“As a feminist academic, I feel we have a commitment to build collaborations around our research.”
– Doris Buss
Whether she’s investigating the lives of women in Congo, or supporting feminist scholars here on campus, Professor Doris Buss has a gift for bridging disciplinary and geographical divides.
An associate professor of law and legal studies, Buss is the 2014 recipient of the Carleton University Research Prize for Building Connections. The award recognizes a Carleton researcher with a history of building interdisciplinary connections on campus, as well as relationships with NGOS and policy makers in Canada and abroad.
“Professor Buss’ capacity to bring together teams of researchers regardless of background, academic appointment, or geographical location has led to continued success in attracting research funding and in producing cutting-edge research,” wrote Dean Andre Plourde in his nomination letter.
In particular, Professor Buss has gained recognition for her research on the lives of women in conflict economies on the African continent. Her success is partly attributed to her collaboration with non-academic partners, such as Joanne Lebert of Partnership Africa Canada.
“Civil society actors know the touch and feel of what’s happening on the ground, how the problems look close up, how the laws are being understood and implemented,” explains Professor Buss. “They aren’t just resources to be used by academics, civil society actors should be collaborators who help shape our research agendas.”
In 2010, Buss, Lebert and Professor Blair Rutherford of Carleton’s Institute of African Studies organized a workshop that brought African and North American activists and researchers to Canada to discuss sexual violence in conflict zones on the African continent. Buss says it quickly became clear that one workshop in Canada wasn’t enough.
“One of the African activists stood up and said there was no vehicle on the continent for African organizers to meet regularly with academics. So they asked for our help,” recalls Buss.
Three years later, Buss and her colleagues had secured funding from IDRC and SSHRC to hold a workshop in Burundi for NGOs and researchers who were working on sexual violence and women’s livelihoods in conflict zones.
This, in turn, led to research on artisanal and small scale mining, a common source of income for African women that is little researched or understood.
“Carleton has an amazing collection of feminist researchers who do important work.”
“There’s a link between the extraction of certain minerals and armed conflict in Congo, so we want a sense of how these women’s own livelihoods are enmeshed with the mining,” explains Buss. “As a feminist academic, I feel we have a commitment to build collaborations around our research.”
While Buss’ current research focus is on mining and the livelihood of women in Africa, she has also built connections between feminist scholars on the Carleton campus. In 2011, she helped initiate the Gender Equality Measurement Network, which connects feminist scholars at Carleton with gender equality consultants, policy makers, and civil society organizations within Canada and internationally.
“Carleton has an amazing collection of feminist researchers who do important work,” says Buss. “That’s not always visible, but GEM provides a touchstone to give our feminist research at Carleton a bigger profile.”
Professor Buss received the Carleton University Research Prize for Building Connections on October 2. She says the prize strikes her as a bit ironic.
“I feel uncomfortable winning this award for a group effort, but I’ve been very fortunate to work with Blair and Joanne and our colleagues on the African continent. They are the ones who made all of this possible.”