Doctoral student receives fellowship to further understanding of African Diaspora

Posted at 9:50 AM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-28 09:50:41-04

Tara Mock, a doctoral candidate in African and African American Studies, was recently awarded the 2017 TIAA Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship at MSU.

“Ruth Simms Hamilton’s scholarship challenged our understanding of the linkages between the past and contemporary experiences of African people globally,” Mock said.  “My project builds on Dr. Hamilton’s legacy in its exploration of the continuities and expansions of African identity within the context of Afro-Chinese relations and how such expansions may be linked to earlier instances of identity formation.”

Mock plans to use the $36,200 award to continue the data collection necessary to complete her study on the continuities and expansions of community identity in Afro-Chinese relations.

TIAA-CREF established The Ruth Simms Hamilton Graduate Merit Fellowship at MSU in 2005 to honor the memory and life’s work of Hamilton, a former professor at MSU and a member of the TIAA Board of Trustees. All MSU doctoral students whose dissertation research is related to the African Diaspora are eligible to apply for this fellowship. Such research is focused on any aspect of the communities of people descended from the voluntary or forced historic movement of African people to other parts of the world, and who are usually connected back in some way to Africa.

“We celebrate and recognize Dr. Hamilton through this research fellowship and the important work it funds,” said Ron Pressman, CEO of institutional financial services at TIAA. “MSU students like Tara Mock honor Dr. Hamilton’s legacy while expanding our knowledge of the world.”

Hamilton’s 35-year career at MSU included appointments in the Department of Sociology, the African Studies Center, the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development.  She was an early pioneer of research concerning the African Diaspora.

“Locating fellowships specifically designed to support multi-disciplinary studies of transnational diasporic identity is a nearly impossible task,” Mock said. “Yet, this award is specifically designed to fill that void. My study requires a comparative analysis of the phenomena and data collection in three African nations, The Gambia, Kenya and South Africa, a costly endeavor. This fellowship funding will not only facilitate completion of the data collection necessary to complete the study, but also enable me to focus my efforts on analyzing the data and writing the dissertation with a level of rigor that would best honor Dr. Hamilton and her accomplishments.”