Student Feature: Dan Eizenga
Dan Eizenga is a PhD Student in Political Science focused on the Sahel. During his first two years as a PhD Student, Dan benefitted from Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowships to study Arabic, which also enabled him to spend the summer of 2012 at the Arabic Language Institute in Fez. He then became a Research Assistant for the Sahel Research Group as part of the Minerva Initiative grant which funded the “Institutional Reform, Social Change, and Stability in Sahelian Africa” project led by Leonardo Villalón. With support from this project, as well as pre-doctoral fieldwork grants from the Department of Political Science and Center for African Studies, Dan was able to conduct roughly two years of fieldwork for his dissertation in Chad, Burkina Faso, and Senegal. His dissertation examines how different configurations of institutions (political parties, the military, and traditional institutions) create various pathways for political elites to manage pressures for political liberalization from the opposition and civil society, following the adoption of multiparty elections.
Thanks to generous support from Center for African Studies, the Sahel Research Group, the Department of Political Science and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dan has presented his research at multiple academic conferences in the United States, Canada, France, and Senegal including multiple African Studies Association annual meetings and a European Conference on African Studies. He has also given presentations to incoming U.S. Ambassadors to Burkina Faso and Chad at the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C.
Dan notes that one of his most memorable presentations took place here at the University of Florida as part of the 2017 Gwendolen M. Carter Conference, “On the Edge: What Future for the African Sahel?” During that semester, he taught his first independent course, “Sahelian Challenges,” based on the topics covered at the Carter Conference. This proved to be what Dan considers one of the most rewarding professional experiences he has had at UF, confirming his desire to teach students in African Studies and connect with other scholars working on the Sahel.
Dan has also begun to contribute to the public discourse on democratization in Africa with publications appearing in The Monkey Cage, Africa is a Country, Centre FrancoPaix, and the OECD’s West African Papers series. In the latest OECD West African Paper, Dan and the UF Sahel Research Group look at the short and long-term outlook for security and political stability in Chad. Read it here.
Dan hopes to graduate this summer, but is certain that graduation will not mark the end of his collaborations with the thriving community of Africanists supported by the Center for African Studies.