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

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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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
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): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tamir Moustafa
Nicole Jackson
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Zanzibar's Street Entrepreneurs: How Cooperative Social Relations are Formed in the Informal Street Economy

Date created: 
2017-06-22
Abstract: 

This thesis explores processes of relationship formation between entrepreneurs of the informal street economy. The research presents an ethnographic account of the daily routines, spatial practices, and interactions of Zanzibar’s street entrepreneurs to determine whether participation in the street economy can facilitate cooperative social relations between them instead of antagonistic ones. As Zanzibar has long been the site of intense identity politics – where political and cultural views divide islanders and Tanzanian mainlanders – the fact that multiple identities operate in the street economy presents an intriguing puzzle as to what sort of social networks exist amongst them. Evidence is taken from interviews, a questionnaire, and participatory observation with tour guides (official and unofficial), vendors, and fishermen who work on the streets of Stone Town, predominantly in informal tourism sector activities. Along with the sharing of space, positive connections were also formed along the lines of mobility, shared understandings of struggle and the necessity of interdependence in their work.

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

Mountain militarism and urban modernity: Balkanism, identity and the discourse of urban-rural cleavages during the Bosnian War

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-01-11
Abstract: 

Recent years have witnessed a growth in research addressing the ways in which policymakers, academics and the media characterized the Bosnian war of the 1990s using a variety of problematic discursive frames. However, there has been relatively little scholarship exploring how the conflict was often portrayed as a battle between innocent urban centres and an antagonistic countryside. This thesis uses a discourse analysis of Western and Bosnian textual material to argue that perceptions of the Bosnian war have been characterized by a discourse that attributes the violence to cleavages between urban Bosnians and their rural counterparts. Moreover, this thesis engages with post-colonial theory to demonstrate that this discourse of urban-rural cleavages, in which Western and Bosnian urban self-identity was constructed in opposition to the supposed atavism of the Bosnian countryside, is an advancement of Bakic-Hayden’s concept of “nesting Orientalisms.” The results of this thesis problematize a common representation of the conflict, expand the concept of nesting Orientalism and help us to understand why urban participation in the ideologies and violence of the Bosnian conflict has often gone unexamined.

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

La palma nos está dejando pobres: Oil palm expansion and dispossessions in rural Guatemala

Date created: 
2016-07-21
Abstract: 

Coinciding with the 21st century rush to appropriate land, agrarian studies have increasingly examined land grabbing caused by the food-feed-fuel complex. While the research often focuses on dispossession of land, this thesis studies the various forms of dispossession due to the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in Guatemala since the 1990s. Analyzing the lived experiences of people from oil palm-ridden areas in Guatemala, the thesis also examines the role of the state and of political power relations as essential in these land control grabs. Results show that while the oil palm expansion has mostly benefited local creoles or wealthy landowners, it has also brought about lack of access to different resources and even human rights violations. As the Guatemalan people experience domestic food shortages and an influx of foreign foodstuffs, precarious, low-paid work in the oil palm sector is only available for the few. The industry, on the other hand, chiefly serves the interests of wealthy locals and of international markets.

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

Social license to operate and the government's role: A case study from Tanzania

Date created: 
2016-03-30
Abstract: 

Social License to Operate (SLO) can be described as an informal consent or support by a local community for a project to exist in the community. SLOs have been gaining wider attention within the natural resource industry over the past decade. This is partly due to communities increasing their involvement in the extractive industry by demanding a greater share of the benefits and more involvement in decision-making processes. While much of the current literature has largely focused on explaining how companies can acquire and maintain SLOs, little attention has been paid to understanding the role that governments can play in shaping SLO processes. This study examines the role of the Tanzanian government in reaching and maintaining SLOs in the extractive industry. Moreover, this study analyzes factors that hinder the government from playing a more active role in ensuring SLOs exist. It examines three key aspects through which a government may enhance SLO processes. These are: 1) the presence of social inclusion policies, 2) government’s capacity and mechanisms to implement these policies at all levels of governance and, 3) government’s interest and willingness to implement the policies. This study discovered that the government of Tanzania is currently encountering many challenges with regards to the management of the extractive industry and to a large extent it has ignored the contribution of citizens in the management of this industry. Although the government of Tanzania has funnelled energy and resources into improving policies and regulations to guide the extractive industry, weak implementation mechanisms and lack of strong political will make these policies and regulations less impactful. Lack of accountability mechanisms coupled with corruption, poor transparency and the government’s negligence of community’s concerns were found to be the major weaknesses regarding the government’s involvement in ensuring that SLOs are achieved in Tanzania’s extractive industry.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Elizabeth Cooper
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Cultivating collective identity online: An analysis of pro-Islamic State discourse on Twitter

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-02-15
Abstract: 

Social movements around the world have begun to harness new tools in the repertoire of political contention: social media. Social scientists have begun to investigate the relationship between social media and mobilization, yet the majority of the literature is focused on how these tools are used to co-ordinate protest activities in the physical world. Despite increasing acknowledgement of collective identity as a mobilizing force, social movement theorists have mostly emphasized social media’s informational and organizational functions. This thesis focuses on the ideational function of social media by examining mechanisms of collective identity cultivation therein, and posits that social media not only affect mobilization in the physical world, but constitute a space for mobilization itself. I present an analysis of the pro-Islamic State (IS) discourse on Twitter, highlighting three particular socio-linguistic identity-building mechanisms: indexicality, positioning, and intertextuality. I show that hashtags and hyperlinks are elements of a new digital toolbox which can be used to bolster collective identity creation and movement solidarity.

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