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

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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.

Regendering nigade: Transforming the gendered distribution of power in Addis Ababa’s business community

Date created: 
2015-12-17
Abstract: 

Compared with male entrepreneurs, women entrepreneurs in Ethiopia have a lower stock of all of the resources of symbolic power: economic, cultural, and social capital. Based on interviews with 23 women entrepreneurs in Addis Ababa and more than twenty other individuals in the NGO, government, and private sector development space, I identify four key challenges facing women entrepreneurs. I argue that entrepreneurship development programmes that focus on building women’s business networks have significant potential to change the balance of power between men and women in the Ethiopian business community, primarily because they allow women to leverage increased social capital (Bourdieu 1984) to achieve greater economic and cultural capital as well. I also find that male family members serve as an important form of social capital for women entrepreneurs, allowing them to access information and traditional male business networks.

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

Emerging Development Partners and Aid Governance: Examining the Role of 'Aid Effectiveness' in South African and Indonesian South-South Cooperation

Date created: 
2015-12-17
Abstract: 

The past few decades have witnessed an unprecedented shift in the international system, as the collapse of Cold War era bipolarity and rapid economic growth in several developing nations have produced dramatic shifts in the global geography of power. As a result, prominent countries of the Global South are playing increasingly important roles in global governance. One aspect of this shift has been the diminishment of Northern hegemony in the realm of official development assistance, and the growing importance of South-South development cooperation. This paper utilizes case studies of South African and Indonesian international cooperation programs to examine the emerging relationships between increasingly active development partners of the Global South and the “mainstream” development architecture established by the OECD-DAC. The case studies reveal widely divergent patterns in the attitudes which emerging powers have adopted toward the status quo development establishment, which this paper seeks to explain through an analysis of the normative discourse surrounding each country's development partnerships, the institutional capacities of their implementing agencies, and their relative positions in the international balance of power.

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

Re-Defining Revolution: A Case Study of Women and Graffiti in Egypt

Date created: 
2015-12-02
Abstract: 

Like any social phenomenon, revolutions are gendered. The male tilt of revolutionary processes and their histories has produced a definition of revolution that consistently fails women. This thesis aims to redefine revolution to incorporate women’s visions of societal transformation and the full achievement of their rights and freedoms. I argue that approaches to women’s revolutionary experiences are enriched by focusing on the roles of culture, consciousness, and unconventional revolutionary texts. Egypt is examined as a case study with a focus on the nation’s long history of women’s activism that took on new forms in the wave of socio-political upheaval since 2011. Using interdisciplinary, visual analysis, I examine graffiti created by women, or that depict women between 2011 and 2015 to reveal how gender was publicly re-imagined during a period of flux for Egyptian society. The historical and visual analysis contribute to a new definition of revolution, one that strives to achieve the total transformation of society by disrupting gendered consciousness to finally secure rights and freedoms for all.

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

Delving into drones: secret war drone strikes, mass media’s role, and the need for better data

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-12-11
Abstract: 

Since their introduction, drones have evolved into a preferred weapon platform for many of the world’s military forces. They are prolific in their utilization and deadly in their ability. However, drone strike data is highly inconsistent, as is the extent of reported casualties that have resulted from their use. This inconsistency is the impetus for this project’s principal goal: to assess the degree of variation between existing databases and to aggregate them in a new meta-database. Using an in-depth analysis of the available drone strike casualty data within an aggregated statistical modeling framework, further insight into this data variability is achieved. This study examines data from seven tracking organizations that measure drone strikes in the so-called ‘ghost wars’ in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and reveals a high degree of variation in the data. Furthermore, this study examines the relationship between mass media, public opinion, and elites, with the understanding that drone data may influence foreign policy decisions. This study contends that with no publicly available official data sources on these wars, and with dramatic levels of data deviation between the unofficial tracking organizations that currently measure casualty figures, there is a clear need for more consistent drone strike data.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Tamir Moustafa
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

A Commitment to Politics: The Trajectory of the Muslim Brotherhood During Egypt's 2011-2013 Political Opening

Date created: 
2014-08-21
Abstract: 

Prior to the 2011 Arab uprisings, Islamist parties in most Arab states had been systematically prevented from exercising any meaningful authority in government. Following President Mubarak’s ouster from power in 2011, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) established a political party, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), and formally entered mainstream politics, providing a rare opportunity to examine the role of an Islamist party in the context of democratic transition. Contrary to concerns that the MB might use Egypt’s political opening to install an undemocratic regime, the movement instead committed itself to electoral politics and consistently adhered to the framework for political transition. An analysis of the MB’s political trajectory during the 2011–2013 timeframe reveals that the movement endeavoured to protect Egypt’s democratic transition against the encroachment of the military and the judiciary. Despite the FJP’s efforts, sustained interference by non-elected institutions brought Egypt’s democratic experiment to a premature end. This course of events confirms that an Islamist movement is capable of fully committing to politics, but also indicates that political commitment alone is insufficient to ensure a successful transition to democratic governance.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Tamir Moustafa
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

International Implications of Chinese Oil and Natural Gas Interests

Date created: 
2014-04-23
Abstract: 

As China’s energy demand grows at a rapid pace alongside its economy, it seeks to secure access to the oil and natural gas needed to sustain this level of development. This paper examines two approaches that it uses to do so: opening up markets to its state-controlled oil companies and pushing territorial claims that hold rich potential reserves. Although these strategies create international tensions that increase the threat of conflict, this paper argues that a broader clash between major powers is unlikely. More probable is that global economic ties will encourage China to lean towards international collaboration over competition until renewable technologies replace petroleum.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Contemporary approaches to stopping the illegal ivory trade: a case study in cultural motivations

Date created: 
2014-04-23
Abstract: 

Elephants and their ivory have a rich and long history in Thailand. However, the demand for ivory in Thailand is dramatically affecting elephant populations, particularly African elephants. While the consumption of ivory is banned in most countries, Thailand still allows for domestic consumption, resulting in the mixing of legal and illegal ivory. Understanding the cultural traditions that gives rise to contemporary values and beliefs about the consumption of ivory can provide significant and critical insight into why people consume it. This study argues that greater contextual understanding of cultural beliefs can make awareness campaigns more effective at reducing the consumption of ivory. To understand cultural motivations more deeply, this study uses a sociological perspective, primarily that of Pierre Bourdieu. This provides a more contextual engagement with Thai consumers, reconnects them with cultural values about elephants and their importance in Thai society, and works towards a shift in attitudes about consuming ivory.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.