Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa Selects the 2016-2017 Cohort

April 27, 2016

UnknownBrooklyn, New York—The Social Science Research Council’s Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program has announced awards to thirty-nine fellows of extraordinary merit. Fellows were chosen for the quality of their research and its potential to deepen understanding of peace and security issues in Africa.

Thomas Asher, program director for Next Generation Social Sciences, noted, “The research these scholars pursue point toward new directions for understanding issues of great contemporary importance.” He stated, “Research undertaken by fellows helps to reshape peacebuilding agendas pursued by multilateral organizations and to assert the importance of social inclusion into contemporary politics across Africa.”

Fellows from the new cohort work on an impressive range of pressing topics, including youth politics in Addis Ababa, the politics of migration and refugee status in Africa, and social grants in Brazil and South Africa.

Read about three fellows from the 2016-17 cohort

Semeneh Asfaw, a PhD student at the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala, recasts the current understanding of youth politics and revolution in Ethiopia. Scholarly consensus indicates that educated elites, especially university students, drove revolutionary politics and served as the primary generators of social and radical change. Asfaw instead reorients understanding the revolution into a much wider and interconnected view of urban space and its political milieu, pointing toward the role of actors such as taxi drivers who helped revolutionary ideologies to travel across Addis Ababa. The study gives new insight into political formation, shifting attention away from individual actors and toward the broader social and cultural settings.

B Camminga, a PhD candidate at HUMA at the University of Cape Town, tests current conceptions of human rights and the limits to refugee laws in her pioneering project, “Bodies Over Borders and Borders Over Bodies: The Journey of the ‘Gender’ Refugee and the Imagined South Africa.” Examining debates about the immigration policies across Southern African borders, Camminga traces the flow of transgendered bodies, asking how these laws recast conceptions of sexuality while simultaneously recasting refugee law. Her work on “gender refugees” begs vital questions occurring at the nexus of identity and geographic location.

Madalitso Phiri, a doctoral candidate at the University of South Africa, asks how social policy dispensation creates inclusive societies in two emerging economies. Comparing redistribution policies in both Africa and Latin America, he bridges an important gap in understanding how new social contracts are created for those living in poverty, and whether new welfare economics have sufficiently contributed to creating more inclusive spaces for impoverished citizens. He connects this research to debates in peacebuilding architectures and efforts to create protections for precariously situated communities.

Building capacity in African higher education

In addition to supporting new thinking in peace and security research, the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program addresses the inadequate number of faculty with PhDs in universities in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda, 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 fellowships. This year the program will provide seventeen awards to proposal development fellows, twelve to dissertation research fellows, and ten 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.

Over five years, the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa program has awarded 189 fellowships to faculty teaching in universities in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.

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

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