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2019-2020 Research Colloquium Series

Series Update: October 17 Presentation

Women and Agroforestry in Ethiopia; Plural Governance in Rural South Africa; Ecosystem Services and Livelihood Dependencies in Ethiopia.

The first research presentations by the new UMAPS cohort were held on 17 October 2019. Meseret Kassie Desta (University of Gondar) presented her research on women’s participation in Agroforestry practices in the Mayremeko watershed, in the northwest of Ethiopia. She highlighted how better agroforestry policies could be both beneficial to women’s empowerment, and reduce the ongoing deforestation that has occurred over the past century in Ethiopia. 

Philile Mbatha (University of Cape Town) documented the existence of multiple governance systems in protected coastal areas of rural South Africa. Mbatha showed how rural people are often caught between various, competing laws from conservation agencies, local municipalities, traditional authorities, and customary laws. This impacts their ability to engage in effective livelihood strategies.

Hayal Desta Yimer (Addis Ababa University) discussed his ongoing research on the ecological and economic significance of Lake Ziway in Ethiopia. This freshwater lake has attracted tremendous foreign investment, but different actors, ranging from experts, older adults, and young people have varying relationships to the economic, ecological, and livelihood opportunities and challenges associated with the lake and its development. 

Series Update: November 21 Presentation

Second group of UMAPS scholars present their research to ASC community

The second UMAPS colloquium, held on Thursday, 21 Nov 2019, featured a diverse range of research and sustained debate. The colloquium featured four scholars, and was well attended by U-M academics and students.  

The first presentation was made by Darlington David of the University of Liberia, who discussed his research on mathematical modelling as a means to distinguish between normal and malignant cancer cells. David showed that mathematical modeling can help scholars locate malignant cells more accurately, and earlier,  in order to improve the administration of cancer immunotherapy.

This presentation was followed by Abigiya Tilahun of Addis Ababa University, who also conducts research on cancer, but looks at the psychosocial factors and challenges associated with a cancer diagnosis in Ethiopia. Given the increasing burden of cancer in Ethiopia and Africa, Tilahun discussed the importance of designing and integrating psychosocial services at the patient, community, and health care facility levels. 

Valentine Ucheagwu of the Chukwu Emeka Odumegwu University presented his work on Alzheimer's disease in African countries generally, and Nigeria specifically. Uncheagwu’s work centered on the high burden of the disease in low and middle income countries, and his work aims to find ways to reduce the burden of dementia in these contexts. Ucheagwu proposed the utilization of BMI as a potential predictor of the later onset of Alzheimer’s disease among populations at risk.

Discussing a different scholarly topic,  Doreen Agyei of Kwame Nkrumah University, discussed the importance of textiles and cultural practice in Ghana. Aygei showed how specific textiles convey messages and identity as part of Ghanaian folklore, and therefore require protection and preservation. The organization of this protection has faced several challenges, as the mechanisms through which to do so have been appropriated to achieve differing outcomes.

Series Update: Final Presentation

The final UMAPS research colloquium of the 2019-2020 cohort was held on February 13, and preceded the annual farewell reception. In a continuation of three previous colloquia, the presenting scholars addressed a diverse set of topics which spanned across various African contexts and themes.

Aminu Dramani, of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana, challenged the current criteria used for research on violent conflicts. He articulated that the effects of violent conflict can be both direct and indirect, and argued that his research indicates that indirect effects need to be more seriously considered in current datasets. The implications of including the indirect effects of violent conflict in datasets suggests a fuller, expanded research agenda for future research.

In a different line of research, Tesfaye Habtu, of Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, presented his work on Ethiopian drama and theatre. Habtu’s analysis of historical dramas about the famed Ethiopian King Tewodros addresses the interconnections of representation and state ideology in Ethiopia. His research shows how plays about King Tewodros, written at different historical and political moments in the country’s recent history, portray the figure of Tewodros in line with prevailing state ideology at the time. 

Presenting on television quotas in Uganda, John Imokola, of Makerere University, Uganda, assessed the use and ability of quotas to change the local television industry. These quotas have been introduced to encourage the development of local TV content in Uganda. Imokola discussed some of the complexities, and challenges associated with the introduction of quotas. Issues such as equal and fair representation were interrogated, as there is a  massive diversity of ethnic groups within Uganda, a country which has 62 languages and 56 different television stations. 

The final presenter of the evening was Mellon scholar, Johannes Machinya, of the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Machinya discussed the contentious issue of migration and politics in South Africa. Of particular and urgent concern,  Machinya asked how xenophobic populist practice has been mainstreamed within national political discourse and policy. He assessed the rise of Xenophobia in South Africa and showed it to be at odds with the country’s democratic principles, yet central to South Africa’s current political climate.