Global Studies Capstone Projects: 2021-2022
Lang Senior Work 2021
- Spring 2021
“Reclaiming Footsteps” – Jenna D’ascoli
“Examining Farmers’ Regenerative Agricultural Practices Under Climate Change” – Jessica Davies
“Finding the Relationship between Aesthetics, Function and the Sustainable Promises of Biomimicry” – Isabel Devereux
“Urbanity: the Bane of Humanity” – Max Gaddis
“Climbing Walls and Breaking Windows: Queer Ecology as Resistance” – Air Hoover
“Wetlands for Wave Protection and Environmental Justice” – Rebecca Stobbe
“The Pomerac Tree in the novel Cereus Blooms at Night: An Environmental Humanities Approach” – Molly Treangen
“Crisis Narratives – Big Oil as the Hero of Climate Change” – Alyssa Woo
- Fall 2021
Senior Thesis and Capstone Projects
“Hybrid Warfare and the Post-Truth Era: The Weaponization of Discourse Surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic” — Alyssa Chetrick
Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the origins of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) remain unknown to the international public. The most common theories circulated by the international community are that the virus first came from the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan or from a lab leak in the Wuhan Institute of Virology. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that there is not enough scientific evidence to back either hypothesis and has presently put together a team of epidemiological experts to reinvestigate the origins of SARS-CoV-2 in China. Yet, there is a hurdle to the accessibility of comprehensive facts: topics on the pandemic such as the aetiological origins of the virus have become volatile and obscured due to the influence of national publications and media sources alike. For one, the WHO’s preliminary investigation in Wuhan in July 2020 was curtailed and inconclusive as it became “entangled in geopolitics and trailed by concerns over Beijing’s influence.” In another example, the Trump administration periodically suspended funding and pulled the U.S out of the WHO in mid 2020, all while accusing China of misinforming the WHO on the origins. The discourse has become hostile as scientific efforts by the “W.H.O. has been caught in the middle of a tug of war between China and the United States” as the contradictory standpoints of the two most powerful member-states have destabilized the integrity of this platform. This begs the question, how has the discourse on COVID-19 become politicized? Moreover, what are the respective strategic aims of these countries in shaping the public narrative?
“Between Helplessness and Anger: Ethiopian Diaspora Response to the Conflict in Tigray” — Hanna Eshetu
“What is at stake for Russia and countries within European Union in Ukraine’s war” — Aizat Kalybekova
Although the protracted conflict in Ukraine has been simmering since 2014 — when the ousted head of the state Victor Yanukovych fled the country — it has, since then, slowly entered a phase of military stalemate. But the scale of the conflict has been growing. As of today, one part of Ukraine has received military assistance from the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada; on the other part, the separatists in the Donbas region of Ukraine are assisted by the Russian Federation. The present paper examines the relationship of the countries to the west of Ukraine (e.g. countries in the NATO alliance) and Ukraine. Then it takes a close look into Russia’s geopolitical objectives in Ukraine in view of the escalating conflict in the Black Sea, while dissecting the logistics of how a conflict, initially localized, becomes internationalized. It then proceeds to closely analyze the analytical framework of a proxy warfare while zooming in on the Russian intervention and subsequent annexation of the Crimean region of Ukraine, as well as military occupation of the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbas region of Ukraine.
“Deterrence and Expulsion: How The Migrant Protection Protocols are Reshaping Asylum in the U.S” — Melissa Kehr-Ruiz
“Designing Life into Urban Rivers: the Tietê River in São Paulo and Hudson River in New York” — Luiza Livingston
In this project, I explore the Tietê River in São Paulo and Hudson River in New York as case studies for urban design to improve the health of the rivers and urban lives, in relation to the repercussions of climatic disasters as well as, more generally, quality of life. Ultimately, I propose two riverside green public spaces. Both bodies of water and cities face unique and shared issues, including: the excessive presence of impermeable surfaces like concrete as a result of intense processes of urban development; flooding; and pollution. I analyzed government reports, published works by urban design professionals, as well as urban design projects to inform the sustainable, contextual, and simple urban design ideals through which I approach my case studies. Through contextual analysis of the two urban rivers, including related realized and proposed projects, I formulate key components for complementary urban design proposals that will be further developed in coming months: “Parque da Vida” and “Life Park.” The proposals involve the regeneration of natural wetland ecosystems, creating water-absorbent permeable surfaces, instead of existing impermeable surfaces surrounding the rivers, and human engagement as the basis for creating spaces of life. Given the local and global reality of flooding, pollution, and lack of spaces for life, this serves as an important project to help normalize an alternate urban design approach for other future and contemporary cities, socially, environmentally, and economically.
“Climate Change and Citizen Activism in Basel, Switzerland” — Larissa Mueller
In the absence of effective international and nation-state action, the question arises if cities can be at the forefront of climate change measures. In this paper, I focused on how citizens play an important role in compelling cities to live up to their responsibility for climate change and in what ways cities can compensate the federal governments’ inaction. It analyzes citizen activism towards carbon reduction, to understand what it means, in practice, for a city to declare a climate emergency, so that other cities understand what might work to efficiently combat climate change, something for which cities bear responsibility. I used one relatively small city in Europe, Basel, Switzerland as a case study to explore how citizen activism in Basel is trying to get their local government to act on climate change measures. In particular, I will look first at the topic of CO2 and Greenhouse Gas emissions, and then, in what way citizen activism had an impact on Basel declaring the first climate emergency in Switzerland, the goal of a climate emergency declaration and its failures and in what ways Basel 2030 with its Climate Justice Initiative is trying to change that. I will move to the topic of moral responsibility when it comes to climate justice and will analyze the counterproposal that was put forward by the Executive Council, its limitations as well as the response by Basel 2030. Lastly, I will end by showing the impact citizen activism has had on Basel’s climate change politics overall and give some recommendations for effective climate policy development and implementation in cities.
“Spam Across Borders: Post-WWII Food Consumption and South Korean Identity” — Katelyn Paik
How is South Korean history diffused and interpreted across diaspora in the shaping of their cultural identity? In this paper, I discuss South Korean post-war modernization and how the South Korean identity formed during this era is reflected in today’s domestic and diaspora households. Using cuisine as the starting point, we look at SPAM as a direct example of the lasting effects of US military occupation on modernization and Westernization in South Korea, as SPAM was among the many non-perishable goods imported into the nation after WWII that were integrated into traditional Korean recipes. While SPAM is now a staple in Korean food and Korean households around the globe, its physical attributes and cultural legacy make it a tangible artifact in which tradition and modernity intertwine. These neo-traditional dishes represent the “taste of home” or memories of family, yet the ingredients used within also carry with them underlying histories of past pain and trauma that are transferred from generation to generation as they are consumed. Through this language of food and SPAM I seek to unpack the dilemma of what is considered authentic Korean food in this era of fusion and transnationalism, and to ultimately understand what it is that defines a modern cultural identity for the Korean diaspora around the world.
“The Beautiful and Unspeakable: Spirituality in the Life and Music of Alice Coltrane” — Samantha Presta
Alice Coltrane was a devoted musician who created her own unique spiritual belief through various religious, spiritual and musical experiences throughout her life. In my thesis, I focus on the topic of spirituality and creative expression in the music and life of Alice Coltrane, who was active as a professional Jazz musician from the late 50’s until her death in 2007. I conducted content analysis of interviews with Alice Coltrane along with a content analysis of her album Universal Consciousness. Through a feminist methodology, I argue that spirituality and music were a means for Alice to achieve liberation from societal restrictions placed on her, such as those based on gender, and that they allowed her to thrive in a community where women are discouraged. My findings bring to light the themes prominent in Alice’s personal belief, including an emphasis on the self and creation as an act of liberation. Women musicians and instrumentalists in the field of jazz are under-studied and my thesis makes a unique intersection between religion, spirituality, sexism, and creative expression.
“Egyptian Karaite Jews in the US: An Evolution of Identity” — Rebecca (Aliyah) Shammas Black
Karaite Jewish tradition is commonly defined as a practice that solely follows the written Torah, not incorporating Rabbinic teachings. Historically, there has been a large Karaite community in Egypt, however, along with most Jews in the region, they left in the mid 20th century. This oral history project records how discussion of and approach to Karaite identity have changed for Egyptian Karaite Jews and their descendants upon their arrival in the United States. Nine interviews were conducted with primarily first-generation Americans who grew up geographically distanced from centers of Karaite practice. These findings were examined through an interpretive methodology, where individual experience is examined and analyzed considering larger patterns of assimilation in the United States. I observed a common sense of shame that combined Jewish, Egyptian, and Karaite identities that then affected food, language, institutional involvement, and religious practice to different extents. I argue that this sense of shame has decreased over time and participants either sought out information about their heritage or have been open to the process, many while maintaining connections to Rabbinic traditions. This thesis amplifies the voices of Karaite Egyptian stories in a time where Jewish diversity is being increasingly valued.
“Commodifying Good Intentions:A Deep Dive into the Monetization of Internet Activism” — Maya Luna Sales Imperial
In the age of a digital world, how have the notions of social change and civic engagement evolved from historically traditional methods of organizing? With recent events in the world of political discourse and collective action, the use of social media platforms has been ushered to the forefront as tools of connectivity and organization. The speed at which information is spread to the masses is unprecedented. Paired with the incentive of social capital gain and financial gain through the monetization function available on social media platforms, have the motivations to share this information changed as well? This project examines the dynamics of social media and the commodification of activism to understand if this unorthodox method of civic engagement could facilitate a more empowered public.
- Spring 2022
Senior Thesis and Capstone Projects
Spring 2022 : Global Studies Senior Thesis Titles and Abstracts
“Cyboreal Green: A Contemplation on Queerness and Cyborgs” — Grace Abler
Queerness is cyborgian in nature. I argue that it is useful for society to embrace the archetype of the Cyborg – a being that is partially technological and partially organic – because of the Cyborg’s ability to transcend and reimagine boundaries. This transcendence is possible because the Cyborg I am conceptualizing is engaged with the Afrofuturist tradition of recontextualizing and uncovering the future, past, and present, allowing for a deeper truth to be explored through imagination and ancient forms of knowing. Given the Cyborg’s patriarchal and military origins, I argue that it is imperative to radically reappropriate the Cyborg in order to predicate our ever evolving technoscape on queer modes of being rather than patriarchal and white supremecist modes of being. I show this through film and writing fragments that have various voices and aesthetics that can be broken apart and molded back together to display an assemblage of technology and nature that appears different to each viewer. In this project, I write about things such as; how we can define technology by an object’s role in a system rather than an object’s materiality, how the materiality of technology is natural or of nature, and how the act of sex is a social construct that is predicated on reproduction. Through the Cyborg character Cyboreal Green, I have created five short films that examine themes such as; origin, visibility, belonging, and the agency of technology. I conclude that the Cyborg successfully disrupts white-supremecist and patriarchal notions of gender, sexuality, ability, race, and embodiment. And thus, a cyborg rebels.
“Creation in the Collective: Indigenous Poetry and Song as a Vessel for Re-membering Language and Community Building Across Turtle Island and Abya Yala” — Shirley Aparicio
Indigenous language revitalization is often boiled down to the number of speakers remaining within a community. By viewing language revitalization through a decolonial lens and recentering Indigenous voices, specifically those of artists from Turtle Island and Abya Yala who create poetry and music on the subjects of epistemicide, racial capitalism, collective memories, and more, we can broaden our understanding of what revitalization means, and come to an understanding that is not singular nor linear. Through this creation of art what can be communicated are messages of non-linear time testimony, intergenerational knowledge, and it can create community and kinship. Thus, I also explore this within my own practice as a poet and organizer within the collective Dia De Sol.
“A Country Within a Country: Jamaica, the Maroons, and Sovereignty Under Siege” — Carrington Chung
Sixty years after independence, Jamaica continues to suffer from symptoms of Western colonial dominance, externally through its economy, and internally through continued colonial style-patterns towards its people. The Maroons of Cockpit Country, located in Accompong, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, declared Accompong a sovereign state and laid claim to its resources. Accompong holds Bauxite, a raw material sought after by Global North mining companies who, with Jamaican government permission, has been excavating it since 2019. The Maroons, in opposition to excavation, initiated an island-wide debate as they asserted their sovereign status over Accompong based on a 1738-9 Treaty with the British and Indigenous rights. The ensuing contention within Jamaica on social media and the news brought up larger environmental issues that Jamaicans have suffered in the name of economic development. Through this mining conflict and sovereignty debacle, I explore questions of economic dependency, Jamaican identity and the incomplete decolonization of Jamaica. I draw from literature on legal pluralism, economic dependency, practices of bondage and sovereignty in modern contexts. To look in-depth at this intersection, I conducted interviews with the Maroons’ chief, the CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust, and analyzed social media content. I argue that the Jamaican government prioritized economic development over confronting long-standing grievances stemming from decolonization, even when that meant that the former colonized had to effectively become the colonizers.
“Memories from Babcia’s Kitchen: Cooking as Embodied Care in Rural Poland” — Tashi Duran
The most vibrant memories of my childhood take place in rural Poland, during sticky golden July days completely spent outdoors. My friends and I would pass time playing games in the tall pine trees or roll around in the sand pits that naturally formed. A favorite pastime was picking wild blueberries – jagody- in the shrubs in the surrounding forest. We would stuff jars to the brim of the small tart berry, our hands and mouths staining purple. My friends would join the other foragers in selling these jars on the side of the highway which cuts through the village, while I was to bring my bounty back to my grandmother’s, whom I call Babcia. She would take the jars with glee, and sometimes give me money for ice cream too. With the berries she would prepare the filling for my favorite dish- blueberry pierogi, served with cold cream and cinnamon on top, with the occasional glass of raw milk from a nearby farm. My friends were welcome to eat as well. “Smacznego” ,my grandmother would say, setting the plates down on the table, with a wide smile on her face. After eating, she had me deliver the remaining blueberries downstairs to her neighbor, who always invited me inside for tea and sweets and sent me back to Babcia’s apartment with a gift in return. Now, in my adulthood, I carry the memories of the Polish summers with me. In times when I crave comfort, I reminisce on the forest and the meadows where my mother would explore, the visits to the homestead farm where my Babcia learned to cook, and in the forefront of my memory, the food she would make me. With carrying these memories, my love for food developed into a language, a way for me to communicate with others.
“Perejil: Trujillo, Power, and the Persecution of Haitians in the Dominican Republic” — Fauthy Fernandez
On Tuesday the 12 of January 2010 the whole world was shocked when there had been a colossal earthquake in Haiti with a magnitude of 7.0 Mw. The casualties from this earthquake were ranging anywhere from 100,000 to about 300,000. I remember talking to my family about the situation and how it was very bewildering, then I heard collective chatter among many of my family friends. They were discussing the situation in terms of what the natural disaster meant for them and how the incident was going to create liabilities for them. They kept talking about what they collectively were going to do for their family that was in the Dominican Republic. Then they began to talk about how the situation was made way worse by the plummeting economy and how the majority of those Haitians who were displaced will probably be going to the Dominican Republic to the outcry of many people in the general vicinity. Altogether, the thesis works to understand the roots of anti-Haitianismo in the Dominican Republic, and attempts a genealogy of anti-Blackness, focusing on the Parsley massacre and Trujillo’s reign and lasting influence as the key turning point that pushed resentment into state-sponsored violence. The thesis aims to show how these racist policies work to keep Haitian migrants wages low, which benefits the Dominican economy.
“A Water Bottle and a Pond: Non-Human Actors on the U.S.-Mexico Border” — Katie Giovale
This thesis is about two things–a black water bottle and a pond. I argue these non-human actors have an unexpected ghostly presence that brings visibility to the violences of the miliatrized border by haunting of the deaths of undocumented migrants and the erased Indigenous presence on the border. These nonhuman actors, in their often overlooked, depleted, or discarded state, all resist erasure. In doing so, they reveal the traces of human and nonhuman life that cannot be fully disposed of. They haunt as traces of violence and exclusions caused by the state. The analysis of these is discussed with critical border theory, material culture, and fieldwork conducted in January of 2022. I focus on two black water bottles found in the Arizona desert, looking through the perspective of the object, with each detail revealing something of its function and significance. The emptiness and lack of water haunts death through exposure, highlighting the passive violence of water deprivation in the desert. Tracing the objects journey situates the geopolitical landscape more broadly into the migrant commodity economy and shows how the human body’s need for water is weaponized. I also examine Quitobaquito Springs, a sacred pond in the Sonoran desert, an important body of water that haunts as traces of erased Indigenous presence from past colonization and the construction of a pristine landscape. The relationship between people and this pond challenges the divide between nature and humans as separate.
“Picheando the status quo: a study on the contemporary Puerto Rican independence movement” — Max Hoffman
“Cuando la tiranía es ley, la revolución es orden.” The famous words spoken by Puerto Rican
independence leader Pedro Albizu Campos, who was born while the island was still under
Spanish control in 1891. His movement would be the largest push to independence under United States rule. His passing in 1965 would coincide with the establishment of the Commonwealth or Estado Libre Asociado (ELA), a new and unique system of colonization sanctioned by the United Nations that existed under the understanding of development and an eventual conversion to independence when the correct time arrived. To this day, formal action of how to proceed from the ELA has not occured. The ELA has been in place for 69 years and as it further lacks the necessary protections that the people on the island need, the status conversation, which has always existed, becomes more dire due to unemployment and displacement as each day passes. A generation has grown up under the ELA that has never reaped the benefits that once existed, such as its job creation due to tax breaks, and disillusion with the status persists.The establishment parties of the Partido Nuevo Popular (PNP) and Partido Popular Democratico (PPD) which have shared control over the island since the establishment of The Commonwealth, both riddled with corruption and power abuses, has lost clear majority support. This has led to third parties gaining popularity as they provided a new option for a view of the future of the island. These new points of view include independence, with the overwhelming theme pushing for decolonization of the island.
“Hong Kong Today, Taiwan Tomorrow? (Post)Colonial Resistance in Hong Kong and Taiwan” — Anmy Lee
Hong Kong and Taiwan have both been seeing increasingly large-scale popular movements since the start of the 21st century. Both territories have had atypical histories of colonial domination,which has resulted in the formation of new national identities and ambiguous sovereignty. The PRC currently claims sovereignty over both and stakes much of their political legitimacy on the reclamation of territories historically “lost” to colonial powers. However, due to perceptions of undesirable political, economical, and sociocultural assimilation from the PRC, pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong and independence movements in Taiwan have become increasingly popular in the last decade, leading to massive protests in both. The violent crackdown on the 2019 Anti-ELAB Movement in Hong Kong and the subsequent implementation of the National Security Law has shut down a majority of pro-democratic activity within Hong Kong, and has also triggered speculations that Taiwan could be “next” to be subjected to forceful “unification” with the PRC. This paper will trace the development of major pro-democracy and independence protests in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and discuss the effects of the NSL on both Hong Kong and Taiwan. The paper examines primary and secondary accounts of the movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong in the last two decades, including news reports, articles, and protest-centered events to argue that a recentering of decolonial thought, and an emphasis on Hong Kong and Taiwan’s rights to self-determination is crucial to Hong Kong and Taiwan’s ongoing process of identity formation and nation-building, especially in the face of increasing threats from the PRC. Furthermore, building an alliance between Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as fostering pro-democracy networks regionally and globally is essential to overcoming authoritarian threats locally.
“What Emerges in the Space of Becoming: The Presence of Abolition as World Building Practice” — Daria Samway
Drawing on the living history of abolitionist freedom struggles, I join in the argument that abolition is a life-affirming presence that is made possible through collective action. My thesis focuses on how abolition of the prison industrial complex (PIC) is enacted both within and beyond the site of the prison, and in doing so, I highlight specific spaces, practices, and forms of knowledge production that embody the presence of abolition as an inherently creative, experimental, and world-building practice.
“From Ceremony to Substance:” The Abraham Accords and a New Era of Middle Eastern Politics” — David Willner
In the second half of 2020, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco established diplomatic relations with Israel. They did so through a US sponsored agreement known as the Abraham Accords. These accords marked the first time an Arab state has established formal relations with Israel since Jordan did so in 1994. Though all reached an agreement, the specifics vary case by case. In this context, establishing relations means anything from investment, tourism or direct flights to security, telecommunications and the establishment of embassies. Though the treaties don’t necessarily mean the establishment of full diplomatic relations, each is significant as it relates to the future of the state of Israel, the fate of the Palestinian people, and regional politics at large. I focused specifically on the agreements between Israel and the Arab Gulf state signatories of the Accords, the UAE and Bahrain. In order to find out what allowed for the process to take place, I drew from secondary sources that examined the historical and modern context of the region. Specifically, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, political dynamics between Israel and the Arab Gulf states concerning Iran, as well as the role of the United States. I found that, along with the influence of the United States, dynamics concerning the perceived threat of Iran were the key contributor. More specifically, I argue that the economic and political incentives combined allowed for the reprioritization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the Arab Gulf states which ultimately led to the possibility of the Abraham Accords.