Masters student wins Development Studies Association dissertation prize

Congratulations to 2018-2019 MSc Cities and Global Development student Euan Crispin for winning the annual dissertation prize of the Development Studies Association (DSA).

A coastal part of Lagos, Nigeria

His Masters dissertation entitled: ‘The Dubai of Africa? Exploring the role of aesthetic representation in the construction of Eko Atlantic City, Lagos’ achieved the first place in the competition.

The prize is for Masters dissertations in the field of international development, development studies and development economics. In addition to the recognition of his research, Euan will be awarded £500 and has been invited to present his work at the DSA annual conference.

Euan's dissertation concerned the creation of new cities in Africa and how aesthetic representations generate support and dissent. Focusing on the Eko Atlantic project on the coastal area of Lagos, Nigeria, he employed a creative approach to methodology to examine its presentation on digital media combined with interviews with activists and artists.

It generated a sound understanding of the complex challenges of urban economic development and how the projection of certain 'ideal' ways of living individualises urban lived experiences."

DSA judge

The judges considered it an excellent piece of research and said Euan's work “was exceptional in the way that it bridged visual and architectural analysis on the one hand with urban anthropology, behaviours and political economy at the other.

It generated a sound understanding of the complex challenges of urban economic development and how the projection of certain 'ideal' ways of living individualises urban lived experiences.

We felt the student had taken a rigorous and conscientious approach to the research and through this had produced something truly original, and of near publishable standard.”

Euan said: “I am thrilled that my dissertation has received such positive praise from prominent scholars. It was always going to be difficult not having the time or budget to complete my research in the field but I feel this worked in my favour, forcing me to think more innovatively about the methodology inspired by my interest in visual culture and the arts.

"Earlier modules in the course provided the foundation to my thoughts around urban megaprojects and the everyday perspective, so I would like to thank Gabriel and Lindsay for their support.”

Dr Lindsay Sawyer, Euan’s dissertation supervisor, said: “Euan worked hard to develop a truly innovative multi-method approach in a rigorous theoretical framework to analyse aesthetic representations of an as-yet unbuilt urban megaproject.

"Visual materials form an integral part of the analysis, giving an engaging and extremely well-structured discussion. Despite not being able to conduct research in Lagos, Euan shows a sensitive understanding of the context and gives nuanced consideration to the limitations and ethics of his study”.

Dr Gabriel Silvestre, director of the MSc Cities and Global Development programme said: “The DSA prize is a true recognition of Euan's intellectual curiosity and engagement with important debates in international urban development.

"His dissertation was already judged outstanding within the department and received the prize for best student dissertation on Town and Regional Planning.”

Since graduating, Euan had a paper accepted to the Lagos Studies Association Conference held at the University of Lagos in June this year. He is currently undertaking an internship at the United Nations Habitat office in Fukuoka, Japan.

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