Research Development Group: Emerging Research from African Scholars

Scholars from five African countries were selected to participate in the first-ever Africa Research Development Group (RDG) on August 30, 2017. Funded by the American Political Science Association (APSA) and the African Studies Association (ASA), the one-day workshop was organized in collaboration with the African Politics Conference Group (APCG) as a pre-conference short course at the annual meeting of APSA in San Francisco.

The RDG workshop was designed to provide African scholars with constructive feedback for turning working papers into published articles. Each participant was allocated a 45-minute session in which an assigned discussant offered detailed comments for revision followed by a broader discussion among all workshop attendees regarding theoretical and methodological issues. RDG workshop attendees also discussed practical strategies for preparing manuscripts for submission to peer-reviewed international journals.

The selected African scholars presented working papers that covered a broad range of substantively important topics.

  • Naima Benlarabi (Professor, Ibn Tofail University, Morocco) offered insights on the exploitation faced by African migrant women trafficked through Morocco.
  • George Bob-Milliar (Senior Lecturer, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana) explained how the grassroots structures of political parties operate in northern Ghana.
  • Tarila Ebiede (Research Fellow, Niger Delta University, Nigeria) examined the impact of armed militants on patterns of governance in villages of the Niger Delta.
  • Akin Iwilade (Lecturer, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria) traced the role of contingency in the social logics of youth networks in the Niger Delta.
  • Aikande Kwayu (Development Research Consultant, Bumaco Ltd., Tanzania) analyzed how Tanzania’s ruling party has rebranded itself to overcome electoral challenges.
  • Bamlaku T. Mengistu (Assistant Professor, Haramaya University, Ethiopia) submitted a paper that examined the effects of climage change on agro-pastoralist conflicts in Ethiopia. [Bamalaku was ultimately unable to attend the RDG workshop.]

Following the RDG workshop, participating scholars attended panels at the APSA annual meeting from August 31 to September 3, 2017. Attendees also had the chance to visit the Exhibit Hall and attend meetings and receptions of APSA organized sections and related groups. Several, in fact, attended the APCG business meeting and had the opportunity to meet other Africanist researchers.

The 2017 RDG scholars were selected from a pool of 27 applications from 12 countries submitted by alumni of the APSA Africa Workshops, ASA Presidential Fellows, and ASA Carnegie Fellows. To support their attendance at the four-day Annual Meeting, APSA and ASA offered free roundtrip airfare to each of the Africa-based participants. Additionally, a $500 coordinate organization small grant from ASA allowed APCG to cover conference fees for participants.

The APCG members who volunteered as discussants for the papers were Kathleen Klaus (Northwestern University), Carl Levan (American University), Jeffrey Paller (University of San Francisco), Jessica Piombo (Naval Postgraduate School), and Manuela Travaglianti (University of California, Berkeley). Andrew Stinson, APSA’s Associate Director of International Programs, coordinated the RDG application process and workshop. APCG members Leonardo Arriola (University of California, Berkeley), Catherine Boone (London School of Economics), and Beth Whitaker (University of North Carolina, Charlotte) served as the RDG selection committee.