The Committee on African Studies at the University of Chicago invites senior undergraduate students to submit their BA thesis for consideration for the Distinguished Award for Undergraduate Research on Africa. This prize celebrates academic writing produced by a student as part of a BA project. It aims to distinguish original and thorough contributions to the analysis of African politics, economies, societies, and cultures, in the past or present. If you have any questions please contact Professor Osborn or Professor Richard.

Eligibility and requirements: Submissions must satisfy the requirements for a BA paper in the student’s major. Other writing samples, like course research papers, will not be considered. Only BA essays submitted for the current academic year are eligible. Submissions should not exceed 40 double-spaced pages.

Submission and deadline: The deadline for award is usually in May. More information will be available in Spring Quarter.

Award announcement: The winner will be announced in early summer and awarded $500.


Previous BAs and award winners:

Find below selected BA essays from University of Chicago undergraduates that focus on Africa.



  • Micaela Harms (International Studies), “The Promises of the Maasai Bead.”
  • Madeline Husch-Kavanagh (International Studies), “The Path to Legitimacy: Traditional Medecine and Biopolitics in the Cameroonian Health Care Systen.”
  • Johnathan Katz (History), “‘Belonging to a Strange Nation’: Paarl Jews, Marburg Norwegians, and the White Settler Landscape in Colonial South Africa, 1890-1930.”
  • Kathryn Lettie (International Studies), “Condensing Time and Space in Modern Morocco: One Train’s Implications for Moroccan Regional Identity.”
  • Patricia Stichnoth (History), “The Colonial State, Unwanted Applicants, and the Language of Mutual Obligation in Senegal, 1913-1921.”


  • Sophia Arabadjis (Anthropology), “An(other) community: Processes of Othering and Belonging Among Cameroonian Migrants in France.”
  • Kiriyaki Council (International Studies), “Domestic Conflicts and Global Markets: Rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
  • Hayley Donner (Anthropology) “Sub-Saharan African Immigrants in Chicago: Racialization and the Construction of African Identities.”
  • Andrew Fan (History), “’Namatala is Depending on NGO’s: The Rise of an NGO Community in Mbale, Uganda, 1982 – 2012.”
  • Hadiya Housepian, (International Studies), “You’re not Like Any Girl Here: Popular Culture’s Representation of the Female Sex Tourist.”
  • Alex Novet (Political Science), “Indirect Spoilers in Somalia: The Role of the Mogadishu Business Community in Influencing Political Settlements.”
  • Jennifer Nudo (International Studies), “Woman or Refugee? A study on Intersectionality in the Human Rights Framework.”
  • Roxane Picard (International Studies), ”Spiritual Warfare: Christianity and Witchcraft in the Congo.”
  • Priya Raja (History), “The Access Conundrum:  Cervical Cancer Screening for Low-Income Women in South Africa.”
  • Phoebe Shambaugh, (International Studies), “’Long Live Ghana Sport!’” Soccer and Nation-Building in Post-Colonial Ghana.”
  • Matel Sow (International Studies), “‘My Red Tomato Can’: A New Perspective on Qur’anic Education and the Institution of Yalwaan in Senegal.”


  • Nicole Crisonino (Political Science), “What’s the ‘Photography’ Got to Do with It: An Analysis on the Current Categorization of Contemporary African Art.”
  • Amy Ferguson (Anthropology), “Defining development in Maasai women’s craft cooperatives near Tarangire Park, Tanzania.”
  • Karla Maria Fernandez (Anthropology), “Electrifying the Shack and the Nation: Threat and Affective Politics of the Grid in Postcolonial South Africa.”
  • Noah Glaser (History), “‘Yet Another Barren Exercise: Governance Through Statistical Estimation in Nigeria.”
  • Hoda Abdi Hassan (Anthropology), “Double Discrimination: Perspectives on Disability and Gender in Kenya,”
  • Jennifer Oseitutu (International Studies), “The Complex Nature of Skin Bleaching in Kumasi, Ghana.”
  • Michael Pierson (International Studies), “‘Don’t I Sound Like Lil’ Wayne?’ The Swag of Capital in Bongo Flava.”


  • Fatoumata Darboe (Political Science), “Angola: An Analysis of Three Distinct Development Models in a Rentier state.”
  • Zach Edelson (International Studies), “Camps of the Displaced: Architecture and its Effects on Residents.”
  • Maria Ekpo (International Studies), “Transnationalism in Nigerian Diasporic Communities: An Examination of Transnational Business Networks.”
  • Alina Epstein (Anthropology), “Does It Really Matter Where I’m From? The Cultural Context of Somali Piracy.”
  • Anna Hofrichter (History), “Breaking the Chains: A Look at the Fall of the Slave Trade in Zanzibar.”
  • Stephanie Omueti (International Studies), “Uniting a Nation Divided: A Look at Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps.”
  • Suman Som (Anthropology), “‘Mwalimu’ for the new generation: The youth-centric memory of Julius Nyerere and its role in the public imagination.”
  • Allison Young (Anthropology), “Our bodies have become a business:” Neoliberalism, disappearing production, and commodification in Tanzania’s albino killings.”


  • Petra Johnson (Anthropology), “In pursuit of Iron Age Senegal: An archaeological inquiry into the Siin.”
  • Marybeth Tamborra (Anthropology), “Domination and emancipation in work in the service industry” [in Mauritius].
  • Emily Winter (History), “Those Without Means are Not Worth Sending: The American Colonization Society and the Making of Race, Class, and Citizenship, 1892 – 1917.”


  • Paul Diegert (Anthropology), “Sins of Omission: Toward an archaeology of Atlantic encounters on Gorée Island.”
  • Nicole Sherwood (Law, Letters, and Society), “The Rwandan Genocide at a Local Level: Peasat Motivations for Killing in Kibuye and Butare Prefectures.”
  • Kirsten Weis (Anthropology, Biology, or Pre-med), “Spectrums of risk: Traditional birth attendants, maternal choice, and the management of motherhood in Ngorongoro.”


  • Rachael Goodman (Anthropology, International Relations), “Bronze-red beauties in the center of Rwanda and Burundi: An exploration of the effects of nineteenth century racial theories on Hutu-Tutsi conflict at decolonization in Rwanda and Burundi.”
  • Helen Kendall (Anthropology), “Dispatches from the Heart of Darkness: Afro-pessimism and the figuration of Congo’s child witches in the Western imagination.”
  • Hannah Moots (Anthropology), “An analysis of Kiffian and Tenerean assemblages, Gobero, Niger.”


  • Zebulon Dingley (African & African American Studies, History), “‘Direct to Zion’: History and Practice of the Dini ya Roho Mafuta Pole ya Afrika.”
  • Sander Vinberg (History), “‘The Devil Rules this Modern World’: Exorcism, Historiography and Politics in Postcolonial Tanzania.”