Researcher Neil Lewis Jr. discusses how the SSRC’s Mercury Project's teams approach to research can improve the evidence generation process.
In their research, Anjuli Fahlberg, Cristiane Martins, Joiceane Lopes, Ana Cláudia Araújo, Lidiane Santos, Sophia Costa, and Guilherme Baratho examine how democracy is being recreated in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, particularly Cidade de Deus, where Covid-19 was first recorded. Drawing on their research on the pandemic’s impact on local residents vis-à-vis emergent forms of autonomous governance and how these are shaped by gender and racial dynamics, they argue that civic associations’ mobilization tactics in Cidade de Deus can help us understand how democracy is being reinvented in these spaces under conditions of extreme governmental neglect.
As part of their SSRC-funded Covid-19 research, Marlie Holtzhausen and Cori Wielenga examine what a relational approach can tell us about the efficiency of development interventions and how a relational approach can inform whether certain interventions are sustainable during a crisis. Looking at two development organizations in South Africa, they find that “success” for these organizations was not defined by a quantifiable measures like funds raised or people helped but by the dignity of the care and aid provided, which is possible thanks to a foundation of strong relationships.
For our “Where Heritage Meets Violence” essay series, Nick Shepherd considers how the violence of colonialism is deeply inscribed in space and landscape. He traces the history of the University of Cape Town, where a protest against a statue of Cecil Rhodes initiated the #RhodesMustFall movement. Shepherd examines the persistent materializations of power, showing how enduring coloniality shapes embodied ways of seeing and being in the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic triggered a new wave of Islamophobic rhetoric in India. Focusing on the aftermath of the March 2020 Tablighi Jamaat event, Anirban Baishya, with funding from the SSRC’s Rapid-Response Covid-19 grant, investigates how mis/disinformation and anti-Muslim messages spread through media, jumping from social media to mainstream outlets.
As part of their SSRC-funded research, Olívia Bandeira, Alex Hercog, Iury Batistta, and Réia Gonçalves Pereira investigate the impact of right-wing evangelical media on Brazil’s response to the pandemic, paying close attention to how mis/disinformation spread through mainstream and social media run by popular pastors. Echoing the rhetoric of the Bolsonaro government, evangelical media sowed doubt about Covid-19’s impact in Brazil and later distrust about the vaccine. Brazilian evangelical media mis/disinformation about Covid-19, the authors argue, signals support for Bolsonaro’s neoconservative project, which aligns with their beliefs, such as viewing Brazil as a “Christian nation” and bringing an end to the secular state.
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.