The Dominique Jacquin-Berdal Travel Grant was established by the International Relations Department at the LSE in memory of Dr Dominique Jacquin-Berdal who was a lecturer in the Department from 1999 until her death in 2006. She taught on nationalism and Africa as well as in the field of international relations theory. Her most well-known publication is Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Horn of Africa published in 2002. Her colleague James Mayall wrote an obituary in The Guardian, plus a longer piece in the IR Department journal Millennium.
The annual grant of £2,500 is intended to support travel and living costs for IR Department students’ research in the fields of Africa, ethnicity and nationalism. The 2014 grant holder is Maddalena Procopio and she gives her reactions, plus details of her project, below.
“It is my utmost privilege to receive the travel grant in honour of Dr Dominique Jacquin Berdal. I am very grateful to the LSE for the trust in my research. By studying Kenyan state-society negotiations in different sectors vis-à-vis a multi-faceted plethora of Chinese actors, it is my hope and aspiration to continue and honour a tradition of well-esteemed research on the internal and external challenges faced by Africa, set with distinction by Dr Jacquin Berdal”.
Thesis Title: Beyond “China-Africa” and the State: An analysis of Kenyan State-Society’s Negotiations Vis-à-vis China
Maddalena’s thesis is a comparative study of how the interactive effects of state and social structures in Kenya impact the country’s relations with China across sectors (trade, healthcare, education), how such interactive relation is mobilized and can constitute a strength in building national capacity in domestic as well as foreign policy. The scholarship on Sino-African relations (as a reflection of the scholarship on Africa’s relations with external actors) has long neglected the study of African socio-political dynamics and has placed emphasis mainly on China’s behaviour, influence, impact on Africa with often too little disaggregation or recognition of the role played by the continent’s actors, contexts, processes. Maddalena’s thesis aims at filling this gap and will present results of extensive fieldwork from Kenya. Her research findings will be a timely contribution to the Sino-African literature and more generally to the literature on Africa’s agency in International Relations.