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Hall of Fame


The prize for best MA thesis in 2016 was awarded to Tomas Salem for his excellent work in “Taming the War Machine: Police, Pacification and Power in Rio de Janeiro”, at the University of Bergen. Salem offers an impressive and nuanced thesis on policing in Rio de Janeiro’s poor communities, the favelas, and reassertion of state control. The focus is on becoming and being a police, using violence and enacting state order, as well as transformations and reforms in the police as an institution. His perspectives on gender, in particular what man and manhood means, are highly convincing and demonstrates how identities truly are dynamic rather than static. Salem also approaches the topic in what he terms “studying up”, namely looking at those in power rather than the powerless. In development studies, this is equally important and his empirical analysis shows the dynamics of power as well as loss of power depending on identities (e.g. gender), relations and context. We congratulate Tomas Salem for his excellent contribution to development research and with this MA award!  Find the full thesis here: http://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/12823


The prize for the best MA thesis in 2015 was awarded to Mikael Bergius with his thesis ‘Expanding the Corporate Food Regime – The Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania’. Mikael Bergius has done a truly impressive job in analysing and communicating a complex phenomenon. Through the combination of thorough knowledge of agricultural policies and controversial land issues in Tanzania and fieldwork among small-scale farmers, Bergius manages to produce convincing arguments on the negative sides of agribusiness. In the process he demonstrates the importance of thorough development fieldwork in giving voice to those who are often not heard in large-scale developmental projects. We congratulate Bergius on this achievement and on winning a well-deserved prize for best MA thesis.


Two theses were deemed excellent by the committee this year. Therefore, the MA thesis 2014 went to Lisa Govasli Nilsen and Anna Gudbjört Sveinsdottir. 

Lisa Govasli Nilsen from the University of Oslo, Department of Political Science, with the thesis “Patterns of wartime sexual violence. Perspectives from Colombia." Govasli Nilsen demonstrates comprehensive overview of the existing literature within the field and clearly positions her own study within it. The latter she does also through a comprehensive and analytically excellent theoretical discussion of possible explanations and reasons for variation in wartime sexual violence. Another strength of the thesis is that the author throughout reflects on limitations and blind spots of her own analysis, which she does not try to gloss away but in stead recognizes. This adds to the transparency and trustworthiness of the study. The language is precise and to the point, which makes it engaging to read. The conflict is discussed in terms of relevant theoretical debates, but more importantly, in terms of the different points of view of different actors within the nexus of conflict-group cohesion-sexual violence. That is, the empirical findings guide the analysis and the way the results are presented rather than some predefined theory, which shows the level of independence of the author and a strong methodological commitment to inductive research.


Anna Gudbjört Sveinsdottir, (also from UiO, Centre for Development and the Environment) with the thesis “Land Tenure and Tourism Development in Nicaragua. A case study from Playa Gigante.” Sveinsdottir demonstrate a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of theoretical approaches to studying processes of change in general and processes of access and control over land in particular. Methodologically, she has a thorough review of methodological issues facing a qualitative case study research design. This makes it transparent and accessible what the candidate has done during fieldwork and what might have been the blind spots of this study. Conceptually the student demonstrates a firm knowledge of the social and economic aspects of livelihoods as well as the relational nature of production and appropriation of space. Furthermore, the theoretical elaborations are utilized with success in the analysis of the changed landscape of Gigante, Tola, and the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua. Here the notion of success is understood as the way the student provides the reader with crisp analysis of the mechanisms and reasons for the transformation of these places into spaces of accumulation and dispossession. Moreover, empirical analysis is done in a good way as a vivid description of people’s practices and tasks of making a living are instructive of the changes taking place for the local inhabitants. The thesis is very well written, and the candidate draws on a wide variety of sources to make the case that Gigante is turning into a “tourism space” and that this adversely affects certain forms of making a living.  



The prize for the best MA thesis in 2012 was awarded to Gedion Onyango with his thesis 'Administrative and political grassroots corruption in rural Kenya: It takes two to tango' submitted to Department of Administration and Organization Theory at the University of Bergen. 


The prize for the best MA thesis in 2010 was in 2011 awarded to Cecilia Guadalupe Salinas in social anthropology at the University of Oslo. Salinas' thesis was entitled 'Wistful Hope - Local Responses to Neoliberal Policies: Uruguay and the Pulp Industry'.


The prize for the best MA thesis in 2009 was in 2010 awarded to Jill Tove Buseth from Department of international environment and development studies (Noragric), University of Life Sciences (UMB). Buseth's thesis was entitled 'Conflicting Livelihoods and Resource Scarcity in ’The Time of Global Warming’: The Political Ecology of a Farmer-Herder Conflict in Mopti, Mali’.