Appreciating African Connections: The Minds and People Behind Our Research Feature Series

The African Studies Program is excited to introduce a new feature series initiated by Carly Lucas. This feature series seeks to highlight key connections in Africa who have helped our faculty and researchers with their fieldwork. By compiling these great resources, we hope to create a list of people that future researchers can reach out to for assistance in their endeavors.

This project is a small effort to decolonize our approach to research, rooted in western and capitalist modes of production that give almost all credit to the individual, the author. However, many of us recognize that without many Africans on the continent, our questions, ideas, and efforts would fall short. Through our Appreciating African Connections feature series, we can use the institutional power and resources UW has to advertise those who make a business out of helping faculty and graduate students from western institutions as we build our projects and reputations– often offering them less credit than that which is due.

For this feature, we ask you to recognize the people on the continent whom you relied on to conduct your research. Please fill out this Qualtrics survey to provide the name, contact information, and bio of these folks. Please provide this information only with their permission. If they would like to engage in an Africa In Our Lives style interview, where questions and answers are sent back and forth via email, we would be happy to reach out to them and feature a broader discussion of their skills and attributes. Otherwise, let us know how they have helped you and why you recommend that others seek them out.

From this information, we will compile a website for people who can help researchers in the countries where they do their work. We will list the information you share with us as an introduction to the person and interested scholars/students can contact them for further information about their services.

In addition to our attempt to chip away at our colonial tendencies, this project also offers resources for grad students engaging in first-time research on the continent. Those of us who have gone through MA or PhD research abroad can recall how many questions are left unanswered, for us to figure out as we go. Who will drive us from the Kampala airport to our hotel, or how will we get around to our research sites? Does anyone know a Kpelle teacher? What about research assistants to support our interview process? And so on… These features will provide a contact list from our UW community about the minds and people who you can connect with (and pay) to help you, once you arrive in-country.

By Carly Lucas