Global Studies Thesis Projects: 2016-2017

Spring 2017

*Sayre Quevedo - Reconstructing Memory in Postwar El Salvador (Outstanding Thesis Award 2016-17)

Reconstructing Memory in Postwar El Salvador (Outstanding Thesis Award 2016-17)

Sayre Quevedo

Re:Construccion is a multimedia documentary art project that explores the legacy of the Salvadoran Civil War through the lens of six individual stories. The work is a product of two years of travelling, interviewing, and collaboration with Salvadoran artists, community organizations, and individuals across The United States and El Salvador. This paper is meant to explain the purpose and process of developing the work as well as emergent themes that appear across the narratives. The project touches on themes of individual and collective memory as well as immigration and violence. My paper looks at collective memory in the context of El Salvador and argues that a focus on the individual is needed to better understand it as a result of complex social conditions. My hope is that this paper might provide one lens by which to read the work presented in the exhibit catalogues.

*Michael Kemmett - The Atomic Farce: Deconstructing the Instrumentalist Mythology of America’s Nuclear Arms Regime (Distinction, 2016-17)

The Atomic Farce: Deconstructing the Instrumentalist Mythology of America’s Nuclear Arms Regime (Distinction, 2016-17)

Michael Kemmett

This project is a discursive social analysis of nuclear weapons, as well as the physical and intellectual systems which contain them in the United States. It opens with an introduction that defines the American ‘nuclear arms regime’ and sets up critique of the instrumentalism and realism on which it has been rationalized and constructed. The first half of this text is an examination of the arms regime, including the atomic bombings in Japan in 1945, the construction of a domestic nuclear narrative, and the development of mutual deterrence theory. The second half contains the bulk of scrutiny and frames nuclear bombs as cultural artifacts. It explores nuclear anxieties in imagination and memory, the subliminal social functions of nuclear weapons, and the diminished role of cultural criticism and the humanities in nuclear studies. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the farcical nature of nuclear politics after the Cold War, as well as a call for a new critical theory of nuclear weapons in order to better understand how the nuclear arms regime obfuscates substance and meaning, thereby maintaining social hierarchy and empire.

*Indigo Olivier - A Geography of the Student Debt Crisis (Distinction, 2016-17)

A Geography of the Student Debt Crisis (Distinction, 2016-17)

Indigo Olivier

Since Ronald Reagan’s presidency, higher education has been framed as a private investment geared to developing the skills for a “knowledge economy”. A new neoliberal national politics would disinvest in public higher education, and in so doing, allow for education to be conceived of as a commodity. Budget cuts, commodification, and a predatory student loan industry that partnered with the state would all lead to our current student debt crisis. Limited discursive frames prevent any solution or mitigation to any of these problems and we should instead look at student activists from Occupy, Chile, Puerto Rico and the 1960s to chart a way forward. If debt was reconceptualized as a new form of financial imperialism, a network of new domestic and international alliances could be the solution.

*Emilee Pelletier - (De)Constructed Bodies: Transnational Adoption and the U.S. Body Politic (Distinction, 2016-17)

(De)Constructed Bodies: Transnational Adoption and the U.S. Body Politic (Distinction, 2016-17)

Emilee Pelletier

This paper focuses on transnational adoption practices by the United States from the 1950’s to the present. It argues that effectively, the practice of transnational adoption works to expand the U.S. body politic. This body politic is largely characterized by whiteness that is manifested in and reinforced through the monitoring of bodies crossing borders and through the assignment of degrees of value and threat. These vary from one space to another and from one body to another through various lenses of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation. Transnational adoption is expansively networked and interconnected to intentional functions and activities of the state. It allows state regulation to permeate into perceived private spheres and legitimizes intervention in global foreign spaces. Additionally, it reinforces autonomy over foreign bodies while evading mainstream immigration controversies through a framing of humanitarian practice and its focus on family. This paper draws upon an interdisciplinary range of texts including reported government data, media publications, agency and adoption organization references and academic texts from feminists, economists, anthropologists, and psychologists. Through the discussion of historical origins, commodification of the body, and conceptualizations of multiculturalism that support my main argument, this paper attempts to illustrate an informed rendering of the U.S. structure of transnational adoption practice.

*Reagan Rodriguez - Identity Maneuver: Mapping Muslim LGBTQ+ Identity Politics and Representation in Contemporary U.S. Social Spaces (Distinction, 2016-17)

Identity Maneuver: Mapping Muslim LGBTQ+ Identity Politics and Representation in Contemporary U.S. Social Spaces (Distinction, 2016-17)

Reagan Rodriguez

This paper is set within the context of the United States, where cities such as New York and Los Angeles are some of the most diverse regions in the world in terms of identity, ethnicity, religion and sexuality. The paper examines the intersectional identity of LGBTQ+ Muslim, particularly how religion, gender and sexuality identity impact the navigation of self in relation to identity politics and space. This paper examines past research and current statistics on acceptance in different religious communities in varying regions in relation to identity and also examines the role of social space-both physical and virtual. The central question to be examined is: how do racial and religiosity identity politics function in relation to LGBTQ+ individuals with Muslim backgrounds navigating contemporary American LGBTQ+ politics and spaces? With both identity and space at the forefront, this paper will review and problematize identity and spatial politics in liberal spaces in the U.S. context. The paper uses a qualitative method and includes several interviews with LGBTQ+ individuals that are Muslim or come from a Muslim background as well as religious figures and activists in the LGBTQ+ and Muslim communities. A questionnaire utilized in the interviews with LGBTQ+ individuals is open ended and used mainly as a guideline for the process. The themes found in the discussion from the interviews include space, identity, religious impact, and family.

Renata Bolotova - Hydropower Developments on Transboundary Waters as Source of International Conflict: The Case of China-Vietnam Tensions Over the Mekong River

Hydropower Developments on Transboundary Waters as Source of International Conflict: The Case of China-Vietnam Tensions Over the Mekong River

Renata Bolotova

Never before seen world developments have created unique challenges in sustaining regional peace and security. An increase in their complexity is depleting the power of states to adapt. No problem is as pressing as future uncertainties due to newly emerged issues stemming from climate change, frequent droughts, and population growth that further deplete the Earth’s once abundant water. This, specifically, creates a challenge for countries sharing transboundary rivers, which are vital for their economies, human security, and food security. As a result, it is necessary to develop measures beyond traditional preventive diplomacy. A large body of literature predominantly focuses on water-related conflicts driven by asymmetrical distribution of a common river source in which the upstream well-watered countries hold a hegemonic power over their water-poor downstream neighbors. This paper analyzes hydropower development as a newly emerged trend of water use that has become contentious and increasingly detrimental to transboundary relations.

Paul Ivory - Palestinian Identity and the 1972 Munich Massacre

Palestinian Identity and the 1972 Munich Massacre

Paul Ivory

This paper aims to explore the relationship to the reemerging of Palestinian national identity beginning in the 1960’s and the 1972 Munich Massacre at the Munich Olympics by the PLO offshoot Black September. An analysis of the construction of Palestinian national identity before the Munich Massacre and of the specific relationship between media and terrorism. This paper aims to show how the creation of the new identity can be created and become globally known through the use of arms.

Dieudonné Kanyandekwe Rwaka - When the Banlieue Rises: Community Isolation and the Fallout of the French National Identity

When the Banlieue Rises: Community Isolation and the Fallout of the French National Identity

Dieudonné Kanyandekwe Rwaka

The concept of community isolation implies that there is a downward spiral in which the social and institutional marginality of communities leads to poverty and urban segregation, which in turn reinforce the risk of long-term unemployment, massive incarceration and xenophobia towards those groups. Since the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, most of Western Europe has fallen under a new order dominated by far-right movements, nationalism and xenophobia. Nonetheless, what my work will attempt to portray, is the relation between community isolation of Muslims, looking back at the 2005 uprisings in the banlieue of Paris by Muslim youth expressing their frustrations to joblessness, poverty, lack of education, inequality, racism, xenophobia, assimilation, loneliness, and exclusion; I will observe the ways that these issues faced by Muslim have not been addressed but rather ignored under the euphemisms of French national identity, and eventually facilitated the current populist order now growing in France. Since the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Nice, and the European Refugee Crisis, many have urged their anger towards immigrants and Muslims, mainly due to fact that these attacks were carried out by radicalized Belgian and French nationals. Nonetheless, the rapidity of the way this anger was geared towards immigrant communities reveals a deeper concern within the French population, one that has repeatedly celebrated its inclusive and multi-cultural communities, under its values of liberty and equality, but now needs to look at the so-called ‘enemy’ within, and the history that facilitated its conception.

Morgan Raspanti - Undoing Settler Colonialism and the Heteropatriarchy: Indigenous Women’s Leadership at Standing Rock

Undoing Settler Colonialism and the Heteropatriarchy: Indigenous Women’s Leadership at Standing Rock

Morgan Raspanti

In February of 2015 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE), initiated construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The DAPL connects oil production in North Dakota to the crude oil market in Illinois. Last April, the proposed pipeline met its opposition as it encroached on the Great Sioux Nation’s Standing Rock reservation. As the pipeline neared its estimated 1,172 miles in length, Indigenous and non-Indigenous allies gathered on the Sioux’s ancestral land, to stand in solidarity on the front lines, and stop the settler state from reproducing capital through another violation against the land, the water, and the people. This thesis reflects on construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Sioux treaty land at the Standing Rock reservation, as a very recent manifestation of settler colonialism’s legacy. By specifically looking at the leadership of Indigenous women, this research aims to unpack the significance of a social movement centering those who have experienced systemic violence and oppression based on multiple levels of their identity. Through opposition to the DAPL, a movement grounded in defense for the water, land, and future generations, Indigenous people fostered a space to collectively combat the trauma felt from generations of colonization. Despite the DAPL ultimately being completed, the movement that grew from Standing Rock is not defeated. The resistance at Standing Rock targeted greater systemic issues directly linked to history of settler-colonialism that sets the precedent for the current violence being felt by Indigenous (feminized) bodies and Indigenous lands. This very violence is what reproduces capital and sustains the settler-state. Through the analysis presented in this paper, the movement that occurred at Standing Rock, and the leadership that was centered within it, is situated as a revolutionary point in the longer history of decolonization and Indigenous resurgence across Turtle Island.

Lily Smith - Examining French Secularism

Examining French Secularism

Lily Smith

For several decades, French secularism has pervaded a national debate on the place of Islam in France. The significance of secularism in French political affairs is by no means a new phenomenon; strict Church-state separation has been a defining feature of French law and political discourse since the French Revolution, and has been implemented both in mainland France as well as in France’s former colonies in North Africa. This paper is a historical analysis, documenting the ways in which secularism, as well as Enlightenment and colonial ideologies, have continually informed and provided a justification for France’s attempts to subdue religious institutions and religious expression, both in France and in French Algeria. Overall, it illustrates how France’s strict secular political order, framed as imperative to social cohesion, is maintained by repressing cultural and religious diversity.

Charles Wong - Age of the Subscription Economy: How has the Subscription-Based Business Model Changed Over Time?

Age of the Subscription Economy: How has the Subscription-Based Business Model Changed Over Time?

Charles Wong

This research highlights the importance of the subscription model and how it has changed over time. In fact, there has been a spate of new types of subscription-based business models that challenge the traditions of older models. For example, the curated box model is an overhaul of a long-standing curation service model. Meanwhile, long-term subscription contracts are giving way to short-term contracts, allowing consumers to better manage their subscriptions, even though this means companies sometimes give up the predictability of their subscription-based business models Identified here are three factors that are shaping subscription-based business models currently: digitization, globalization, and the advancement of logistics. These three factors have already altered subscription-based business models and continue to do so, leading towards a future in which many more products and services become subscription-based. Such findings and others presented here can be used in the development of a better understanding of the benefits and risks of using subscription-based business models.

Fall 2016

*Marissa Gery - Do No Harm: The Medicalization of Torture at Guantánamo Bay (Distinction, 2016-17)

Do No Harm: The Medicalization of Torture at Guantánamo Bay (Distinction, 2016-17)

Marissa Gery

This paper aims to consider the discursive ways Joint Task Force-Guantánamo (JTF-GTMO) works to produce the force-feeding of hunger-striking detainees as a modality of state care. An analysis of the JTF-GTMO force-feeding policy, euphemistically titled, Standard Operating Procedure: Medical Management of Detainees with Weight Loss, read against the accounts of hunger-striking detainees, reveals discursive efforts to render the resistant bodies of detainees—as well as the state-sanction violence enacted against those bodies—invisible. Against JTF-GTMO efforts to produce the force-feeding as “care,” this paper aims to expose a reality of state- sanctioned violence. In doing so, it aims to shatter the discursively produced façade that enables and sustains JTF-GTMO and U.S. power at large.

*Joanna Shieh - The Fate of the Western Sahara: the role of natural resources in the Sahrawi self-determination conflict (Distinction, 2016-17)

The Fate of the Western Sahara: the role of natural resources in the Sahrawi self-determination conflict (Distinction, 2016-17)

Joanna Shieh

The Western Sahara, a territory with ambiguous natural resource wealth, lies on the coast of North Africa and is subjected to the authoritative rule of Morocco through their illegal occupation. The indigenous Sahrawi population have demanded independence from the Moroccan state for more than forty years, and insist on complete political and economic freedom. This paper focuses on the role of natural resources in the conflict, and argues that their geopolitical qualities, as well as their significance in the global marketplace has contributed to the legitimization of Morocco’s occupation. At the same time, these same resources can be used to combat this legitimization by providing a tangible target for Sahrawi activism and an alternative legal space to help justify their self-determination movement. Literature on international law and human rights, as well as political science and political philosophy facilitate the analysis of both actors’ engagement with the natural resources in the Western Sahara.

Malaika Caldwell - When Houses Turn To Ash: Exploring the impacts of dispossession through Sri Lankan artwork

When Houses Turn To Ash: Exploring the impacts of dispossession through Sri Lankan artwork

Malaika Caldwell

This research looks at representations of home in various poems and paintings, produced by Sri Lankans who experienced dispossession as a result of the Sri Lankan civil war, to see how their experiences impacted their sense of belonging. The goal of this research is to show how artistic expression can be an effective tool for analyzing the impacts of conflict and trauma. This paper provides a framework of the concepts of belonging that are essential to understanding refugee issues, and then illustrates with a personal analysis of paintings and poems to show how these concepts are represented through a symbol of home. These symbols of home further demonstrate how elements of loss and betrayal continue to impact the lives of refugees as they try to carve out homes in exile.

Lisa Quinley - Helping Newcomer Refugee, Asylee, and Immigrant Youth Transition Into the New York City Public School System: Impact and Limitations of the Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) Model

Helping Newcomer Refugee, Asylee, and Immigrant Youth Transition Into the New York City Public School System: Impact and Limitations of the Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) Model

Lisa Quinley

Refugee, asylee, and immigrant youth who are new to the United States have to transition into an unfamiliar public school setting, dealing simultaneously with language barriers, cultural transitions and new academic standards. The Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) works in New York City to ease this transition. This paper explores the issues that these children face, including language barriers, acculturation, emotional adjustment and gaps in academic background. It then reviews the pedagogical methods that have been identified as best practices in dealing with these issues, in particular Cultural Sensitivity, Individualized Education and Emotional Support. Observations are made on the difficulty of New York City public schools in implementing these practices. Then the RYSA model is described in detail and reviewed against best practices using both an external evaluation and participant observation. RYSA is found to be very successful in terms of implementing the best practices, which in particular results in improving students’ confidence, self-advocacy and ability to communicate. However, the short time frame means that substantial English language learning and filling academic gaps is not possible. Also, RYSA can only cover a very small percentage of children in need. Additional funding would be needed to scale up this model. In addition, New York City public schools need to be adequately resourced and oriented to help these students complete their transition to the American academic system and to succeed in school.