Tatiana A. Thieme, BA, MSc, MPhil
Tatiana's research focuses on the linkages between enterprise-based approaches to poverty alleviation, claims to sustainable and participatory development, and the politics of poverty, youth urban culture, sanitation and waste.
- PhD candidate, Development Geography, University of Cambridge, England (2008 – present). Dissertation: Youth entrepreneurship, urban poverty and waste: whose business and whose politics?
- MPhil, Geographical Research, University of Cambridge, England (2008). Dissertation: Poverty and the New Role of Business: From Rhetoric to Action
- MSc, Law and Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science (2004). Dissertation: Trafficking of Women and Their Legal Personhood in Human Rights Discourse
- BA, double major in Anthropology and Dance, Cornell University (2000)
- Languages: Fluent in spoken/written English, French & Spanish; Intermediate level in Swahili, German, and Catalan.
- (2008) Rapid Ethnographic Appraisal of Danone's social business project working with 'Dani' micro-entrepreneurs in Johannesburg townships, South Africa
- Consultant, Stuart Hart's Enterprise for Sustainable World (ESW) (2006 – 2007)
- (2007) Rapid Ethnographic Appraisal of Overseas Foreign Workers' Remittances for MasterCard, Philippines
- (2006) India BoP Protocol™ Project with Solae/Dupont and SP Jain Institute of Management Research, Mumbai, India
- (2005) Kenya BoP Protocol™ Project with SC Johnson & Son, Inc. and Cornell University, Kenya
- (2004-2006) Research Assistant to Professor Annelise Riles at Cornell University's law and anthropology departments and the Sorbonne Summer Institute of International and Comparative Law in Paris, France
- (2005–2006) Head copy-editor of the Political and Legal Anthropology Review, California University Press
- (2001-2003) Business Development Associate, Tislit Casa, s.a., Barcelona, Spain
- Economic and Social Research Council Case Studentship (2008)
- Honorary Cambridge European Trust Scholar (2008)
- Cornell Council for the Arts (1999)
This research focuses on the role of enterprise in sustainable development by investigating the growing interaction of civil society, Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and the development sector in the pursuit of poverty alleviation. Tatiana critically evaluates the processes, discourses and impacts of enterprise- and corporate-driven development models on community structures. The models investigated are grounded on particular sustainability agendas and expanded "social responsibilities" of the firm.
Beyond corporations' social responsibilities, there is an optimistic business case for perceiving the world's income-poor as an "untapped market," inviting corporations to partner with the social sector in the pursuit of raising standards of living in developing countries. As the business sector focuses on expanding the definition of "bottom line" to incorporate social and environmental "performance" in addition to economic, the introduction of the profit motive and corporate involvement in development work is reshaping the discourses and practices around poverty alleviation. A number of hybrid development models are thus founded on the premise that the survival strategies of the poor are sites of potential opportunity and partnership.
This research examines how the social, cultural, and economic structures of low-income communities become entry points for the incubation of "emerging markets" and sustainability strategies for the private and social sector. In response to the tendency of "business and poverty" discourses to gloss over the complex plurality of lives and modes of living amongst the poor, Tatiana incorporates an ethnographic approach in a multi-methods study of SC Johnson's "Base of the Pyramid" initiative in low-income urban communities of Nairobi.
Since 2005, SCJ has been developing sustainable businesses with micro-entrepreneurs focused on community-led sanitation. This research explores the complementary and contradictory perceptions and definitions of "success" amongst diverse institutional and community-based actors, seeking to ground the ethnographic study of one company's sustainability efforts within the broader politics of waste and youth-led development in urban Kenya.
During Tatiana's 12 months of fieldwork in Nairobi (2009-2010), she also worked on a documentary in partnership with Ghetto Films Trust looking at youth entrepreneurship in waste management across Nairobi's Mathare Valley. The documentary, STORY YETU (Our Story), can be viewed online.
- Journal of Eastern African Studies (in peer review), "The 'hustle' amongst youth entrepreneurs in Mathare's informal waste economy"
- "Community Cleaning Services: combining market- and donor-based approaches to urban sanitation and youth engagement", in Field Action Science Reports (FACTS), co-authored with Justin P. DeKoszmovszky, published by Institut Veolia Environment (forthcoming 2012)
- "Les solutions de marché et l'assainissement des bidonvilles de Nairobi", in Revue Francaise de la Gestion, co-authored with Justin P. DeKoszmovszky, volume 36, numéro 208-209, novembre/décembre 2010
- "Youth, waste and work in Mathare: Whose business and whose politics?" in Environment and Urbanization, volume 22, issue 2, October 2010
- "Book Review of Capital Interrupted: Agrarian development and the politics of work in India, Vinay Gidwani. University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota (2008)", in Political Geography, January 2010.
- The Base of the Pyramid Protocol: Towards next generation BoP strategy, 2nd edition, 2008. [contributing author]
Academic and professional presentations
- Market Square, Cambridge University's Business and Society Interdisciplinary Research Group: "Youth entrepreneurship and the value of waste in Nairobi's low-income settlements" (June 2011)
- Graduate Forum, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge: "Trash is Cash": Youth, urban poverty, and the politics of community-based waste management in Nairobi's informal settlements" (May 2011)
- Association of American Geographers Annual Conference in Seattle: "Youth, 'hustle economics', and the value of waste in Nairobi's informal settlements" (April 2011)
- Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex: "Urban Community Led Total Sanitation in Nairobi: Reflections from the field" (March 2011)
- African Research Forum, University of Cambridge: "Youth, 'hustle economics', and the value of waste in Nairobi's informal settlements" (January 2011)
- British Institute of East Africa Seminar in Nairobi: "Youth, work and waste in Mathare: whose business and whose politics?" (March 2010)
- Cornell Global Forum in New York: Summary Report "Cornell Global Forum and the Great Convergence: From a Happening to a Movement" (June 2009)
- Business and Poverty Workshop at the Cambridge University's Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH): "Poverty, Power and Participation: A Business Issue?" (May 2009)
- Students for Development Conference at Oxford University: "Poverty and the Role of Business: From Rhetoric to Participatory Learning and Action" (June 2008)
- Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Training Workshop for Emerging Markets Group, London, UK (2006)
- BoP Learning Lab, Wingspread Workshop, Wisconsin; and Cornell University, Ithaca, NY: "BoP Protocol™ Pilot: SC Johnson and Kenya" (2005)
- Senior dance thesis, site specific choreography and performance: "Somethings", Cornell Center for Theater Arts (1999)
- Performed with the International Choreographers Commissioning Program at the American Dance Festival, Duke University (1999, 2000)
- Researcher for Cornell University anthropology department curatorial display: "Purdah, a Source of Liberation or Bondage?" (1999)
- Guest Lecturer, Certificate of Higher Education in International Development: The making of international development: concepts, theories and ideas, "Participatory Development" (November 9, 2011) & "Urban Theory" (December 7, 2011), University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education
- Guest Lecturer, Certificate of Higher Education in International Development: Contemporary Issues in Development, "Youth, Urban Poverty and the Politics of Work", University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (Cambridge: June 8th, 2011)
- Guest lecturer, Haute Ecole de Commerce (HEC), Chaire Social Business, Entreprise et Pauvreté (Paris: May 12-13, 2011)
- Contributor & seminar facilitator: Master of Studies in Sustainability Leadership, Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership (Cambridge: April 8th, 2011)
- Supervisor, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Society, Environment and Development, Department of Geography (Cambridge: Lent term 2011)
- Lecturer, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Society, Environment and Development, Department of Geography (Cambridge: Lent term 2011)
- Tutor, Certificate of Higher Education in International Development, "Being a development practitioner: multiple roles and contributions", University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (Cambridge: Michaelmas term 2010)
- Supervisor, Geographical Tripos Part 1A: Society, Environment and Development, Department of Geography (Cambridge: Michaelmas term 2008)
- Member, Association of American Geographers
- Member, British Institute of East Africa (BIEA) and Institut Francais de Recherche en Afrique (IFRA)
- Member, University of Cambridge African Research Forum
- Member & workshop coordinator, Cambridge University Business & Society Research Group at CRASSH
- Member, University of Cambridge South Asia reading group
- Member, Graduate Teaching Committee (GTC) and Graduate Student Staff Consultative Committee (GSSCC) (2007-2008)
- Member, Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab, Cornell University
- Advisor, Reciprocity and South African Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab
- Advisor, Base of the Pyramid Protocol™ implementation