Graduate Research Award: Sawyer Blazek
SIS/MA '11, International Politics
Blazek used his Graduate Research Award to partially fund his trip to Africa in December 2010 to conduct research for his thesis, "Power Struggles and State Collapse: A Comparative Examination of Madagascar and Somalia." Through interviews and work in the country's capital, Antananarivo, the university in that city, and with employees of the government and non-affiliated groups, Blazek seeks "to identify and connect how political power struggles in Madagascar and Somalia may affect government service provision, security conditions, and country stability."
Having volunteered and lived in Madagascar in the past (specifically with an orphanage, Akany Avoko, where he conducted research), Blazek is already familiar with the effects of power struggles on the small country and its inhabitants, though in-depth studies have not yet been done. He explains that "this examination will contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of power struggles, at a theoretical and practical level, and how they may affect and erode the authority, legitimacy, and capacity of the state."