15 June 2013
Professor Graham Furniss, Pro-Director for Research and Enterprise at SOAS, University of London, has been awarded an OBE for services to higher education and scholarship in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, published on Saturday 15 June.
“This honour is thoroughly deserved,” said SOAS Director Paul Webley. “Graham’s scholarship has been superlative. He has also worked tirelessly to develop opportunities for young scholars and research collaboration between the UK and African countries. He has been a very effective Pro-Director (Research and Enterprise), leading changes in support and supporting processes and supervising the challenging task of preparing for the Research Excellence Framework.”
Professor Furniss’ research and teaching has focused on popular culture and oral and written literature in Hausa, a major lingua franca of West Africa. He was the founding President of the International Society for Oral Literature in Africa (ISOLA), and founding editor of the Journal of African Cultural Studies.
He is currently a Commissioner of the Commonwealth Scholarships Commission and a Trustee of the Britain-Nigeria Educational Trust. He chairs the British Academy Africa Panel, and is a former President of the African Studies Association of the UK. He chaired the steering committees that produced The Nairobi Report: Frameworks for Africa-UK Research Collaboration in the Social Sciences and Humanities in 2009, and Foundations for the Future: Supporting the Early Careers of African Researchers in 2011, both published by the British Academy and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Professor Furniss has a long and distinguished association with SOAS. Apart from three years as a lecturer in Nigeria in the 1970s, Professor Furniss has spent his entire academic career at the School, arriving as an undergraduate in 1968. After a first degree in Hausa and Social Anthropology, he was awarded his PhD in 1977. He was SOAS’ first Dean of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures and the first Head of the Language Centre. He has also been Head of the Department of the Languages and Cultures of Africa and Chair of the Centre of African Studies