholic University of Angola as well as the Angolan Electoral Observatory. More than 30 community based civic organizations throughout the country have participated in this project and their contribution has been immensely valuable, representing thus a step further in the quest for collective processes of knowledge production.
The research was organized in three main phases. The first one devoted itself to build an understanding of citizens’ expectations and perceptions regarding the general elections held in 2017. It consisted in a pre-electoral national survey, conducted in August 2017 (1699 inquiries). The second phase was conducted in May 2018 through a new national survey in order to monitor citizens’ positionings regarding the first 6 months of the new executive (1689 inquiries). Finally, the third and final national survey was held in November 2018, when the new Angolan executive completed the first year of its mandate (1662 inquiries).
To download the report: http://www.ucan.edu/www14/index.php
In 2021, the LAB was awarded with CODESRIA Fellowship on African Humanities (https://www.codesria.org/spip.php?article3180&lang=en). The research will examine the two recent developments in critical theory, namely Public Humanities and Environmental Humanities, and it aims to address how these developments may represent opportunities to rethink and renew not only higher education, but also the much-needed strategies for knowledge democratization / decolonization as well as issues related to environmental justice and life’s sustainability.
In partnership with Centro de Estudos Jurídicos, Económicos e Sociais (CEJES: http://www.cejes-uan.org/), a research centre at Agostinho Neto University in Angola, the LAB has been developing a Human Rights Manual. Commissioned by PNUD (https://www.ao.undp.org/ ) and by the Angolan Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, the Manual aims to support multi-level and inter-sectorial training on culture of citizenship and human rights for the National Strategy for Human Rights.
- Centenary of Paulo Freire:
In partnership with civic organizations (AAEA – Associação Angolana para Educação de Adultos e a KALU – Associação de Naturais, Residentes e Amigos de Luanda), the LAB has been coordinating Angola’s 2021-2022 program to celebrate the work and legacy of Paulo Freire, Brazilian philosopher and one of the most progressive international references in popular and emancipatory education. The Angola’s Collective works with the International Popular Education Network Dialogues with Africa and Interdisciplinary Network for Research and Dialogs IntegraSUL Networkin the in the Global South - IntegraSUL Netw Global South - IntegraSUL Network
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The LAB is member of ASAA (African Studies Association of Africa: https://www.as-aa.org/), CODESRIA (https://www.codesria.org/?lang=en) and AILP-csh (Associação Internacional Língua Portuguesa para as Ciências Sociais e Humanidades: https://www.ailpcsh.org/ )
 Correcting what is bad and improving what is good? A citizenry’s perspective on governance in Angola. The title is inspired by MPLA’s political motto for the 2017 elections.
LAB – Laboratório de Ciências Sociais e Humanidades/ Social Sciences and Humanities Laboratory
Edifício de Extensão Universitária da Universidade Católica de Angola.
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