Scholar, field researcher, and writer Susan Thomson joins the faculty at Hampshire College this fall as a postdoctoral fellow in contemporary African politics. This three-year, Five College position is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Thomson, who is Canadian, received her Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2009. The University of Wisconsin Press will publish her dissertation, Resisting Reconciliation: State Power and Everyday Life, in 2011. She is the author of several op-eds, journal articles, and a blog, Democracy Watch – Rwanda 2010.
In honor of her mentor and long-time Rwanda scholar and activist Alison DesForges, Thomson contributed a chapter in the forthcoming book Reconstructing Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights after Mass Violence. It is about the Rwandan government halting her research in 2006 and putting her into a “re-education” program because they disapproved of her work’s focus on the problems confronting ordinary people during the reconciliation.
Thomson brings to Hampshire extensive experience in Africa. Throughout the 1990s, she worked for the United Nations, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the National University of Rwanda. She has conducted fieldwork in conflict zones, documented rape as a war crime, and trained Rwandan lawyers in human rights law.
At Hampshire, Thomson wants to create a mentoring group for students interested in doing research overseas. Her academic focus is on the relationships between those with power and those without, and “revealing levels of structural violence from the perspective of ordinary folks.” This fall she will teach Introduction to African Politics: Contemporary State-Society Relations.
Op-ed on Rwanda's August 9 elections >>