International African Institute

The International African Institute (IAI) was founded (as the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures - IIALC) in 1926 in London for the study of African languages. Frederick Lugard was the first chairman (1926 to his death in 1945); Diedrich Hermann Westermann (1926 to 1939) and Maurice Delafosse (1926) were the initial co-directors.[1]

Since 1928, the IAI has published a quarterly journal, Africa. For some years during the 1950s and 1960s, the assistant editor was the novelist Barbara Pym.[2]

The IAI's mission is "to promote the education of the public in the study of Africa and its languages and cultures". Its operations includes seminars, journals, monographs, edited volumes and stimulating scholarship within Africa.


The IAI has been involved in scholarly publishing since 1927. Scholars whose work has been published by the institute include Emmanuel Akeampong, Samir Amin, Karin Barber, Alex de Waal, Patrick Chabal, Mary Douglas, E.E. Evans Pritchard, Jack Goody, Jane Guyer, Monica Hunter, Bronislaw Malinowski, Z.K. Matthews, D.A. Masolo, Achille Mbembe, Thomas Mofolo, John Middleton, Simon Ottenburg, JDY Peel, Mamphela Ramphele, Isaac Schapera, Monica Wilson and V.Y. Mudimbe.[3]

IAI publications fall into a number of series, notably International African Library and International African Seminars.[3] The International African Library is published from volume 41 (2011) by Cambridge University Press;[4] Volumes 7-40 are available from Edinburgh University Press.[5] As of November 2016 there are 49 volumes.[6]


The archives of the International African Institute are held at the Archives Division of the Library of the London School of Economics. An online catalogue of these papers is available.


Africa alphabet

In 1928, the IAI (then IIALC) published an "Africa Alphabet" to facilitate standardization of Latin-based writing systems for African languages.

Prize for African language literature, 1929-50

From April 1929 to 1950, the IAI offered prizes for works of literature in African languages.[7]

List of Chairmen


  1. Ludwig, Frieder; Adogame, Afe; Ulrich Berner; Christoph Bochinger (2004). European traditions in the study of religion in Africa. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag. p. 9. ISBN 3447050020. Retrieved 17 June 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. D. J. Taylor (23 May 2014). "Barbara Pym: a woman scorned". The Spectator. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  3. "Publishing". IAI. May 17, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  4. "The International African Library". OUP. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  5. "International African Library". Edinburgh University Press. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  6. "The International African Library". IAI. May 17, 2016. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  7. Sow, Alfa I., and Mohamed H. Abdulaziz, "Language and Social Change," Ch. 18 in Ali A. Mazrui (ed.) Africa Since 1935 (UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. 8). University of California Press, 1993. Pp. 526-7.

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