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Title: Transnational (dis)connections : mountain gorilla conservation in Rwanda and the DRC
Author: Scholfield, Katherine Abigail
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis uses a case study of mountain gorilla conservation in Rwanda and the DRC to explore how diverse connections and disconnections influence idea circulation and disseminate different forms of inclusion and exclusion of particular people and groups. It is embedded within a theoretical framework that brings together three bodies of literature on non-governmental organisations (NGOs), transnational networks and ideational power to ask questions about network interactions and what they mean in terms of idea circulation. The thesis addresses three research questions: What do transnational networks look like on the ground; what do (dis)connections look like and what do they mean in terms of idea circulation, inclusion and exclusion; and (how) do transnational networks operate to include and circulate the ideas of more marginalised groups in society? This thesis presents results from a survey of the work of 281 conservation NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa, which maps out the institutional context of mountain gorilla conservation and raises questions about the interactions, equality and inclusiveness of the sector. Having identified mountain gorilla conservation as a suitable case study for this research, the thesis explores the political and environmental history of the Virungas, looking at how the two interact and influence (dis)connections. Using data gathered from semi-structured interviews, this thesis introduces the key actors, structures and processes involved in mountain gorilla conservation in Rwanda and the DRC and explores the connections between them. It shows how connections based on perceptions of expertise, staff movement and the professional and social circles people move in cause certain ideas to be respected and circulated, whilst other people and their ideas are ‘accidentally’ excluded. At the same time ‘strategic’ disconnections, which result from personal and organisational conflicts, can prevent idea circulation and lead to project duplication in some areas and a lack of projects in others. The thesis also examines NGO and state claims that ‘the idea (for interventions) came from the community’. It argues that, with exceptions, in a context of ‘sensitisation’ of communities to conservation and a complex political history, NGOs and states often define community ‘ideas’ themselves and do not typically have processes in place to foster local ideas, potentially excluding some of the more marginalised groups in society.
Supervisor: Brockington, Daniel; Duffy, Rosaleen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Rwanda ; Democratic Republic of Congo ; Mountain Gorillas ; Conservation ; Networks ; Virungas