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Research Feature: Riley Ravary

Our own Programs and Communications Officer, Riley Ravary, will bid a eight-month farewell to the Center as she heads to Uganda for dissertation research on a Fulbright-Hays DDRA grant.

Riley’s research focuses on environmental governance on the Ugandan side of Mount Elgon National Park, a transboundary protected area between Kenya and Uganda. The two countries govern the park jointly, but as she learned during preliminary research, governance is carried out and experienced differently on either side of the border and at different institutional levels. Her primary aim is to understand how governance in and of transboundary protected areas impacts communities living near the protected area. While scholars have carried out institutional analyses on the park, Riley’s ethnographic approach will focus on the everyday experiences of the people living there, as well as those of the park rangers with whom residents often come into conflict. She will begin in Kampala, where she hopes to gain insight into the institutional structure of authority that governs the park on the Ugandan side. She will then move to Mbale and Bududa around the center of Mount Elgon and finally to Kapchorwa and Sipi in the northern region of Mount Elgon. Residents in some areas permitted to use non-timber forest resources, but the precise rules governing their access are often unclear or unknown.

This long-term research engagement will allow Riley access to the park that she has been unable to gain in the past and enable her to follow the people through their everyday movements as they negotiate resource access under Mount Elgon’s international governance structure. In addition to her research, Riley hopes to do a workshop on ethnographic methods on Mount Elgon at Makerere University. She will also immerse herself in the community of Ugandan scholars who study Mount Elgon; her research will thus develop out of shared insights. Riley looks forward to reinvigorating UF’s long affiliation with Makerere University and renewing our commitment to collaborative scholarship.

Guest Write Up by Netty Carey