Jeremiah O. Asaka – PhD Student, IGERT Fellow, UMass Boston
Summer Research Activities Report, July 30 2015
I am spending my summer in the mid-western state of Ohio. A huge chunk of my time this summer has been spent preparing for comprehensive exams due in the first week of August 2015. However, I also managed to set aside time to engage in one collaborative and two independent research projects that are explained in following three paragraphs.
The collaborative research project involved me working with one of my former Professors at Ohio University. It entailed co-authoring a research paper with him. We completed the project and submitted the paper to the peer reviewed Journal of Arid Environments on July 23rd 2015. The article is entitled Assessing the Role of Mobile Phone Communication and Other Drivers of Change in Drought-Related Mobility Patterns of Samburu Pastoralists. This project was made possible through successful collaboration with the Professor when I got back to Ohio in late May 2015. We are currently waiting on peer review feedback about the article from the journal’s editor(s) and hopeful that it will be accepted for publication.
Following a recommendation from my advisor Prof. Tim Shaw, the editor of Britain’s oldest international affairs journal –the Round Table – granted me an opportunity to review a recently published book and submit for possible publication. The book that is edited by Prof. John Lonsdale is entitled Colonial Kenya Observed: British Rule, Mau Mau and the Wind of Change and was published this year. It discusses governance issues in colonial Kenya and by extension sheds light on how such issues have shaped the present day Kenya. I completed the review and submitted it to the Round Table journal on June 29th 2015 for possible publication. I have since heard from the editor and currently waiting on a proof from the publisher. As mentioned earlier, this project was made possible through the kind gesture of Prof. Timothy Shaw to whom I am truly grateful.
The other independent research project that I involved myself in entailed reading and writing my dissertation proposal. I have not completed this project yet and will continue with it into the coming academic year. But I managed to write a significant chunk of it, which I plan on sharing with my dissertation committee members just before the fall semester begins. In summary, the dissertation is focused on understanding how the transformation of conservation governance in Kenya is impacting human security in the country particularly within the rangelands where communities live in close proximity to conservation areas. Closely related to the foregoing, I spent a considerable amount of time this summer developing syllabi for independent study sessions that I am registered for this coming fall semester with Professor Timothy Shaw and Prof. Jane Parpart.
Knowledge and skills
The summer research engagements discussed in the previous section added to my knowledge and skills as follows:
- Greater understanding of Kenya: Both the book review project and the work on my dissertation proposal contributed immensely to my understanding of Kenya, which is the case study for my dissertation work. Through the book review project I gained insight on pre-independence governance issues, which is essential in understanding much of present day governance issues in the country.
- Better understanding of my field of study: the time I spent revising for comprehensive exams contributed towards a more nuanced understanding of the two key concepts in my field of study namely global governance and human security.
- Writing skills: Work on the journal article and book review furthered my knowledge and skills in writing publishable academic material.
- Networking: By successfully collaborating with my former Professor on a research project, I have enhanced my networking skills and made the existing network even stronger.
As evidenced by the first section of this piece, I engaged in more than one research project during this summer break. While the research projects may all seem separate, they actually feed into each other as exemplified in the knowledge and skills’ section. All these research work will be beneficial to students, scholars, development practitioners and policy makers in varied ways. For example, the journal article when published will be a major contribution to knowledge on arid systems and human communities that inhabit them. Moreover, the dissertation proposal will lead to an empirical study that will nuance our understanding of how global discourses shape local experiences and in particular how the globally induced process of transformation of conservation governance impacts human security and sustainable development in rural Kenya.
I aim to disseminate my research through the following avenues: Scholarly journals; academic conference; workshops; scholarly and policy oriented blogs; seminar presentations; and ultimately book(s).