ComDev alumni interviews: ComDev graduate completed her PhD

by Rebecca Bengtsson on December 10, 2014

in Alumni,ComDev Jobs,Comdev News,Comdev Projects

Johanna Stenerson is one of the first ComDev graduates to complete their PhD. Johanna graduated from ComDev in 2006, and after having worked in Nicaragua as a programme analyst in a civil society organisation she was accepted for doctoral studies at Örebro University, Sweden. In November she defended her PhD thesis “Citizens in the Making. Critical Perspectives on Civic Participation and Communicative Practices”.

Congratulations on your PhD! What was your doctoral research about?
My thesis addresses issues of civic identity, culture and practices in the context of the Nicaraguan women’s movement and in the wider context and discourse of global development. Women’s experiences and knowledge are rarely accounted for and have historically been pushed to the epistemological margins. I discuss how the wide range of practices and rituals in which the women are engaged in different ways challenge and resist dominant views on and practices of civic participation and identity. I have wanted to discuss the fact that ‘participation’ often is constructed in ways that exclude certain expressions and experiences, and how the wish to rationalise participation distances it from both body and passion, elements that are highly relevant for political and social interaction.

What’s next for you?
I’m currently director of division, Media and communication studies at Örebro University, but hope to reconnect to some more empirical experiences again soon, either through research or finding a position outside the academic realm.

How has your ComDev degree been useful in your PhD studies?
I would say that ComDev, not only as degree, but also as experience, network and space for critique and encounters, has been crucial for my choice of career and research orientation.

What were the best parts about ComDev in your opinion?
Where to begin? The enthusiasm, among students and staff alike, the dynamics, vitality, interesting and challenging reading, assignments and group work, the pioneering course site and Oscar’s great networking skills and incredible ability to create interesting

What did you write your degree project about?
I was fortunate to get a Minor Field Studies grant to do a project in Kyrgyzstan about tourism, identity and political transition in post-soviet states. The thesis is called Heritage and Enterprise. Community Based Tourism in Kyrgyzstan.

Any advice for ComDev students wanting to continue into PhD studies?
Please do! We need more empirically grounded and critically oriented research within this field.

Flor JohannaJohanna Stenerson (right) with fellow ComDev graduate and recent PhD Florencia Enghel.


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