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Barbara Laskin

Macalester Student wins 2007 Award from Law & Society Association

St. Paul, Minn. - Rebecca Sheff, a sophomore from Lexington, Mass., won the 2007 Undergraduate Paper Award from the Law & Society Association for her paper titled  “Strategic Choices in Diverse Contexts: The Maasai Indigenous Rights Movement.”  Sheff wrote the paper in her Macalester Sociology class, “Indigenous Peoples’ Movements in Global Context,” taught by Professor Erik Larson.

Sheff’s paper compares how Maasai activists in Kenya and Tanzania have interacted with the global indigenous rights movement. Despite the shared history of Maasai on both sides of the border and similar issues faced by the Maasai as pastoralists, Sheff finds a paradoxical difference: Kenyan Maasai have been more involved with the international movement, but have been less likely to use the language of international indigenous rights to express their grievances than their Tanzanian counterparts.  Her analysis demonstrates the importance of understanding the influence of the political context on the salience of rights-based social movements. 

The Law & Society Association is an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars who study the place of law in social, political, economic and cultural life. The Association’s annual meeting will take place in Berlin, Germany, in July. 

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,884 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism and civic engagement.