Lahra Smith, Visiting Fulbright Research Chair
Lahra Smith believes she has unique insight to share with the Ethnicity and Democratic Governance (EDG) Project based at Queen’s.
“A lot of work that scholars are doing on multiculturalism and citizenship draws on empirical examples from the West. I am thinking about how those issues play out in very different places,” she says.
Dr. Smith, a Georgetown University political science professor, is at Queen’s this fall as the Visiting Fulbright Research Chair in Ethnicity and Multicultural Citizenship. She will participate in research activities with the EDG Project, an international collaborative initiative studying the issue of governing ethnic diversity.
Dr. Smith enjoys venturing into the field and making discoveries that expand and challenge the research that is generally applied in advanced western democracies.
“There are really exciting innovations that emerge from local traditions that we only know about by going out and exploring people’s lives,” says Dr. Smith, who spent 12 weeks in East Africa last summer.
Political science wasn’t always on Dr. Smith’s radar. After studying anthropology as an undergraduate student, her interest in global poverty and underdevelopment led her to work in several African countries. While in Kenya with the United States Agency for International Development, she realized just how important the political system is for creating the conditions for peace and development.
As a result, Dr. Smith decided to study comparative politics, eventually becoming an assistant professor at Georgetown University, an institution well-respected for its teaching emphasis. Dr. Smith enjoys undergraduate instruction and shares her passion for field work by taking a group of students to Tanzania every summer.
“I was so excited last year to get back in the classroom after taking a personal leave for the birth of my son. I suspect I will feel the same way when I go back this time,” she says.
Dr. Smith’s son has travelled with her to Kingston as well as her mother. However, her husband had to remain in Washington during her four-month stay at Queen’s.
Recently, Dr. Smith presented a lecture entitled “Cultural Rights and Women’s Rights in Ethiopia.” The talk can be downloaded through iTunesU.