About Us


Thinking globally, researching locally

FHISER's mission is to promote social, cultural and economic development in the Eastern Cape and the southern African region through the delivery of high-quality academic, applied and policy research, as well as through teaching and training within the University and broader community.
FHISER's location on the East London campus situates the Institute at the geographical, political and administrative hub of the Eastern Cape. The proximity of the Institute to government, business, donor agencies and NGOs creates excellent opportunities for synergies between research and development.
Many of the province's most acute development problems are concentrated in the former apartheid homelands that surround East London. FHISER is therefore committed to developing a unique, regionally focused, multi-disciplinary research tradition:

  • by applying internationally recognised research expertise and skills to develop innovative academic and applied research products.
  • by continuously initiating and undertaking new primary research in urban and rural communities around the Institute’s major research themes.
  • by establishing research partnerships with other universities, as well as with public and private sector concerns in the fields of research and development.
  • by employing a multi-skilled research team with academic training in a variety of disciplines and diverse fields of specialisation.
  • by offering internships and training opportunities within the Institute’s research programmes for emerging scholars, post-graduate students and development practitioners.


Research Programmes and Units

Research Programmes and UnitsThe Institute's researchers come from a wide range of disciplines, including anthropology, economics, geography, history, sociology and development studies.
The Institute encourages multi-disciplinary research projects, as well as individual projects within specific disciplines. Many such projects are undertaken in co-operation with partners in the development sector or with other educational institutions.
FHISER has already established four main research programmes and will seek to develop additional programmes over time.
Copies of the existing programmes are available from the Institute.
The following theme groups currently exist:

  • Culture, Heritage and Social Transformation
  • Land, Livelihoods and Rural Development
  • Urban Renewal and Local Economic Development
  • Youth, Gender and Reproductive Health
  • In addition, FHISER is proud to announce the start of a new two-year taught Masters' in African Studies Programme starting in 2009.

It also has a Visual Histories and Archiving Unit, which assembles and digitises rare and historically significant Eastern Cape photographic collections.


The Institute will publish an Annual Report, which sets out its activities and achievements and will be available upon request from June 2008.