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2022/23 Call for Proposals: Catalytic Research Programme

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) is pleased to invite academics based in South African public universities in the faculties of Humanities and Social Sciences as well as research institutes to submit their applications for funding for the Catalytic Research Programme.

The NIHSS reserves the right to extend the closing date or withdraw the call before the closing date based on the volume of applications received.


The Catalytic Research Programme is intended to dynamise the fields of research and teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) in South Africa through a range of catalytic projects. These are research-based projects, which aim to catalyse and open up new avenues of HSS scholarship and assist in the establishment of a network of researchers across universities in South Africa and the Global South. A ‘catalyst’ in this regard has to produce benefits to the research project for the higher education system and indeed for society as a whole, by:

  • dynamising the fields of research, disciplines and interdisciplinary work,
  • increasing the capacity to research further and theorise better, and
  • contributing to the raising of our status in the global academic commons

The following eleven (11) themes will be prioritised for the Catalytic Research Programme:

  1. History and Current Configuration of Capital Accumulation in South Africa
  2. Agriculture, Rural Livelihoods and Development;
  3. Arts, Performance and Sources of Creativity (creative fields from various settings across the HSS, to study cultural formations and social changes);
  4. Digital Humanities (the integration of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the HSS and Arts, an HSS perspective of digital tools, techniques, and platforms, and how these impact society and how 41R technologies present new opportunities to knowledge production, research, teaching and learning in HSS fields);
  5. Ecosystems, Climate, and technology;
  6. Global Economy, Development Challenges and Socio-Economic Alternatives;
  7. Higher Education, Teaching, Research, and Innovation;
  8. Indigenous Languages (the development of African languages for scientific use);
  9. Pandemics, Medicine, Disease and Curing;
  10. Pre-Colonial, Colonial, and Postcolonial Histories (historical construction of South Africa from the eleventh to the sixteenth centuries and link this to the broader region of southern Africa); and
  11. Transformation, Race, Culture, and Identity.

The NIHSS will fund the following academic activities:

  • Publication of books, journals and creative outputs;
  • Opportunities for international collaborations within Africa and the BRICS countries;
  • Hosting of Conferences, Annual General Meetings, Workshops, Seminars, Dialogues, colloquia and similar academic events.


  • All applications/proposals must be endorsed by the relevant institutional representative.
  • Applicants must be researchers and academics based in South African public universities in the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Priority will be given to South African citizens.
  • Postgraduate students must be currently registered for PhD/Doctoral study on a full-time basis.
  • Applications/proposals will be assessed based on collaborations, innovative methodology, capacity building for post-graduate students and quality of outputs/publications.


Funding for the Catalytic Research Programme is limited to a maximum grant of R1 000 000.00.


  • Applications will be considered on the basis of scientific and technical merit, the purpose of the project, and innovative methodology.
  • Applications should outline collaborations that would be established by the project.
  • The proposal should promote equality and redress/capacity-building in the case that the researcher applies for training of South African postgraduate students (Master’s and Doctoral).
  • The project must be completed within 18 months from the date of contract signature, and closing report submitted to the NIHSS.
  • Only proposals not exceeding R1 000 000.00 will be considered


  • Collaboration with relevant institutions and universities.
  • Interdisciplinarity of the research project.
  • Coherent and feasible research project.
  • Contribution of the research project to the body of knowledge in the field.
  • Innovative use of thematic rubric and methodologies.
  • Capacity building
  • Publications


  1. Application forms should be accessed at
  2. Detailed project budget budgets (with projected income and expenditure)
  3. A motivation letter (not longer than 1000 words).
  4. Full curriculum vitae of the applicant (principal researcher, team members details to be included in CV)
  5. Letter of endorsement of institution(s), where the project will be based (relevant Dean/s)
  6. Certified South African ID copy or passport of the applicant
  7. In the case of postgraduate student applicants, a letter of recommendation from the supervisor confirming the applicants’ affiliation and capacity to undertake the proposed activity AND proof of registration.

Enquiries may be directed to Ms. Auriel Niemack ( For technical queries only, please call 011 480 2328

Closing Date: 29 November 2022 at 16h00 SAST

Post, fax, email, incomplete or late applications will not be considered. If you do not hear from us within three months, please consider your application unsuccessful.

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