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African Studies Students Present at International Conference

Two students from the African studies program, presented papers this past weekend at an international African studies conference held at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Hosted by Carleton’s Institute of African Studies, the conference showcased exemplary undergraduate research from students at various Canadian and U.S. universities as well as several participants who contributed digital presentations from as far away as Accra, Ghana. 

Emily Adams ’16 presented a paper, titled “The Inheritance: Colonial Britain’s Role in Modern Kenya’s AIDS Epidemic.” Based on her spring 2015 participation on the Kenya Semester Program and summer University Fellowship, her paper examined the legacy of colonial public health infrastructure and social norms about sex and disease. Through the historical lens of syphilis, she argued that the postcolonial Kenya’s state view of HIV represents a number of continuities with the way sexually-transmitted diseases were viewed under colonial rule.

Caitlin Sheridan ’15 presented a paper, titled “The ‘Tutsi Genocide’: The Politics of Public History and Education in Post-Conflict Rwanda.” Based off of her 2015 honors thesis in history and African studies, Caitlin explored the role of public history in the reconciliation process in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide. She argues that through genocide memorials, history education and the gacaca justice system, the Rwandan state imposes a partisan narrative of the past to justify their particular political position.

Matt Carotenuto, associate professor of history and coordinator of African studies, served as one of the faculty moderators for the conference. Carotenuto notes that he was “particularly impressed with the interdisciplinary breath and quality of the presentations. Both Emily and Caitlin presented papers on the cutting edge of African studies research and completed archival research at a level which would rival graduate student research in their respective fields. As alumni of the Kenya Semester Program, their work represents the transformative opportunity we have here at St. Lawrence to integrate and process off-campus experiences through collaborative research with faculty back on campus.”

Caitlin and Emily were invited to have their paper published in a special digital collection available soon through Carleton University.