“Without the generous support of the David and Elaine Potter Foundation, I would not have been able to undertake my PhD.”

“Without the generous support of the David and Elaine Potter Foundation, I would not have been able to undertake my PhD.”

  • Surer Mohamed standing in front of a bookcase

Scholarship supported by The David and Elaine Potter Foundation helps outstanding young African scholars develop their careers in the humanities

Surer Mohamed (Queens’ College) is a Somali-Canadian second-year PhD student in the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) and the second recipient of a postgraduate scholarship for students from Africa, co-funded by the David & Elaine Potter Foundation and the Cambridge Trust.

Surer’s research is in the field of transitional justice. Her work focuses on the ways in which conflict-related property disputes in Mogadishu influence the politics of justice. In the aftermath of civil war in Somalia, these disputes can have implications on the ongoing peace and state-building processes.

Having completed an MPhil in International Relations and Politics at Cambridge in 2017 with Distinction, the scholarship provided Surer with the means to continue her postgraduate studies here.

“The scholarship has been critical to my development as a scholar. I have had the opportunity to pursue doctoral studies with the supervision of leading academics in my field. The network of scholars and human rights practitioners that I have been able to engage in a productive discussion with has advanced my understanding of the world considerably.”

Surer Mohamed

Alongside her studies, Surer has taken part in a number of exciting research projects and international conferences that have enabled her to meet and work alongside leading academics and activists in her field. As a research assistant in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences supported Rethinking Transitional Justice from African Perspectives initiative, she helped bring representatives from African partner organisations to Cambridge on a visiting month-long research project and seminar series. Surer also co-hosted Declarations — the human rights podcast organised from the Centre of Governance and Human Rights (CGHR) and is now the co-creator of a new podcast — On Things We Left Behind, which explores the scars of the Somali civil war on those trying to rebuild their lives. The podcast is one of three finalists in LaunchPod 2019, the UK’s first podcast competition.

Surer is this year’s President of the Black Cantabs Research Society — a student-led response to the lack of information about black alumni of the University. Surer is passionate about the need for a historical and political project that fills this gap in the University’s history. As President, she helped to organise Black Cantabs: History Makers — a ground-breaking exhibition at the University Library, which celebrated 260 years of Cambridge education for Black Cambridge students and graduates, from the 1700s to the 21st century. Surer hopes that by creating a more visible link between past Black scholars, present students, and prospective students the society can aid the development of a more inclusive culture.

Jointly funded by the David & Elaine Potter Foundation and the Cambridge Trust, the scholarship paid for the full cost of study and living in Cambridge during her postgraduate degree.

To find out more about how to support outstanding postgraduate students like Surer, please contact:

Andrew Paterson

Senior Associate Director — Student Support


+44 (0)1223 332288

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