Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Program Selects 2017-2018 Fellows

May 25, 2017

Brooklyn, New York—The Social Science Research Council’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program has announced awards to forty-one fellows of extraordinary merit from university systems across Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Fellows were chosen for the quality of their research and its potential to deepen understanding of peace, security, and development issues both on the African continent and globally.

Fellows from the new cohort work on an impressive range of pressing topics, including electoral politics in post-conflict Angola, gender-based violence against sex workers on the Benin Republic–Nigeria border, social movements in South Africa, social protection policymaking in Kenya, and transitional justice models in Zimbabwe.

In addition to supporting new thinking in peace, security, and development research from the African continent, the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program addresses the inadequate number of faculty with PhDs in universities in six African countries, a deficit that undermines vital efforts to expand and strengthen higher education systems in Africa.

The program offers three distinct fellowship opportunities to support faculty at crucial moments in their graduate training: proposal development, dissertation research, and dissertation completion. This year the program will provide fifteen awards to proposal development fellows, fourteen awards to research fellows, and twelve to dissertation completion fellows. As a demonstration of the program’s commitment to gender equity, just over half of the incoming cohort are women, while fewer than 20 percent of faculty in African universities are female. Fellows come from ten different countries across the continent and represent nearly twenty universities.

Over six years, the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program has awarded 228 fellowships to 173 faculty members teaching in universities in the six priority countries.

Thomas Asher, program director for Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa, notes that sixty fellows have completed the PhD with SSRC support and another fifteen are expected to finish in the next year. “With the program in its sixth year, we see tangible evidence of the transformative dimensions of the program, with fellows from past years now assuming lead roles in academic departments, in international research networks, in community organizations, and in policy bodies.”

A complete list of Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellows is available here.

Read about four fellows from the 2017–2018 cohort:

 Toyin Ajao, a PhD student in political sciences at the University of Pretoria, explores the contribution of citizens to addressing violence through citizen journalism platforms. Ajao’s research examines the Ushahidi platform, a citizen journalism initiative, in the aftermath of the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya. She asks searching questions about the ability of citizen journalism to respond to conflict and provide a platform for peace processes from below.

Moduppe Animashaun, a PhD student in the Peace and Strategic Studies program at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, examines the socioeconomic, gender, and criminal injustice that female sex workers are exposed to along the Niger-Benin border corridor. Reversing the common narrative surrounding migration in Europe and North America, which presents refugees as a threat to the social and economic order of receiving countries, she uses this research topic to ask questions about the vulnerability of migrant communities and present answers in the form of methodically collected data.

John Githigaro, a PhD student in international relations at the United States International University–Nairobi, investigates community initiatives established in response to youth violence in Nairobi and Mombasa. In focusing on community-driven activities supporting youth engagement and employment, the research explores alternate models to understanding local conflict resolution against the state-driven cottage industry that has emerged using a “countering violent extremism” lens.

Albano Troco, a PhD student in political studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, interrogates whether the introduction of multiparty elections in Angola is contributing to democratization or, quietly, sustaining authoritarian rule. The study examines elections and electoral processes in Angola within the context of political transformations in post–Cold War Africa and recent democratic transitions.

The Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program is funded by Carnegie Corporation of New York.