The African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA) was founded in 1995 as a scholarly professional forum for exchanging research findings and dissemination about the African continent. The association developed out of the scholarly vacuum in Africa in general and East Africa in particular where there were not many opportunities for scholars to meet and exchange ideas, especially their research findings. Many professional associations in Europe, North America, Asia and Latin America were beyond reach for demanding exorbitant membership’s fees and using unclear and unfair peer review processes in selecting paper presenters, as well as publication process. Africans needed a forum of their own in which they understood rules of selection of paper presenters. AISA emerged against, and in some ways in response to, the Continent’s complex colonial and racial dynamics and, in its development, reflects the substantial challenges that interdisciplinary research and teaching encounters.
Travelling to professional meetings outside Africa was also met with myriad obstacles besides visa and air ticket costs. Like the case of professional and scholarly associations elsewhere, African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA) was seen as an important window for African scholars reaching out to each other and to other scholars in the world. AISA provided the forum and opportunity in which to present, share, discuss and debate issues that affect humanity and development in Africa and beyond. AISA started informally through local and national workshops before starting to organise international workshops, symposia, seminars and conferences. The core members of the association were academic staff at various local universities in Kenya. The first true international conference in scope took place in 2010a and continued to be held annually, embracing all disciplines.
Many professional associations on the African continent were created around specific disciplines such as anthropology, history, political science, education, sociology, chemistry, psychology, among others. There was need for an association that would embrace all disciplines, devoid of disciplinary boundaries and pigeonholes. African Interdisciplinary Studies Association (AISA) was the perfect solution for disciplinary boundaries. AISA believes that no scholar should fail to be promoted because he or she has published outside their discipline or in multidisciplinary or in interdisciplinary journals, because what is important in this academic industry is production of new knowledge. AISA became the solution to the disciplinary insulation and grandstanding. In its past annual international interdisciplinary conferences AISA has provided platform for presenters from all disciplines without discrimination. The conferences have increasingly become bigger and bigger, making it possible to spread presentations in more than two days. Scholars are increasingly coming from majority of African countries while others are coming from outside Africa. The good news is that any anthologies published under the auspices of AISA have led to promotion of many scholars to the next level and many universities in the world have embraced interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching. This is a trend that AISA hopes to support and pursue for the benefit of its members and scholarship in general.