Dr. Denise DeGarmo, associate professor of political science, has always been interested in how national security interests lead to regional consequences. Early research, for instance, led her to ask how federal nuclear plants and U.S. policy led to negative health and environmental effects for Midwest communities. Recently, however, her focus has shifted to the Middle East. This change occurred in 2011 after she received sponsorship from the Palestinian American Research Center (PARC) in Washington, D.C. to travel to the occupied Palestinian territories. Since that time, Palestinian politics has become a central aspect of her research agenda.
DeGarmo received an SIUE STEP research grant in 2013 to conduct a project that would unfold into multiple opportunities. These opportunities first manifested during several trips that led DeGarmo to Israel and the West Bank, Palestine, where she met several Palestinian scholars known for their work on Israeli-Palestinian security issues, especially those associated with the creation of a sovereign state. With the help of her Palestinian colleagues, DeGarmo produced an analysis of how nations obtain autonomy. Her research, she said, “focused on issues surrounding the construction of external security mechanisms necessary to bring about a stable and independent Palestinian state.” Although the new project continued DeGarmo’s work in the area of security, she was now exploring creative possibilities for new measures that would aid the emergence of a new state.
Impressed by her work, The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ), a non-governmental organization located in the West Bank, invited her to serve as a research associate with the Institute. With its interest in natural resource management, water management, sustainable agriculture and political dynamics of development in Palestine, ARIJ represents similar concerns to DeGarmo’s early focus on U.S. nuclear waste disposal. “This long-term collaboration promises many interesting projects in the years to come,” DeGarmo said.
In December 2013, using SIUE’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (URCA) program, DeGarmo found students with an interest in learning how to collect and analyze data who would help her in completing the research project. With these three student researchers, Charmaine Burrus, Rob Wann and Tyler Urish, as well as fellow Department of Political Science Associate Professor Dr. Laurie Rice, DeGarmo traveled to the West Bank to conduct fieldwork. “This experience,” DeGarmo said, “provided a unique opportunity for students to travel throughout the West Bank, while gaining valuable experience on the ground.”
Bolstered by these experiences, DeGarmo said, “The fruits of my research are just beginning to unfold.” One example of such benefits is the book chapter “Liberation Hip- Hop: Palestinian Hip-Hop and Peaceful Resistance” that she and Dr. E. Duff Wrobbel, associate professor of applied communication studies, have contributed to the book, “Organic Globalize: Hip Hop, Development and Movement Culture,” published by Bloomsbury Press.
In addition, DeGarmo’s was invited by the American Political Science Association/Middle East and North Africa Workshop series to deliver talks in Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon on her proposed topic, “Cross National Variations in Challenges to Old Regimes during the Early Stages of the Arab Spring Movements.”
“The purpose of this workshop” she said, “is to support early-career scholars from the Middle East in publishing their research and to build networks between these scholars and their colleagues in the US/Europe.”.