Ronald Reagan once said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”
For Surulola Eke, growing up in Nigeria meant seeing regular conflict, sometimes escalating into deadly violence. But it wasn’t until he left Nigeria to pursue graduate studies in Canada that he began to realize the origins of these conflicts were more nuanced than he first observed.
“When these conflicts escalated, I viewed them as mostly religious or rooted in farmer-herdsmen competition for land resources…but I didn't realize it was actually the Indigenous-settler dynamic in that region that caused much of the conflict until I made a pre-dissertation visit,” he explains.
Dr. Eke is a Banting post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Political Studies at Queen’s. Under the supervision of Andrew Grant, he is expanding on his original research into why conflict exists between settler and Indigenous populations in Nigeria by additionally looking at similar situations in nearby Ghana.
“The dynamic actually differs in Ghana, as Nigerians view fellow Nigerians not from their home state as settlers while Ghanaians view settled African migrants as settlers,” Dr. Eke notes. “The similarity, however, is that there are pockets of peace in the midst of conflict.”
His hope is, through further research, he can explain how conflicts can be better resolved and managed, help these communities avoid conflict, and better prepare other communities to manage future, similar tensions.
Dr. Eke was completing his doctoral studies in Winnipeg when he became aware of the Banting Post-Doctoral Fellowship. He did some further research on Queen’s and on past Banting fellowship recipients, and reached out to professors to pitch his proposal to them.
“Understanding how prestigious it is to receive this fellowship, I was thrilled to get it and believe it will jumpstart my academic career,” Dr. Eke says. “The strength of the Political Studies department at Queen’s, and the alignment of my research with Dr. Grant’s research area, made this a strong fit.”
Following his two-year post-doctoral experience, Dr. Eke hopes to become an international scholar with a Faculty position in Canada. It was this goal which drew him and his family to Canada so Dr. Eke could complete his second master’s degree and doctorate. He chose Canada for its strong research reputations and notes he has developed significantly as an academic since his arrival five years ago.
“I am grateful to the Canadian government, to the universities I have attended, and to Dr. Grant specifically for how they have helped me learn and grow,” Dr. Eke says. “My time in Canada has met all my expectations.”
To learn more about graduate programs in political studies, visit the Department of Political Studies website.