SOAS University of London

Walter Rodney UG Dissertation Award 2019-2020

8 March 2021

The new Walter Rodney prize fund recognises student excellence for work on the History of Africa and the African Diaspora.

The prize fund has been established in memory of the historian Walter Rodney, by his widow Patricia Rodney. Walter Rodney studied for his PhD at SOAS between 1963 and 1966. Born in Guyana, Rodney achieved a first-class degree in history at the University of the West Indies, Mona in Jamaica before coming to London. Rodney was a contemporary and companion of a remarkable international cohort of young historians who were to establish African historical studies in a large number of significant centres. He went on to become an internationally celebrated radical intellectual before his assassination in 1980.

The UG dissertation prizes for 2019-2020 have been awarded to Chanté Chan (Development Studies) and Mia Bellouere (Korean and History).

Chanté’s ISP on intergenerational change in the experience of racism within the Black-Caribbean community in the UK is an ambitious and carefully researched ISP focusing on issues around immigration legislation, policing, housing and education, and media representation. It is based on a small but insightful sample of interviews, which is analysed in the light of the literature on racial capitalism. Chante’s research is not only the result of the wish to explore her own family’s history and experiences of migration, racism and the state in the times of the Windrush scandal, but also a radical decolonial challenge to the gaze of Development Studies in investigating the diasporic community in the UK.

Mia’s ISP on childhood in colonial Algeria (1944-1962) is an outstanding piece of research that attempts to reconstruct children’s experiences in a time of intense conflict and war.  It demonstrates how childhood was politicised by both the French state and the Algerian population and, importantly in a time when childhood experiences of conflict and war become increasingly common, children’s complex emotional responses to this external world. While access to sources was severely curtailed under Covid conditions, Mia’s work shows a high level of critical awareness of the theoretical grounding of childhood histories and a highly perceptive reading of a wide range of primary and secondary sources.