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Fellowship Program Honors Legacy of Late Scholar of the African Diaspora

Today, Michigan State University will recognize four graduate students chosen as TIAA-CREF Ruth Simms Hamilton Research Fellowship awardees for the 2009-10 academic year during a campus reception. The purpose of the fellowship is to honor the late Dr. Hamilton’s legacy as a scholar in African Diaspora studies. Graduate students chosen for the fellowship are students who have written and conducted research about the African Diaspora and will study specific topics in the discipline.

The 2009-10 scholars are: Vanessa Agard-Jones, NYU; Jaime Alves, University of Texas at Austin; and Sharon F. Kivenko and Carla Martin, both of whom are Harvard University students. Their topics of study include the relationship between politics and sexuality in the French Caribbean; politics and the deadly violence of Black youth in Sao Paulo, Brazil; the social histories of dance and rhythms in Mali, West Africa; and the function of Cape Verdean Creole (CVC) language and music in relation to the African Diaspora.

Hamilton, who passed away in 2003, spent 35 years at MSU sharing her knowledge about sociology and African Studies with colleagues and hundreds of students. During her time at MSU, Hamilton held positions at the African Studies Center, the Center for Latino American and Caribbean Studies, and the Center for Advanced Study of International Development. Today’s event will also kick off the publication by the Michigan State University Press of introductory volumes of Routes of Passage:Rethinking the African Diaspora, which was edited by Hamilton. The 11-part series, began by Hamilton, will be finished by her former student Dr. Kimberly Eison Simmons of the University of South Carolina.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon issued a statement that said: “Inseparable from Ruth Hamilton, the exemplary scholar, was a caring and compassionate human being – a friend and mentor, a person of dignity, passion, and tenacity – someone I was proud to call my friend.”

TIAA-CREF CEO Roger W. Ferguson said in an official statement that Hamilton’s commitment to global understanding and innovative contributions continue to inform and inspire.

“At TIAA-CREF, we are committed to ensuring that her achievements endure and her legacy continues to shine through the recipients of this fellowship,” he said of Hamilton.

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