Category Archives: Fourth Panel Session: Diversity, Cultures and the International

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