Sarah McDowell Wins Fulbright Scholarship to Study in Mozambique
Sarah McDowell, a senior anthropology major at Occidental College, has won a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to investigate the role of women in post-colonial Mozambique.
After a June orientation session in Washington, D.C., the Portland, Ore., resident and Oregon Episcopal School graduate will spend nine months in the southern African nation doing ethnographic research in the form of participant observation and open-ended interviews in a country that gained its independence from Portugal in 1975.
Although Mozambique’s constitution guarantees the right to work for all citizens, traditional and colonial attitudes and practices have hampered opportunities for women. McDowell plans to conduct research on the relationship that rural women have with women’s organizations that have stressed education, political mobilization and the need for women to contribute to the national economy.
“I hope to develop a greater knowledge of Mozambican culture and society, as well as learn ways to combine anthropology and my interest in politics,” said McDowell, a women’s studies minor. “I think my project is fairly unique, and I’m very honored to have been selected by the Fulbright Scholar Program.”
“Sarah has a remarkably sophisticated command of leading-edge theory and method in anthropology, and she is as well-prepared as any student I’ve known in recent years to do ethnographic field work,” said anthropology Professor C. Scott Littleton. “My colleagues and I are not surprised that she received a Fulbright to do field research in Mozambique. We’re extremely proud of her.”
McDowell has cultivated a longtime interest in women’s issues. In 2000, she earned a Richter Summer Research Fellowship that allowed her to travel to Brazil to research sexual harassment.
At Occidental, she is coordinator of the Women’s Center, a residence hall and resource center that serves as a comfortable and safe environment for its 14 residents, as well as providing a meeting space for the rest of campus. McDowell and her fellow residents are in the process of making the center a resource in areas of sexual harassment, domestic violence and human sexuality.
McDowell, who is graduating this year with honors, ultimately plans to attend graduate school to study feminist anthropology. She is considering a higher education teaching career and plans to work with domestic violence organizations.
McDowell is the sixth Occidental student since 1992 to receive the Fulbright Scholarship. The award covers the cost of travel, education and living expenses. The Fulbright Program was established in 1946 under legislation introduced by former Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas. About 234,000 scholars, 88,000 of them from the United States have participated in the program since its inception.