(Re)Imagining Women in Academia
Although academia is said to be a friendly space for women in general and those who are spouses, mothers or both, they are still challenged by practices and outdated policies that make it difficult for them to succeed professionally as well as have life-work balance (notice how I said life-work and not work-life).
Female faculty, particularly Black and brown women, are faced with realities that make it challenging to fully navigate our roles and many hats (some of which we didn't sign up for) as professors, mentors, and student advocates. Now more than ever, women in academia constitute a diverse landscape of administrators, faculty, staff, and students. Whether we are at predominantly white institutions or Historically Black Colleges and Universities, I have noticed that some of these challenges remain the same.
Over the years and as a result of various experiences in institutions of higher education, my advocacy work focuses on strategic ways to take up as much space as possible and demand better treatment for female faculty, staff and students.
Although academic scholarship has addressed the myriad obstacles faced by women and the way they navigate their circumstances, much of academia remains unchanged, leaving women to make difficult decisions and finding their own strategic ways to make things work. Dr. Lima-Neves firmly believes the personal informs the professional. Her identity as a woman, spouse and mommy-scholar, inform the courses she teaches, the topics that are covered and the way she teaches them as well as the types of extra curricular activities she plans for the campus community. Through her own personal, intentional and strategic actions, presentations and advocacy, Dr. Lima-Neves promotes a safe and welcoming academic environment where women and men (administrators, faculty, staff and students) can adequately perform and succeed.
As a scholar, Dr. Lima-Neves’ research is interdisciplinary in nature and situated in the political science subfields of international and comparative politics, specifically African diasporas, homeland development and gender politics. Currently, she is one of a handful of scholars whose work focuses on Cabo Verdeans in the U.S. and the politics of gender, immigrant community building, and homeland development.
Dr. Lima-Neves’ pioneering research adds the very important story of Cabo Verdean women to the larger body of literature on African diasporic communities in the United States. It highlights women as activists as well as agents of cultural preservation and economic development, through informal transnationalist practices, transcending United States borders, into Africa, Europe, and Latin America. From the kitchen table, wedding showers to funerals, Cabo Verdean women have complicated the way we conceptualize political mobilization. They have created their own spaces through which they communicate and share ideas and cultural goods. Cabo Verdean women are also part of formal community associations, they teach their children the homeland’s culture through various forms such as oral stories, language and music.
Her work is part of a growing body of scholarship that centers stories of immigrant women and their activism, to contest the prevalent notion that historically immigrant women have been and continue to be politically and socially passive. Interdisciplinary scholarship on immigrant women have documented their resilience and demonstrated how they have been the leading forces in their communities and the preservers of their culture, even when the host country has not always been welcoming. Although the existing literature on immigrant women’s activism has increased, research and scholarship on specific case studies on African women in the United States remains limited. Dr. Lima-Neves’ research contributes the unique story of the political and social history as well as current socio-economic realities of Cabo Verdean women in the United States.
The Cabo Verdean community has been present in the United States since the mid-1800s. Cabo Verde’s history is one of migration due to decades of drought and famine. As a result, there are more Cabo Verdeans living outside of Cabo Verde (one million) than there are on the archipelago (nearly six hundred thousand), although we do not know the exact number of those living outside of the country. Noted scholars have told this community’s story but there is limited literature specifically on diasporic Cabo Verdean women and their contributions. Similar to other immigrant groups, Cabo Verdean women experienced racial and gender discrimination. Amidst all this, they persevered and through informal networks, organized and mobilized on behalf of the Cabo Verdean community in the United States and in Cabo Verde during time of need.
Terza Lima-Neves is a leading and respected published scholar in Cabo Verdean/Cape Verdean studies, focusing on critical gendered analysis of the Cabo Verdean immigrant community in the United States and development in the homeland. Her academic scholarship has been published by Lexington Books, the Universidade de Cabo Verde Press, the Journal of Cape Verdean Studies, and the Journal of Women, Politics and Policy. She is a contributing author to the Oxford Dictionary of African Biographies edited by Henry Louis Gates at Harvard University. She’s also written articles for the Oxford University Press Blog on topics related to Cabo Verdean culture. Dr. Lima-Neves teaches courses on African, international, comparative and gender politics. Her scholarship and community work have been featured in Cabo Verde’s National Newspaper, A Semana, Stymada International Magazine, the Portuguese-American Newspaper, O Jornal, FORCV as well as publications for Brown University, Providence College and the Lincoln School.
Dr. Lima-Neves is the 2019-2020 President of the North Carolina Political Science Association, the first Black person to serve the Association in this capacity. She is an active member of several professional organizations and has presented her research at regional, national and international conferences such as the Cape Verdean Studies Conference, the International Studies Association, the Western Political Science Association, the National Conference of Black Political Scientists and the International Conference on Cabo Verdean Women in Praia, Cabo Verde. She has served on the Executive Council of the North Carolina Political Science Association and the Executive Council for the Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.
Dr. Lima-Neves is a 2019 finalist for the HBCU Digest Female Professor of the Year. She has won numerous awards, among them the 2018 Cato Par Excellence in Teaching Award and the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award at Johnson C. Smith University, the 2015 Excellence in Education Award from the National Women of Achievement Organization, and the 2014 Young Alumnae Award at the Lincoln School. She has been awarded fellowships from the Paul Cuffee Memorial Program with the Munson Institute for the Study of Minorities in Maritime History, the James Bradford Ames Research Fellowship, the Ford Foundation (Clark Atlanta University), the Consortium of Faculty Diversity (Brown Fellow at the University of the South) and the Five Colleges Consortium (Mendenhall Fellow at Smith College). Terza has also received several internal grants from Johnson C. Smith University for professional development purposes and to organize interdisciplinary campus programs, including the Annual International Women’s Month Lecture and Film Series which she launched in 2011.