*Jamey Jesperson - Before the Binary: EnGendering Decolonial Futurity Through Contemporary Queer Resurgence (Outstanding Thesis Award 2015-16)
The year 2015 was marked the “Transgender Tipping Point” for bringing greater visibility to trans* identities than ever before in contemporary history. Along with this new consciousness, however, came increased awareness of how trans* lives are threatened by eliminatory violence, there being one recorded trans* murder every twenty-one hours in 2016. In order to remedy this crisis, it is crucial to locate its point of origin. Tracing the genealogy of queer elimination pinpoints this violence as, first, a symptom of European, (settler) colonial masculinity in panic. As an anxious weapon of 15th century imperial conquest, gendercide scourged through Indigenous lands disciplining and interpellating bodies into a rigid, regulatory gender binary. Through the unceasing longevity of binarism, this tactic of erasure has consequently leaked into the present, replicating logics of elimination onto (re)emerging queer bodies now exiled and persecuted in a world structured to ensure their non-existence. Exploring farther into pre-colonial history, one would also learn of the myriad queer societies to have once been—within nearly every epoch of time and across all geographies—before the binary. Modern queer bodies, then, may exist displaced in time, perhaps in a temporal diaspora. Thus, their emergence in the colonial present may also symbolize a resurgence of the past, shaking the hegemony of the colonial structure through the engendering of queer, decolonial futurity. If performed critically, the excavation of lost queer worlds could instigate anti-colonial (re)imagining and (re)building of futures finally fit to hold, represent, and free us all; futures that, for those displaced in queer diaspora, may finally feel like home, for the very first time.
*Danilsa Alvarez - Soy tan dominicano como tú: The History Behind Statelessness in the Dominican Republic (Distinction, 2015-16)
This thesis provides an in depth analysis of the long history of conflict, violence, and racial tension that have influenced the creation of statelessness among Haitian descendants in the Dominican Republic. It begins this discussion by addressing the state of Dominican sugar plantations during the Trujillo regime [1930-1961], primarily the prevalence of human rights violations and the aftermath of the 1937 Parsley Massacre, which divided Haitians and Dominicans along racial lines. It goes on to discuss the influence exerted by Joaquin Balaguer—a Trujillista and president of the Dominican Republic on seven different occasions—on the treatment of Haitian migrants and descendants in the country from the early 1960s to the late 1990s. It demonstrates how this history builds up to the 2013 Dominican Supreme Court ruling which denationalized Dominicans of Haitian descent rendering them stateless. This thesis analyzes the limitations of The National Regularization Plan, launched by the Dominican government in response to pressures placed by the international community, in its attempt to regulate the status of those affected by the 2013 court verdict. It addresses the realities attached to the stateless status, and the constant fear of deportation among members of the Haitian community in the Dominican Republic.
*Aliyah Blackmore - Spaces of Recovery: Conjuring New Narratives and Realities through Hip-Hop in Costa Rica (Distinction, 2015-16)
As the United States was “coming off the heels” of the Civil Rights movement, from the 1960s and 1970s, a tone of revolution, reclamation, and reassertion of identity prevailed as Black and Latino/a communities were actively working to transform spaces that were violently neglected by state structures. From the rubble emerged a hip-hop that brewed in the spirits of radical organizing and mobilization. Youth began to create their own spaces—looking inward—of reflection, release, and recovery in public spheres in order to revitalize themselves. Capitalist modes transformed hip-hop, but as an “artistic and socio-political movement,” it became globally accessible—arriving to Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean; in this I will specifically refer to the emergence and repurposing of hip-hop in Costa Rica.
Hip-Hop became and continues to be a catalyst in the communities of Costa Rica for engaging with community, radical public expression, and producing new narratives. Thus, my findings suggest that hip-hop travels because it is a mode of cultural production from the spirits of radical mobilizing and self-affirmation, against a landscape of structural violence. Hip-Hop moves fluidly to communities globally, allowing for bodies to engage collectively to heal and generate spaces of recovery. Participants and contributors are powerful in occupying and creating stategetically ambiguous spaces, generating possibilities to understand the suffering of others while remaining cognizant of our own.
*Isaiah DuPree - From Exodus to Limbo: An Analysis of Congolese Refugees in Rwanda (Distinction, 2015-16)
This thesis will examine the protracted refugee crises of Congolese refugees in Rwanda, who have been living primarily in refugee camps for over twenty years. Why has protracted displacement become the norm and not the exception in this context and in others? Both Palestine and Somalia will be briefly examined in relation to Congo for purposes of juxtaposition, and to demonstrate how protracted displacement is both international and increasingly complex in each context.
After a brief analysis of both the Palestinian and Somali refugee crises, Congo will become the main focus, beginning with the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. The genocide is inextricably linked to the plight and position of Congolese refugees both in Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo. The complexities of these conflicts demonstrate the variation of refugee narratives. From there, repatriation efforts will be examined, followed by insight into the life of a Congolese refugee living in Rwanda.
Critiques of the regulation of protracted displacement will be detailed, then potential solutions and improvements on the local, regional and international scale will be proposed. The thesis will then conclude with closing remarks critiquing the international refugee complex, a call for more ethical procedures, and general consciousness surrounding refugees. Research findings indicate that Congolese refugees remain displaced for a variety of reasons. The factors that perpetuate Congolese displacement are the impossibility of repatriation due to instability, ethnic tensions, the difficulties of gaining Rwandan citizenship, lack of economic opportunity, poverty, international complicity and complacency, and humanitarian mismanagement.
An exploration of identity politics in Sudan that seeks to contribute to a national and global discussion about identity and belonging in postcolonial societies. I hypothesize that the postcolonial state of Sudan imposes a single vision, a cultural hegemony that has been imposed through residual effects from the pre-colonial period, different ruling governments, the role of Islamic fundamentalism and many other factors. As a result, there is an assumption of a singular Sudanese national identity, which consequently erases many communities in the process. The main component of my thesis is a film documentary where I conducted interviews with Sudanese people to expose the microcosms of a changing Sudan. This paper takes the form of a guide for the film documentary, outlining and covering themes, topics, historical events, terms and concepts that are raised in the film. This project ultimately seeks to change the narrative of Sudan as a place plagued with turmoil and corrupt governments, but a country that boasts of a rich and vibrant history and an extremely diverse and multifaceted society.
Aisha Azam - Beyond the Saving Discourse: How to take the women's rights/movement seriously without falling into the trap of the saving discourse in Pakistan
As a Muslim women, as a daughter of a Pakistani parent, I have constantly been told that “I” need saving. Saving from my father, brothers or any male presents in my live. I need saving because they want to oppress me. They want me not to study, and to stay at home. They are going to dictate everything about me because I am a Muslim. This notion does not just not apply to me but to every Muslim woman in the Muslim world. I know this is not true but saving discourse overpowers all other discourses. This inspired me to look at this question of “How to take the women’s rights/movement seriously without falling into the trap of the saving discourse in Pakistan?” In order to get different points of view, I traveled to Pakistan over the winter break and interviewed and talked to different women in three different place in the Punjab that includes, lahore, Faisalabad, Kamlapur. What I discovered is that the that there is a feminist movement going on in Pakistan but it only focuses on a particular group of people who are elites, and women who are marginalized or victims of abuse are not the main focus. While I was talking to different people, I realized that there are different methods of looking at women’s problems and choices that are different from the framings of the feminist movement that we are familiar in the West.
Colonialism created an identity epidemic in the Middle East. The emergence of a Jordanian identity was met with challenges from previously existing identities in the region, but also from newly emerging identities as a result of wars in neighboring countries. The structure of the system in Jordan made it possible for elites to redefine Jordanian nationalism to meet their self-interest as well as the international community’s. This created the ‘ruling bargain’ where Jordan is to adopt policies that benefit the international community and the elites at the expense of others. The elites use campaigning as a form of tactic to maintain the status quo. This research aims to explore said campaigns because of their negative impact on development that is causing stagnation in Jordan which is taking a toll on the quality of life of the community. It will be established that campaigns are masked with the appearance of benefiting the community, when in fact they are meant to maintain the elites’ position in power. This research emphasizes the importance of the 2005 National Agenda as a starting point towards achieving reform. The methodology includes interviews with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Jordan, H.E Eng. Atef Tarawneh as well as other Jordanian individuals. Secondary sources include books, articles, and journals but also Instagram.
Soukaina Dia - The Gray Area Between Black and White: An Examination of Colorism Through the Scope of Haitian Society
This thesis consists of a written analysis and a documentary film of interviews with Haitian diasporic youth. It explores how the colonialist imparted ideology regarded as ‘colorism’ has both shaped the classist framework of Haitian society in a historical sense, and has permeated within identification processes (both self and societal) of Haitian diasporic youth. This work was developed through a combination of critically engaging with ethnographic studies, and interview analyses.
Andrew Dockory - A Thesis Examining the Impact of Globalization Among Working-class Whites in the United States
In December of 2015, the Secretary of Defense of the United States announced that women would no longer be banned from entering units of direct combat in the U.S. military. This decision has been received with a myriad of conflicting reactions, and many opinions claim that female integration into combat would weaken many important aspects of the U.S. military. Through tracing the historical lineage of integration into the U.S. military on premises of race and sexual orientation, it is clear that integration of women into ground combat units, will only strengthen the American armed forces, by allowing a wider applicant pool of qualified personnel. Additionally, arguments opposing female combat integration justify these claims through antiquated perceptions of the female body and the female mind.
Storm Hurwitz - Classification Expansion & Political Subversion: Indigenous Communities and Internal Displacement
This work, in critically drawing from contemporary Forced Migrant & Refugee Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Environmental Studies literature, seeks to understand the potential implications of Indigenous communities in Alberta, Canada, being understood as internally displaced persons. After an analysis of literature on the definition of Internally displaced persons and the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, I apply the concepts of such classifications to Indigenous communities residing in Alberta. The paper concludes with considerations on the potential impact of Indigenous persons being classified as internally displaced persons due to displacement caused by the Settler State of Canada and the Alberta Tar Sands.
The purpose of this study is to identify the special vulnerabilities Small Island Developing States possess when it comes to the issue of climate change and its effects. With sea-levels rising rapidly, many low lying SIDS will be underwater soon if appropriate measures are not taken. This paper studies the effects and also focuses on the main causes for these issues leading to climate change. Another major aspect this study discusses is the response both from these small island developing states and the international community, which includes the major carbon emitters. Taking a position in the favor of Small Island Developing states, this paper highlights the best these nations are doing in response to climate change along with adaptation and mitigation measures. It also critiques the talks, agreements, and outcomes set out by conferences such as the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris. This paper also sets forth the approximate financial requirements needed, compared to what the allotted funds are as of now for these vulnerable nations. Setting forth some recommendations in order to reduce the effects of climate change by keeping global mean average temperatures low enough to save Small Island Developing States, this paper tackles the issue of climate change through the perspective of Small Island Developing States, looking at reactions at the international stage by various leaders from these nations along with what people at the front stage or in these Islands itself are experiencing.
Zuzanna Krzatala - The Return of Street Politics: from KOR to KOD, Poland’s Manifestation of Dissent
In the wake of the United States’ 2007/2008 economic crisis, rose the social movement Occupy Wall Street (2011). This movement focused on the massive wealth inequality in the United States and the lack of action being taken by the government to address it. It is through these critiques that we have seen a shift in the public dialogue and the rise of Bernie Sanders’ “political revolution.” This moment is the beginning of a change in the way we think, feel, demand, and revolt. In the form of a manifesto, this thesis is calling for revolution in the face of what I see as a global capitalist regime. This manifesto is grounded in Marx’s early writings, in which he examines human’s creation of both capitalism and god as systems of power and control. The relation of god, capitalism, and power in accordance with the contemporary political atmosphere poses the question; do contemporary societies have the ability to develop a new faith, or as I suggest, a faith in revolution? It is in response to this question that I will propose a new faith in the collective human ability. It is this faith that will lead us to revolution and the upheaval of our blind devotion to capitalism.
Abigail Nicolas - Barbarous Lands: A Photographic and Ethnographic Examination of Settler Colonial Militarism and the Case of the Mohawk Nation of Akwesasne
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. Akwesasne’s internal economy is vital to its self-sufficiency and ability to prosper as a sovereign nation.
As the migrant crisis in Europe worsened, with Syrians joining refugees from other conflicts in the largest flood of immigrants since World War II, I chose to look at how it was playing out in Bulgaria, which is the poorest country in the European Union and has a population smaller than New York City. Bulgaria borders Romania, Greece, the Black Sea and Turkey, making it a temporary or permanent landing spot for many refugees from Syria and Iraq. Although it has not had a huge number of refugees in comparison with Greece or Italy, Bulgaria had not received this many refugees — – 30,000 last year alone — – in at least a decade. In my thesis, I focus on what Bulgaria’s responsibility is in the migrant crisis. A Human Rights Watch report published in April 2014 documents hundreds of human rights violations in Bulgaria in detention centers, refugee camps and elsewhere. I look at the frameworks of domestic, regional, and international laws that Bulgaria is committed to follow but instead has freely violated. I also explore how Bulgaria’s history has influenced the current xenophobic sentiment toward foreigners and Muslims in Bulgaria. My conclusion is that without a comprehensive E.U. compromise on burden- sharing, Bulgaria is unlikely to live up to its obligations to shelter the individuals and families who have sought a haven there.
Simone Roark - Stuck in Station-ary: (Re)visioning City Space through Southern Tel Aviv’s White Elephant
This thesis analyzes the new Central Bus Station located in the south of Tel Aviv as a microcosm for the urban Israel in transition. The mystical and contentious space of the building is under scrutiny for being a place more trouble than it is worth, and is currently being evaluated for total demolition. The structure is criticized due to its sheer architectural magnitude, inability to successfully generate enough economic gain, and abandoned levels that provide refuge to migrant populations. Yet, all three of these criticisms provide a progressive lens with which to understand the complexity of the southern population of the city – and their relation to Israel as a modern, branded nation.
Historically, Tel Aviv as an immigrant city has largely been accepting and even welcoming to notions of the foreign in relation to society. As the “other” begins to represent an image of Israel not under the Zionist demographic umbrella, resistance and neglect from both municipality and citizen has befallen the city’s south. By providing space for alternative communities to exist, the Central Bus Station has helped shape alternative forms of City, regenerated through economic independence, religious pluralism and cultural autonomy.
The life conditions of Muslim women have always been under an international spotlight because of the gender injustices that are perceived to be the fault of Islam. Contrary to this implication, Islam and its holy book – the Qur’an—has been misinterpreted for thousands of years by misogynistic ideologies that have solely aided in the progression of men. Under this patriarchal setting, women have not been given the opportunity to proper socio-economic opportunities that are inherently given to men because of gender. Feminist scholars have recently challenged these ideas of gender inequality and have taken extremely active roles in the gender debate by creating rereadings of the Qur’an. The result of this participation has created a global dialogue that challenges patriarchal norms for the betterment of Muslim women. It has also created a complex relationship between secular feminism and Islamic feminism, which has created a divide in contemporary gender politics.
Artist Statement: I created “Accomplice” as a way to try and reconcile my privilege in conflicting spaces across the world. I am a student at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School in NYC, a university that centers its pedagogy on social justice & civic engagement, and I’ve focused my work & research on Global Studies and Education Studies while spending my time with like-minded students, activists, and educators. But I constantly reflect on how to burst my academic bubble and combine my life experiences in order to activate my own efforts of social responsibility in a world full of disorder and injustice. As an American consumer, I have consumed ignorantly and supported companies that directly create the circumstances of deprivation in which so many people exist. I constantly struggle with acknowledging that my privilege has come with extremely painful consequences for other people around the world. I spend each day in a state of self-awareness about the role that I play in all of this, and the space that I occupy while actively consuming products from countries that are exploited to fulfill my wants.
“Accomplice” is a result of my choice to accept and acknowledge the complications I carry with me as an American consumer, and I am determined to find a way to erase the apathy that plagues our nation while sparking responsibility and conscious consumerism. I’ve created the “Accomplice” podcast & website to cultivate transparency and begin global conversations with each other about the problems we might be unaware of, or those which we tend to avoid. “Accomplice” is not here to provide all of the answers to these problems, but instead, to serve as a space for people to think critically about their global influence and engage in ongoing discussions while we figure out the solutions together.
This thesis aims to explore the trajectory of women’s rights in the United Arab Emirates. It focuses on the successes and struggles of female Emirati citizens in relation to their national government. This project is an attempt to change the Western understanding of a specific group of women who are almost always painted as submissive and static, but have always been active agents in deciding their realities and continue to work tirelessly in paving a more just and free world for other women who do not conform to the negative portrayals pushed on them. It is not up to western women or politicians to diagnose the gender inequality in Arab societies such as the UAE because Arab women themselves have always been aware and active in finding ways to resist the versions of patriarchy they live in. However, the non-transparent judicial system has enabled the Emirati Government to insidiously constrain women from achieving full equality. Although the government empowers them through leadership initiatives by giving them opportunities to advance politically and economically, legislations controlling them socially inhibit them from truly achieving gender equality. The work of organizations affiliated to the government discuss how Emirati women are striving to combat violence and challenge existing social norms.
In the last few years, talk on the discussion over immigration, often labeled as a “crisis” has parted in two different roads: one pertaining the politics around decisions of border control and people attempting to come to the U.S. through methods of irregular immigration, and the other concerning the large and no longer hidden presence of the undocumented community in American society. Our politicians, our media, and the American public have been vigorous actors and talkers within the immigration framework. However, it is the second road, which speaks to most of us more directly. The undocumented community is now woven into the cultural fabrics of American society making it impossible to set them apart as an external or alienated issue. The Undocumented youth have played a central role in this process. The Dreamers, as they are called based on the name of their movement, have changed both the political and social conversation surrounding immigration. In this project, I argue that the movement created by this community has created a snowball effect and created such a huge impact that it has the strength to shape and inspire change at both the individual and collective global levels in both the private and the public sphere.
Is the Russian Federation a destabilizing force through its territorial disputes conflicts? From World War II, through the dissolution of the USSR, to post-Cold War world order, Russia has presented itself as a prominent military power. Is a pattern of Russia’s military aggression emerging? What are the implications of military aggression on international peace and security? This thesis outlines territorial conflicts and disputes that the Soviet Union and Russian Federation have been involved in since World War II, and the connections between these conflicts to argue that Russia’s military involvement in territorial disputes is an escalating and destabilizing process. It brings to question Russia’s current involvement in the Syrian Civil War and the implications of involvement given Russia’s conflict history.
There are over 8,000 Sikhs living in Hong Kong. Hong Kong identity is stronger than it has ever been, as demonstrated by the Occupy Movement and the Umbrella Revolution. Hong Kongers are uniting together to protest against China’s disguised false sense of democracy. The primary goal of this research was to find out how Sikhs, as an ethnic minority, view themselves in relation to the local population in Hong Kong, and how they interact with th state in order to reveal a greater discourse on Sikh identity within the region. Gaining Sikh perspective on societal issues helps identify where Sikhs stand within this context, as many members of the faith identify similarly with the local people in regards to the issue of universal suffrage. In fact, some Sikhs consider themselves to be Hong Kongers. Retracing Sikh migration and re-migration patterns, and studying the histories of Punjab, Sikhism, and Hong Kong’s sovereignty reveals the reasons for increased migration. Preserving and honoring the traditions of the faith are integral to Sikh identity, resulting in a strong connection to the region of Punjab and preserving the language of Punjabi. Sikh identity includes a great sense of pride in the values of the faith, as a strong unified Sikh community is formed as a result. The Khalsa Diwan Temple in Hong Kong is the center of this community, and is one of the only institutions through which Sikhs directly interact with the state. The Basic Law protecting human rights freedoms in Hong Kong gives Sikhs autonomy to practice their faith, as notions of inclusivity bring Sikhs and the local population together. The lasting legacy between the Sikhs and Hong Kong is yet to be determined until the effects of China’s potential policy changes in 2047 on the Sikh diaspora are fully understood.
As of March 2014, there are approximately 26,483 North Korean refugees living in South Korea, 40% of whom are children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 29. North 1 Korean refugees are referred to as “defectors,” or “ a person who gives up allegiance to one state in exchange for allegiance to another, in a way which is considered illegitimate by the first state.” In South Korea, defectors are referred to as Tal Buk Ja (탈북자), meaning one who escaped from the North. However, they prefer to be called Sae Toe Min (새터민), meaning person in a new land, indicating a desire to be considered a resident of South Korea and not merely an escapee of the North. Once North Korean defectors reach South Korea, trauma, stress, and the guilt of leaving family members behind pose as psychological barriers to integration, leading to high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder, high dropout rates for North Korean students, difficulty in securing high-paying vocations, workplace discrimination, social isolation, and disillusionment.
The South Korean government, along with local and international NGOs and religiously affiliated groups, have provided North Korean refugees with financial, psychological, and vocational support to aid in the process of cultural transition. However, as Park Jin, the chairman of the South Korean National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee commented, “The settlement of North Korean defectors in the South is not something that money alone can accomplish.” Through this thesis, I propose that local faith communities and ethnic Koreans (individuals of Korean descent who live outside of the Korean peninsula) will be increasingly essential in the construction of a theoretical cultural bridge. Local faith communities have provided resources such as “psychological first aid,” pastoral care, and structures for community building in various multicultural contexts around the world for many years. North Korea is devoid of religious freedom and yet, nearly 70% of refugees claimed to be religious, with three quarters identifying as Christian. Some churches in South Korea have special services dedicated to North Korean refugees and others offer financial and support services. In my research uncovering the role of religious institutions in the integration of North Korean refugees into South Korean society, I was able to draw parallels to the narrative of ethnic Koreans, who have characteristically relied on local faith communities to provide support through the process of migration. Furthermore, I propose that ethnic Koreans, who may or may not influenced by faith, possess a nuanced understanding of biculturalism and migratory issues specific to the Korean ethnicity.
Henry Villacorta - Diplomacy Beyond The State: International Conflict and the Development of Multi-Track Diplomacy
This paper explores the challenges to official diplomacy during international conflicts. The nature of conflict has changed significantly in the 21st century. While in the past the world has experienced the challenges of interstate conflicts (between states), today’s conflicts are increasingly intrastate conflicts (within states). Globalization and advances in information technology have allowed non-state actors to gain power in global affairs. At the same time, globalization has intensified the interconnected and interdependent nature of the world. Currently, the international community is witnessing the devastating consequences of an intrastate conflict. The situation in Syria, which began in 2011, has produced a severe refugee crisis that has extended well throughout the world. The armed conflict has escalated in recent month with international actors taking more coercive measures in hopes of ending the violence. With no end in sight to this conflict, we must seek to understand why our systems of conflict resolution have failed to deal with this.
I look at the development of multi-track diplomacy as a response to the apparent inefficiencies of official diplomacy in mediating international conflicts. I analyze examples of organizations that participate in the system of multi-track diplomacy and consider their contributions to conflict resolution. Our traditional understanding of official diplomacy is not entirely inefficient, but rather incomplete. In order to better address the challenges of the 21st century, new methods of diplomacy will need to take more proactive roles in mediating international conflicts. Successful multi-track diplomacy will strengthen the effectiveness of official diplomacy.