Reply To: 1. Tue 12 Jan: Finale and new beginning

Author Replies
Peter # Posted on January 28, 2015 at 18:29

Ma-thesis Reviews

Short instruction

This paper contains four reviews of second-year student presentations regarding their plans for individual Master thesis. The three first reviews are short summary reviews and the final review is a more in-depth review.

Short review 1- Morag Ramsey’s presentation of Master thesis (2015-01-12)

Morag Ramsey Master thesis is titled “Swedish Wolf dilemma”. Ramsey presented the historical background of Sweden’s relationship to the Wolf, which eventually pushed the wolf into extinction. Todays population is only based on a small number of wolfs that has migrated to Sweden from Finland and Russia. Ramsey also pointed to differences in stakeholder views on wolf, which has lead to the controversies surrounding the Swedish wolf population that we have today.

The aim of the thesis is to deepen understanding of the conservation policy in regards to the Wolf population. She also aims to explore a specific avenue of global environmental history and to examine threads and themes that have arisen through the Master program in Global Environmental History, which I interpreted as aims that are still a bit vaguely formulated.

The first, and I believe more concrete aim, of understanding conservation policy in regards to the Wolf, focuses on the tensions created by differing policy issues. Ramsey specifically will research the use of Science and legal frameworks. In this regard she will look at issues such as terminology used by actors such as NGO’s, Swedish Parliament and Sami Parliament. Ramsey also plans to look at how these actors interact with the legal framework, as well as how they portray science and nature conservation issues.

Ramsey plans to use Actor Network Theory and the main methodology of acquiring empirical date is planed to be interviews. Specifically, Ramsey plans to conduct interviews with individuals in actor institutions to get an insight in their views of the issue. She wants to inquire if they show advocacy for different groups e.g. wolfs, hunters or the European Union (EU). Furthermore, Ramsey wants to research if different actors use science in similar ways, and if there is miscommunication between them based on differences in their respective aims. Finally, she wants to research how these different actors connect the wolf dilemma to nature conservation.

Short Review 2 – Marcus Nyström’s presentation of Master thesis (2015-01-12)

Nyström presented his Master thesis that will be about mining issues in Sweden, and issues regarding Swedish indigenous Sami population. Something that I believe he pointed to have a long historical background were Sweden has in many of these issues acted as a colonial state, and it is clear that the controversies are still very current.

Nyström describes that history is not what happened but rather the narratives of events i.e. the stories we tell. In this sense it is often the conquerors that writes the story of what happened and creates an historical truth. To dissect the prevalent historical narratives Nyström intends to use Narrative theory. He also describes his subject as something of a Meta thesis, as it prescribes to how people use history in different ways to influence the future.

Nyström main research question will be to answer what the historical narratives about the Swedish north are, and what perspective on nature is prevalent on mining issues in Sweden. Nyströms main methodology to acquire empirical data will be to use interviews. He also intends to research written material, such as debate articles, to examine the narratives that are portrayed there.

Short review 3 – Yongliang Gao presentation of Master thesis (2015-01-12)

Yongliang Gao’s Master thesis has the working title “An investigation of rural migrant workers’ happiness in Changsha: Applying happiness for China’s urban planning”. Gao presented the background of China’s rapid population growth and urbanization of the region. He also explained the lack of mutual understanding between rural and urban population, which with growing population also has become an increasingly problematic issue that has not been sufficiently researched. In this regard the rural migrant workers’ happiness is one important aspect to contextualize.

The aims of the thesis will be to, on the basis of this understanding, give suggestions on how urban populations could live that would create better social stability and mutual understanding between urban and rural populations.

Theoretically Gao plans to look at the factors that are most influential for happiness; Education, Health, Employment, Income and Housing. With these factors he plans to gage the happiness of migrant workers.

Gao plans to use a case study method were he will research the happiness of migrant workers the second tier city of Changsha, which has approximately seven million inhabitants. Second tier cities are often provincial capitals that receive the largest amount of rural migrant workers, and as such Changsha will serve as a good representative for studying such areas. The methodology will acquire empirical data through a questionnaire, to which regression analysis will be applied. Gao also plans to use Geographic information systems (GIS) to present his findings visually.

Review 4 – Kristina Berglund’s presentation of Master thesis (2015-01-12)

I did a more in-depth review of Kristina Berglund’s presented of her Master thesis with the working title “Peace Parks and transfrontier nature conservation in Southern Africa: The case of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park”. Berglund presented the background to her thesis, regarding the problematic balance between different rights and interests of human populations on one hand, and the obligation to preserve biodiversity and a functioning planet on the other. To this end Peace and conflict studies, including Environmental history and Nature conservation are important political tools.

One place were many of these problems are explored are in Transfrontier Conservation areas, such as Peace Parks, that dramatically increased in number in South Africa during in the late 1990s. Berglund presented what she called the “Bringing down the fences rhetoric” from the Peace Park Foundation, which is behind the introduction of Peace Parks. The rhetoric reiterating the foundations aims to allow free roaming of animals across national borders, remove political boundaries between countries and break down fences that hinder community participation in nature conservation.

Berglund reiterated and explained how peace parks entail issues regarding conservation of biodiversity, peace and economic stability, Public-private partnerships. But the preliminary studies also show that there are possible negative effects of these conservation areas, such as issues with the resettlement process for the population living in these areas. Other possible negative effects to look at are issues of structural racism and imperialism.

Berglund thesis aims to explore and analyse peace parks as a phenomenon. She wants to examine what actors are involved and how is the concept of Peace Parks described, motivated and implemented. She will also look at the idea of peace parks are framed and how this corresponds to the practical activities carried out. All aims have a special focus on the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA); which is situated in-between the countries of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Berglund plans to use Actor-Network Theory, as presented by the sociologists Bruno Latour, John Law and Michel Callon. The use of this theory is well suited to help determine how networks are framed as well as the infrastructure build-up of these networks. The theory is based on the assumption that no one actor acts alone but rather as a network with many co-dependent and connected actors.

For methodology Berglund will use literature studies, mainly of previous research and official reports, and perform a discourse analysis on this material. She will also use semi-structured interviews and observations. As she has a special focus on GLTFCA as a conservation area this is where the empirical studies will be conducted.