Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

Research by StFX development studies professor wins award on international stage

August 2nd, 2017
The Yihi Katseme, or "Brave Women" reacting to news of the award

Research documenting the social movement of communities, and especially the women, living around the Songor Lagoon in Ada, Ghana to defend their 400-year-old way of life, has earned StFX development studies professor Dr. Jonathan Langdon and his partners recognition on the international stage.

In July, Dr. Langdon, Melissa Jackson and Rev. Sophia Kitcher received the David Jones Award for the top international and/or creative focused paper at the U.K.’s top adult education conference, the Standing Committee on University Teaching and Research of the Education of Adults, or SCUTREA, conference, held this year in Edinburgh.

They received the award for their paper, “Pedagogy of Song and Restor(y)ing Hope: stories and songs as social movement learning in Ada Songor salt movement.”

Ms. Jackson, a StFX development studies honours graduate, is currently a master's student at Saint Mary’s University. Dr. Langdon is on her master’s committee.

Rev. Kitcher is the convener of the Ada Songor Salt Women's Association, otherwise known as the Yihi Katseme, or "Brave Women." This is the movement at the heart of the effort to reclaim collective access to this artisanal salt production lagoon, the Songor.

“This was a complete surprise. We received this award before in 2013, and I never dreamed we would receive it again,” Dr. Langdon says.

“In the four years since the last award, the research has evolved extensively, as has the dynamics of the movement at the centre of the research, so we certainly had a new, rich story to tell, but I was quite astounded to win this award for a second time and to be honoured by this important U.K. adult education conference in this way.”

Ms. Jackson says she was thrilled to receive the award and see their work documenting the incredible organizing and community mobilizing of the Yihi Katseme women recognized at one of the top adult education conferences in the U.K.

“It's an exciting recognition for the YK movement and their unique leadership style—their learning in struggle and use of creative dissent through song truly resonated on the international stage.”

“To Yihi Katseme, this award means with persistence and willingness to work hard you will succeed, this is to achieve when others are giving up or have given up,” Rev. Kitcher said. “They are excited to know their presentation shared what they have been doing and was worth the effort made. It is also impossible not to acknowledge all in their group, and in their communities whose contributions have brought them this far.”

Dr. Langdon says this research is emerging from the SSHRC Insight grant he received two years ago, and is part of the story his most recent SSHRC Connection Grant will share through dance/theatre, song and film over this next year.

“There were two aspects that judges noted. First, was the focus on documenting collective learning of this movement through their ongoing use of narratives to renew, and reanalyze their struggle,” he says.

Melissa Jackson and Dr. Jonathan Langdon received the award at the conference from SCUTREA chairperson, Dr. Ellen Boeren of University of Edinburgh

“The second was the way in which this paper showed the role creativity can play in galvanizing and deepening collective learning. The use of song by this movement has effectively enabled them to sidestep efforts by the powerful to silence or coopt them.

“From those watching the presentation of the paper, we received a lovely compliment that we presented the paper in a mutually supportive way, where each of the three authors made key inputs, and built off of one another.”

Catherine Irving from StFX’s Coady International Institute, as well as several noted adult education scholars from across Canada, also presented at the SCUTREA conference.

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