Susan Thomson, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Contemporary African Politics in the School of Critical Social Inquiry at Hampshire College, will speak at the Fall Colloquium Series, at 11:30 a.m., Friday, October 14. Her topic will be “Getting Close to the Ground: Studying Everyday Life in Highly Politicized Environments.”
It will be held in AUNE’s former bookstore, and is hosted by the Department of Environmental Studies.
Thomson’s talk will examine the ethical and practical challenges of doing research with local populations who bear the brunt of government initiatives to improve their living conditions. Research with ordinary people in highly politicized research settings like post-genocide Rwanda illuminates the gap between the images that most African governments strive to represent and the sociopolitical realities of everyday life. Thomson will draw examples from Rwanda’s post-genocide land policy and monocropping initiatives.
Thomson’s research has appeared in African Affairs, Journal of Modern African Studies, and the International Journal of Transitional Justice. She is co-editing a collection of essays on doing research in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, tentatively titled The Story Behind the Findings: Ethical and Emotional Challenges of Research in Africa’s Great Lakes.
Thomson is the Amnesty International—USA country specialist for Rwanda and Burundi. She also advises donor agencies like USAID and international NGOs on their work in Rwanda.
She received her PhD from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and her LLB from University College London in the United Kingdom.