Two UW-Madison graduate students win Fulbright awards for Africa research 

The African Studies Program is pleased to announce that graduate students Lauren Parnell Marino and Justyn Huckleberry have been granted Fulbright awards to fund their research on the continent of Africa.

The Fulbright Program is one of the most competitive and prestigious research fellowships in the world. This program was created in 1946 through a bill proposed by then-Senator William J. Fulbright, with the goal of facilitating cultural and educational exchange between the United States and the rest of the world. Since that time, more than 380,000 Fulbright award winners have traveled to more than 160 countries worldwide to engage in research and study.

Justyn Hackleberry (Submitted photo).

Justyn is a doctoral student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies whose interests revolve around the changing nature of access to fundamental resources. Her research through the Fulbright award will explore how access shifted in Botswana after government-ordered community relocations for the purpose of diamond and copper mining, cattle production, and conservation and wildlife tourism.

“I hope to understand how displacement and the ‘environment’ are conceived of more broadly to provide context for the memories of community members’ experience of their forced or voluntary movements,” she said, “I think the former will add nuance to the vast literature on how displacement is associated with accumulation by dispossession.”

Lauren Marino (Photo by Catherine Reiland).

Lauren is a doctoral student in Development Studies. Her research centers around how women in East Africa are empowered by commodity chains and the formal labor market. She will be traveling to Uganda next year to continue and expand upon this research.

“There is a longstanding assumption in the international development community that women’s employment is directly a pathway to women’s empowerment,” she said, “And academic research on the topic often demonstrates how women’s labor force participation can make their lives even more difficult, with women attempting to balance obligations both inside and outside of their homes and their increased purchasing power sometimes interpreted as a threat to gender norms. My research is an attempt to understand the nuance that falls somewhere between these two perspectives.”

Justyn and Lauren are not only engaging in research that fills critical gaps in their fields of study, though, but are also using that research experience to question broader methodologies of research and programming in Africa.

Justyn, for example, noted that she hopes in her research to “to develop and implement methods that allow me to work with community members as colleagues, rather than subjects,” referencing the work of Professor Kim TallBear as her inspiration for this approach.

Similarly, Lauren hopes to draw attention to the limitations of aid and programming that focuses entirely on employment as a means for women’s empowerment.

“I hope to help us better understand how women’s empowerment is not simply an individualistic process, but something that is often shaped by much larger social forces,” she said. “With this knowledge, I hope to contribute to development practice as it relates women’s empowerment programming.”

The faculty and staff here at the African Studies Program wish these two incredible women the warmest of congratulations on this honor and the best of luck on the journey to come.

Composed by Rebecca Hanks.