Collaborative Research Group African Politics and International Relations

The CRG African Politics and International Relations provides a network for Europe-based researchers working on politics in Africa. Members have a political science background or work in sociology, anthropology, political geography or other disciplines. In the general spirit of AEGIS, the thematic group represents and promotes interdisciplinary research.

The group fulfils the important task of bringing together those interested in African politics and IR and supporting networking across Europe and Africa, especially through promoting presenting Africa-related research at conferences dealing with politics and IR broadly understood. These include African Studies, Political Science and International Studies conferences in Europe such as ECAS, ECPR and EISA where it seeks to sponsor and support panels. At international conferences such as IPSA and ISA, and with regard to North American conferences, the CRG has established close cooperation with the African Politics Conference Group (APCG) in the United States. It also aims to enhance contact with African research associations. The CRG also serves as platform for sharing information on events, research activities and publications.

In addition, the CRG aims at organizing further thematic conferences on political issues affecting Africa. Indeed, the group was initiated in 2013 through a thematic conference which took place at Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) which was co-hosted by AEGIS centres in Bordeaux, Hamburg and Oxford. The group was formally approved by the AEGIS board in 2014. Business meetings where held at ECAS 2015 in Paris and ECAS 2017 in Basel.

Members of this CRG are interested in a variety of research domains related to the African continent, including, but not limited to, the following.

  • democratization and democratic institutions
  • nationalism, nation and state-building
  • parties, elections, and political competition
  • Africa in global politics, global politics in Africa
  • security and development interventions
  • governance by state and non-state actors
  • regional integration

CRG Coordinators

Dr. Giulia Piccolino

Lecturer in Politics and International Relations

Politics and International Studies, Loughborough University (UK)

Email: G.Piccolino [at]


Dr. Charlotte Heyl
Research Fellow
GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies (Germany)
Email: charlotte.heyl [at]
Dr Jörg Wiegratz
Lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development
School of Politics and International Studies, Leeds University
Email: J.Wiegratz [at]

Join the CRG

The CRG is open to researchers interested in African politics and international relations. Membership is free. There is no requirement for members to be affiliated to an AEGIS centre.

If you would like to join the CRG, please send your name, position, institutional affiliation and three to five keywords about your research domains to:


You can also follow us on social media:

Twitter: @CRG_PoliticsIR

Please notice that the event has now been postponed due to the Covid-19 Pandemics. A new date will be announced as soon as possible.

AEGIS CRG African Politics and International Relations
Workshop ‘Non-Western Actors in Africa: Interests, Conflicts and Agency’
Hamburg, 11 June 2020
(Deadline for abstracts: 24 February 2020)

The Collaborative Research Group (CRG) African Politics and International Relations of the Africa-Europe Group for Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS), in collaboration with GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies), is calling for proposals for a one-day workshop on ‘Non-Western Actors in Africa: Interests, Conflicts and Agency’. The workshop will be held on 11 June 2020 at the GIGA premises in Hamburg and is co-sponsored by AEGIS and GIGA.

In the workshop we seek to explore recent cases of non-western actors reviving and/or expanding their engagement in Africa. Some recent examples include: the Russia-Africa summit taking place in Sochi, Turkish companies building railways in Tanzania or Saudi Arabian making land deals in Ethiopia. While China’s activities on the continent received much press and scholarly attention in the last years, analysis of the aims and operations of other non-Western actors in Africa – and the consequences (local, national, regional, global) of their increased presence – is still scarce. Notably, the expansion of these actors takes place in a context of a global shift in the balance of forces (in the global political economy, state system etc.) and competition of these newly expanding actors with ‘traditional’ Western actors, especially the former colonial powers and the US.

In the workshop, we seek to take stock of these novel engagements. Questions that could be explored include:

  • Who are the crucial external non-western actors in Africa?

  • What are the goals, interests, ideologies, activities, strategies and modes of engagement of these actors? How do they relate with African states and non-state actors?

  • What are areas of joint interest and conflict between these actors and the relevant actor groups in African countries they operate in?

  • How do African governments, business actors, subaltern classes (workers, peasants etc.) and civil society actors perceive and respond to the increasing presence, influence, activities of non-Western actors?

  • What are their strategies in dealing with the heightened diversity of actors?

  • What are similarities and difference (interests, mode of engagement, power etc.) between these ‘new’ and the ‘old’ external actors?

  • What is the impact of their activities on, for instance, political economy, security, business, socioeconomic development?

  • What are implications for conflicts between powerful external actors competing for resources and influence in Africa (e.g. the US-China conflict, EU-china conflict etc)?


Call for abstracts

If you are interested in participating in the workshop, please send a 250 words abstract to the email address by 24 February 2020. We have limited funding available to sponsor the participation of African scholars; if you are interested in applying, please mention this in your email and send us also a copy of your Curriculum Vitae. We also welcome the participation in the workshop of non-presenting members of the CRG African Politics and International Relations and of policy makers involved in foreign policy and development aid in Africa; please send us an email as well at if you are interested in attending.



A conference report will be published in the GIGA Open Access journal Africa Spectrum. Depending on the contributions, we are considering the publication of a special issue in a high quality journal (African studies or otherwise).


Past CRG Events

Panels at ECAS 2019

'Populism and democracy in Africa' convened with Alexander Beresford (University of Leeds):

'Politics after war: armed actors in post-conflict societies' convened with Ewa Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs (Folke Bernadotte Academy):


CRG African Politics and International Relations business meeting

You are welcome to join our CRG business meeting at ECAS 2019 in Edinburgh, which will take place in CM Seminar Room 4, on 13 June from 12 45 to 14:00h. Please contact G.Piccolino [at] for more information.



ECAS 2017 - CRG meeting

ECAS 2017 - Panels

The ECAS 2017 organizers have launched the call for panels already. Submissions will be accepted until 28 February 2016.

Are you planning to submit or have you already submitted a panel proposal related to political research or international relations? We invite all who answer “yes” to tell the CRG coordinators about it. We will be in touch with the conference organizers (a) to maximize the number of panels related to politics and IR, (b) to minimize time overlaps of panels that may be of common interest to the CRG members, and (c) to discuss how a CRG sponsorship of panels could look like and how we might be able to deal with excellent paper proposals that did not make it into the specific panel they applied for.



ECAS 2015 Panels and CRG meeting 7-8 November 2013

AEGIS thematic conference “Electoral Authoritarianism and Democratization in Africa,” sponsored by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the Leuphana University Lüneburg. Matthijs Bogaards and Sebastian Elischer organized the conference. AEGIS centres in Bordeaux, Oxford and Hamburg were involved.

Publication: Special Issue in ‘Comparative Governance and Politics’ (forthcoming)

PDF icon Call for Paper - Hamburg workshop497.79 KB