For our “Where Heritage Meets Violence” essay series, Nick Shepherd considers how the violence of colonialism is deeply inscribed in…
The authors reflect on how research on an environment already experiencing significant social and physical change was further impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic. In considering the potential impact of a "Blue Economy" policy scheme, the research team confronted the need to examine the power dynamics inherent in the research process, as well as those inherent to their analysis.
Based on their IDRF-supported research, Alex Wolff explores how many queer folk in South Korea face a conflict between achieving economic stability and a sense of selfhood. Following economic transformations that decreased employment opportunities for young adults, civil servant jobs have become valued for their “stability.” However, Wolff finds that queer South Koreans who choose “stable” jobs to achieve feelings of financial security, are paradoxically beset by “other feelings of insecurity,” as queer self-representation and political participation lead to workplace discrimination, and potential dismissal. Wolff proposes complicating the concept of precarity by looking at it through a queer lens—examining how structural exclusions and heteronormativity shape the conditions for economic security and insecurity.
I am fortunate to have received two consecutive APN awards: the 2016 APN Individual Research Grant and the 2018-2020 APN Collaborative Working Group Research Grant. Both grants catalyzed my professional development. They provided tremendous support for my research and writing, including allowing me to conduct extensive fieldwork in Nigeria’s restive oil-producing region, the Niger Delta. The fieldwork enabled me to generate data and keen insights into my core research areas on natural resource governance, conflict, and peacebuilding.
I was a member of the first cohort of APN grantees in 2013. At the time, I was interested in the work of mediators involved in negotiating the release of individuals held for ransom in the Sahel. In the early 2000s, kidnappings for ransom targeted humanitarian workers, Western tourists, state officials, and many other individuals. Kidnapping was a lucrative source of funding for Al-Qaeda and other militant and criminal organizations across the Sahel.
The African Peacebuilding Network (APN) remains strongly committed to strengthening the research capacity and professional development of researchers. I speak from the vantage point of being a three-time fellow of the APN. I have been an Individual Research Fellow (2014), a member of an APN Working Group (2016-2018), and a Book Manuscript Completion Fellow (2018). I have benefited immensely from the multiple opportunities for building and sustaining my career growth. APN training workshops are of great benefit at the individual and collective levels.
As a young female academic, I have always looked forward to any opportunity to interact with colleagues in my field. The African Peacebuilding Network (APN) offered me this opportunity on a platter of gold. I am pleased to say that the APN fellowship is one of the best things that happened to me in my academic career. I was awarded the APN Individual Research Fellowship (IRF) in June 2021 and completed it successfully in March 2022. The fellowship offered me a wonderful opportunity to deeply understand peace and conflict resolution. In terms of developing a deep sense of conviviality and commitment to knowledge production, networking, and policy engagement, the APN marked an unforgettable milestone in my academic trajectory.
I discovered the African Peacebuilding Network’s (APN) individual research fellowship through the network of the Social Science Research Council’s (SSRC) Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa (Next Gen) of which I have twice been a fellow. I applied to the APN in 2019 with the aim of exploring questions that had arisen during my doctoral journey but were outside that remit. Little did I know how deeply and broadly the fellowship would affect and transform my entire career, a fact I am only realizing as I write this reflection.
“At the end of this program, you will never remain the same again,” this statement by Cyril Obi, director of the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) program, in his closing remarks at end of the first APN-Next Gen joint virtual research methods training workshop organized for the fellows of the 2020 cohort has always resonated in my mind.
As academic collaborations become increasingly virtual and geographically widespread, researchers are faced with novel challenges, as well as opportunities, as they attempt to create equitable, effective research partnerships. In this essay, the authors highlight the importance of shared reflexive conversations in building a strong foundation for collaboration and the coproduction of knowledge, particularly in the midst of ongoing crises. In so doing, they reflect on their experience of planning research on social innovation in small-scale fishing communities in Africa and Asia, as a team spread across six countries.
The African Peacebuilding Network (APN) has made a significant impact on my academic career. If I have to pick one lesson from the APN Training Workshops that I attended as part of the APN grant I received in 2017, it is Prof. Thomas Tieku’s insistence on the absolute necessity of making our scholarly research and works intentionally African. I remember that, although I shared similar interests with some of my peers in the 2017 fellowship cohort and we were reading and debating similar materials and issues, we were not aware of each other’s works. We did not give enough weight to intentionally searching for debates underpinning African perspectives in African scholarship and publications. We also did not intentionally reflect on and relate to literature produced by African scholars.