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

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Existing to resist: youth bulge theory in the occupied Palestinian territories

Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is currently experiencing what some demographers have labeled a “youth bulge” – a disproportionately large population of young people. Youth bulge theory has sought to relate these bulges to instances of mass uprising and violent conflict. Of the societies within the MENA region, the youth population of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is among the largest. This paper contains two core arguments. First, I argue that youth bulge theory is insufficient as a basis for conflict mitigation strategies. In order to do so, I show how the theory, against the backdrop of a political conflict mired in demographic concerns, has been translated into discourse and policies in the OPT. I examine the effectiveness and normative implications of these discourses and policies through interviews and focus group discussions with Palestinian youth. Youth responses demonstrate that “youth bulge policies” do not effectively curb youth rebellion, but rather, that they may help fuel cultures of youth resistance. Second, I argue that youth bulge theory is fundamentally weak in its ability to attribute causation in violent rebellion. This argument is explicated through Palestinian youth’s ranking and scoring of their participation in various forms of resistance in the OPT, showing overwhelming support for nonviolent means. Moreover, through a brief survey of empirical studies on the psychosocial and cultural influences of violence, I suggest these measures may serve as better indicators than demography in predicting the risk of violence in youth bulge contexts. My findings carry implications for a reworking of youth bulge theory. I suggest that in order to better understand the relationships between young people and violence and to mitigate violent rebellion, youth bulge theory must consider a conscious change in the framing and representation of young people in youth bulge societies, and a deepened understanding of how psychosocial and cultural influences interact with political, economic and demographic factors to influence violence in the lives of young people.

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

Numbers are not enough: why gender inequality in education persists in Kenya

Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

The achievement of gender equality in education is an important development goal, endorsed primarily by the MDGs. Mainstream development literature promotes female education for its instrumental benefits and recommend policies designed to eliminate physical, economic, and cultural barriers that restrict girls’ access to school. In contrast, feminist development literature emphasizes education’s intrinsic value and its role in expanding girls’ capabilities, and argues that girls continue to face barriers even in the classroom; feminist scholars therefore advocate for policies to improve girls’ learning experience. In Kenya, policymakers have deliberately addressed physical and economic barriers to girls’ access to education, with impressive results, but have neglected cultural barriers. Kenyan policy has also largely ignored the findings of the feminist literature, focusing exclusively on achieving parity in enrollments. This paper concludes that the goal of gender equality in education must be expanded to encompass the pursuit of qualitative equality.

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

The securitization of sex trafficking: a comparative case study of Sweden and the United States

Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

Sex trafficking is a form of transnational organized crime, which may pose security threats to nation states. This project examines the roles that Sweden and the United States (US) played as global leaders in securitizing sex trafficking. This comparative case study identifies and analyzes both states' securitization processes according to the Copenhagen School's securitization framework. This project argues that both states securitized sex trafficking in the early 1990s through to 2009 in a two-stage process, initiated by civil society groups. Sex trafficking was then adopted by each states' government, and re-framed as a threat to state sovereignty. Sweden framed the issue with regards to the social, political, and economic costs of sex trafficking. The US used frames to connect sex trafficking with terrorism, and declared a ‘War on Trafficking’.

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.

‘Teaching them to fish’: towards a practical approach to capacity development for non-governmental organizations

Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

This paper engages in a critical examination of capacity development by service-providing international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), arguing that capacity development is a path to improve the sustainability of development interventions. In recent history, some INGO practices have undermined local and state capacity in developing countries; these side effects are illuminated through a case study of Haiti. This paper outlines principles for INGOs to employ when pursuing capacity development goals and highlights the challenges associated with implementing a long-term process, which are amplified in fragile states. This paper presents one model for capacity development through an analysis of Partners in Health, a health care INGO operating in Haiti. Partners in Health reinforces capacity through its community health worker program and partnerships with governments. Suggestions are made for further research into suitable monitoring and evaluation tools able to assess a long-term process, such as capacity development, rather than an end result.

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

Schooling matters: a study of secondary school dropouts among low-income youth of Bangladesh

Date created: 
2012-04-19
Abstract: 

Past research has established a link connecting higher levels of education and development. Nonetheless, high incidence of dropout behavior persists in developing nations, and various organizations are focusing on reducing poor academic outcomes in both the primary and secondary levels. The present study employs a previously unused dataset—one that offers a higher level of homogeneity of household income and past student performance by considering the low-income youth of Bangladesh—to assess whether individual, household, or school characteristics are better indicators of student performance on exams. The results reveal that both household and school characteristics affect performance and the two most important factors appear to be whether a student resides in an urban or rural area and the school he/she attends.

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

Binding constraints: the role of the army in Pakistan’s economic under-development

Date created: 
2012-04-25
Abstract: 

Pakistan army has ruled the country for the better part of its history. As a result, several scholars have contemplated its role in the economic under-development of the country. However, a better approach to understand the true influence of the army on the economic development would be the one that Bardhan has used to understand the distortions within the Indian economy. According to this approach, in post-colonial states, certain dominant proprietary classes compete for their share in the benefits the economy. As a result, the policy makers fail to pursue policies that challenge the status quo even though they are vital for the development of the economy. The case of the Pakistan economy is no different from that of India in this regard. Despite being the group in control, the army has failed to deter other dominant proprietary classes from their rent-seeking behaviour. In fact, the army actively encouraged the rent-seeking behaviour of certain classes in order to prolong its rule over the country. As a result, certain distortions emerged within the economy that hindered its growth and are directly responsible for its present poor state.

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.

Social exclusion in an organic farming community in Sao Paulo

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-11
Abstract: 

I have carried out an exploratory study about the labour conditions on organic farms in the developing world. Using qualitative methods, I conducted three months of research in an organic farming community in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I observed disharmony between the ambitions of educated workers from middle-class backgrounds and the ‘local’ workers. Those workers who were of middle-class descent had political and spiritual goals that failed to resonate with local workers. Middle-class workers were able to embrace their frugal living conditions, using it as a means to enhance their ‘moral identity’ by having sacrificed the privileges they had access to throughout their lives. Local workers, who were relatively disadvantaged in their economic opportunities, were not able to benefit from their work in the same way as workers of middle-class descent, resulting in local workers being discontent and terminating their employment at an unusually high rate.

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

The burden of rapid development: a case study on women’s economic empowerment in post-conflict Rwanda

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-23
Abstract: 

This project seeks to examine the root cause of gender barriers preventing the majority of women in Rwanda from benefiting from economic opportunities despite access to such opportunities and strong political support for gender equality. Drawing on a comparative analysis of quantitative data and qualitative research produced during fieldwork, this paper argues that, in the short-term at least, many women encounter unintended hardships as a result of the government’s progressive gender reforms. Traditional practices still define relationships between men and women and this is not compatible with constitutional guarantees of gender equality in Rwanda. There are considerable gender inclusive gaps in legislative reforms, policies do not adequately consider normative constraints and discriminatory customary practices persist increasing women’s work burden and susceptibility to gender-based violence. Deeply entrenched patriarchal norms make it difficult to effectively implement gender reforms and have fostered resistance from some groups that feel their rights are being diminished.

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.

Gender equality, the state and civil society: A comparative case study of Rwanda and South Africa

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-19
Abstract: 

This paper examines the evolution of gender equality as manifested and protected by the state in both Rwanda and South Africa since 1994. As a liberal democracy, South Africa should, in theory, allow for the influence of citizens in policy making and be held accountable for its shortcomings regarding its commitment to gender equality and ending violence against women. Evidence reveals that the South African state falls far short of these ideals, particularly in its relationships with women’s organizations in civil society. Conversely, the Rwandan state, under authoritarian leadership, demonstrates significantly greater commitment to gender equality, and civil society groups report positive relationships with the state. Four factors explain this disparity: the context of each country’s political transition, the origins and ideology of the ruling party, the extent and type of state corruption and neopatrimonialism, and the role of civil society in a semi-authoritarian state versus a liberal democratic state.

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

Charm of the Dragon: exploring China’s relationship with Africa and its implications for resource security, soft power and development

Date created: 
2011-12-14
Abstract: 

This paper explores the relationship between China and Africa within the context of China’s resource security endeavours. It focuses on Chinese investment and soft power in Africa, and how they connect with African development. Is China in Africa to build mutually-beneficial relationships or to extract resources? Connected to this, are China’s soft power initiatives contributing to African development, or are they merely incentives for African states to do business with China? By examining Chinese soft power, the motivations and actions of both Chinese and African players, the author concludes that Africa is benefiting from Chinese investment, though to what extent varies based on the country. Conversely, the author finds little evidence that China’s soft power initiatives are supporting country development. Finally, the Sudan and Zambia case studies illustrate how Africans are far from passive actors, as external and internal pressures are slowly changing how China does business in Africa.

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.