After teaching last year’s fall semester abroad with HWS students in Galway, Ireland, Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn traveled to the mountains of North Carolina for a semester of research and writing.
His sabbatical focused on African and global politics. More specifically, he worked on three books. He co-authored “The Politics of Origin in Africa: Autochthony, Citizenship, and Conflict” with Morten Bøås, a professor in Norway; co-authored a textbook on African politics with Pierre Englebert of Pomona College; and continued working on a full-length manuscript about the political implications of global DIY punk.
Dunn has had an interest in African politics; he started early in his undergraduate career and developed it further as time went on. He recalls a professor who inspired him to delve into international relations, especially African politics, by informing his students on the first day of class that they knew little to anything about African studies.
“I was indignant, especially because I thought I already knew a lot about Africa, being involved in the anti-Apartheid movement,” recalls Dunn, adding, “But, he was completely correct.”
The professor went on to work with Dunn in several classes and independent studies. “I think he would get a huge kick out of the fact that I just finished co-authoring a textbook on African politics,” says Dunn.
Dunn’s recent research on African politics explores the conflicts in Africa that are based in autochthony. Autochthony refers to “sons of the soil,” and can be related to terms like “indigenous” and “nativist.” Essentially, Dunn looks to reveal why it is that autochthony claims are causing great conflicts in areas such as Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Dem Republic of Congo. He looks to highlight how these “right to the land” claims affect citizenship, identity and violence.
As for DIY punk, Dunn explains, “It has helped remind me why I teach and why I conduct research in general– to be an active cultural and political agent in the world (no matter how small that world is) instead of being a passive consumer.”
An academic project that is very close to his scholarly core, DIY punk works though engagement and communication to offer counterhegemonic expression and serve as a social message in its own right. In a paper he authored, Dunn explains the DIY punk acts as an individual’s means to deconstruct the status quo and create new methods of seeing the world. Dunn is partial to this area of academia as it has influenced him and re-defined him as a scholar throughout his life. Opposed to alienation, punk seeks to take down barriers between the performer and the audience, the political and economic and the everyday citizen, in order to create a more egalitarian approach to society.
Dunn joined the HWS faculty in 2001. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston University, a master’s from Dalhousie University, and a bachelor’s from Davidson College.