Nishaant Choksi, Sukanya Deogam and Kalpesh Rathwa’s research focuses on labor migrants from India’s “Scheduled Tribes”—mostly marginalized indigenous populations that…
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.
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.
I was very fortunate and privileged to have been among the early-career scholars to be awarded the Social Science Research Council’s African Peacebuilding Network (APN) Individual Research Grant (IRG) in 2018. It was the first time I had ever received a prestigious and competitive research award in the field of peace and conflict. I remember how excited I was when I learned of my selection. It was a turning point in my academic career. Receiving the award has changed the way I think about my research and intellectual capabilities.
I received the African Peacebuilding Network’s (APN) Individual Research Grant (IRG) in 2016. The decision to apply for the grant stemmed from my long search for research support and mentoring opportunities aimed at academics in the Global South. My persistent search for research grants led me to the APN in 2015. By then, Prof. Cyril Obi, the Program Director of the APN, was making frantic efforts to reach, train, and include young academics in the Mano River Union (MRU) area, West Africa’s conflict-affected sub-region in the activities of the APN.
I was awarded the African Peacebuilding Network (APN) Individual Research Grant in 2016 and the APN Book Manuscript Completion Grant in 2017. Both APN fellowships contributed immensely to my professional and personal development in ways that changed my whole perception of the world. The APN’s training workshops presented an incredible opportunity to learn to apply new research tools, critical reasoning, and key building blocks towards understanding both the relevant theories and practical aspects of working in the field of conflict resolution and peace.