International Studies - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Rolezinhos in Brazil: Social and political significance

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-12-05
Abstract: 

Contemporary Brazil has experienced a wave of large-scale urban social gatherings at shopping malls of underprivileged youth known as rolezinhos. While neither illegal or explicitly political, these gatherings generated deep unease among the middle-classes and the municipal authorities. This thesis investigates the rolezinho phenomenon in São Paulo as a social-movement cycle. It is first situated in the long historical context of colonial and imperial urbanization, slavery, and social repression and, subsequently, in the immediate contemporary context of the seemingly similar, yet more explicitly political, Movimento Passe-Livre (MPL). The research findings suggest that the rolezinhos participants, who are discriminated against and had their actions criminalized in urban spaces, saw themselves as young people aiming to express their unique cultural and social identities from the periphery. Given the reaction from the upper and middle-class with concerns over social order and crime, illustrated by brutal police response and criminalization of the rolezinhos, the local government under the Workers Party (PT) administration decided to intervene, negotiate and coopt leaders of the movement. Thereafter, the movement declined and later collapsed when the Social Democratic Party

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gerardo Otero
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Ecofeminism and the MST’s educational programs: A case study from the Brazilian state of Paraná.

Date created: 
2019-08-01
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the overlapping ideological and pedagogical tenets between Ecofeminism and the MST’s (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra / Landless Worker’s Movement) educational model. One of the tools the MST uses to advance the rights of landless workers are settlement schools, in which classes are used to construct a new epistemology. This thesis focuses on how the Colégio Estadual do Campo Contestado (CECC), a specific settlement school in the South of Brazil, tries to advance these overlapping ideological tenets – intersectional aspects of social justice, acknowledgment of the unachievable, undesirable and unsustainable aspect of the catching-up development strategy, and the need for a new epistemology on socioeconomic development – on the ground. Overall, this thesis argues that the Brazilian public education system, along with patriarchal aspects of rural dynamics; the contradictions within Contestado’s own settlement regarding organic production; and the strength of Western scientific paradigms, together limit the CECC’s practical advancement of ideological and pedagogical tenets shared by the MST and Ecofeminism.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Christopher Gibson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Obama in Cuba: A ‘culturomic’ analysis of frames in digital news media content

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-16
Abstract: 

This study uses computational methods associated with the growing field of ‘culturomics’ to examine frames produced by digital news media sources during American President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba in March of 2016. Using a corpus of 192 newspaper articles, ngram frequencies, topic models, and semantic characteristics (sentiment polarity and subjectivity) are assessed to identify prospective frames. Articles published by Cuba’s Granma and the American New York Times are selected as cases for comparison to represent how differences in frames manifest across media environments. Results of this analysis highlight differences in how Obama’s visit to Cuba was framed in Granma, the Times, and across the remainder of the sample. These results affirm the utility of computational methods in the study of frames, as well as other aspects of digital media content.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gerardo Otero
Leslie Armijo
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Food oppression – What are Rio’s favela youth eating?

Author: 
Date created: 
2019-04-15
Abstract: 

Food consumption patterns have been acutely changing in Brazil since the 1980’s. As food consumption is representative of the material conditions and living standards of a particular group or society, consumers from different socioeconomic backgrounds will not have the same access to foods. Low-income individuals will be restrained to basic foods while more affluent consumers will be able to afford a wider variety. Diets make social disparities and structural domination explicit. I have presented the systemic mechanisms that reinforce oppression through food consumption. This study analyzed the structural relations between food consumption and social classes in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have focused on youth, which is the group more acutely moving away from traditional food consumption patterns. Specifically, I focus on low-income teenager residents of the favelas as they are also the most socially vulnerable group in the city. The overarching research question I have tried to answer is: In what ways is food becoming a new form of oppression for the already vulnerable low-income populations in Rio’s favela? From my research I found the ways in which the political structure, market organization and socioeconomic status are translated into this new form of oppression, not from the deficiency of food but abundance of low-quality unhealthy food items. The narratives collected from Rio’s residents during the research showed the discrepancies in access and agency among different social classes. From my research, I found the connections between the food system and systemic oppressions that appear on the food consumption patterns of the population.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gerardo Otero
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Global health crises and international cooperation: A comparative framing analysis of narratives told during cholera outbreaks in 1851 and 2017

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-12-10
Abstract: 

This thesis explores the following questions: can global health crises provide effective opportunities for international cooperation? More specifically, what is the relationship between how a crisis is framed, and policy responses? To answer these questions, this thesis conducted a comparative case study and framing analysis of narratives told during two cholera outbreaks: the 1829 second cholera pandemic; and 2017 cholera outbreak in Yemen. This entailed analyzing proceedings of the 1851 International Sanitary Conference, 2017 Security Council meeting records, and Global Task Force for Cholera Control documents. Documents were analysed using two techniques: (1) narrative analysis to identify narratives constructed around the two cases; and (2) framing analysis to identify which global health frames actors used in narratives. This thesis argues that health crises can provide opportunities for cooperation, if cooperation is framed as a global public good and if actors refer to existing norms and laws governing state behaviour.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Nicole Berry
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A South African Developmental State? The Need to Overcome Incapacity and Pursue Embedded Autonomy in the 21st Century; - AND - On the Fringes: Housing Policy, Urban Slums, and the Necessity for a New Direction in South Africa

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-08-08
Abstract: 

1) In the years leading up to and immediately following the African National Congress’ landslide victory in the country’s first truly democratic elections, much anticipation and hope about South Africa’s future were held by all. However, despite its transition to democracy and departure from the institutionalized racism of apartheid in 1994, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in today’s global system. This essay explores the applicability of the developmental state framework given South Africa’s unique history and circumstances, considering arguments that assert South Africa can become a developmental state in spite of its deficiencies and arguments that argue against such assertions. This essay aligns with the former, arguing that while South Africa suffers extreme deficiencies that currently preclude it from becoming a 21st century developmental state, this does not mean that it can never become one. 2) The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) enshrines the right to adequate housing, a concept that includes attributes such as security of tenure, protection from eviction, availability of services, and affordability. Since 1948, globalization and industrialization have ignited increasingly intense rural-to-urban migrations that strain cities’ abilities to house people. In South Africa, urban slums are prominent features of cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban. Since 1994, the African National Congress has battled to deliver housing to the poorest of South African citizens, but evidence shows that its efforts, mandated by national housing policies, are failing. This essay investigates this failure by examining the neoliberal underpinnings of South Africa’s various housing policies and exploring the arguments of two camps in the literature – one that argues for greater inclusion of slum communities and one that argues for a more enabling policy environment. Through this exploration, the essay suggests that a combination of these two approaches presents the best suited housing strategy for South Africa moving forward.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Christopher Gibson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Extended Essays) M.A.

Transnational education in China: Joint venture Sino-US universities and their impact

Author: 
Date created: 
2018-04-23
Abstract: 

In recent years US universities have been diving into the Chinese higher education field by partnering with Chinese universities to create new joint venture Sino-US universities in China. From my field research interviewing students and professors at the NYU Shanghai and Duke Kunshan University campuses, I drew my main research questions: 1) What is the practical purpose of having JV Sino-US universities from the perspectives of the stakeholders – the home universities, governments, and students involved? 2) When we consider the ideal role and purpose of a university within society, what do these new transnational universities add to the conversation? I informed my research with the literature of international education, Chinese higher education, and critique of the modern Western university. From my research, I found that recruiting international students is a practical and value-laden challenge, and that the finances to support financial aid incentives may be an issue in the future. Concerning academic freedom, JVs have special privileges to operate in China with full freedom, but subtle issues of self-censoring or visas may still cause friction. Overall, these JV schools seem to suffer from the same issues that affect Western higher education in general, but they may be pioneers in re-evaluating liberal arts and discovering better ways to teach a broad range of students from different backgrounds.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Alexander Dawson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The fading siren call: How the Islamic State’s territorial decline has reshaped its propaganda content

Date created: 
2018-04-02
Abstract: 

Given that the Islamic State’s propaganda was heavily rooted in notions of military victory, territorial expansion, and utopian statehood, this thesis asks how the group changed its messaging content when it was faced with extensive territorial losses. Using qualitative and quantitative methods, it tracks changes in the thematic and narrative content the Islamic State’s two flagship English-language magazines, Dabiq and Rumiyah. It finds that the group’s propaganda changed substantially, particularly in content related to the promotion of home-grown terrorism and its self-declared ‘Caliphate’. Utilizing novel theoretical frameworks, this study assesses how changes in the Islamic State’s propaganda undermined its effectiveness as a tool for radicalization and recruitment. The thesis finds strong evidence to suggest the Islamic State’s propaganda has become less effective at tapping into critical drivers of radicalization.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tamir Moustafa
Jeffrey Checkel
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Fabricating Perceptions of Crime: El Salvador’s mass media and gang repression

Date created: 
2017-08-16
Abstract: 

The mass media in El Salvador has acted as an ally to the conservative ARENA party, promoting its political and economic agenda and helping to preserve an exclusionary elite political project. When ARENA’s political dominance was threatened in 2003, the media increased and sensationalized reports on gang crime to garner electoral support for ARENA’s repressive Mano Dura security policies. Since then, the media’s elaboration of gang news stories has promoted repression and legitimized state violence. After the electoral triumph of the FMLN in 2009, the media obstructed attempts to reform the public security system with integrative measures, portraying the government as ineffective against gangs and inciting moral panics over crime. The resulting heightened perceptions of insecurity at times when homicides have decreased significantly demonstrate the extent of the media’s manipulation of public opinion through a near monopoly of information that favors conservative interest at the cost of citizen security.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Alexander Dawson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Sectarianism or geopolitics? Framing the 2011 Syrian conflict

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-08-01
Abstract: 

The Syrian conflict began as an uprising against the Assad regime for political and economic reform. However, as violence escalated between the regime and opposition, the conflict drew in Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, which backed both the regime and opposition with resources. The current conflict is described as sectarian because of the increasingly antagonistic relations between the Shiite/Alawite regime and the Sunni-dominated opposition. This thesis examines how sectarian identity is politicized by investigating the role of key states during the 2011 Syrian conflict. I argue that the Syrian conflict is not essentially sectarian in nature, but rather a multi-layered conflict driven by national and regional actors through the selective deployment of violence and rhetoric. Using frame analysis, I examine Iranian, Turkish, and Saudi Arabian state media coverage of the Syrian conflict to reveal the respective states’ political position and interest in Syria. Through process tracing, I further identify three causal mechanisms – strategic framing, ethnic/sectarian outbidding, and resource mobilization – to examine how these states catalyzed sectarianism in the Syrian conflict.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Tamir Moustafa
Nicole Jackson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.