In June 2020, Roman Meier won the KLV Thesis Award with his thesis ‘Identity Negotiation of Indigenous People in the Process of Rural Urban Migration’. Roman was supervised by Bram Jansen. We are very proud of Roman and congratulate him and his supervisor Bram Jansen with this excellent achievement.
The Jury Report
Nine high quality and highly rated theses were submitted from the domain Social Sciences of Wageningen University. The jury reached a consensus that Roman’s thesis stood out as the best thesis among these for a number of reasons.
Roman’s thesis addresses a a timely analytical and development issue and process at the same time: migration and identities that sprout from the modernities that migration produces. This makes the thesis fitting with the theorem that modernity is not emerging along a time dimension or relates to a particular epoch, but is a continuously reproducing, time and space specific process that is given hands and feet by migrants themselves and the environments they create in their effort to migrate from one to another place. This is where and how indigeneity unfolds.
In framing this theme and analytical approach, Roman not only consulted the recent literature, but also consulted and read some of the classics in the field of the sociology of modernity and development. Not many students do that these days. His tapping from Bauman’s seminal sociological work is outstanding. This is where Roman showed the mastery of the literature.
The jury also found it important that Roman developed the thesis, that is the collection, organisation and interpretation of the data for analysis, in a rather independent way.
Another important argument for the jury to nominate this thesis was the reflexivity Roman displays in the thesis. Reflecting on how data was collected, ordered, and interpreted is a necessary ingredient of a (social) science practice. Roman engaged with this needed reflexivity extremely well. This gives the readers the impression of not just a mature master student, but one that is capable of showing how data is interpreted and how the social circumstances and interactions between object and subject help to construct these interpretations. The interactions between Roman and the migrants in Katmandu and between Roman and his supervisor in Wageningen constitute your scientific laboratory. Roman handled this extremely well.
Apart from this, the jury also found the thesis well written. The layout combined with the pictures make it a pleasantly readable thesis.
The thesis is accessible via the library of the WUR or by clicking on this link.