Over the past year, the COBRA project has had considerable interest from researchers all over the world wanting to work in areas with similar objectives. We have been fortunate to have received additional funding and a group of young researchers started their PhDs this October.
Getting funding for doctoral studies is getting harder and harder nowadays, but COBRA academics, Andrea Berardi and Jay Mistry, have been successful this year indicating the high quality of candidates interested in COBRA-related research.
At the Open University, Geraud de Ville started a fully-funded PhD looking at indigenous rights and cyber activism. Focusing on the Guiana Shield region, the study aims to analyse how the growing recognition of collective indigenous rights under international and national law interact with grassroots, ICT enhanced, actions initiated by indigenous peoples. Geraud de Ville is also a key Cobra member working for the Institute of Environmental Security (IES) and undertaking a PhD will be building his capacity to more effectively work in the CSO sector.
At Royal Holloway, Deirdre Jafferally started her PhD looking at how changes in worldview and notions of identity of the Makushi indigenous group in Guyana, affects the way they manage their environment. Deirdre also works for the Iwokrama International Centre and again, doing a PhD is helping the institution build their capacity for future research. In addition, with no doctoral level studies available in the country, this opportunity funded by the Cobra project and Royal Holloway, provides Guyana with qualified professionals to work in the research sector.
With a professional background in various research institutes and a masters degree in development studies, Sara Pologno, part funded by Royal Holloway, is investigating adaptive governance of tropical forests in the Guiana Shield. Her focus is on identifying protected areas management models that may help to conserve biocultural diversity, while effectively distributing equitable and commensurate benefits among those who are paying the highest price for conservation, namely indigenous peoples and forest communities.
Ian-James Clanton is also basing his studies at Royal Holloway, but with an arrangement which allows supervisory support from Andrea Berardi. He is investigating indigenous settlement patterns, sustainable architecture practices, wildlife corridors, and the synergistic interactions between human and non-human populations. His fieldwork will be based in Nicaragua, although this research will draw inspiration from communities from across South America and beyond. He will be investigating how grassroots practices of indigenous people can implement wildlife corridors in order to protect the rainforest, and the lessons for sustainable urban design.
The ultimate aim of all the doctoral studies is to promote community-owned solutions to issues around natural resource management and governance, a key objective of the COBRA project. We wish them all well with the exciting work ahead!