Alumna Loes Oudenhuijsen wins MA thesis prize of Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality

Loes Oudenhuijsen, alumna of the Research Master in African Studies, has won the 2018 MA thesis prize of Amsterdam Research Centre for Gender and Sexuality (ARC-GS) for her thesis ‘You Have to Know How to Play, Otherwise They Will Catch You’. Young Women and the Navigation of Same-Sex Intimacies in Contemporary Urban Senegal. The ARC-GS promotes gender and sexuality studies within the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, in the Netherlands and beyond. Since 2011 ARC-GS awards a prize to the best master’s thesis focused on gender and/or sexuality studies in the social scientific disciplines in the Netherlands. 

More great news about our Research Master students

Miriam Ocadiz Arriaga (Research MA African Studies 2017) receives a special mention for her thesis "(E)motion of Saudade. The Embodiment of Solidarity in the Cuban Medical Cooperation in Mozambique" from the Jury of the 2018 IDleaks Thesis Award. Each year the IDleaks Thesis Award is presented to the best Master’s thesis on the representation of the Global South written by a student at a Dutch university or other academic institution in the Netherlands. (Photo: Franck Doho/IDLeaks).

Jury report about the thesis of Loes Oudenhuijsen

'This thesis explores how same-sex intimacies are navigated by young women in Dakar, Senegal, drawing on six months of ethnographic fieldwork. The jury was impressed by the thesis and unanimously argued that this is a blueprint for MA theses for the following reasons. The thesis challenges mainstream thinking about LGBTQI politics and coming out by focusing on a context that is understudied in sexuality studies. It shows how Africans themselves understand their sexual identities from the bottom up instead of the top down. The study is situated in and analysed a space that is commonly thought of as hypermasculine. The thesis includes a beautiful interplay between vignettes, analysis, and theoretical concerns. The methods in the thesis are rigorous and reflexive. Loes positions herself well and is explicit about research ethics. She is also upfront and honest about the difficulties she faced during the fieldwork. The jury was impressed by the mature voice and the crisp writing. Readers are easily absorbed by the thesis, due to the tone and the well-chosen quotes and fragments from the research diary.'

Jury report about the thesis of Miriam Ocadiz Arriaga

'Throughout this evocative and compelling piece of work, the author poses questions pertaining to inter-scalar relations that warrant more scholarship both in the humanities and in the social sciences. First, she asks how we can better understand relations of aid between countries grossly charted as being in the global ‘South’. In so doing, she troubles the very terms used in popular and academic discourse to map the world. Underlining that the Caribbean’s geographic and economic realities as well as its historical ties to Mozambique complicate prevailing EuroAmerican divisions of space, she narrates the link that has tied these nations throughout the decades. Second, moving beyond the history of 'South-South' relations, Ocadiz Arriaga introduces another scale of analysis: that of development discourses, which she situates at the ‘macrolevel’, and which describe these relations in terms of solidarity. Finally, through a detailed and somewhat poetic recounting of her fieldwork encounters, she presents embodied, on-theground accounts of the ways “political discourses on solidarity are deconstructed to be personally internalized within this intercultural encounter.” She thus brings attention to the everyday lives of Cuban care-workers in Mozambique and to their negotiations of development discourses around solidarity and so-called ‘South-South’ relations. As a jury, we have found Ocadiz Arriaga’s work exciting and engaging. At its core, this multilayered analysis raises important questions and teases themes central to development studies and discourses. It engages with these critically, drawing on an array of references that span disciplinary divides. Furthermore, the form of the thesis is refreshing, original and, in its reflexive nature, inherently postcolonial. For these reasons, we have chosen to attribute the thesis an honorary mention. We hope that the author sees this as an invitation to continue unpacking this subject and carries her work beyond its self-proclaimed aim to merely 'document the connections, both historical and contemporary, between countries labelled as underdeveloped', to address the potent political dimension of her queries. Good luck!'

Congratulations to Loes and Mimi!