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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Crystal Courtney

Crystal Courtney
Crystal Courtney
African Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK
Research Interests
Ethnography, Maasai, Ecotourism, International development, Rural Development, Kenya, Sustainability

PhD Title

Sustainable Africapitalism? Perceptions of the Koiyaki Conservancies and their relationship with development.


My current research interests lie in the tourism-development nexus in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For my thesis I am analysing interpretations of  ‘development’ within the former Koiyaki Group Ranch, which borders the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Following this, perceptions of the relationship between ecotourism  in the conservancies bordering the Masai Mara National Reserve and development are explored. In the broader sense, I am interested in the role of business can play in developing communities.

This research is a continuation of two prior research projects undertaken in the Maasai Mara area, at Undergraduate and Masters level.

Supervisors: Dr Thomas Molony and Dr Joost Fontein


2010-2014 PhD in African Studies, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh – ongoing.
2009-2010 MSc by Research in African Studies, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh.
2008-2009 MSc in Environment and Development, Department of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh – Awarded Distinction.
2005-2009 BSc (hons) in Geography, Newcastle University – Awarded First Class Honours.

2010 MSc by Research: The Skeptical Tourist: Implications of Ecotourism in Maasailand.
2009 MSc: An Investigation into the Extent to which Activities in Olare Orok Conservancy, Narok District, Kenya, Conform to ‘Ecotourism’.
2008 BSc (hons): A Study into the Environmental Impact of Safari Tourism in the Maasai Mara National Reserve.

2009-2014 ESRC Quota Award Scholarship to fully fund MSc by Research and PhD.
2009 University of Edinburgh Small Projects Grant to fully fund MSc fieldwork expedition.

Swahili – KIU beginner, advanced beginner and intermediate courses completed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, over a six month period (2010-2011).
Maa – Grammar course completed at Oltopesi Cultural Centre in Kajiado District, Kenya over a three month period (2011).
French – GCSE A* (2001)
German – GCSE A (2001)