Drs. Michael Findley and Daniel Nielson, Department of Political Science
Evaluation of how well the academic objectives of the proposal were met
The research project has been successful, overall, and we are continuing to prepare research for publication. When we recruited students to assist us with the research, we asked them to develop their own research project that they could carry out in addition to ours. Prior to leaving to South Africa in June, we helped the students develop several additional smaller projects.
Each of the students was able to execute not only the ethnic identity project, but also their own research projects to great effect without any major mishaps. Three of our students have used their research from the summer project to write up their capstone papers, and each of them hopes to publish their results in addition to those from the main project.
Thus, we feel like the experience was successful as we were able to successfully carry out the research that we proposed for the MEG and the students will be coauthors on any presentations and publications. Furthermore, the students were able to take ownership in a few additional projects that we will help them to present and publish.
Evaluation of the mentoring environment
In preparation for the field research, all of the students met with Professor Nielson and I each week to discuss the intricacies of the ethnic identity project. We also helped the students refine their own research designs for their prospective research projects.
Our project necessitated spreading the student researchers into various different cities throughout South Africa. The students kept in touch with each other, and especially with Adam Harris, the lead mentor on a daily basis. They kept in touch via phone and e-mail primarily. Professor Nielson and I talked with Adam every few days and also talked to each of our student researchers weekly. And we also traveled to South Africa for 3 weeks in July and visited the students in each city to evaluate progress, help with the research, and assist with any other issues that had arisen.
Since returning home, in August, we met with Ken, McKenna, and Trent weekly to continue to help them write up the results of the research as part of capstone papers. The papers are now being revised to send out for review.
We all benefitted from close contact throughout the entire grant period. It was a joy to work closely with students on a sustained basis and we believe that we will be able to publish our collective results, with the students, in excellent research outlets. We will continue to work with them as we write up the results and try to get them published.
List of students who participated and what academic deliverables they have produced or it is anticipated they will produce
Adam was the student mentor who acted as project director during various phases of the actual field work. Adam headed the Johannesburg office. This position was crucial since Johannesburg was where we hoped to get the best representation of some of the minority tribes in South Africa, so it was important to ensure correct monitoring of the participant recruitment methods and data collection at all times.
Adam has been involved with this research since the beginning, and his work enabled him to be accepted to one of the top political science PHD programs in the country, New York University. Adam’s experience leading students in the field has proved to be a great asset for his current job in which he is leading field research in Uganda for professors at Stanford and Columbia
Trent Van Alfen
Trent was responsible for initiating the work in Johannesburg and setting up the facilities and hiring and training the research assistants in the township of Daveyton. Trent worked as the project coordinator in Johannesburg for the first part of the project until Adam arrived. At that time, they expanded their efforts by devising a more mobile office that enabled them to make the recruitment of key minorities that lived far from the main office more possible. Trent has also written the first draft of the main project findings for his capstone course during the Fall 2009 semester. Trent recently took a job with Teach for America and will then attend graduate school.
While McKenna was heavily involved with the primary ethnic identity project, she was also engaged in setting up an experiment of her own in East London to evaluate the effectiveness of different programs used to spread awareness of AIDs issues and encourage people to get tested. Her personal efforts included organizing workshops with local health clinics and training and supervising several research assistants. She has also produced a draft of her findings paper.
Kelly McBride, and Autumn Gardner
Kelly and Autumn worked together to train the researchers and collect data for the ethnic identity project. They trained research assistants and collected data from participants.
Ken was responsible for the project operations in a township near Durban. He established contact with a local university and saw to the training of his research assistants and monitored the general data collection. In addition, Ken was able to conduct his own research regarding xenophobia in South Africa through a set of questions that were included in the survey section of the ethnic identity project. He has written up the findings from this research and hopes to publish with it soon. Ken recently began law school at the University of Virginia.
Description of the results/findings of the project
The setup for the ethnic identity project was similar to those from the pilot study that we included in our MEG proposal. The key difference is that we were able to recruit far more people than in the pilot – with the help of the MEG, almost 700 individuals participated in our experiment. We were extremely pleased with how many people we were able to include.
Our participants correctly identified ethnicities only 28% of the time overall. This shows that Blacks in South Africa are generally poor at identifying and distinguishing between the nine different ethnicities. This average is even lower than in the results of the study in Uganda conducted by Habyarimana et al. in 2007, with locals in their study correctly identifying ethnic groups about 50% of the time (714). These findings strongly validate the focus of this research project to vet the assumption common throughout ethnic conflict literature that ethnicities involved in these disputes are able to easily identify one another. These results have very important implications for future studies in ethnic conflict.
Mckenna’s project involving AIDS research was instrumental in setting the foundation for a future study. The project ran into a few challenges, but we are using the preliminary findings to construct a more comprehensive study in the future, possibly in Cape Town.
Ken’s project involved using a series of list experiments to safely and unobtrusively evaluate true levels of xenophobia among participants as well as to model how these feelings affected their electoral decisions. He found striking levels of xenophobic tensions throughout many different segments of South African society that were included in this study.
A summary account of how funds were used
Funds were used as presented in the grant application. Each student’s airfare and living expenses were covered. We also used funds to pay subjects for their participation, to pay the institutions that allowed us to use their facilities to conduct the research, as well as to pay for research incidentals such as hard drives, headphones, etc.