Walter Rodney Essay Competition



The essay prize competition is named in honor of Dr. Walter Rodney, the Guyanese scholar, activist, and author of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, a work written, in Dr. Rodney's own words, "to try and reach Africans who wish to explore further the nature of their exploitation, rather than to satisfy the 'standards' set by our oppressors and their spokesmen in the academic world." The contest is therefore intended to encourage, in the spirit of Dr. Rodney, excellence in graduate and undergraduate scholarship on the experience of the African Diaspora.
A prize of $300 will be awarded for the best original essay on any topic in Afroamerican, Caribbean, and/or African studies in each of two categories: (a) Undergraduate student; and (b) Graduate student. The judges for the competition will be drawn from among the faculty and faculty associates in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies. The competition is open to all University of Michigan undergraduate and graduate students working on Afroamerican, Caribbean, or African topics. The paper must be written no earlier than January 1, 2014. Since DAAS is a multi-disciplinary program, the papers may be from a wide range of fields including, among others, anthropology, architecture, art, art history, business, drama, education, history, economics, education, health, journalism, law, literature, medicine, music, natural resources, nursing, policy studies, political science, psychology, social work, sociology, urban planning, women's studies, natural resources and environment. Papers written for courses are eligible.

Please send the following two items in the same email, but as separate email attachments. The attachments should be either Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word documents.

1. A completed essay coversheet.
Your cover sheet should include the following information:
- name
- student status (undergraduate or graduate)
- essay title
- course for which you wrote the essay (including semester and year)
- email address

2. Your essay.
-The essay should be no more than 6,000 words in length (approximately 30 pages).
-It should be typed, one-and-a-half spaced or double-spaced.
-The font should be no smaller than 11 point.
-There must be a title page. The title page must have the title of the essay and the word “graduate” or “undergraduate” directly below it; remove all other identifying information. Do not put your name, email, or course information on the title page.

Essays must be submitted by email to no later than 5:00 P.M., Friday, March 13, 2015. Important: Depending on your status, write the following in your email subject line: Essay Competition (undergrad) or Essay Competition (grad).

Prizes and certificates will be presented at the DAAS Graduation Ceremony. For further information, email

Past Undergraduate Essay Winners

Jaclyn Sylvain

Essay Title: Golden Handcuffs: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Influence in Senegal

Abigail Celis
Essay Title: Knowledge In Place: Modes of Seeing in Literary and Exhibitionary Narratives of Francophone Africa

Zachary Petroni 
Essay Title: Exploring Exclusion, Contemplating Control: Structures of Violence in Wildlife Conservation in Narok and Laikipia Counties, Kenya

Lauren Myefski
Essay Title: Preserving the History of Shotgun Houses

Nicole Yadon
Essay Title: The Rise and Fall of Kwame Kilpatrick

Emily Schiller
Essay Title: To Give Medicine Back to the People: The Black Panther Party and Community Health Activism

Kara Van Patten
Essay Title: Lest It Not Be forgotten: The Impact and Legacy of Idlewild

Rachel A. Nisch
Essay Title: The Transformation of the African American Domestic Landscape: Who Knew Grass Could Mean So Much?

Lauren Silverman
Essay Title: NGOs in Kenya: Potential for True Development?

Elizabeth M. Griffin
Essay Title: Another Side of Slave Religion: African Muslims in the United States

Gabriel Peoples
Essay Title: Stopping the Pattern: Hip Hop and Its Potential for Revolutionary Activism and Praxis in the Role of the DJ and the Cypher