Session Submission Summary

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Increasing Inclusion of African and Africa-Based Scholars in Political Science

Thu, August 29, 10:00 to 11:30am, Hilton, Gunston West

Session Submission Type: Roundtable

Session Description

Political scientists are coming to grips intellectually with challenges to the “entrenched, self-serving privileges and perspectives of global and national elites—economic, social, and cultural” in the United States and around the world. At the same time, the discipline is facing important challenges from within to its own entrenched elite. In the area studies subfields of political science, one manifestation of this conversation is over the inclusion of scholars from, or based in, the regions they study.

In this roundtable, we hope to provide a prominent space to continue this conversation, focusing on the African politics subfield. The roundtable will open space for African and Africa-based scholars to comment on inclusion issues that should be addressed by our subfield group, the African Politics Conference Group; by APSA; and by the discipline as a whole. We have invited junior and senior scholars as well as representatives from organizations that are working to increase inclusion of African and Africa-based scholars in political science. We hope that this will surface ideas that have worked — and challenges that still need to be overcome — from around the community.

We will discuss issues including: the pipeline of African and Africa-based scholars from undergraduate study through full professorships, and the hurdles at each step in between including Ph.D. admission and faculty hiring; the costs, logistical challenges, and visa requirements to participate in the intellectual conversation at conferences, workshops, and seminar talks, particularly for Africa-based scholars; and the representation gap in work published on Africa in leading political science journals.

We will hear from three panelists:

Constantine Manda, Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, will comment on his experience as a fellow of the East Africa Social Science Translation Collaborative. EASST promotes scientific evaluation of social and economic development programs in East Africa, and hosts emerging East African researchers for semester-long “sabbaticals” at Berkeley. The initiative also holds research grant competitions for studies led by East African researchers.

Rachel Strohm, Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley, will share the work of the Mawazo Institute, which aims to “support the next generation of female thought leaders and scholars in Africa, and get policymakers and the public engaged with their research.” The Institute runs a Ph.D. scholars program to support women in Ph.D. programs at Kenyan universities; a research fellows program; and a public engagement program to move research from Mawazo affiliates into the public conversation.

Leonard Wantchekon, Professor at Princeton University, will reflect on his experiences launching the African School of Economics in Benin. The ASE is a Masters degree-granting institution that aims to “give a greater voice to African researchers and entrepreneurs in the debate over the continent’s development.” The School places students in leading Ph.D. programs as well as in professional opportunities including at major international financial institutions.

The roundtable will be facilitated by Zachariah Mampilly, Professor at Vassar College, who is the chair of the African Politics Conference Group.

We hope that this panel will attract a large audience not only from the African politics subfield but from interested political scientists studying other regions, given the overlapping set of issues facing other communities in the discipline.

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