Dylan Cresswell - Winner of the Kirk-Greene Prize for the Best Overall Performance
"The African Studies MSc is distinguished by its genuine interdisciplinarity. A unique space at the heart of Oxford, the African Studies Centre is quite unlike other departments: its creativity and vivacity is underpinned by the diverse perspectives and experiences of students and faculty members, who share clear convictions about the innate value of openness and intellectual curiosity in producing research which challenges established hierarchies in knowledge production about the continent.
As I formulated ideas for my own dissertation, I was fortunate to connect with specialists across a wide range of academic fields from comparative literary criticism and oral history to ethnography and migration studies. The end result - an examination of the reading culture of Zimbabwean migrants in Johannesburg - was incredibly rewarding. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr Dorothée Boulanger, my college advisor, for her support; to Prof Rebekah Lee, my supervisor, for helping me to prepare for the rigours of undertaking fieldwork in South Africa; and to Dr Tinashe Mushakavanhu for taking the time to discuss reading culture in his native Zimbabwe with me, which ultimately made my project possible.
A personal highlight of my time in Oxford was attending seminars of the new African Languages, Literatures and Cultures Network, coordinated by Dorothée and Tinashe in conjunction with Dr Rachel Taylor from the African Studies Centre. Hosted by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), these seminars offered me invaluable opportunities to discuss my own research interests with guest speakers from varied academic backgrounds and helped to make my experience outside of the classroom an holistic one. I also enjoyed the meetings of Oxford’s South Africa Discussion Group, held at St Antony’s College. While I admit that sharing a space with DPhil and faculty-level researchers was initially somewhat intimidating, I found the meetings ever-more rewarding as I refined my own research. I now look forward to relocating to South Africa in September, where I hope to develop a greater understanding of the benefits and challenges of digital financial inclusion initiatives in African economies. I shall carry with me the lessons learned at Oxford, and will always remember fondly my time at the African Studies Centre."
Fabian LeFievre - Winner of the Terence Ranger Prize for an Outstanding Dissertation
"Oxford is a very special place. Dedicating nine months towards completing the MSc in African Studies was a truly humbling, unique, and empowering opportunity. In particular, the African Studies Department opened a conducive space for teaching and learning, but also for interrogating, subverting, and enhancing my ability to critically approach reading, researching, and writing. Encouraging a more reflective engagement with academic paradigms, this degree fostered a demanding yet vibrant collective environment.
I believe the dissertation efficiently encapsulates and aggregates the core qualities of this program. More than corroborating the importance of research, it reiterates the need to do it right. Prefacing any scholarly enterprise with an attention to ethics, epistemology, intentionality and positionality, this MSc drives positive and necessary avenues for academia, and especially Africanist academia. In this respect, I am immensely grateful for the financial, technical, and intellectual support I received in preparing my fieldwork trip to Côte d’Ivoire, where my paper found its voice, shape, and strength.
Ultimately, this year drew its value from the people it brought together. The emulation, community and collaboration birthed on Bevington Road were essential in consolidating the empowering and transformative qualities of this MSc. I am proud to say I learnt from my classmates as much as from my professors, and would confidently argue that members of the faculty also learnt from us. Besides, my supervision sessions with Prof Rebekah Lee were instrumental in making my dissertation what it is. Prof Lee’s support and feedback, alongside our exchanges, made the dissertation process a truly enriching and pleasant one, allowing me to blossom intellectually and academically.
All in all, this MSc in African Studies affirmed that academia, when approached with humility, nuance, collaboration, and ambition, is a truly exciting, enjoyable, and metamorphic adventure."
Zaphesheya Dlamini - Winner of the African Studies Centre Award
"Oxford offers an unparalleled learning environment. The abundance and diversity of academic resources available are nothing short of staggering. As someone who comes from a resource-constrained educational background, I have been able to indulge in every intellectual curiosity I have ever had.
One of the most remarkable aspects of my time at Oxford has been the unwavering support and willingness to assist from both the administrative and academic staff at the African Studies Centre. Their dedication to helping students succeed has made my journey all the more enriching. Moreover, the programme has gifted me cohort members who have become, in the words of Toni Morrison, "...friend[s] of my mind...".
Looking ahead, I plan to return to public diplomacy and have set my sights on pursuing a PhD next year."