Megan Hershey, Ph.D.

mhershey@whitworth.edu

Whitworth University

Country: United States (Washington)

Research Interests

African Politics

Development

NGOs

Countries of Interest

Kenya

Tanzania

Publications:

Journal Articles:

(2017) Bringing African Voices into the Undergraduate African Politics Classroom, PS: Political Science and Politics

Tags: African Politics

Many African politics courses rely heavily on readings authored by North American and European scholars. Scholarly and primary sources written or created by Africans are often underrepresented, and a similar problem persists across regionally focused politics courses. Yet a diversity of sources and perspectives are essential to providing students with a well-rounded understanding of African politics. This article offers a brief argument for the pedagogical benefits of increasing the number of African-authored materials in African politics courses and provides a list of suggested resources for instructors eager to diversify their own courses.

(2016) Understanding the Effects of Faith: A Comparison of Religious and Secular HIV Prevention NGOS in Kenya, Journal of International Development

Tags: NGOs, Religion & Politics, African Politics

Religious non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are active in development efforts, yet the role faith plays in these organizations—and its effects on programs—remains unclear. Drawing on evidence from a study of Kenyan NGOs, I find that faith rarely emerges in the programs of Christian religious NGOs. I argue that both secular and religious NGOs are constrained by donor restrictions and a need for legitimacy that simultaneously remove religious elements from religious NGOs and promote minimal religious practices within secular organizations. The second half of the article discusses the nuanced ways in which faith does manifest within the organizational characteristics and practices of NGOs.

(2014) Narratives of Africa in a Digital World: Kony 2012 and Student Perceptions of Conflict and Agency in Sub-Saharan Africa, PS: Political Science and Politics

Tags: African Politics, Development

Kony 2012, a film released by the nonprofit Invisible Children in the spring of 2012, drew a flurry of Facebook “shares” and “likes.” However, critics expressed a concern that the film offered a distorted portrayal of Africans and African politics. In this article, we test these criticisms by asking what effects the film had on college students’ perceptions of Africa and Africans. To address this question, we draw on a survey and an experiment conducted at a small liberal arts college where Kony 2012 enjoyed popularity. The results show that the film did affect students’ perceptions of Africa; specifically, it led many to perceive Africans as lacking agency and autonomy. We argue that whereas the film did have initial negative effects on students’ perceptions of Africa, these effects seem to fade over time. Future research should explore the compounding effects of exposure to images that misrepresent the African continent.

(2014) Measuring the success of HIV/AIDS NGOs among Nairobi's youth, Development in Practice

Tags: NGOs, African Politics, Development

NGOs receive praise and criticism for their international development efforts, but more work is needed to measure their contributions. This article lays out the contributions of local NGOs to HIV-prevention efforts. It draws on data from a survey of young people's experiences with NGOs to demonstrate the reach of several local HIV-prevention NGOs in Nairobi, Kenya. It argues that even small NGOs are capable of making measurable contributions to development in their fields. It also shows how factors such as education levels, religiosity, and discussions about HIV/AIDS can support NGO efforts by encouraging youth to participate in HIV-prevention programming.

(2013) Explaining the non-governmental organization (NGO) boom: the case of HIV/AIDS NGOs in Kenya, Journal of Eastern African Studies

Tags: NGOs, African Politics, Development

In the past two decades, Kenya has witnessed the rapid and unprecedented growth of local, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within its borders. This trend reflects similar NGO sector growth throughout the developing world. Scholars have attributed the growth of these key civil society actors to an increasingly neoliberal orientation among international donors, an ideology which favors non-state service providers. Yet less research has been done on the state-level reasons for NGO sector growth. This article asks why the NGO sector has grown so rapidly in Kenya. Drawing on the example of HIV/AIDS-focused NGOs, an historical analysis of the proliferation of these organizations is offered. It is found that donor pressures to democratize helped lead to an environment that prompted NGO growth. It is then argued that the Kenyan government's failure to respond quickly to the HIV/AIDS crisis created the political space necessary for local NGOs to establish and grow. Also, democratic reforms increased civil liberties and reduced state harassment of NGOs. At the same time, the New Policy Agenda (NPA) adopted by major international donors led to increased funding opportunities for NGOs. This article contributes to the understanding of civil society development in Kenya by demonstrating that both international and domestic factors worked together to lay the groundwork for Kenya's active community of HIV/AIDS NGOs.