College of Liberal Arts

The Color Complex: Student Research Abroad in Ghana

Tue, Sep 24, 2019
A smock maker in Tamale, northern Ghana.
A smock maker in Tamale, northern Ghana.

This summer, an International Relations and Global Studies senior was awarded the experience of a lifetime when her student research team received the UT President’s Award for Global Learning.  Christina Cho and a team of three other undergraduates traveled to Accra, Ghana, for 10 weeks to research colorism and how to mitigate its effect on mental health.

Cho and her fellow researchers conducted interviews with African-American and Asian-American women in Austin and Ghanaian women and men to understand their different experiences with colorism, specifically skin bleaching and hair perming. The project, titled “The Color Complex,” was advised by Kevin Cokely, director of the Institute for Urban Policy and Analysis.

Read about Cho’s experience in Ghana, the research and how she plans to use her experience to create change at both UT Austin and the University of Ghana in the Life & Letters Q&A.

Four smiling female students stand in a safari truck smiling at the camera.

The Color Complex's undergraduate research team: Timia Bethea (top left), Christina Cho (top right), Rebecca Chen (bottom left), Vida Nwadiei (bottom right).

All photos courtesy of Rebecca Chen.

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