2013 - 2014 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2013 - 2014 CRG Student Research Grantees

Grid with photos of AY 2013 - 2014 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2013 - 2014 CRG Student Research Grantees


TRIA ANDREWS (Spring 2014)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Education on the Reservation: Extracurricular and Culturally-Relevant Programming

This dissertation, “Education on the Reservation: Extracurricular and Culturally-Relevant Programing,” examines educational activities for Lakota youth on an Indian reservation from the founding of a mission school (1886-1972) to the present day. The research compares colonial education paradigms at the former mission school with the culturally-relevant curricula at a tribally-run juvenile detention facility founded in 2005 on the reservation. The mission school and tribally-run juvenile hall have articulated almost identical goals: to produce productive citizens of high character. I focus on extracurricular programing because this is the realm in which activities associated with Indianness and culturally-relevant curricula have existed at both institutions. While students are supposedly less regulated during extracurricular activities, these facilities nevertheless require that students adhere to specific performances. This project considers how curricula linked with assimilation and subordination have come to seem “natural” or “common sense,” even to those who were victimized by these models. Conversely, this dissertation asks how have Lakota thinkers been able to move beyond such programming to innovate and/or retraditionalize tribal programs for youth. Tribally-run juvenile detention facilities are relatively recent developments that scholars have yet to explore.

Department:  Environmental Science, Policy, and Management

Project Title:  Unsettling the Agrarian Imaginary: Race, Agrarianism, and the Domestic

My research examines representations of African American farmers and the racial, gendered, and sexual subject positions produced, promoted, and excluded at the intersection of domesticity and American agrarianism. My project elucidates the cultural forms that have informed racialized histories of disenfranchisement of African American farmers. Central to my analysis is the relationship between the representational economy of food production in the United States, normative and queer formations of domesticity, and the environmental-spatial production of possibilities for the existence of sanctioned subjectivities. I compare dominant media and African American cultural texts during three significant periods for U.S. agriculture between 1930 and 2013, and analyze symbols of domesticity and agrarianism and their socio-historical, political, and geographic contexts. My project simultaneously demonstrates the ways the American agrarian imaginary has been produced and negotiated, and how identity and power have been theorized as such.

Department:  Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title:  Los mecos de Veracruz: The Performance of Indigenous Kinesthetic Epistemologies

My dissertation approaches the fiesta as both a trope and a performance practice shaping notions of race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary Mexican cultural production. It interrogates how the notion of fiesta permeates Mexican popular culture and its living manifestations as well as the discourse on Mexican identity or lo mexicano. In the spring of 2014, I will be working on the fourth chapter of my dissertation, which engages the fiesta as a lived experience. I will examine the “danza de los mecos” in the community of Tecomate, Chicontepec, Veracruz. Every year, approximately twelve young Nahua males—half of whom are dressed as women while two of them are dressed as devils—perform the “danza de los mecos” during the fiesta of carnival in honor of Tlacatecolotl—the “owl man” deity who embodies good and evil. I argue that, as modalities of knowledge production and transmission of social memory that shape processes of identity formation and identification, the fiestaand the mecos enable the Nahua community to interrogate the inscription and incorporation of contesting discourses about Mexican indigeneity. Given the importance of the construction of indigenous subjects for the configuration of a modern Mexico, my project ultimately seeks to examine the extent to which the fiesta and the danza actualize and re-signify various modes or mechanisms of normalization and discipline, while simultaneously allowing for the performance of indigenous knowledges through the racially and sexually marked indigenous festive bodies.

MINA BARAHIMI (Spring 2014)
Department:  Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Project Title:  Race, Returns, and the Politics of Immigration Control:  A Study of the Role of Voluntary Departure in U.S. Immigration Enforcement

This dissertation research builds on scholarship across a range of disciplines on the role of U.S. immigration law and enforcement practices in shaping immigrant racial identity. It asks how the use of voluntary departure in immigration enforcement has helped construct Mexicans as presumptively and perpetually alien to U.S. territory. Voluntary departure is an administrative procedure created in the early 20th century to remove certain immigrant groups in lieu of time-consuming and expensive deportation proceedings. Those who take voluntary departure waive their right to a deportation hearing and are not deported but are still required to leave. Today most required (i.e. forcible) departures of noncitizens (85%) have been carried out via voluntary departure—rather than deportation—and most are of Mexican nationals. Despite this, voluntary departure has largely escaped empirical examination. Existing historical accounts of voluntary departure are rather piecemeal, but together, they suggest that voluntary departure has served different immigration enforcement functions in different periods of time and that its application may have been disparate across immigrant groups (e.g. Mexicans vs. Europeans). These fragmented accounts beg further elaboration and synthesis. Through archival research and interviews, this dissertation seeks to contribute a robust narrative of voluntary departure’s origins and development over time, and to elucidate its role in race-based immigration enforcement against Mexican immigration.

HÉCTOR BELTRÁN (Spring 2014)
Department:  Anthropology

Project Title:  The Rise of the Latin@/American Technology Startup Boom

My project ethnographically investigates the rise of the Latin@/American tech startup boom by moving between two physical sites: Mexico City and the San Francisco Bay area. In the bay area, community organizations are contending with the fact that less than 1% of venture-backed technology startups are founded by Latinos, and statistics on Latina representation are even more bleak. Their response has been to organize the techno-social networks necessary to increase the number of Latin@-owned startups. Across Latin America, key actors are currently developing technology infrastructure and organizational networks to help create their own versions of the Silicon Valley; I focus specifically on the rise of the “Mexican Silicon Valley.” As these two movements coalesce, I move between both sites to seek out projects aimed toward “community empowerment” or against a hypermasculine “brogrammer” culture to explore how these efforts look different from these locations. Doing so elucidates how the intersections of Latinidad and gender are constructed differently across multifaceted borders. Thus, the Latin@/American technology startup boom becomes a crucial site to ethnographically highlight the asymmetrical relations of race, gender, and class as constitutive organizing principles of an “exportable” Silicon Valley. Frequently portrayed and celebrated as a unique space of openness and innovation where it doesn’t matter who you are but what you do, I depict a tech startup boom shot through with embodiment and color.

Department:  Geography

Project Title:  From Colonial Cosmopolitanism to Mediterraneanism. Shifting Socio-Spatial Borders between Italy and Tunisia

My research seeks to understand how the socio-spatial borders between Italy (Europe) and Tunisia (North Africa) were produced, challenged and reproduced over time, from their initial tracing through the colonial space of French Protectorate Tunis, to their current location through the Mediterranean sea. If Tunisians were one of the first groups of migrants to settle in Sicily in the 1970s, at the turn of the 20th Century many Sicilian labour migrants had emigrated south to French Protectorate Tunisia. Through a combination of ethnographic and archival research, interviews and oral histories, I seek to understand the ways in which current discourses and practices around Tunisian migration to Sicily re-articulate forms of differentiation between Italians and Tunisians at play in French Protectorate Tunisia. I claim that that current debates around migration should not be understood as new questions that emerged in the last decades of the 20thCentury, as Italy became a country of immigration, but are strongly connected to the progressive definition of the southern borders of Europe that was central to the constitution of Italianness.

WILLIAM GOW (Spring 2014)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Performing Chinatown: Wartime Spectacles in Los Angeles, 1937-1943

This project traces the ability of Chinese Americans in Los Angeles to engage dominant understandings of race, gender, and national belonging through their participation in fundraising festivals for Chinese war relief during the late 1930s and early 1940s. At a time when the larger American public’s understanding of China and Chinese people was quickly evolving, the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 attracted broad local and often national audiences to these fundraisers. Focusing on Los Angeles, I explore how the ability of local Chinese Americans to shape the meanings of these events changed over time as national aid groups became more involved.

MOLLY HALES (Spring 2014)
Department:  Public Health - Medical Anthropology

Project Title:  Healthy Families: Re-imagining Sovereignty for Alaska Natives

In the Yukon-Kuskokwim of southwestern Alaska, the regional tribal nonprofit has begun offering a program called Healthy Families that uses cultural knowledge gathered from Yup’ik elders to rehabilitate native families. Healthy Families is a challenge to colonialism “from below”—an attempt to use indigenous knowledge rather than medical expertise to address the range of difficulties that Yup’ik native families face in the wake of a century and a half of disruptive colonial management by US government and the State of Alaska.

I am interested in theorizing Healthy Families as a site of indigenous political resistance distinct from the ongoing struggles for tribal sovereignty. In my research I seek to answer: What spaces of resistance are opened up by indigenous program such as Healthy Families? What barriers is Healthy Families coming up against, and how do they seek to break through these barriers? What are the program directors’ and the participants’ visions for a healthy family, and how does this compare to the state’s vision for native families? How is the efficacy of the program understood and evaluated by both the native program directors and their state and federal funding agencies?

LOUISE LY (Fall 2013)
Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Racialized Intimacy: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender within Interracial Marital Relationships Among Asians Americans and Whites

For my dissertation, I propose to study processes of assimilation and racialization for heterosexual Asian Americans. While intermarriage has been used as the key indicator of incorporation for Southern and Eastern European immigrants at the turn of the last century, it may not be a valid predictor of loosening social boundaries between Asian immigrants, their offspring, and other Americans. Despite high rates of intermarriage between Asian Americans and White Americans, scholars consistently ignore substantial gender asymmetries. These marriages are far greater in number between Asian women and White men compared to those among White women and Asian men. In problematizing intermarriage as an indicator of racial assimilation, I seek to examine the racialized natures of gender and sexuality within Asian American interracial pairings. I will interview 30 Chinese Americans with White partners, 30 Whites with Chinese American partners, 30 Indian Americans with White partners, and 30 Whites with Indian American partners (an equal number of 15 women and 15 men for each subgroup). I seek to develop a comparative understanding of how gender and sexuality not only intersect with race, but how they intersect with various ethnic identities within the Asian racial category, while attending to class differences.

Department:  African Diaspora Studies

Project Title:  Diasporan Recitations of Black Failure and Ethical Possibility

My dissertation explores the value of recitations of failure by artists and writers of the African diaspora who choose to recount failure between blacks (in the forms of miscrecognition, betrayal, femininity, and futurity) in the face of the overdetermination of black failure in dominant institutions and measures. Rather than disavow or eschew failure, I draw from the queer studies turn toward bad feelings to interrogate these recitations in sites of cultural production. Chapter two, for which the CRG has generously offered their support, concerns the repetition of failure in printmaking, specifically in work by Wilmer Jennings. I am interested in what forms failure takes and what failures can be represented (and repeated) by forms.

Department:  Rhetoric

Project Title:  India(ns) on Display, or the Politics of Museumizing Minorities

“India(ns) on Display” undertakes a close reading of the Smithsonian exhibit, “Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation,” opening February 2014 at the National Museum of Natural History. How, I ask, does the exhibit interpellate Indian Americans as “ambassadors of culture”? What Indias are being deployed, imagined, and even perverted in this moment of U.S.-based institutionalization? And how do we come to terms with the official-national museumization of gendered and racialized subjects, especially when it is couched as a celebration of their putative achievements? I situate the exhibit in relation to earlier examples of pedagogic memorialization and institutional formation as well as the discourses on the model minority and the returnee. This research is part of my dissertation on the cultural production of and response to the arrival of “global India,” in which I read texts that evidence authorial practices of adoption, adaptation, translation, and mediation across languages and systems of signification. My goal is to identify the dominant ideological paradigms and aspirations that undergird efforts to make India available to the United States and the world as a resource to be known, transacted, and, in this case, museumized.

KARA A. YOUNG (Spring 2014)
Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Gut Feelings: The Emotions of Food Inequality

Over the last 10 years, there has been a growing body of literature addressing the health risks associated with reliance on the American conventional food system. While this scholarship provides evidence that structural factors – especially food quality, income and access – shape people’s food consumption patterns, it is not able to make sense of how people in different social structural locations make decisions about what they eat among alternatives. One reason for this gap in research is that these structural frameworks tend to ignore the micro level meanings that inform how individuals navigate the food system and how those meanings are shaped by race, class, and gender. Drawing on in-depth interviews, participant observation, and focus groups, I argue that race, class, and gender inequalities are acted out through different emotive relationships to food therefore fortifying the results of structural inequality. Individuals understand the places that they eat as raced and classed spaces and embody systems of raced, classed, and gendered meanings that can be explored through their emotional relationships to food. Specifically, feelings of control, fear, pleasure and pride around food are explored.


Department:  American Studies

Project Title:  A Qualitative Study on the Intersection of Higher Education and Incarceration in African-American and Latino/a Households

This study aims to analyze how two opposing institutions in California affect Latino/a and African American family ties. These two racial groups occupy the majority of the prisons in California, and are also two of the least represented racial groups in higher education. Additionally, recent studies surface familial incarceration as having negative schooling outcomes in the household (Loper 2014). Contrarily, this study is investigating the population of students that contradict the latter claim, as they are all university students. More specifically, it asks, what are the strategies that Latina and African-American womyn with incarcerated male family members have used to access higher education, despite the obstacles their families face due to familial incarceration? How do they overcome the negative stigma correlated with incarceration, financial and cultural obstacles to achieve higher education? And, does the presence of an incarcerated member in the home play a significant role in family dynamics? This work is approached through a critical race theory and restorative justice framework as the methodology is the collection of oral stories. The goal of this study is to identify policy reforms for the carceral and public education systems, by paying special attention to university womyn with incarcerated male family members.

TALI GIRES (Fall 2013)
Department:  Interdisciplinary Studies

Project Title:  Gender and Cultural Sensitivity Surrounding Development Initiatives: Examining the Connection between Gender Relations and Ethnicity in the San Martin Region of Peru

In my research I will be comparing two rural communities in Peru—a ladino population that is of mixed descent and a native Quechua community—both within the San Martin region to understand how different ethnicities may lead to different economic and social needs despite both population groups identifying as women. I aim to investigate the construction of gender relations—and how different ethnicities may form varying cultural ideas surrounding this—in rural communities in the San Martin region of Peru in order to understand how gender plays a role in survival strategies for these communities and development initiatives may be best constructed to include cultural differences and communal needs.

DEE MAURICIO (Fall 2013)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Entendiendo Nuestros Pasados, Sexos y Generos: Testimonios y historias orales of Guatemalan Survivors during the Civil War and Genocide

In Entendiendo Nuestros Pasados, Sexos y Generos: Testimonios y historias of Guatemalan Survivors during the Civil War and Genocide, I intend to explore how people make sense of their sexual and gendered experiences before, during and after the Civil War and Genocide in Guatemala. I specifically wish to look at how survivors deal with and understand trauma and the type of legacies it may or may not leave. One particular lens I hope to explore is that of gender, more specifically how native communities understand gender, and how then might violence and war be understood differently according to one’s socially prescribed gender. Lastly I wish to explore the type of effects the Civil War and genocide has had on today’s generations understanding of their gendered and sexual selves.

SKYE NILES (Spring 2014)
Department:  Gender and Women's Studies

Project Title:  Early U.S. Drug Policy as a Method of Racial, Gender, and Sexual Control

My research focuses on the social conditions through which the first U.S. drug prohibition policies were produced and how these drug policies police minority groups. I ask, how are early drug policies not only methods of drug control, but also of racial, sexual, and gender control? I analyze how opium smoking became associated with anti-Chinese policies and sentiment even while other forms of opiates such as morphine remained unregulated. I draw off of Nayan Shah’s notion of how opium “dens” can be considered semi-public spaces of “queer relations” where men experience pleasure together and where interracial and interclass contact occurs to look at how anti-opium policies also became ways of regulating non-normative sexual, racial, and gender interactions (95). I also critique how the imagined notion of white women’s purity is used as a rationale for regulating opium and opium users. Through understanding some of the basis for the earliest U.S. drug policies, I aim to contribute to the current conversations on drug policy as a historically based and ongoing method of population control with racialized, gendered and sexualized effects.

ZULLY JUAREZ (Fall 2013)
Department:  Gender and Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  From the Highlands to the City; Maya Women’s Ways of Healing in South Central Los Angeles

I plan to investigate Guatemalan Maya women’s healing strategies’ and the ways in which they survive a midst the conditions of migration and violence. My main objective in completing this research is to understand,

How do Maya Guatemalan women living in South Central Los Angeles maintain ancestral forms of healing (traditional practices) in urban spaces, given the effects of migration and dislocation of their native lands? How does the change in community affect them physically, spiritually, and emotionally?

I will approach this research question in three ways. First review histories of racialized and gendered state violence in Guatemala. Then, I will explore how the change in environment has affected women who were born and raised in the highlands of Huehuetenango, Guatemala and how migrating to an urban space like Los Angeles impact their relationship with traditional practices, specifically looking at Maya Q’anjob’al language, Maya spirituality and corte the traditional dress. Third, I will focus on different approaches these women use to heal their bodies, spirits and different forms of retaining their culture, given the dislocation from their ancestral lands and pressure to identify with the larger Latino community due to various discriminatory factors that target indigenous communities.

Department:  Interdisciplinary Studies

Project Title:  The Conditions of Power in Community Health: Gender, Race, and Harm Reduction at the Berkeley Free Clinic

My research project is an investigation of the conditions in which power operates within STI (sexually transmitted infections) counseling sessions at the Berkeley Free Clinic. I intend to analyze the conditions in which the implementation of harm reduction during these appointments reinforces dominant bio-political norms around sexual health, as well as the conditions in which the implementation of harm reduction refigures and transforms these bio-political norms. I will attempt to address the ways in which these conditions are constructed in relation to a client’s gender and race within the relatively short time duration of these appointments, and I ultimately hope to highlight ways in which a client’s marginalized position and nonconforming subjectivity might allow the STI counselor to “queer” their implementation of harm reduction and refigure dominant bio-political norms of sexual health within these appointments.