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

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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.

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.