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Distinguished scholar of African and women’s studies receives Vilas honors

June 14, 2022 By Chris Barncard

Aili Mari Tripp, an expert in politics and women’s movements in Africa and global feminism, has been named a Vilas Research Professor.

Created “for the advancement of learning,” Vilas Research Professorships are granted to University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty with proven research ability and unusual qualifications and promise. The recipients of the award have contributed significantly to the research mission of the university and are recognized both nationally and internationally among the leaders in their field.

Aili Mari Tripp

Tripp, the Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1992. Her research has focused on many aspects of women and gender in politics, particularly in Africa — women’s movements in Africa, transnational feminism, African politics with particular reference to Uganda and Tanzania, autocracies in Africa, and on the informal economy in Africa. Now serving as a fellow at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Studies in South Africa, Tripp recently led a project on Women and Peacebuilding in Africa.

Her book, “Seeking Legitimacy: Why Arab Autocracies Adopt Women’s Rights,” won the 2021 L. Carl Brown Book Prize of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. She has published five other books as sole author, as well as served as editor for seven books and author of more than 100 articles, working papers, and book chapters and reviews.

Tripp has been honored with the Axel Springer Prize from the American Academy in Berlin, the African Politics Conference Group best book on African politics award, and the Victoria Schuck award of the American Political Science Association for the best book on women and politics. In 2014 she won the African Studies Association Public Service Award.

Colleagues who nominated Tripp lauded her commitment to service despite such a prolific research record. A past president of the African Studies Association and vice president of the American Political Science Association, Tripp has served as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and boards of many associations, councils and societies devoted to political science, women’s rights and African studies while also holding roles on campus like center director and department chair.

Vilas awards are supported by the estate of professor, U.S. senator and UW Regent William F. Vilas (1840-1908).