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Jana Frey | 28.06.2018 | 1078 Aufrufe | Interviews

Elijah Doro: A Socio-Environmental History of Commercial Tobacco Farming in Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, 1893-2000s

Lisa Maskell Fellowships at Stellenbosch University, South Africa

In 2014, the Gerda Henkel Foundation initiated a scholarship programme supporting young humanities scholars from Africa and Southeast Asia in honour of the foundation's founder, Lisa Maskell. It is the largest international support programme for PhD students in the history of the Foundation. The Lisa Maskell Fellowships aim to strengthen universities in the partner countries, to counter the outflow of qualified young scholars and to ensure the doctoral students enjoy excellent academic training.

In the following months, L.I.S.A. will publish interviews with the Lisa Maskell Fellows from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, in which they will talk about their research projects as well as their experiences during their academic career and the Lisa Maskell fellowship.

This week, we welcome Elijah Doro from Zimbabwe. After graduating from the University of Zimbabwe, he started his PhD in History with the thesis A Socio-Environmental History of Commercial Tobacco Farming in Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe, c. 1893-2000s at Stellenbosch University in 2017.

Elijah Doro from Zimbabwe

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"95% of research students from Zimbabwe in the humanities are outside the country"

L.I.S.A.: Elijah Doro, what is the state of the humanities in Zimbabwe, your home country?

Elijah Doro: The humanities are the most popular discipline in my country churning out tens of thousands of graduates every year, who unfortunately cannot find employment as the job market has receded significantly. Beyond a Masters degree, however, the humanities lack the research thrust and there are few research programs as a result of limited funding. Around 95% of research students from Zimbabwe in the humanities are outside the country.

"The major problem has been funding"

L.I.S.A.: Have you ever encountered problems in the realization of your academic career?

Elijah Doro: The major problem has been funding. Prior to getting this scholarship, I had unsuccessfully applied to get sponsorship for more than eight years.

"The study was motivated by my own experiences growing up on a tobacco farm"

L.I.S.A.: What is your PhD project about and what got you interested in the chosen topic to begin with? 

Elijah Doro: My research is on the interaction between tobacco farmers and the environment in Southern Rhodesia and Zimbabwe and the role of the state in regulating that interaction. The study was motivated by my own experiences growing up on a tobacco farm and being a tobacco farmer where I witnessed a lot of socio-environmental problems like deforestation, chemical exposure of tobacco farm workers, destruction and pollution of water bodies, and child labour.

"Stellenbosch is a citadel of diversity"

L.I.S.A.: What has your experience at Stellenbosch University been like? Have there been any differences to the University of Zimbabwe? 

Elijah Doro: Stellenbosch is a very liberal community, affluent and culturally diverse which makes it a citadel of diversity. The University of Zimbabwe was conservative, culturally monolithic and offered limited opportunities and exposure to a global platform.

L.I.S.A.: What are the opportunities in Zimbabwe to pursue different degree options (BA/MA/PhD)?

Elijah Doro: The options are very much there if one has the financial resources, but for most people enrolling for those programs is a pipe dream financially.

I hope to play a bigger role in tobacco control policy advocacy"

L.I.S.A.: What are your plans concerning your future career once you have obtained your PhD? 

Elijah Doro: After completing my studies, I would like to do a research fellowship so I can make significant contributions to contemporary research on the environment and climate change through publications. After that I hope to return to Zimbabwe and to play a bigger role in tobacco control policy advocacy.

Elijah Doro has answered the questions in written form.

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