Meet Our Wadsworth International Fellows: Hone Mandefro Belaye
With the support of the Wadsworth International Fellowship Hone Mandefro Belaye will continue his training in sociocultural anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada, supervised by Dr. Julie S. Archambault.
I have an interdisciplinary educational background with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology (Jimma University), a Master’s in Social Work (Addis Ababa University), and a Master of Arts in Development Studies with a Social Policy major (Erasmus University Rotterdam). Before moving to Montreal, Canada in 2017 as a Jeanne Sauvé Fellow at McGill University, I was a lecturer at the School of Sociology and Social Work and the Director of Community Services at the University of Gondar.
My research interests include urbanization in the Global South, politics of knowledge production, and community engagement in higher education. My research has been published in journals such as International Review of Sociology, Journal of Modern African Studies, Nokoko, and the Journal of Indigenous Social Development.
My PhD research examines the impact of changes in the built environment on social relationships among residents in Addis Ababa, a city experiencing rapid transformation in its physical landscape. Using a vernacular terminology of Gurbetena, roughly translated as neighbouring, my research looks at the impact of this transformation – which is moving people from single-story houses to flats in high-story condominiums – on the nature of relationships among neighbours. This research builds upon earlier projects including a European Union Erasmus and program-funded research on social capital in Ethiopian cities and CityInclusive, a social impact start-up I co-founded in 2017 to investigate smart city conversations through the lens of inclusion, engagement and social justice in Canadian cities.
I am passionate about bridging the divide between academia and practice. In 2016, I founded the Policy Issues in Ethiopia’s Development Trajectories (PROSPECT) seminar series at the University of Gondar. This series provided an opportunity for well-known Ethiopian academics to present their policy proposals to policy makers and others in the University of Gondar academic community. I have also leveraged my academic background over the past ten years to provide consulting support to several non-governmental organizations and write socio-political commentaries to, among others, Addis Standard and Ethiopia Insight.
I chose the interdisciplinary Social and Cultural Analysis program at Concordia University as it exposes me to a range of theories and methods while also grounding me within a broad ethnographic tradition. My supervisor’s (Dr. Julie Soleil Archambault) expertise on urban life and urbanization in Africa and ethnographic research is a perfect fit with my PhD research and played a role in my decision to join the program.