Nico receives funding for his PhD research in Tanzania

PhD candidate Nico Brice-Bennett has been awarded funding from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) for fieldwork in Tanzania.

Nico Brice-Bennett
Nico Brice-Bennett

His research looks at the history of religion - particularly Christianity - and the development of socio-political philosophy in Tanzania in the mid-20th century.

Nico says:

“I'm very grateful to the SGSAH and my supervisors, Dr Emma Wild-Wood and Dr Emma Hunter for all their support.

“The title of my dissertation is 'Tanzanian Christianity and Socio-Political Thought in the Nyerere Years: A Comparative Study of the Chagga of Kilimanjaro and the Haya of Kagera.’ Julius Nyerere was an independence movement leader from 1954-1961, then the country's first president until 1985.

“I'm interested in how religious institutions and beliefs affected education, political thought, interfaith relations, socio-economic development, and group identity (ethnic, national, religious, and racial) during a period which saw the country gaining independence from Britain and then instituting a system of 'African Socialism’.”

The Chagga and the Haya

Nico is focusing on two ethnic groups in Tanzania - the Chagga and the Haya - who live in the Kilimanjaro and Kagera regions, respectively.

“Catholicism and Lutheranism have a long history in these two regions, and the Chagga and Haya are consequently two of the 'most Christian' ethnic groups in the country.

“Kilimanjaro and Kagera are also two of the richest and most developed regions of Tanzania - in large part because of the churches - and both have a history of resistance against the administrative centre, in both the colonial and the post-colonial periods.”

Low buildings and trees with the Kibo peak of Kilimanjaro beyond
Looking towards the Kibo peak of Kilimanjaro

Interviews and archival work

“My fieldwork consists of interviews with church leaders, local MPs, and older members of the Catholic and Lutheran congregations in Chagga and Haya communities. In addition, I'm doing archival work in Kilimanjaro, Kagera and Dar es Salaam. In this way, I'm planning to combine written sources with oral histories, and to assess the interactions between religion, history and memory in Christian Chagga and Haya societies.

“I grew up in the Kilimanjaro Region before moving to the UK for university, so the Kilimanjaro segment of my fieldwork has allowed me to spend some time in the community in which I spent my childhood.

“I started my fieldwork in mid-January, and will be here in Tanzania until late May. I'll then return to the UK for a month, before coming back to Tanzania in early July for another two months to finish my field research.”

Additional funding

Nico was able to apply for this fieldwork funding, which is administered by the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities, because he is a PhD candidate funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

“The AHRC funds my tuition at Edinburgh and gives me a yearly stipend to cover my living expenses,” he explains. “The SGSAH-administered award was given in addition to my normal funding to cover six months of fieldwork this year. It was taken from the Student Development Fund, which is set aside to support AHRC-funded PhD students to pay for training/other opportunities to develop their research/academic skills.”


Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH)

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Divinity Graduate School

Postgraduate student funding