Global Studies Thesis Projects: 2014-2015

Spring 2015

*Gabrielle Guiying Kuhn - A Survey of National Identity in Transracial and Transnational Chinese Adoptees (Outstanding Thesis Award 2014-15)

 A Survey of National Identity in Transracial and Transnational Chinese Adoptees (Outstanding Thesis Award 2014-15)

Gabrielle Guiying Kuhn

Current studies on the topics of Chinese transnational adoption (TNA) and transracial adoption (TRA) have generally focused on issues of ethnic and racial identity and the importance of cultural socialization as an adoptive parenting practice. Very few, if any, studies deal specifically with the development of national identity in international Chinese adoptions, which this study attempts to explore. Despite an over 200-year history in the United States, Asian Americans have gained little attention in the larger discourse on race in America, and yet continue to face microaggressions including the racialized stereotyping of the “Model Minority” myth, being exoticized or treated as perpetual foreigners, and on the extreme end, some denying their person of color status. This study seeks to examine Chinese transracial and transnational adoptees through their relationship with their birth country and ethnic identity, and attempts to determine possible factors and patterns that contribute to feelings of national pride, patriotism, or shame. How has transnational adoption affected adoptees’ socialization into mainstream American society, their difficulties fitting into Chinese and Chinese-American society, and their sense of self and national identity? This thesis examines the literature on domestic and transnational transracial adoption; adoptive, racial, cultural, and ethnic identity and socialization; national identity; adoptive White parental colorblindness; Asian Americans; and other pertinent issues that relate to the transracial and transnational Chinese adoptive experience in order to examine the development of national identity in Chinese adoptees through a survey of 56 young adult Chinese adoptees with White parents.

*Cecilia Frescas-Ortiz - Mexico’s Paradox: Changing Migration Policies in the Context of Human Rights, Security and Global International Migration (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014-15)

Mexico’s Paradox: Changing Migration Policies in the Context of Human Rights, Security and Global International Migration (Honorable Mention Thesis, 2014-15)

Cecilia Frescas-Ortiz

Over the last two decades, Mexico has experienced an increase in international migration that is now part of a global phenomenon, as transit migrants and refugees entering Mexican territory, sometimes to remain and other times to continue their journey north to the US. Up until 2010, the state lacked a legal framework that could adequately address migration in its various manifestations. After the introduction of the 2011 Migration Law and the Law in Refugees and Complementary Protection, the state took on a human rights approach to addressing migration. However, this human rights approach was quickly undermined as the Southern Border Program introduced a largely security-based approach to migration management. Mexico’s most recent reforms are a paradox in that they adopt a human rights language while they also encourage border securitization and the expelling of migrants from national territory.

Horace Charles - Mexico’s Paradox: Permanence, After All: Perspectives of Culture and Change in Chinatown

Permanence, After All: Perspectives of Culture and Change in Chinatown

Horace Charles

I aim to examine what images and ideas an ethnic enclave such as Chinatown in Lower Manhattan is expected to portray, and who is feeding the need for them. What is an ethnic enclave? Who or what defines an ethnic enclave and its functions? How do those functions shape what we think Chinatown is versus what it actually is? What purposes do ethnic enclaves serve, and for whom? How, in the case of Chinatown, have these purposes changed? This thesis examines what factors make us perceive Chinatown as something other than what it was created for, and whether or not these perceptions reinforce negative stereotypes of Chinese people and culture. Ethnicities congregating around certain areas (later referred to as “towns” or “Little”) do so to preserve the self both physically and culturally. By closely grouping together, a stronghold is established, and works to diminish the alienating feeling of being in a foreign land. And in the case of Chinatowns in the face of the Chinese Exclusion Act, this ethnic enclave played a crucial role in physical preservation, as attacks on Chinese owned businesses and establishments became more frequent. This thesis explores the history of the development of Chinatown in Lower Manhattan alongside contemporary perceptions and the commodification of Chinatown as an icon to analyze its transformations in the last hundred years from a “neighborhood of nuisance” to a thriving community today.

Tatiana Fedik - The Hmong Around the World: Resettlement Policies and their Outcomes

The Hmong Around the World: Resettlement Policies and their Outcomes

Tatiana Fedik

This thesis explores how the resettlement policies in three different countries, the United States, Germany and Australia, influenced the socioeconomic mobility of the Hmong, a people who resettled in these countries as refugees from the Vietnam War. I argue that even though resettlement policies are similar, the different approaches to resettlement by the federal and local governments and their different implementation by various actors affects refugees’ socioeconomic status and mobility, and their integration into a new culture and society.

Abby Nicolas - Barbarous Lands: A Photographic and Ethnographic Examination of Settler Colonial Militarism and the Case of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne

Barbarous Lands: A Photographic and Ethnographic Examination of Settler Colonial Militarism and the Case of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne 

Abby Nicolas

Barbarous Lands is a photographic and ethnographic project looking at perpetuated settler colonial violence in the sovereign and autonomous Akwesasne Mohawk Nation. This project has spanned 18 months exploring themes of nested sovereignty, settler colonialism, tribal autonomy, violence, self-sufficiency, and resurgence. Looking at the thriving community of Akwesasne it became undeniably clear at the end of this research that in order for this nation to thrive, the violence and surveillance practiced by the surrounding settler colonial states of the US and Canada must cease. Akwesasnes internal economy is vital to its self-sufficiency and ability to prosper as a sovereign nation.

Priscilla A. Kim - On the Question of Cyberterrorism: Terrorist Attraction to Cyberspace and their Future Threat Potential

On the Question of Cyberterrorism: Terrorist Attraction to Cyberspace and their Future Threat Potential

Priscilla A. Kim

Amira Gebba - Politicizing Bodies: Female Genital Mutilation and The Political and Social Marginalization of Rural Egyptian Women

Politicizing Bodies: Female Genital Mutilation and The Political and Social Marginalization of Rural Egyptian Women

Amira Gebba

This thesis is an examination of female genital mutilation and its ongoing prevalence throughout Egypt, despite its legal ban since 2008. The first part of the paper provides an understanding of the broader historical context of female genital mutilation globally, including: what exactly the practice entails, the various ways in which it is performed, the health effects that come with the different types of FGM, where and who it is practiced by and on, and the most typical justifications for the practice. The second section is dedicated to describing and evaluating the two dominant narratives for and against the practice globally and in Egypt. While the first perspective relies on a cultural relativist point­of­view, arguing FGM should be respected as an age ­old tradition, the second perspective is more concerned with addressing the human rights concerns about the physical consequences of FGM and sets up a framework for the legal discourse surrounding FGM. With a thorough critique on why these two discourses are simply too narrow to provide a fruitful alleviation of FGM on the local level, the third part moves on to describe how FGM can and should be placed in conversation with the imbalanced power relations between Egyptian men and women that make it inherently political.

Robert Ryan Halas - Not Caring Enough: Healthcare Systems in Comparison

Not Caring Enough: Healthcare Systems in Comparison

Robert Ryan Halas

The United States has the auspicious title of being the only western industrialized nation without a universal healthcare system, and more than any other healthcare system in the world the U.S. system is characterized by strong capitalist, ‘free-market’ oriented monetary incentives on care providers, insurance companies, and hospitals. Those incentives translate to substantially inflated healthcare costs and ultimately reduced quality of care for patients. They are stronger than any altruistic notions of the good will of doctors, and have funded the development of a highly influential healthcare lobby that has repeatedly proven itself to be more powerful than the aspirations of reform-minded political leaders. In a global context, where many nation’s healthcare systems produce health outcomes that are ranked far above those of the United States, and produce those outcomes at far lower cost, both as a percentage of Gross Domestic Productand in per-capita expenditure, the augment for sustaining the U.S. system in its current form grows thin. This paper will explore the history and development of the U.S. system, and explore the systems of incentives that make it the overly costly, relatively poorer quality system that it is, and will compare it with the healthcare systems of other western nations, namely that of Canada and the United Kingdom, and propose that the U.S. system be reformed along lines of the best features of those healthcare systems.

Tanvir Rafayel Moshin - Potential Reforms For The United Nations Security Council: Why Haven’t They Gone Through?

Potential Reforms For The United Nations Security Council: Why Haven’t They Gone Through?

Tanvir Rafayel Moshin

There have been various proposals for potential reforms for the United Nations Security Council and it raises the question of why haven’t any of the proposals gone through? The United Nations Security Council is responsible for the maintenance of peace and the prevention of global conflicts, but the Security Council has failed on many accounts in cases pertaining to intervention, genocide, and war crimes. The Permanent Members of the Security Council have received immense criticism over its controversial decisions and inactions. These factors have led to sessions and debates on the future of the Security Council, and what measures can be taken to reform the structure of the Council. The different models of reform present ideas for improvement towards the Council’s working methods and the expansion of seats on the Security Council. The models for reform also focus on the fate veto power. The failures of the Security Council in different cases give precedents for the proposed potential reforms, but with all the supportive evidence that necessitate reform, the proposals do not go through.

Leanna Payne - The Political Economy of a 21st Century Pirate in Somalia: Rational Bandits, Pirate Law & Order, and World Political Ordering

The Political Economy of a 21st Century Pirate in Somalia: Rational Bandits, Pirate Law & Order, and World Political Ordering

Leanna Payne

This paper examines the political economy of traditional models of Somali governance and how this relates to the relative successes of the Somali pirate industry to demonstrate an evolution in dominant political discourses and mechanisms of world ordering. Current interventions will not be successful given the trajectory of the pirate enterprise and the material and cultural realities of the Somali peoples. The efficacy of the one-size-fits-all model of state-building imposed by the international community is disproven by the very existence of Somali pirates. The nature of the international community’s continued interference in Somalia, tailored to their own agenda, demonstrates that in the 21st Century, the cognition of regional security is limited to the nation-state paradigm, signalling a larger shift in political thought given the inability for the international community to imagine space without a nation-state.

Tracey Pennito - What to Study Before Promoting LGBT Rights in Senegal: Examining Structures of Senegalese Islamic and Spiritual Beliefs to Identify What United States Critics Look Past

What to Study Before Promoting LGBT Rights in Senegal: Examining Structures of Senegalese Islamic and Spiritual Beliefs to Identify What United States Critics Look Past

Tracey Pennito

United States Media and Human Rights Organizations criticize Senegal for criminalizing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. They compare Senegal side by side with American LGBT progresses and describe the country as a Muslim, secular and democratic country. What is left out from U.S. accounts can be seen by examining how Islamic and animist beliefs are intertwined throughout Senegalese history and how the values they create are representative within the mindset of Senegalese culture. Examples of how Senegalese practice healing during hard times shows one way in which strong community bonds hold great importance in daily life. Attention paid to Islamic and animist beliefs and the values they create offer insight into how addressing serious abuses to the LGBT community can be negotiated. As women continue to fight to be seen as equal to men, their voices and opinions on their roles can be found in folktales and writings. These accounts display one way in which positive changes can be made in gender relations within the context of culture. This examination is important as the U.S. continues to criticize Senegal while failing to account for how strong Islamic and animist beliefs are within Senegalese society and processes of development.

Marina Isabel Salguero - An Unending Fight for Equality: The Continued Marginalization of Guatemala’s Indigenous Population

An Unending Fight for Equality: The Continued Marginalization of Guatemala’s Indigenous Population

Marina Isabel Salguero

This thesis seeks to understand why the marginalization of Guatemala’s indigenous population persists despite the ratification of forms of legislation, which were specifically created and signed by the Guatemalan state to end such forms of marginalization and racism. By analyzing the implementation of the 1996 Peace Accords, which brought an end to the country’s 36-year civil war, and ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, it is made clear that the Guatemalan state remains unable and unwilling to integrate and represent its indigenous majority population. Based on my analysis of Guatemala’s history and politics, it has become evident that the marginalization of the indigenous population will persist if the country does not: truly confront and reconcile with its past; become truly representative of its peoples and allow increased participation of indigenous peoples in government; and truly embrace the multi-ethnic state that it is.

Kaila N. Zitron - Corporate Food Regimes: Dimensions and Linkages to Rural Poverty in Brazil

An Unending Fight for Equality: The Continued Marginalization of Guatemala’s Indigenous Population

Kaila N. Zitron

This paper engages with the theory of corporate food regimes and its dimensional linkage to rural poverty in Brazil. Brazil is a world-leading exporter of agriculture and livestock. This has boomed economic growth and increased the country’s GDP. However, there are entire rural population groups that are marginalized because of the overarching bias toward the export-market and its production. Corporate food regimes in Brazil describe the capitalist movement of reconfiguring the food system to achieve private geopolitical interests since the 1990s. This movement has been politically legitimated and commanded by private governance at the expense of rural dispossession and exploitation. Industrial agriculture economically overpowers small-farmers and through its corporate power has forced smallholder incorporation into the global food system. This has resulted in the amassed landless peasants and rural poor who could not compete in the export market. This paper finds that rural poverty in Brazil is exacerbated and reproduced through private governance of the corporate food regime. Corporate appropriation of privatizing inputs and social relations in turn reproduces severe poverty through exploitative labor and social exclusion.

Fall 2014

DeAunna Blackwell - Overpoliced and Underprotected: Law Enforcement Officers’ Relationship with Black and Brown Low-Income Families (Honorable Mention Award 2014-15)

Overpoliced and Underprotected: Law Enforcement Officers’ Relationship with Black and Brown Low-Income Families (Honorable Mention Award 2014-15)

DeAunna Blackwell

Artist statement: I chose to explore how the relationship between Law Enforcement officers and the community, affect the aesthetics of Black and Brown families , because I’m interested in dissecting the impacts of the heavy presence of law enforcement on the physical aesthetics, and relational dynamics of black and brown low-income families, as well as the effects on the broader community. I am interested in exploring this topic specifically through the lens of dance and spoken word, because these art forms have the ability to cross cultural and social barriers and speak to audiences who would otherwise be unfamiliar with these familial and community experiences. I will examine the impact of over-policing in low-income communities of color through three main lenses: domestic violence, gang involvement, and the so-called “War on Drugs”. The broader media and social narrative on these topics influence how urban communities are perceived on a national level. My final goal is to uncover how low-income communities of color respond to heavy police presence, and show that they are actors in their own right, as opposed to passive recipients of oppression.

Brenna Haragan - Haiti’s Mambo Marinettes: An Inquiry into the History and Contemporary Forces that Govern Haitian Women’s Experience of Gender, Sexuality, and Vodou

Haiti’s Mambo Marinettes: An Inquiry into the History and Contemporary Forces that Govern Haitian Women’s Experience of Gender, Sexuality, and Vodou

Brenna Haragan

This thesis is a response to the absence of research that targets shifting gender and sexual roles of Haitian women today. I attempt to construct a history of Haitian women’s experiences of political and social organization and Vodou participation. These experiences culminate in contemporary Vodou rituals that connect to the deity Ezili Freda, a lwa that depicts a certain notion of freedom for Haitian women that fall out of chaste or promiscuous sexual boundaries and seek to reaffirm their own sexual autonomy. Haiti has as a complex history of politicized gender violence that along with symbiotic Roman Catholic and Vodou religious codes coalesce in an environment in which female sexuality orients around the communal individual. Recent surveys and interviews in this work reveal the generational violence that has attached itself to the bodies and consciousness of Haitian women beyond temporal planes, but also the hope that is inherent within Vodou traditions. The contemporary Vodou community, both on and offline, is a space for women to realize their sexual nuances and occupy empowered positions. The sole purpose of Vodou spirit possession is to forge with ancient lwa in order to truly understand the truths hidden in one’s present. Contemporary female Vodou participants practice dialectical rituals that immerse the individual in a torrent of the Haitian women’s collective history of suffering and strength, pain and healing, repression and emancipation.

Evan Huang - The Good and the Beautiful: A Critical Analysis of Chinese Cultural Policy

The Good and the Beautiful: A Critical Analysis of Chinese Cultural Policy

Evan Huang

The Chinese government has identified the development of domestic cultural production, based on traditional Confucian cultural principles, as one of its top priorities as a means to defend against potentially destabilizing and dangerous Western ideological influences. The Chinese government sees control of national identity and international cultural perception as imperative to domestic cultural stability and international political legitimacy as its population and economy continue to grow from an impoverished nation to a moderately wealthy society. This thesis critically examines the mechanisms and consequences of this policy.