By Dr. Tammy Findlay, Associate Professor and Department Chair, Political and Canadian Studies
The Atlantic Provinces Political Science Association (APPSA) holds an annual conference and every year, it also grants the Larry Collins Prize, an award for the best undergraduate essay written by a student attending a university in Atlantic Canada. This year’s prize went to Mount Saint Vincent University student, Kenya Thompson for her essay, “The Informal Economy as Political Space: Childcare as Prefigurative Activism.”
Kenya produced this essay for the senior seminar course, Contesting Canada: Activists, Agitators and Social Change. Her paper uses a feminist political economy approach to explore community or family caregiving “as a distinctly political space, where individuals conjure and enact creative solutions to the challenges they face as a result of neoliberal capitalism.” It provides a sophisticated analysis of the complexities of care – as the crisis of social reproduction simultaneously creates new forms of collective resistance. As Thompson argues, “the ways in which caregivers enlist community or family support with the double burdens they face can be considered little rebellions, so to speak, against the neoliberal capitalist regime and state interference in their daily lives.”
The prize jury members made a unanimous decision. They were “deeply impressed by the analytical rigor, research skills, and clarity of writing Kenya demonstrates in this paper.”
Describing the motivation for her essay, Kenya said: “It’s so important—especially in this historic moment—to critically analyze and challenge the social, political, and economic systems, institutions, and processes upon which individuals’ lives are differentially structured and by which dominant ideologies are maintained, and imagine radical alternatives, rooted in social justice, equity, and mutual aid. I’m so grateful to MSVU’s Politics and Public Policy programs for encouraging this kind of out-of-the-box thinking and rethinking. By providing students with the critical and analytical skills to examine the world and systems around them, they foster social consciousness, such that its students are compelled to put such radical alternatives into action, in academic work or in their communities.”
Kenya, a Public Policy Major, and Canadian Studies and English Minor, has made an indelible impression on the MSVU community. She is the recipient of a MSVU Entrance Scholarship, the Marial Mosher Canadian Studies Scholarship, the Marial Mosher Canadian Studies Travel Award, the Vidya Seth Endowed Scholarship, an A. Garnet Brown Emerging Leader Award, and a Mrs. Angus L. Macdonald Literary Award. She was a delegate to the 2019 Model United Nations conference in Ottawa, held various positions on the Students’ Union, and was a key member of the Political Studies Student Society. She was a lead writer for The Ruffled Feather, an online student publication, which she co-founded, and a strong voice for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion on our campus. For instance, Kenya co-initiated and co-organized, “Women in Politics: 100 Years of Progress,” a conference at MSVU that gathered an impressive roster of women leaders, nearly 100 attendees, and attracted wide media attention.
Kenya is currently finishing her Public Policy internship this summer before heading to Carleton University to pursue an MA in Political Economy where she will focus on time use, value, and the political economy of care work and social reproduction. We can’t wait to see Kenya presenting her graduate work at an APPSA conference in the near future!