Global Studies Thesis Projects: 2013-2014

Spring 2014

*Ramona Moorhead - Garments, Metrics and Poverty: The Development Experience of Bangladesh (Outstanding Thesis Award, 2014)

Garments, Metrics and Poverty: The Development Experience of Bangladesh (Outstanding Thesis Award, 2014)

Ramona Moorhead

This thesis seeks to examine the various forces and contradictions at play in global development. I use the perceived ‘success story’ of industrial-led development via garment industry expansion in Bangladesh as a case study to evaluate the theories and discourse that propone the Bangladeshi development model, and how it in turn creates ‘development’ in reality, via various economic indicators and social initiatives.

*Olivia Tarplin - Critical Feminist Perceptions of Pornography and the Rise of Feminist Porn as a Political and Educational Tool (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Critical Feminist Perceptions of Pornography and the Rise of Feminist Porn as a Political and Educational Tool (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Olivia Tarplin

The purpose of this research is to determine what makes feminist pornography and what distinguishes it from mainstream porn. Anti-porn feminists link pornography to sexual violence, while pro-porn feminists and pornographers seek to make porn that speaks to women and marginalized people as a primary target audience, which contrasts with the mainstream porn industry’s exclusive heterosexual male target audience. By looking at various manifestations of feminist pornography today, and referring to established feminist theories of pornography, I argue that feminist porn consists of promotion of agency for all involved and often involves challenging mainstream porn tropes to expand the way gender is seen in porn.

*Gabriel Stoltzfus - Found Outdoors: Outdoor Education & An Environmental Ethic (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Found Outdoors: Outdoor Education & An Environmental Ethic (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Gabriel Stoltzfus

This thesis is a combination of teaching methods and materials found in outdoor and environmental education. It seeks to synthesize an ‘environmental ethic’ from these approaches that addresses contemporary issues of environmental change and stewardship. In its second section, this thesis exposes how such an ethic can be utilized in two opposing ecological geographies. This section is comprised of two modules, or sample itineraries, for teaching ecology and an ‘environmental ethic’ on the Colorado River and in New York City respectively. In addition to providing an in-depth examination of the specific environmental issues that affect these places, these modules seek to explain the underlying ecological systems that support them.

*Kevin Seitz - Third Culture Kids and Ethnic Identity (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Third Culture Kids and Ethnic Identity (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014)

Kevin Seitz

This thesis is comprised of two parts, a written section that explores the identity formation of Third Culture Kids and a design component that offers a visual representation of the Third Culture that references my identity. How do people form identity and a connection to a place that falls outside of blood and citizenship? By looking at how identity is formed in relation to blood or citizenship and comparing it to people who claim many different identities or not at all, it becomes practice that links identities.

David Coltun - Biofuels, Land Grabs, and Indigenous Rights: The Guaraní-Kaiowá and the Sugarcane Ethanol Industry in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

Biofuels, Land Grabs, and Indigenous Rights: The Guaraní-Kaiowá and the Sugarcane Ethanol Industry in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

David Coltun

Biofuels have become an attractive alternative fuel option, with Brazil gaining a global presence, serving as a large producer and exporter of sugarcane ethanol. Since there is a large global demand for these fuels, the amount of land required to meet it has increased. As a result, agribusinesses were leased large amounts of land, which resulted in land grabbing. The International Land Coalition defines land grabbing as “land acquisitions that are in violation of human rights, without prior consent of the pre-existing land users and with no consideration of the social and environmental impact.” In Brazil, this pertains to many indigenous people, specifically the Guaraní-Kaiowá people in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where they have been violently forced off their ancestral homeland by law enforcement and ranchers. Much of the time, they are occupying these lands as a form of protest in hopes of having this small region in the state demarcated and recognized as indigenous territory. Considering that the biofuel industry is one of the actors driving the land grab, this case presents the question of “what is the relationship between the global demand for biofuels and indigenous land use rights?” By analyzing the case using historical and current trends of the ethanol industry and indigenous rights policy, it is concluded that the global demand for biofuels is further perpetuating ideas of what indignity is and how land should be used, thus slowing down the demarcation process of indigenous land.

Casey Crockett - Cultural-Ecological Theory and Native American Education

Cultural-Ecological Theory and Native American Education

Casey Crockett

My thesis looks at the how Native American’s history of colonization and assimilation in the U.S. plays a role in their academic achievement today. National assessment data show that many ethnic groups are doing better in math and reading than they were ten years ago, however the achievement of Native American youth has not changed. To understand why they are not improving and continue to have a high dropout rate, I use John Ogbu’s cultural-ecological theory of minority school performance. This theory says that minority groups who were forcefully assimilated into the U.S. society have a negative response to school. My main argument is that Native Americans have an educational disadvantage due to mistreatment and assimilation policies. Using the framework of the theory, I look at Native American history of colonization and assimilation and their responses to the systems that the U.S. has built for them. I put this in global perspective by exploring how other settler societies assimilated indigenous people. Indigenous groups in Australia have a similar history of assimilation as Native Americans and face similar problems in education. Historically based assimilation policies influence the negative educational experiences of both groups rather than helping them become self sufficient. I conclude that attaining educational equity requires equity in the school’s treatment of students and their community. John Ogbu’s theory helps us understand the forces that shape the state of education for all minority groups.

Aissatou Diallo - The Role of Art in the General Understanding of the History and Legacy of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

The Role of Art in the General Understanding of the History and Legacy of the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda

Aissatou Diallo

Artist statement: This thesis explores what role can art play in the general understanding of the history and legacy of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in order to better understand the aesthetic responses to collective suffering and its relation to the politics in post-genocide Rwanda. I created paintings as a response to and a way of reflecting upon the genocide and the tension between beauty and the legacies of trauma I see in Rwanda today. Having had the opportunity to visit memorial sites and meet survivors, whose stories profoundly touched me, I felt a huge urge to translate to canvas what I saw and heard. Since my return, Rwanda has always stayed close to my heart, influencing not only the way I paint, but also the way I see the world. The memories of the smells, sounds, colors and of course the wonderful people always remind me of why I want to paint about this beautiful country. I am driven by a deep passion to express through my paintings as much about Rwanda as it is today.

I want to show the beauty and the tragedy, the dignity and grace of its people in the aftermath of the genocide to offer understanding about Rwanda to anyone who doesn’t know much about this country. Along with my painting, I explored what other artists have done on this subject. I looked into the work of both Rwandan and non-Rwandan artists who openly spoke on the experiences of horror, melancholy, and also reconciliation, forgiveness and healing.

Issachar Dieng - Disgust and Respectability: The Revolving Door of Black Young Girls’ Public Identities

Disgust and Respectability: The Revolving Door of Black Young Girls’ Public Identities

Issachar Dieng

Young black poor women have been ridiculed and belittled within the media and in social life, in a way that has affected the way that Americans empathize with violence enacted on their bodies. Public response often amounts to shaming black poor female victims because of their assumed role in their own marginalization. Using a theoretical framework that reveals how 19th and 20th century race politics and myths informed and shaped a politics of respectability and a politics of disgust, I demonstrate how these two political approaches are designed to maintain the low profile of the young black woman in society by first demanding respectable behavior that keeps her out of sight and second, demonizing her and excluding her from a politics of empathy should she deviate from social norms. I extend the work of other race and feminist scholars and highlight the ways that misrecognition of the black female body by specific individuals using the case of R Kelly as a preliminary example, leads to institutionalized racism through discriminatory social practices in the media and policies in the legal system and ultimately promotes internalized racism, such that young black women lose their voice and ability to advocate for themselves and for other black young girls that do not conform to respectability norms.

Morgan Ditmore - Dissent and Disobedience: Corruption in China’s Rural Governments

Dissent and Disobedience: Corruption in China’s Rural Governments

Morgan Ditmore

I begin by discussing corruption in China as a whole, quickly narrowing the subject matter down to corruption on a smaller, rural and local level. I seek to link the presence of corruption across local communities and governments with the decentralization of the Chinese Communist Party. Focusing on two types of corruption, taxation and real estate, I address my main question: Why does corruption exist and prevail in local governments in China? I analyze two cases of corruption in rural governments while focusing on the causes, events, and responses from both the people and the Chinese Communist Party. I go on to argue that a structure of decentralization, coupled with habits of governmental disregard for rural inhabitants, has created a system of blame and appeasement. The Chinese Communist Party has grown accustomed to wagging its finger at corrupt local officials while never successfully addressing or fixing the villagers’ problems. Only so much systematic neglect can occur before wide scale protests across China demand change.

Zyad Hammad - Channeling Labor Unrest: Examining the Significance of Automotive Workers’ Strikes in the Pearl River Delta Region of China

Channeling Labor Unrest: Examining the Significance of Automotive Workers’ Strikes in the Pearl River Delta Region of China

Zyad Hammad

This is an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the strikes that took place at Japanese-affiliated automotive factories in China throughout 2010. Interactions between Chinese migrant workers (who initiated the wildcat strikes) and the state (the All China Federation of Trade Unions included) to determine what factors contributed to the strikes’ concentration at Honda and Toyota. These writings are an attempt to determine what led to the strikes, what effects the strikes may have had on trade and business, and why the Chinese government’s position on the strikes changed over time. The paper finds a limited role of political ideologies in fueling the workers’ movement; however, long term government goals are important in determining the local branch of the Chinese union’s behavior. It seems that Japanese management techniques played a major role in mobilizing workers, but the upheavals in 2010 were special because of the novel composition of the labor movement and a new sense of collective identity for migrant workers.

Eric Hubbard - A Review: Post-9/11 Counter-terrorism Policy-Making in the United States

A Review: Post-9/11 Counter-terrorism Policy-Making in the United States

Eric Hubbar

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States led the U.S. government—and the executive branch in particular—to reconsider many existing laws and policies and to create new ones in relation to acts of terrorism. Key to this reconsideration of policy options by U.S. national security planners in responding to the 9/11 attacks was the question of whether a law enforcement paradigm or war paradigm was the most appropriate response to transnational terrorism where non-state groups are the primary actors. The US decision to frame counter-terrorism in the context of war shifted the global approach to counter-terrorism regarding both state and non-state actors and ushered in a global, asymmetrical and perpetual war on terrorism. This paper is divided into three main sections. The first examines US foreign policy shifts between World War II, the Cold War, Post-Cold War and Post-9/11 periods; the second section explores the new global battlefield for Freedom in the War on Terror, focusing on the relationship between the US and the Greater Middle East; and the third section concludes with impact analysis regarding the tension between ensuring security and protecting liberty in the post-9/11 era.

Aleksandra Kocic - Disaster Prone?: Understanding Haiti’s Vulnerability to Natural Disasters

Disaster Prone?: Understanding Haiti’s Vulnerability to Natural Disasters

Aleksandra Kocic

In 2010, Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The effects and damage from the earthquake were astounding, as hundreds of thousands of people were killed, injured, and left homeless. In addition, deforestation has created catastrophe in Haiti, as soil has eroded, creating a runoff surface that causes flooding. In looking at both the earthquake and deforestation, this thesis raises the question of what makes Haiti vulnerable to natural disasters? This project seeks to use both deforestation and the earthquake as cases that explain why Haiti is vulnerable. In this project, vulnerability is defined as the social, political and economic conditions that have developed in society that ultimately impact the state’s capacity to respond and recover from the natural disaster. Findings reveal that the vulnerability of Haiti is tied closely to socio-economic issues of poverty and inequality in the country. Results also show that there is an intrinsic connection between the well-being of the environment and the state of society.

Sarah Louzon - The interrelationship between public and private sphere: The National Identity Reconstruction Project in Post-Genocide Rwanda

The interrelationship between public and private sphere: The National Identity Reconstruction Project in Post-Genocide Rwanda

Sarah Louzon

My senior thesis concentrates on the project of national identity reconstruction and the interrelationship between private and public historical narratives in post genocide Rwanda. I chose this topic because I was deeply intrigued by the apparent lack of a critical stance about the government and the genocide during my two visits to the country. Rwandans all had the same narrative preached and shaped by the government. At the same time, unofficial and counter-narratives are dismissed through different legal and political means. I wanted to explore the relationship of the boundaries of private criticism in the context of a public sphere controlled by dominant narratives. I argue that unless private and alternative views are implemented in the school system, the teaching of history in Rwanda will be flawed and the potential for future conflicts will remain a concern.

Manuela Stevenson - Islam and Human Rights: Constitutionalism in Post-Awakening Egypt

Islam and Human Rights: Constitutionalism in Post-Awakening Egypt

Manuela Stevenson

Following the Arab Awakening, countries in the Middle East and North Africa find themselves with new opportunities to develop their characteristic and aspirational legal frameworks in their new constitutions. Egypt is in the international spotlight with its new document, and at the heart of the conversations evaluating its consequences, particularly in terms of human rights and religious freedoms, is an established, multilateral debate concerning the perceived compatibility or lack thereof between (political) Islam and international human rights norms. I approach this conversation by first finding the roots of the main arguments asserting, for diverse reasons, that Islam and HR (human rights) are fundamentally or situationally incompatible and of the main arguments asserting the contrary for equally diverse reasons. Using Egypt as a case study, I then propose a theoretical reconciliation using an ‘Islamist liberal’ framework, namely, that a country can identify itself as both religious and liberal, and that a well-crafted constitution can simultaneously be historical, cultural and contemporary, globally ‘legitimate.’ The implications of such reconciliation are particular to Egypt but nevertheless relevant to other Islamic, post-Arab Awakening countries.

Eric Toole - China’s Economic Turn: Historical Roots of Maoism’s Collapse and Market Reform

China’s Economic Turn: Historical Roots of Maoism’s Collapse and Market Reform

Eric Toole

In 1978, China began its post-communist transition. With the emergence of a new CCP leadership after Mao’s death, China would incorporate itself into the global capitalist system and contradict the anti-capitalism which had previously been the fundamental characteristic of the prevailing ideology: Maoism. As wage-labor and exploitation became the norm, the Maoist emphasis on class struggle was replaced with the imperative of economic growth regardless of the means. The transformation China underwent during this period is often characterized as the inevitable failure of socialism, followed by the “emergence of a post-socialist ideology” which could reconcile the regime’s past with the post-communist reality. While the new “ideology of development” is often taken as an infiltration by Western Neo-liberalism, in this project I trace its roots back to the famous “two-line opposition” which increasingly divided the Party from the mid-1950s over which aspect of modernization – socialism or industrialization – should take the leading role. Through a careful historical analysis of the succession crisis that followed Mao’s death and the earlier development of a “two-line opposition” within the Party, I seek to demonstrate that it was those who, from the founding of the PRC, opposed Mao and prioritized economic growth over class struggle who would develop an ideological alternative to Maoism and make China’s transformation. The emergence of an alternative ideology was thus the cause – not the result – of China’s transformation. Further, developed by prominent revolutionaries during the Mao-period, it retained the social objectives which had galvanized Chinese Marxism while positing a new means of liberation: Economic growth.

Sarah Vinoche - Proselytism in Greece: Religious Persuasion v. Equality under the Law

Proselytism in Greece: Religious Persuasion v. Equality under the Law

Sarah Vinoche

This thesis examines how the Greek constitutional model of the relationship between Church and state, juxtaposed with how the state responds to pressures from the Orthodox church, negatively impacts religious and non­religious minorities in Greece. Looking specifically at the constitutional prohibition on proselytism, I seek to examine the scope of religious freedom in light of Hellenic history, the Greek constitution and criminal code as well as international conventions for the protection of human rights and their interpretation by international human rights lawmakers and organizations. The ban on proselytism is a statute that is inconsistent with the constitutional prohibition of religious discrimination which in theory should protect the dignity of all individuals but in practice only protects members of the Greek Orthodox Church. As a member ­state of the European Convention on Human Rights, Greece is not legitimized to criminalize what it considers to be improper proselytism. Otherwise, it unavoidably ignores its own principle of the religious neutrality of the state.

Lee Webb - Local Perceptions of Contract Farming in Thailand

Local Perceptions of Contract Farming in Thailand

Lee Webb

This study aims to contribute to the ongoing debate over whether contract farming benefits small-scale farmers in the developing world or leads to their exploitation. It begins by examining the theoretical rationale for contracting and goes on to analyze the nature of the contractual relationship in light of the relative power positions of each party: the companies on the one hand and the economically weaker farmers on the other. A 2009 case study documenting the arrival of contract farming in northern Thailand is then reviewed, together with the broader literature on the potential disadvantages of contract farming, in order to relate the farmers’ unfavorable experiences to the principles of contracts. Finally, this study offers a list of possible solutions to these problems that are potentially applicable to current and future schemes in Thailand, as well as to other parts of the developing world.

 

Fall 2013

Erin Diggs - Women in Development: How Gender Stereotypes Are Informing Socio-Economic Development Policies in Rwanda and Around the Globe

 Women in Development: How Gender Stereotypes Are Informing Socio-Economic Development Policies in Rwanda and Around the Globe

Erin Diggs

Since the mid-1970s, women’s empowerment and gender equality have become increasingly larger topics in the conversation on development. The country that has been exemplified for the fusion of gender equality with socio-economic development in recent decades is post-genocide Rwanda. Post-genocide Rwanda has been exemplified for its fusion of gender equality with socio-economic development in recent decades. With the country’s narrative being inspired by and rooted in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the gender disparity that resulted from it, women have come to play a particularly important role in the country’s reconstruction. This project seeks to explore the influence of applied stereotypes on socio-economic development policies. The paper outlines various female stereotypes, including the inherited, feminist, womenandchildren, and mother/monster/whore perspectives, and the role they play in the subjugation of women in society. Using content analysis as its  methodology and post-genocide Rwanda as a case study, this paper analyzes gender-related and socio-economic policies in Rwanda and in the international sphere (including the CEDAW, NFLS, BDPFA, and the MDGs). This exploration uncovers how outlined female stereotypes color socio-economic policy and in turn, undermine their intent and perpetuate asymmetrical gender relations despite women’s economic progress.

Alexandra Dominianni - 30,000 Unanswered Questions: terror, memory, and the aftermath of Argentina’s Dirty War through an artistic lens

30,000 Unanswered Questions: terror, memory, and the aftermath of Argentina’s Dirty War through an artistic lens

Alexandra Dominianni

One of the darkest periods in Latin American history lies in the Dirty Wars that occurred throughout a number of South American countries in  the latter half of the twentieth century. This time period is characterized by a widespread war against insurgency and subversion in the wake of the Western Hemisphere’s battle against communism. This study takes Argentina as its site due to the series of military juntas that governed the nation between 1976 and 1983 and executed a campaign known as El Proceso (the National Reorganization Process). During its rule, the military junta disappeared upwards of 30,000 of its own citizens. The Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared has since found evidence of clandestine detention centers throughout the nation that used torture tactics and murder in an attempt to “cleanse” the nation of the ailments of subversion. The seven year time span within which the junta ruled produced a wave of loss, terror, and trauma throughout the nation. There has since been a struggle within the nation between remembrance and oblivion, shaping its rich art, culture, and politics. This thesis discusses the history of the Dirty War in Argentina and how its happenings are remembered and expressed since through memory politics via an analysis of different works of art. The project culminates with the author’s own artistic expression in an original choreographic work that seeks to emanate the Dirty War experience, drawing from the personal testimonies of survivors as inspiration.

David Levinson - Mechanisms by which Ethnic Nationalisms are Formed: a perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Mechanisms by which Ethnic Nationalisms are Formed: a perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

David Levinson

Using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as its case study, this thesis examines what can make a cultural or ethnic identity nationalistic in scope. It posits that when an ethnic or cultural group is forced to become ‘the other’ by the majority, then often that group will embrace nationalism as a mechanism by which to emancipate themselves from the ‘othering’ process. The two drivers of ‘othering’  explored in this paper are the concepts of oppression and abandonment. While this paper covers some background on Zionism, or Jewish nationalism, as mainly an Ashkenazi movement, its main focus lies in examining the factors after the creation of Israel that caused the majority of Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews to embrace Zionism, a movement they had initially rejected or from which they had alienated themselves.  On the Palestinian side, this paper argues that before considering Palestinian nationalism, the history of pan-Arab identity must be taken into account. It examines the emergence of pan-Arab identity as largely in response to, first, Turkish oppression and then, secondly, the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the division of the territory into mandates ruled by European powers. Finally, it discusses how Palestinian national identity began to express itself as a specific nationalism outside the pan-Arab idea because of Arab abandonment and Israeli oppression.