AFAC-ACSS Research on the Arts Program (RAP)

Apply by: August 1, 2018

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS) are pleased to announce the launch of their joint Research on the Arts Program (RAP). The AFAC-ACSS research grants are a funding opportunity that aims to support research on all art practices across disciplinary boundaries and methodological approaches on key themes of concern to, and in, the Arab region (For the purposes of this program, the Arab Region is defined as the 22 countries that are officially members of the League of Arab States. This includes: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.)

This program is funded by AFAC and by a grant provided to the ACSS by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Grants are available to individual researchers (up to USD 15,000) and teams of researchers or collectives (up to USD 25,000) and to institutions (up to USD 35,000).

This opportunity is limited to individual researchers who are citizens/nationals of an Arab country residing in the Arab region, and institutions based in the Arab region. In the case of teams and collectives, at least two researchers, including the team leader, must be citizens/nationals of an Arab country residing in the Arab region. Grants are intended to support a maximum timeline of 18 months for individuals, teams and collectives (starting December 2018 and ending May 2020) and up to 24 months for institutions (starting December 2018 and ending December 2020).

What Distinguishes Arts Research from the Making of Art?

Arts research is dynamic, interdisciplinary and critical, and involves systematic investigation, analysis, and speculation around a specific research topic with a chosen mode of enquiry.

Researchers on art practices put their work in conversation with artists, social scientists, humanists, cultural theorists, and practitioners, including but not limited to, curators, archivists, historians, anthropologists, and sociologists. What differentiates research from the practice of making art is a matter of process and form. Research aims to answer a specific research question that engages in critical investigations of art practitioners and the world at large. Additionally, the complexity of the processes and practices involved in connecting, producing, thinking, and communicating art and culture work, in articulated contexts, are documented. This process of documentation itself becomes an arena for critical interrogation and consideration, as the researchers’ methods of choice are open to question and reflection.

The importance of form when it comes to research outputs becomes crucial in art research as the aim of such conceptual explorations is to communicate sharable findings that can be engaged between, within, and beyond universities and other institutions of learning. There is an understanding that research is to be disseminated, and therefore, it must be portable and understandable to a wide range of audiences in order for it to create impact. Moreover, linkage to broader bodies of knowledge takes place through theorizing and citation. Although art research can be practice-led or practice-related, one expectation of a research output is that it incorporates a written component, where theory, context, connections, reflection, and systematic investigation may be shown and communicated.

Topics and Methods of the Grant

The program aims at canvassing a broad range of research proposals from across the different countries and localities of the region. We also encourage comparative studies that look at more than one country or location regionally or globally. We particularly invite interdisciplinary proposals that link the arts, humanities and social sciences. Quantitative as well as qualitative projects are eligible and mixed-methods approaches are encouraged. Finally, successful proposals will also critically examine whether current Arts analytical frameworks are adequate to conceptualize and empirically study these issues in the Arab region and will suggest new approaches and methodologies.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • Nationality/Residence

Applicants must be citizens of an Arab Country (defined as a member of the league of Arab States) or nationals of an Arab Country (defined as long-term residents, even if they don’t hold citizenship as in the case of refugees or stateless residents) and must be based in the Arab region. In the case of teams and collectives, the team leader must be a citizen/national of an Arab country and must be based in the Arab Region. However, teams and collectives may include Arabs in the diaspora or non-Arabs, but at least two members of the team/collective must be citizens/nationals of an Arab country and must be based in the Arab region. For institutions, the institution must be based and registered in the Arab region.

  • Educational Degree

Applicants must hold at least a Master’s degree in the fields of arts, cultural studies, humanities or social sciences. Individual researchers in the early stages of their professional careers (including PhD students) are especially encouraged to apply. Individuals who expect to obtain their Master’s degree before the deadline of the application are also eligible.

  • Background Disciplines

This program is open to researchers from diverse backgrounds in arts, humanities and social science field and allied fields. Arts and humanities disciplines include art history, comparative literature, contemporary art, cultural studies, curatorial studies, fine arts, graphic design, architecture, languages and literature, folklore studies, media studies, musicology, performance arts, and visual arts. The core social science fields include disciplines such as anthropology, demography, economics, history, political science, psychology and sociology. Interdisciplinary proposals are encouraged.

  • Individuals, Teams, Collectives and Institutions

The program is open to individual researchers, research teams, collectives of researchers and institutions (universities, research centers, arts centers, etc.). Research teams, collectives, and institutions must present their applications in teams of up to four members, including a principal investigator and three co-investigators. For the purposes of this call, a collective is an independent group of researchers that have been working and continue to work collaboratively towards a specific issue related to the program.

ACSS grantees (principal and co-investigators) who have benefited previously from an ACSS grant are only eligible if their grants were closed before March 2017. AFAC grantees who have a current open grant are not eligible to apply.

Program Aims and Outputs

This program supports research projects at any stage of their development. Projects can either be new or ongoing and may suggest:

  • Preliminary or “pilot” phases of a project

  • Longer-term projects combining fieldwork and analysis

  • Analysis and write-up of previously concluded data collection

  • Extensions of previous projects that seek to bring in new cases and examples

  • Comparative projects extended to include further locations

The proposed outputs of the project must be commensurate with the research plans and must include a substantial written component. Therefore outputs must include publications (web and/or print) as one of the main outputs of the project and the additional outputs can include scholarly resources (e.g. visual outputs, websites, databases, curricula, bibliographies, maps, policy briefs) with the exception of films.

The output of preliminary research may be a fully developed research proposal, while projects including data analysis and write-ups may have substantial journal articles or full-length book manuscripts as outputs.

Application Process

1. Applicants are required to submit an online application form and a narrative proposal (including appendices) on AFAC’s website. If you’re already a registered user on AFAC’s website, please login with your username and password. Once you login, you will be directed to the applications page. In case you don’t have an existing account, please create one.

Completed proposals can be uploaded to the application portal at any time before the application deadline on August 1, 2018.

2. In addition to submitting the application form on AFAC’s website, applicants must fill out a profile page on the ACSS Website.

Proposal materials can be submitted in Arabic, French or English. Proposals and attachments should be written in one of these languages; mixing different languages in the same proposal disqualifies the application. Only fully developed proposals will be examined by the Selection Committee. Final proposals should include all information and details necessary for the Selection Committee to understand the research ideas and plans. The final proposal should not exceed 15 typed, double-spaced pages in length (12-point font). This 15-page limit does not include the proposal appendices, including the project time-line and outputs, budget request, and curriculum vitae (see below).

Guidelines for Writing the Proposal

I. The body of the proposal should include the following components:

Background and Rationale (Evaluation Criterion 1): This section should explain the significance of the research and what new knowledge will be generated as a result of the project.

  • It should describe the context and key background information about the issues and research sites being explored.

  • It should identify the research questions explored by the project, the significance of exploring them in the identified research sites, and the methodology that will be used to investigate these questions.

  • It should state clearly the contribution of this project to existing knowledge.

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework (Evaluation Criterion 2): This section should include an evaluation of previous research on the subject and current gaps in the literature. The review of the literature should demonstrate the applicant’s knowledge of international as well as regional research on the subject. It should explain the contribution of the proposed research to the current state of scholarship on the region, and possible contribution to larger theoretical and conceptual debates as well as practice-based knowledge. Quotations and bibliographic references should be fully documented. The Committee does not welcome literature reviews that consist of an annotated bibliography (even if this is an accepted practice in some universities in the region). The Committee will look most favorably on literature reviews that bring together the key arguments and themes related to the stated research questions and situate the proposed research in its wider theoretical, conceptual, and empirical context.

Methodology (Evaluation Criterion 3): This section should explain the methodology and detailed steps for carrying out the research over the duration of the project. In addition to explaining the methodological approach and its rationale, it should specify the research activities that will be undertaken and how their results will be interpreted in relation to the key research questions. This includes specifying, wherever relevant, the archives, the secondary sources, the respondents, the sample, the selection of research sites, the proposed techniques of analysis and the different phases of the research, including transcription, writing, preparation of dissemination activities and preparation of manuscripts for publication. For field data collection, the researcher's prospects for obtaining necessary permits should be addressed. For secondary analysis, sources of information or data and their accessibility to the investigators should also be identified in the proposal. For team projects, this section should clarify the division of labor between co-investigators and other team members.

II. In addition to the above, the proposal must address the following issues:

  • Significance of the expected results.

  • Plans for the write-up and dissemination of research results. For institutional projects, this section should clarify authorship of project outputs.

  • Provisions made for the protection of human subjects and the protection of confidentiality as well as an assessment of the impact of probable findings. These should be discussed in conformity with the ethical guidelines of each discipline. Accepted applicants will be expected to comply with the ACSS guidelines on research ethics and sign the relevant ethics forms.

  • Utilization of existing research facilities at the researcher’s institution or other institutions.

III. All submitted proposal must contain the following appendices and should be filled according to the provided forms:

A timeline for the research project should be presented in a maximum of 2 pages (single-spaced), outlining the unfolding of the proposed research in reasonable detail and the outputs expected to be produced in each phase of the project. Individual, team and collective projects can be completed over the 18-month period of the grant, between December 15, 2018 and May 15, 2020. Institutional projects can be completed over a 24-month period, between December 15, 2018 and December 15, 2020. The final version of Appendix 1 will become part of the Grant Contract.

Budgets may include: researcher(s) fees, fieldwork expenses (including accommodation away from the home location, travel and transportation related to the research, living expenses), honoraria for short-term consultants providing specific technical advice, and meetings/workshops costs related to the research, as well as purchase of research equipment, software, books, stationery and other supplies.

Budgets may not include: university/research center overhead, or travel expenses/ registration fees for conferences and workshops. Under exceptional circumstances, the Selection Committee may approve the dedication of a portion of the grant, which is not more than the 20% of the total amount requested, to stipends or salary replacements for: a) Principal Investigator on an individual project; b) Principal Investigator and co-investigators on a team or collective project (20% for all salaries or stipends combined). Institutional projects can dedicate a portion of the grant, which is not more than 10% of the total amount requested, to specific running costs. The Selection Committee reserves the right to determine whether the proposed running costs items is relevant or not. The budget should clearly indicate whether other sources of funding are already available or have been applied for and which items would be fully or partially covered by other sources. The Selection committee, AFAC and the ACSS staff will review each budget on a case-by-case basis. Please note that the total and detailed budget may not necessarily correspond to the one requested. Please review the Budget Request Form carefully for the full details of allowable expenses and instructions for filling out the form.

Online Application

In addition to uploading the project narrative and appendices described above, applicants will need to provide the following information using the online application form (ONE application per project):

  • Project Details (title, 250 word abstract, duration and location(s) of research)

  • Project History (if relevant) including earlier phases of the project and future expectations as well as collaborators who may not be participating in this phase of the project

  • Outputs must include publications (web and/or print) as one of the main outputs of the project and the additional outputs can include scholarly resources (e.g. visual outputs, websites, databases, curricula, bibliographies, maps, policy briefs) with the exception of films.

  • Project Budget Request Form. The budget should be reflective of the extent of the fieldwork and number of researchers, and can range between a maximum of USD 15,000 for individual researchers, USD 25,000 for collaborative research of teams and collectives, and USD 35,000 for institutional applications. The Selection Committee will only approve budget requests that are commensurate with the planned activities and expected outputs of the project. Estimated budgets should only be submitted using the form provided. Incomplete forms will not be considered.

  • Personal and professional details on each researcher (including name, country/ies of citizenship, contact email, current position/institution, brief bio (up to 150 words), education, language proficiency, employment history, relevant publications). The co-investigators are required to create their individual profiles on the ACSS website, and include their professional details mentioned above.

  • The name and contact information for one academic referee who can attest to the significance and feasibility of the proposed project. The researcher is required to submit a recommendation letter from this referee.

Application Material for Individual Projects (uploaded to the online form):

Application Material for Team and Collective Projects (uploaded to the online form):

Application Material for Institutional Projects (uploaded to the online form):

  • Online Application Form

  • Proposal of 15 pages. Please note that all submitted proposals will be checked on a plagiarism detection software.

  • Appendix 1: Project Timeline and Outputs Form (Download the form)

  • Appendix 2: Project Budget Request Form (Download the form)

  • Appendix 3: CVs including a list of publications or a portfolio for all institutional members working on the project highlighting their completed work

  • Appendix 4: An official letter submitted by management confirming that the applying researcher(s) is/are permitted to work on this project under the institution’s name and will be granted facilities

  • Appendix 5: Institutional documents: mission and objectives, annual report, registration document, list of board members (or any other similar governing body), portfolio of the institution highlighting completed work

  • Recommendation letter from the academic referee mentioned in the application form

  • Copy of passport or identification card for each institutional member

To apply, you must fill out the application form on AFAC's website AND create a profile page on the ACSS Website.

Selection Process

A multi-disciplinary Selection Committee composed of distinguished Arab scholars and practitioners with established research and publication records and experience in regional research and teaching will review and select proposals for funding. The selection procedures abide by the highest standards of academic and ethical judgment. Final decisions are based on the following evaluation criteria:

  1. Contribution to Knowledge (Research Question/Significance and Originality)

  2. Theoretical and Conceptual Coherence and Literature Review

  3. Methodology including research ethics,

  4. Outputs (Dissemination/Potential Impact/Relevance to the Arab region)

  5. Feasibility (CVs/Researcher’s Qualifications/Timeline/Budget)

Results will be communicated to applicants by October 2018. Successful applicants will receive provisional Award Letters confirming their selection and, if applicable, requests for clarification and elaboration from the Selection Committee.

Overview of Grant Conditions

Awarded individuals, teams of researchers, collectives or institutions are expected to abide by the following project requirements:

1- Submit a revised proposal, timeline, and budget request by November 2018, responding to requests for clarification or elaboration put forward by the Selection Committee in its preliminary acceptance decision.

2- Fill out the research ethics questionnaire.

3- Sign a contract which specifies the budget, timeline, outputs, and obligations of the researcher(s).

4- Attend a workshop during December 2018 to meet the Selection Committee members, present projects for feedback and receive orientation about AFAC and ACSS reporting, and financial and ethics procedures, and sign their grant contracts. (Costs of attendance at this event should not be budgeted for in the proposals. They will be covered directly by AFAC and ACSS.)

5- Attend and present at the Fourth ACSS Conference to be held during April 2019 in Beirut, Lebanon. (Costs of attendance at this event should not be budgeted for in the proposals. They will be covered directly by AFAC and ACSS.)

6- Produce project-related content for the ACSS and the AFAC website (such as project descriptions and profiles of researchers)

7- Submit interim narrative and financial reports. Financial reports should include the original receipts for all project expenses.

8- Submit the final narrative and financial reports within 30 days of the end of the grant term.

9- Produce the outputs identified in the submitted proposal in accordance with the project timeline (Appendix 1).


  • May 14, 2018: Application material available online.

  • August 1, 2018: Final and complete research proposals are due by 11:00 pm (Beirut Time). Incomplete proposals will not be reviewed by the Selection Committee.

  • October 2018: Decisions will be communicated to applicants.

  • November 2018: Submission of final proposals revised according to the Selection Committee’s comments.

  • December 11-12, 2018: Workshop in Beirut.

  • December 15, 2018: Projects may begin upon signature of the contract between selected grantees, ACSS and AFAC.

  • Spring 2019: Fourth ACSS Conference to be held in Beirut, Lebanon.

  • May 15, 2020: Projects for individual researchers, research teams and collectives must end.

  • December 15, 2020: Projects for institutions must end.

Prospective applicants may approach both AFAC and ACSS with questions about any aspect of the call. Please email both AFAC on and AND the ACSS on  

To apply, please login with your username and password. Once you login you will be directed to the applications page. In case you don’t have an existing account, please create one.

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