Author Archive: POLSIS Student Conference

Cosmopolitan Dimensions programme (2012) – pdf

Cosmopolitan Dimensions programme

Annual Student Conference 2013

We are pleased to announce that the third annual POLSIS student conference has been scheduled for 5th June 2013!

The POLSIS student conference is open to undergraduate and taught postgraduate students (from POLSIS, IDD and INLOGOV) interested in multi and inter-disciplinary fields related to social sciences. It is an opportunity to celebrate and promote students’ achievements here at the University of Birmingham!

This conference will give you a chance to give a presentation to a group of academics and peers. An expert panel will be asking questions, generating discussion and judging the various presentations. In addition, there are going to be prizes of £100 for the best three speakers!

The theme for the conference is ‘Victims VS. Villains’ this theme is very much open to your own interpretation. The following blurb should give you a bit more insight into the theme.

From global politics to individuals negotiating everyday life – and all that is in between – decisions are made, and events occur, which create the constructs of victims vs. villains, good vs. bad, right vs. wrong. Be it students protesting against a government they feel has abandoned them, subjects of a dictatorship rising up to call for democracy or even a woman fighting for a her dream to become a bishop. These issues conjure up all sorts of debates and test us to challenge our own judgement of what is right and what is wrong.”

The next part is up to you! We are now accepting abstracts for presentations up to 250 words in length. In these abstracts you can give an outline of what you intend to talk about and the key themes that you intend to tackle. Abstracts are to be sent to Dr Emma Foster at

The deadline for abstract submission is the 18th of February 2013 so don’t delay!

If you have any questions do not hesitate to send us a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Good Luck!

Call for papers advice

On the 29th February 2012, Dr Emma Foster held a training session on ways of writing abstracts and papers, giving this way the opportunity to students to ask questions and understand better the requirements of an academic conference.

Annual Student Conference 2012

Call for papers advice

Education Building, room 408
—Who is it for?
—The conference is open to all undergraduate and taught postgraduate students in the School of Government and Society
—When and where will it be held?
—On Friday 4th May 2012 on campus
—How do I get involved?
—If you would like to deliver a presentation at the conference then email me a summary/abstract of your presentation topic before the 14th March. My email is
What is an abstract?
—The abstract is a summary of your presentation idea
—The purpose of the abstract is, in this instance, to ‘sell’ your presentation idea to a panel in order to potentially be selected to deliver your presentation at the student conference 2012
What should be included in the abstract?
  • —Motivation/problem statement
  • —Methods/procedure/approach
  • —Results/findings/product
  • —Conclusion/implications
Other things to note
—This is not an exact science so abstracts will vary by topic
—The abstract should be between 200-300 words long
—The abstract is being used for selection purposes for the conference and therefore can be altered at a later date for the conference programme
—Any questions?

Urbanisation and Modernisation on the peripheries: Nouakchott, Mauritania

Within globalisation what part is played by the rapid urbanisation in ‘peripheral’ regions? How is identity formed for large volumes of urban migrants and how does Nouakchott align itself to globalised development models?

The population growth of Nouakchott – more than thirtyfold in fifty years – is a key force driving urban planning and anti-poverty measures in the city.  The French colonial administration had never envisioned Nouakchott as a capital city and during the colonial era it was primarily a settlement grown around a fishing port. The infrastructural growth of Nouakchott did not follow a plan for such a large population and in 1958 it was inhabited by less than 1000 people.  Repeated droughts led to great waves of migration, which mushroomed during the 1980s due to the complete destruction of pastoralist livelihoods for different Sahalian groups.  Even post-independence Nouakchott had not prepared to maintain well over a million inhabitants.

As a result of mass in-migration without the requisite growth of infrastructure, services and access to resources, Nouakchott developed a number of slum neighbourhoods. These areas are made up of tracts of land which have been squatted by urban poor as a response to necessity.  Often these were originally intended to be temporary encampments, but with many of the inhabitants now in place as established urban dwellers, livelihood strategies have developed which centre on habitation in these settlements.  Here the issues of traditional and modernising identities coincide.  Within this context improvements to infrastructure and increased social cohesion are primary objectives to reducing poverty and renovating the city of Nouakchott.

Mauritania has a history of exporting iron ore and offshore oil reserves now signal a new revenue source which will undoubtedly increase modernisation in Nouakchott, but what will this mean for the urban poor?  The further pertinent question is what part do ‘third-tier’ cities play in global urban development and can they hope to modernise without being dependent on aid or government resource revenues?

Joseph Bergson

African Studies BA




Political and Social Place of the Catholic Church in Poland and the ‘Battle for the Smolensk Cross’

This paper seeks to explain the place of the Catholic Church in the politics and society of Poland, and to evaluate attempts of different interest groups to use the Church for political purposes in what can be called the ‘battle for the Smolensk cross’ of 2010. The general intention of this paper is to deepen the understanding of Polish State-Church relations and Polish politics in general. Firstly, the paper briefly explains the place of the Catholic Church in the Polish society, culture and politics in the past. Secondly, it assesses contemporary Polish State-Church relations and compares those with patterns present in other liberal democratic states. Thirdly, it analyses the controversy over the ‘Smolensk cross’ in the context of political interests of certain groups in contemporary Poland. Finally, it evaluates the consequences of the controversy and speculates on possible future developments especially in the context of the upcoming general election of autumn 2011.

This paper argues that the Polish pattern of State-Church relations is an optimal one, and that religion should not be used for political purposes as it unfortunately was the case during the controversy over the ‘Smolensk cross’. Information for this paper has been collected through critical discourse analysis of speeches, newspaper articles and discursive events constituting the ‘battle for the Smolensk cross’ in Poland in the summer of 2010.

Konrad Jagodzinski

2nd Year International Relations with Political Science BA




“Is Islamic finance an alternative to conventional finance” discuss.

Islamic finance is one of the fastest-growing segments of today’s banking industry. There has been an increased interest in Islamic finance due to the recent Global financial crisis which saw the end of an economic boom which is inevitable aspect in Capitalism. This accruing pattern of boom and bust is down to the principles of capitalism and its proneness to crisis. It is said the crisis are a consequences of speculations, risky lending and high interest rates on short term loans.

Since the financial crisis of 2008 the search for an alternative economic model had shone the light on Islamic finance due to the possibility of avoiding a financial crisis. Therefore I want to investigate how the principles of no interest rates and equity based finance could improve the current financial system and avoid future financial crisis. I would also like to investigate if Islamic finance is a real alternative to conventional banking outside the Islamic world and whether it provides the much needed stability in banking sector.

Farhia Abukar

2nd Year Political Economy

Isir Hussein

2nd Year Political Science





The Moral Status of Feminist Advocacy: The Dilemma of Imperfect Foresight

This paper will look at the ways in which feminist thought and advocacy, by virtue of its heterodox status, often fails to foresee how feminist achievements will play out in the long-term. Building on the work of Nancy Fraser and others, it will argue that feminist achievements often end up displacing one type of oppression with another, albeit less salient, form of oppression.

Imperfect foresight results in emancipatory strategies from a given paradigm becoming oppressive, or at least restrictive, in the subsequent paradigm. This violates the foundational normative premise of the feminist movement in almost all forms. Consequently, there is a moral need for feminist advocacy to not only look to horizon points in establishing change, but to theorise about plausible and tangible ways in which the dialectic of feminism and malestream may interact. It is through this method that particular emancipatory strategies can gain greater credence within the discipline and, consequently, within wider political movements.

Bryn Gough

2nd Year Political Science BA




The Mechanisms of Global Spreading of Gender Mainstreaming Policies

Although the international system in which states operate is an arguably anarchical space, over 100 countries, and thus the majority of nation-states, introduced policies in favour of and aiming at the advancement of women. The implementation of gender-sensitive legislation has spread globally since the 1970s, throughout very dissimilar states and passed by governments with varying orientations, priorities and outlooks. Therefore the question arises, how the diffusion of gender related policies works. Neither is a global government acting and setting an agenda, nor can a shared cultural background be pointed at to explain the mechanisms of this policy diffusion.

This paper will briefly outline the historical background and beginnings of a feminist movement in favour of legislation empowering women and then examine the role of NGOs in influencing and pressuring states to adopt policies. Then it will move on to identify factors that forwards the adaptation and talk about the English School as a driving school of thought behind the logics of these processes. In two short case studies, I will point out the shortcomings of this model.

The global spreading of gender mainstreaming policies is a sublime example of how the global system has become and still is becoming a global society in which actors, such as individuals and collectives, NGOs and pressure groups, shape and form the world we live in today.

Natalie Werner

 1st Year International Relations, BA




Representations of rape victims in the media

The issue of rape is still largely ignored in society. There has been little coverage of rape in the media and victims often remain unwilling to report or openly discuss their experiences. In this presentation I assess theories of social attitudes towards and media representations of rape victims. I shall focus on the concerns of the anti-rape and women’s liberation movements. The anti-rape movement which first appeared in the early twentieth century had little success before the development of second-wave feminism of the early 1960s. During this time, the anti-rape movement was met with support from the women’s liberation movement.

I am concerned with the question of whether the aforementioned social forces have contributed to a change in representations of rape victims in the media. Discourse and textual analysis of two Hollywood films released in the late 1980s and early 1990s revealed that rape victims have been given a space in the media. This was a key factor which the abovementioned social forces had campaigned to achieve. Referring to film reviewers and theorists, I argue that they were successful. Whether these changes have prevailed is more difficult to establish. However, I propose that the media has taken into account the seriousness of rape in the context of the anti-rape and women’s liberation movements.

Elena Lynch

4th Year Sociology (with International Study Year) BA




The Impact of Democracy and Capitalism in the Third World: An Inherent Contradiction?

This paper discusses the global issues of developing world dictatorships, looking into whether the attempts of the developed world to press capitalism into the mind set helps or hinders development and if these developing countries would be better off left alone or having a less market driven style of development promoted towards them. Global politics and the link to the developing world is both interesting and important. One hundred years ago this would have been of relatively little significance. However, given the globalist society we now live in it bears huge significance for politics and economics amongst other things. As such, we need to highlight the best way forwards in the interests of all in the world, particularly the people of the developing world who should be at the centre of concerns.

This presentation, in light of this, reflects upon the contemporary issues surrounding politics of the ‘third world’ and globalisation. Can democracy work in these countries? What should the West be doing? What role does debt and international lending play? These are just some of the just some of the potential questions I will be looking into and making judgements on in my presentation that, ultimately seeks to gauge whether the messages the West are sending to the developing world are contradictory.

James Hughes

Political Science BA