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Department of Social Anthropology

Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde wins the ASAUK Audrey Richards Prize 2020 for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies 
We are delighted to announce that one of our recent former graduate students has won a prestigious award for her PhD dissertation. 
Dr Jacinta Victoria Muinde, who studied for her PhD (2013-2018) at the Department of Social Anthropology, has been awarded the UK African Studies Association’s Audrey Richards Prize 2020 for the best PhD dissertation in African Studies examined in a UK University. 
Victoria commented, “My PhD research, 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 on 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. I 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. Therefore, the study explored care and welfare at various scales, from state-directed programmes to household economies.” 
Her fieldwork was carried out in Kwale, Kenya.  
Prof James Laidlaw, Head of Department, said, “We are delighted to send our warmest congratulations to Victoria on this great and richly deserved achievement.”  
Victoria is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo. Her current research, which is part of the European Research Council (ERC) project titled “Universal Health Coverage and the Public Good in Africa: An Anthropological Study”, explores the intersection of social protection and welfare projects, specifically Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Cash Transfers (CTs) implemented recently by the government of Kenya. The research explores, ethnographically, how these recently-introduced “universal” healthcare and social protection schemes, which propose an expansion of welfare and enactment of rights, are (re)shaping understandings of health and welfare, the state and citizenship, imaginations and negotiations of obligations, forms of solidarity, and networks of care. She is also investigating the intersection of health insurance schemes, cash transfers schemes, and informal networks of care in the matrilineal context of Kenya South Coast.