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

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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.

The Philippines, 2050: Institutional Barriers to Development

Date created: 
2014-04-14
Abstract: 

In the first few decades after independence in 1946 it seemed that the Philippines had all the resources and potential to become a development success story. Instead, during the country’s long period of martial law under the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the political instability under his successor Corazon Aquino the Philippines failed to realize this potential and remained poor and underdeveloped. Recently the situation has changed markedly, leading some to predict that the Philippines will be one of the “Next Eleven” or N-11 countries with considerable potential for economic growth in the 21st century. This paper examines the role of political changes in the Philippines in contributing to this turnaround. One section defines institutions and their importance, while another looks at the weaknesses that have plagued the Philippines’ electoral and multiparty political systems. Finally, some prescriptions on how to begin to address these institutional and electoral dysfunctions are discussed.

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.

An incomplete transition? Explaining the ongoing prevalence of violence against women in post-apartheid South Africa

Date created: 
2014-04-25
Abstract: 

Twenty years after its transition from apartheid to democracy, South Africa is seen in the international community as a regional bastion of democratic, economic and social rebirth. Yet despite its many successes, rates of violence against women in South Africa remain endemically high. This paper examines the diffusion of norms of nonviolence and gender equality from the international community into South African law and society and the subsequent feedback of those norms, to measure South Africa’s compliance with international human rights standards. To inform the discussion, this paper introduces a model outlining the institutions and social processes operating at three levels: macro (i.e., international), meso (i.e., national) and micro (i.e., community/individual). The model highlights six ways in which norms are weakened or blocked: accessibility, apparent compliance, institutional weakness, divergent priorities, silencing and norm violation fatigue. Each of these factors is examined in turn to explain why women in South Africa continue to experience high rates of violence and why South Africa cannot be said to have made a ‘complete' transition to a peaceful democratic state.

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

Exploring the environment-development continuum: Examining an integrated approach through a case study of two villages in Tamil Nadu, India

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-28
Abstract: 

Current issues abound in relation to environmental practices and impacts, as well as to socio-economic inequality and inequity. Despite inherent linkages, these two fields of focus are often conceptualized as if they are separate, and treated with a trade-off approach, in which one is placed in a position of increased importance, to the detriment of the other. Alternatively, an integrated approach offers a perspective and practice in which environmental and socio-economic factors are managed holistically. In order to engage in a critical discussion of this relationship and positive alternatives to dominant perceptions, an ethnographic case study was undertaken primarily in the Pichavaram forest region of Tamil Nadu, India. I find that previous attempts at environmental management and socio-economic development had been dealt with as separate issues, and had largely failed to achieve desired results; however, following a shift to an integrated approach in the mid-1990s, both environmental and socio-economic indicators improved, and have proven resilient following both the 2003 project end, and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami devastation. Thus, this study’s findings support the concept that inherent linkages between environmental and socio-economic factors require an equally interlinked approach in practice, which then allows for a mutually beneficial long-term relationship.

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

Conditional Opportunities: Conceptual Disparities and Practical Shortcomings of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Chiapas, Mexico

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-12-11
Abstract: 

Aimed at building human capital and alleviating poverty, Mexico’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program Oportunidades has been hailed a success with proponents citing a large body of statistical evidence as support for program. However, far less information is available on the quotidian experiences of the program from the point of view of beneficiaries and those involved in administrating the program and its related services. By looking into the personal experiences and life histories of beneficiaries and workers, we can gain insight into important issues that do not always arise in the statistical data or surveys that only directly address the program. For this project interviews with program recipients as well as official and non-official program employees were conducted in Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico. This major project suggests that the formal rhetoric utilized by participants and workers to discuss the program directly often contradicts their experiences; therefore, an investigation into participants’ life experiences and histories can augment or even challenge an understanding of the program based on statistical evidence or survey data. This project also contributes to a growing body of research based on qualitative methodology that explores the complexity of CCT programs through in depth interview and observation. What emerges is a motif of discrepancies: Discrepancies between the ideological underpinnings of the program and participants’ experiences of poverty, as well as discrepancies between program objectives and actual program functioning. As a result, a number of critiques arise regarding service quality, the efficacy of conditionality, and program sustainability in the face of proposed expansions.

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

Repairing the Irreparable: How Spirits Re-Shape the Field of Transitional Justice

Date created: 
2013-08-16
Abstract: 

Empirical studies that evaluate reparations programs from the perspective of survivors have received little attention in the literature. In contexts where the state has formally acknowledged the survivors of mass atrocities and has developed and established a reparations program to ‘repair’ the damage caused, the spirits that dwell in the socio-cultural realm express dissatisfaction with state institutions’ proposed solutions to the damage caused. Through a comparative literature analysis of the socio-cultural understandings of reparations among the Mayan Q’eqchi’ in Guatemala and the Acholi in northern Uganda, I suggest that forms of agency in the realm of the everyday which involves dreams, spirits and multiple temporalities, derived from cosmologies alternative to the Western norm, are essential to understanding how members of communities live side-by-side in post-conflict settings, and therefore, I argue that these efforts need to occupy a central space in the transitional justice agenda.

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

Responding to natural disasters with social media: a case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of social media during and after natural disasters, in order to determine if their use is advantageous for disaster response. A case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is conducted, drawing on primary and secondary sources for content and document analysis. A social network approach, the In/Out/Seeker/Provider framework developed by Varda et al. (2009), is employed to analyze how different types of social networks used social media to seek and provide information and assistance. The results of the case study indicate that social media were used differently by four types of social networks, and while there were disadvantages to the use of social media, overall their use was advantageous for disaster response.

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

Vetoing the veto: voting reform and the United Nations security council

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-08-07
Abstract: 

The subject of reform within the United Nations Security Council locates itself as part of a larger academic discourse involving the concept of democratization within international organizations. This paper posits a little discussed strategy for reforming the veto system which calls for an override mechanism, or “vetoing the veto” (hereafter referred to as the ‘double-veto’). This proposal has its genesis in the “double majority voting” proposal of Major Keith L. Sellen, included in his thesis The United Nations Security Council Veto in the New World Order and presented to the United States Army in April 1992. From research undertaken thus far, the double-veto is an original formulation which argues for a system of vetoing unpopular vetoes in the Security Council, but with a re-vote that requires supportive votes from two Permanent Five members themselves.

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