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We are the UK association for all those who research, study and teach global development issues

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What is Development Studies

What is development studies and decolonising development.

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We have around 1,000 members, made up of individuals and around 40 institutions

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The DSA Conference is an annual event which brings together the development studies community

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Our conference this year is themed "Social justice and development in a polarising world"

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A series of workshops exploring North-South interdisciplinary research with key messages and reports

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DSA PhD Thesis Prize 2024 winners

Francesca Chiu is the winner of the DSA PhD Thesis Prize for 2024 and Anna Colom Miras was highly commended. Read more to find out about both theses.

Francesca Chiu from the School of Global Development at the University of East Anglia has won the 2024 DSA Thesis Prize for her thesis entitled “Transforming the Outskirts- Planning, Property and People in Urban Myanmar”.

Francesca’s thesis is an urban anthropology of how residents conceptualise and claim citizenship in transitional Myanmar. It explores the official history of urban planning, as well as residents’ practices and struggles in acquiring, maintaining, and building on land far from the city centre.

The judges commented that her thesis “argues that to comprehend the politics of urban citizenship and urban transformations in the context of Myanmar’s transition (which has continued to evolve significantly since the study was completed), we must look beyond central urban areas and instead concentrate on the practices of planning, property, and state-people interaction on the “outskirts”. The research is grounded in an extremely clear purpose, engaging with practices of planning, property, and state-people interaction in a place where, according to residents, “nothing happens here”.”

The judges noted that the thesis “offers a historical account of land use planning in Myanmar, and then delves into the stories of citizens, bringing into clear light their voices and experiences, and drawing on an impressive use of ethnographic methodology that evolved and adapted during the research process. It makes theoretical contributions around notions of citizenship, and how land ownership and use become a driving force for many citizens in achieving their life goals.”

Judges observed that “the thesis is distinctive as it gives voice to lived experiences, through a very well-crafted narrative, to those who view themselves as “ordinary”; whilst also giving us insights into experiences and understandings of citizenship that have been shaped by an iterative series of dynamics over time.”

The DSA thesis prize for PhD students working in the field of international development, development studies and development economics has been running annually since 2022 to award the best PhD thesis in these fields of studies from across current DSA Institutional Members.

Francesca will receive £350, plus the offer of full funding to attend DSA2024 to present her research in person.

Highly Commended

Anna Colom Miras, from the Development Policy and Practice department at the Open University was Highly Commended. Her thesis entitled “Citizenship capabilities and instant messaging in Western Kenya: an intersectional approach” investigates the use of WhatsApp in Kenya in citizen engagement processes, through an intersectional feminist approach.

The thesis asks how digital technologies, in particular instant messaging services, mediate ideas and discussions around citizenship in Western Kenya; and how this interacts with inequalities and dynamics of power and oppression. Through this it asks questions of the assumed transformative potential of digital technologies, especially for women and other oppressed groups.

The judges were particularly impressed with the interesting discussion on digital ethnography, and the way in which the methodology for the research was considered and developed. They said the thesis offers some critical ideas and thinking about how to undertake research in the digital realm, including a strong discussion on ethical and positionality dimensions, as well as on engaging with “closed” social media platforms.

“The thesis provides a compelling argument, is based on rigorous research and analysis, and makes a strongly original contribution in debates and theories around digital technologies for development, ideas around citizenship, and intersectionalities and power,” the judges concluded.

The DSA is committed to supporting the development of students and early career researchers. Find out more about what the DSA offers students and early career researchers on our website.