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We Missed You! Faculty Updates from Sabbatical

Posted by: hutchisonch | March 27, 2019 | No Comment |

Did you notice that a few familiar faces were missing around the political science offices this year? Three of our faculty members were on sabbatical during the 2018-2019 academic year and took that time to focus on their research. For this blog post they’ve provided us with some updates of how they spent their time!

Dr. Gibbs Knotts (Fall 2018)

Subfield: American Politics and Processes

My primary project during sabbatical was a book about the South Carolina presidential primary.  The book is co-authored with Jordan Ragusa and will be published this fall by the University of South Carolina Press.  The title is First in the South: Why the South Carolina Presidential Primary Matters.

My only travel was to Columbia to visit the South Carolina Political Collection at USC’s Library.  The Republican Party of South Carolina Papers and Democratic Party of South Carolina Records were particularly helpful.  It was my first time doing archival research, but it was really fun to go back in time and see so much cool material.

I very much appreciated the time to write, but am glad to be back on campus.  I am extremely grateful to work on a college campus and love teaching, doing research, and working with students.

Dr. Chris Day (Fall 2018 & Spring 2019)

Subfield: Global Politics and Spaces

During my sabbatical, when I am not expanding my knowledge of “leisure studies,” I am focused on two new research projects. The first is a collaborative study of civil-military relations in Africa, which seeks to understand the contemporary roles of African armies in African politics despite the steep decline of coups d’état on the continent in the past decade or so.

The second (and more fun) project looks at the politics of wildlife authorities in Africa. In particular, I am examining the militarization of park rangers, the political roles they play beyond conservation, and how they are part of (or not part of) broader strategies of regime security in Africa. I have observed that in some countries like Uganda, park rangers play a conventional role of domestic law enforcement to manage poaching and human-wildlife conflict. Yet in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), park rangers have taken on a more robust security role, acting as counterinsurgents against armed groups that operate in national parks and use poaching to fund their operations. This second project took me to Uganda in the fall, where I am helping reconstruct the institutional history of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). This spring I will continue this research in Uganda, extend it to Rwanda, and with a little luck, also go to DRC and South Sudan.

I love my sabbatical and each time I’ve come to campus for whatever administrative reasons were necessary, I’ve felt like I’m going to burst into flames or at the very least break out in hives. I hope to get over that by the fall.

Dr. Claire Wofford (Fall 2018 & Spring 2019)

Subfield: American Politics and Processes

During my sabbatical, I have worked on several research projects that are, or will become, articles: one on the structure of legal doctrine, one on Southern female political candidates, and one on why people take their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For fun, I have spent tons of time with my children (Reid is almost 2 and Luke is 6). I have heard “baby shark” on Alexa more times than I can count! I’ve also slept a lot and done some coloring and reading. I am looking forward to getting back in the classroom for sure. So much to discuss with students!

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