Research Fellow - Awarded the 2020 Audrey Richards Prize
We are thrilled to announce Jacinta Victoria S. Muinde, Postdoctoral Research Fellow from the Institute of Health and Society at UiO has been awarded the ASAUK (African Studies Association of the UK) Audrey Richards Prize 2020 for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies.
Jacinta Victoria S. Muinde has been awarded the prestigious 2020 Audrey Richards Prize from ASAUK (African Studies Association of the UK) for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies. The prize is awarded every two years for PhD dissertations examined in UK universities. Dr. Muinde, originally from Kenya herself, set out to do her PhD on the impact of government cash transfers on women and children in the Msambweni region of Kenya.
Her award-winning dissertation, titled “An Economy of (Dis)Affections: Women-Headed Households, Cash Transfers and Matrilineal Relations in Kenya South Coast,” explored how state-introduced cash-transfer schemes impacted gender relations, contributed to kin-making relations, and informed women’s economic lives and their narratives and practices of health and wellbeing in the matrilineal and Islamic context of the Kenyan South Coast. Contrary to dominant male-centric anthropological scholarship on matrilineality in Africa, this study privileges perspectives and experiences of women by considering how they perform and live with matrilineal kinship, and how this is manifested and reckoned within the context of cash transfer schemes. Here, kinship structure and household forms are being reconfigured amidst an HIV/AIDS epidemic and historical social, religious and state patriarchal pressures on matrilineal kinship. She explored how Islamic and matrilineal ideologies and practices concerning moral personhood shape how women use cash transfers to conceive and perform their household responsibilities and obligations and embody and act upon illness and health. This too provides a considerable range for women’s authority and autonomy within the household and beyond. Therefore, the study explored care and welfare at various scales, from state-directed programs to household economies.
The African Studies Association UK described her work as:
"A well written thesis, in which Muinde charts a clear course in her award-winning dissertation. She really gets into the life of her research subjects and explores their lives in relation to the contemporary economics of coastal Kenya. Her exploration of the “mradi” system and its effects on the female headed households with whom she lives with and observes is detailed and makes sense of an outwardly basic economic support system. This is an inspired piece of research which gives unexpected and deep insights into the challenges of economic survival and livelihoods of communities in Kenyan coastal communities."
Dr. Muinde studied anthropology as an undergraduate at Maseno University in Kenya and studied both a MPhil and PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Her previous work investigated the history of poverty interventions and the emergence of cash transfer schemes as a new ‘welfare’ intervention in Kenya. She is also the recipient of the Royal Anthropological Institute's Sutasoma Award for recognition of her research as an outstanding merit that can make significant contributions to anthropology.
Currently, the Postdoctoral Research Fellow is working as part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded project titled, “Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa: An Anthropological Study,” exploring the intersection of social protection and welfare projects, specifically Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Cash Transfers (CTs) implemented recently by the government of Kenya - investigating the everyday realities of how people engage with UHC, Cash Transfers, Health Insurance Schemes and Informal Networks of Care.