2015 - 2016 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2015 - 2016 CRG Student Research Grantees

Grid with photos of AY 2015 - 2016 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2015 - 2016 CRG Student Research Grantees


Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Re-examining Indigenous Agency in the United Nations

While most scholarship on the transnational indigenous movement represents the United Nations (UN) as a crucial source of indigenous agency within the movement, the scholarship has overlooked the problematic relationship between indigenous communities and the UN within the world-systems context. In order to address this gap in the scholarship, this ethnography will re-examine the meaning of “indigenous agency” at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which is the UN’s annual hallmark event for transnational indigenous organizing at the international level of the movement. In particular, why do indigenous activists participate in the UNPFII? How does the UN shape indigenous activism in the UNPFII? To what extent can indigenous activists successfully navigate the UN in order to achieve their political goals in the UNPFII without changing their desired outcomes for their local communities? In order to answer these questions, I will conduct in-depth ethnographic fieldwork at the 15th annual session of the UNPFII at the UN Headquarters in New York City (May 9-20, 2016). This ethnography is part of a broader dissertation project on the relationship between indigenous communities and the international community within the transnational indigenous movement.

Department:  African American Studies

Project Title:  Black Soled: Sneakers, Masculine Mis-embodiment, and the Racial Life of Things

Black Soled is a mixed-methods exploration of the racialization of the sneaker from 1985 to the present. In my work I outline how the emergence of Michael Jordan, his subsequent partnership with Nike Inc., and the ban of his first signature shoe by the National Basketball Association in 1985 marked a critical shift in the polysemantic and complex cultural position of sneakers within the United States (and globally). Drawing upon the work of performance theory and thing theory, I propose the concept of “the racial life of things,” and query how and why sneakers, more than any other consumer object, have become deeply and inextricably linked to blackness and masculinity.

JENNIFER DUQUE (Spring 2016)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Revisiting the Philippine Reservation: The Missouri History Museum and the Re-exhibition of the 1904 World's Fair

My project examines how the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition is memorialized in both the Missouri History Museum and the MHM Library and Research Center archives. Considering the co-construction of anthropological discourse, visual technologies, and nation-building bolstering the Exposition, I am particularly invested in exploring how the museum and archives display and document artifacts pertaining to the fair’s “Philippine Reservation,” a live ethnographic exhibit that featured 1,100 Filipinos from various “tribes” or ethnic groups. The Philippine Reservation is frequently “read” as a spectacular cementation of Filipino savagery within the U.S. imperial imaginary, and the Cordillera ethnic groups (or Igorots) interpreted as metonymic of the Archipelago’s heterogeneous population. While certainly a recorded intent of the Exposition Company, my project focuses instead on the ways in which visual documentation of the Philippine Reservation, in conjunction with the anthropological and political debates underpinning the fair itself, attests to the instability of colonial race-making—and the contingency of pan-Filipino identity. Similarly, my project considers how such ideological plasticity constituted rather than hampered the narratives of progress and nationalism coursing through the Exposition, and through the MHM exhibits still commemorating it.

Department:  Rhetoric

Project Title:  Troubling Humanitarian Discourses: Vietnamese Refugee Diaspora in Guam and Israel

In order to trace interlocking dynamics of settler colonialism, U.S. empire, and refugee displacement, my dissertation examines the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees on Guam and Israel—two understudied sites of Vietnamese diaspora. From 23 April to 1 November 1975, the U.S. hosted Operation New Life on Guam: a processing center that housed over 111,000 Vietnamese refugees. From 1977 to 1979, Israel granted asylum and citizenship to 369 Vietnamese refugees. What these two gestures of humanitarianism elide, however, is the structure of settler colonialism that enabled these acts: U.S. military occupation of Chamorro land and Israeli settlement of Palestinian land. By focusing on the figure of the Vietnamese refugee that links these two sites, I examine not only circuits of empire—how the U.S. war in Vietnam is linked to its imperial conquest of the Pacific islands and its strategic support of Israel in the Middle East—but also circuits of solidarity—how native Chamorro claims for sovereignty and Palestinian movements for justice are connected through the Vietnamese refugee figure.

Department:  Music

Project Title:  Locating Multiplicity: Rethinking U.S. Popular Music Through Indian American Practices

This study investigates the diverse and multi-located practices of second-generation Indian American musicians. I will explore how each individual’s multiple practices are the result of various constraints and opportunities, also revealing their overlapping musical networks. The primary questions I address are 1) What do second-generation Indian American musicians do in order to participate in the popular music world and 2) Why are they involved in multiple musical practices? I concentrate on four well-established artists (Vijay Iyer, Rupa Marya, DJ Rekha, and Sunny Jain). I will reveal how they live, struggle, and thrive through their diverse musical pursuits, which I refer to as their mobilities. I centralize concepts of labor (as a “labor of love,” Guilbault 2014) and representation in order to examine these mobilities. My research will help describe the place(s) that second-generation immigrant artists occupy in the popular music world and how, through sound, these musicians constantly (re)negotiate their senses of belonging. Thus, I contribute to a broad literature on second-generation Asian American immigrants while resisting fixed notions of second-generation identities. Moreover, by taking seriously mobilities as an aspect of musical labor, my study will bring new understandings to the ways that musicians survive and flourish.

Department:  South & Southeast Asian Studies

Project Title:  Rendering the Native through the Language of Philippine Plants, 1871 - 1898

While the racial categories of the Spanish Empire in the Philippines are well known in Philippine historiography, little scholarship examines the Empire’s racial epistemology of the archipelago. Spanish botanical writing offers a novel way to understand how scientists racialized the native or indio body since botany was one of the premier sciences in Spain’s overseas possessions. As a prolific field for secular and non-secular researchers on the archipelago, botany provides insight into how these researchers racially constructed their native informants, patients, and parishioners. More than a racial categorical device, “the native” was necessary for helping systematize the plant life of the colony.

Part of my doctoral project aims to discover how Spanish imperial botany of the late nineteenth century contributed to the construction of flora that is presumably Philippine. With support from the Center for Race and Gender, I will examine how botanical descriptions produce ideas of the native and of the colony. This will help me understand how Spanish botanical writings render “the native” of the archipelago and what these writings reveal about the racial epistemology of the late Spanish Empire.

DERRIKA HUNT (Spring 2016)
Department:  Education

Project Title:  Windows of Possibility: Giving Voice to the experiences of Black girls

This study seeks to highlight modes of resistance and strategies of resilience employed by girls of color as they navigate barriers and challenges to education. I’m particularly interested in identifying strategies of resilience and resistance in girls of color because this is often an understudied dynamic in education scholarship- which tends to focus on challenges and barriers faced by girls of color in schooling, without also highlighting the agency, resistance, and resilience employed by girls of color. Through this study my goal is to examine the relationships between schooling, resilience and life trajectory for girls of color. In 2000, the United Nation’s launched the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) to globally empower girls to achieve educational success with the hopes of closing the gender inequality gap in education by 2015. However, as I write this proposal the gender inequality gap in education is still looming and girls continue to face a unique set of challenges that serve as barriers to their education, especially girls of color. Yet these girls have also employed creative means to survive and resist- it is these means of survival and resistance that I am seeking to highlight. What is more, I believe as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states “Removing the barriers that keep women and girls on the margins of economic, social, cultural, and political life must be a top priority for us all – businesses, governments, the United Nations, and civil society.” This is a larger study that has been divided into a series of parts. For the first part of the study I will be researching Black girls.

Department:  Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Project Title:  Litigating Unwritten Law: reading Sam Hose's brutal murder, white newspaper opinion, and Ida Wells' anti-lynching campaign as legal discourse and recourse

This project details the material and legal communities that Ida Wells imagined during her anti-lynching campaign. Reading Sam Hose’s death and the white press discourse that called for his lynching raises one tragic example of a competition to create legal meaning. Taking ‘law’ to be a term that calls for justice, Ida Wells responded to the tragedy by litigating his murderers before the court of public opinion. InLynch Law in Georgia, Ida Wells details the facts of Sam Hose’s death, disputing the dominant legal framework and facts that had resulted in Hose’s untimely death. The project first textually analyzes Well’s arguments against white press accounts, what she terms the ‘unwritten law,’ in order to frame the material realities of these newspaper communities that trafficked in legal language. Next, I aim to examine what I call the legal community that Wells imagined, a community that she created between herself and her reading public, calling for legal change. The project ends by drawing the two imagined communities together to frame the ‘public meaning’ of law that circulated outside formal courts while articulating legal change.

JOHN MUNDELL (Spring 2016)
Department:  African American and African Diaspora Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies

Project Title:  Black Navy, Queer Navy

Since its inception, the U.S. military has strategically recruited black men, historically promising them freedom, land, education, and equality via the uniform. Of the branches, the Navy has filled its ranks with more black men than any other. Yet, while the Navy was the first branch to experiment with desegregated ships in 1944 prior to the 1948 integration of all U.S. forces, discourses of fear in initially training and arming black men and derision for an allegedly weak, dishonorable, or exceedingly potent masculinity have consequentially influenced disciplinary practices against the black male body over the course of the military’s existence. To attain rights of citizenship, black men have been held to a stricter code of masculinity ethics, thus further limiting any non-heteronormative desire or behavior in times of labor and leisure. This study, as part of a larger comparative study between the U.S. and Brazil, explores the U.S. Navy’s disciplinary practices of black sailors and officers, particularly for sexually related behaviors since integration in 1948, but with a focus on the years prior, during, and after the enactment of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (1993-2011) in comparison to discipline enforced on white sailors and officers and the overall code of ethics.

NICOLE D. RAMSEY (Spring 2016)
Department:  African American & African Diaspora Studies

Project Title:  Unpacking Blackness: Cultural Exchange and Identity Formations in Afro-Costa Rica

As a research project, I want to investigate the ways in which conceptions of blackness and national identity are represented and performed in Central America and among Afro-Central American immigrants in the U.S. More broadly, I am interested in how fragmented notions of citizenship, ethnicity, culture and migration inform identities across Central America and within the U.S. The silencing and absence of Afro-Central American narratives call into question which histories are included and sustained within the collective national memory—causing those who identify as “other” to be cast on the margins. In looking at conceptions of gender, race and class, this project will examine various ways that Afro-Costa Ricans negotiate these dynamics through cultural production, visual culture and practices of history.”

Department:  Music (Ethnomusicology)

Project Title:  Sounding the Transnational: Caribbean Jazz in Trinidad and Tobago

This project will explore the notion of transnationalism through sound as it is embodied by Caribbean jazz in Trinidad and Tobago. The term Caribbean jazz, used by jazz musicians throughout the Caribbean, is paradoxical. It represents a rubric that shows how Caribbean jazz is at once both local and regional; deeply rooted in socio-historically specific sounds unique to each island, yet referring to the body of jazz repertoire emerging from the entire Caribbean. Caribbean jazz has emerged from African-American jazz just as Latin Jazz has, but it is distinguished in each island by the heavy incorporation of various local musical styles and instruments. Jazz musicians in Trinidad and Tobago often fuse styles from local musics such as calypso, the Orisha tradition and chutney as well as other East Indian musical practices. Through analysis of sound, I plan to explore the ways that Caribbean jazz in Trinidad and Tobago both converses with and helps to redefine the concept of transnationalism. This project explores how the sound of Caribbean jazz, a distinct style of jazz that emerges from distinct materialities and histories, is produced and informed in relation to issues such as the politics of race and nation-state, and diasporic intimacies.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Race, Inequality, and the Strategic Limits of Desegregation: Symbolic Struggles over School Reform in the Wake of Chicago’s Civil Rights Movement

This project analyzes the articulation and evolution of an official agenda for student desegregation in the context of ongoing struggles over race and inequality in Chicago’s public schools during the 1960’s and 1970’s. Unlike the more high-profile debates between state actors, national organizations, and expert attorneys over the appropriate racial mix of students across schools, neighborhood-level struggles over desegregation interventions in racially changing areas related desegregation to the material and organizational concerns of struggling ghetto schools. In Chicago and nationwide, public officials and their allies often adopted a sanitized discourse of desegregation that deflected these material concerns over educational inequality, which animated the anti-school segregation struggle that peaked in Chicago during the early 1960’s. Drawing on archival research spanning multiple political debates and policy struggles over educational equality in 1970’s Chicago, this project asks how the specific desegregation interventions of the Chicago Public Schools framed educational challenges and objectives without conceding to popular interpretations of racial inequality. This investigation examines the larger hypothesis that desegregation reform, by marking select spaces for black achievement, helped define and legitimize a separate domain of segregated ghetto schools, designated for depoliticized, poverty-oriented reforms.

KIRSTEN M.G. VACCA (Spring 2016)
Department:  Anthropology

Project Title:  Reconstructing Daily Life in Early Hawaiian Communities

This project investigates archaeologically the structure of the house complexes that were constructed between the 15th and 17th centuries in the Kaupō district on the island of Maui, Hawai‘i in order to better understand the daily life of early Hawaiians. The history of colonialism in the Hawaiian Islands created a perception of Hawaiian identity that has continued to affect the understanding of the history of the region. Through the use of archaeological evidence, I aim to uncover the structuring of gendered identity through the material remains of everyday practice. Understanding the complexity and intersectionality of gender in early Hawai‘i will assist with the deconstruction of the racialized image projected onto Hawaiians by the European colonial powers. It is my aim for the resulting research to work toward ending erasures within the archaeological literature with regards to Hawaiian women and reconnecting descendant groups with their history.

KANKAN XIE (Fall 2015)
Department:  South & Southeast Asian Studies

Project Title:  Estranged Comrades: Communism, Identity Politics, and Interwoven Networks of the Late Colonial Malay World, 1927-1942

In spite of the early efforts of the Indonesian communists in expanding their organization in British Malaya, it was their Chinese counterparts who eventually established the Nanyang Communist Party under the tutelage of the Comintern. My research project examines the convergence of—and the corresponding inter-racial conflicts in between—these two trends of the pre-WWII communist movement in the Malay World (now Indonesia and Malaysia) in the last fifteen years of the colonial era. Rather than narrowly focusing on individuals, organizations and events within pre-existed political boundaries, I study the rise of left-wing forces in the Malay World as an inter-racial, transnational and even global process, in which Southeast Asia and China shared mutual and simultaneous influence from and upon each other through the extremely heterogeneous diaspora communities.


Department:  Psychology

Project Title:  Risk, Race, and Sentencing

One way to begin unwinding mass incarceration without compromising public safety is to use risk assessment instruments in sentencing. Although these instruments figure prominently in current reforms, there are concerns that benefits in crime control will be offset by costs in social justice—i.e., a disparate and adverse effect on racial minorities and the poor. In the present study, judges and attorneys were given one of four written case vignettes in which the defendant’s socioeconomic status and the presence of risk assessment were manipulated. Past results suggest that risk assessment does not exacerbate any sentencing disparities based on SES.

LAURA CAHIER (Spring 2016)
Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  From Discriminatory Immigration Policies Toward the Development of Racialized Feminist Movements in France: The Example of Maghrebin Women Immigrant

My research project focuses on the racialization of the demands for gender equality in France, through the example of women immigrants from Maghreb. Indeed, since the 1970s, discriminatory immigration policies have been implemented by the French government and they have strongly weakened women immigrants’ rights while reinforcing gender and racial stereotypes, especially against Maghrebin women. Women immigrants suffer from bi-dimensional discriminations, both compared to men immigrants (gender discriminations) and to “French” native women (racial discriminations). Because of this particular status, they have hardly found their claims represented and defended by the mainstream – “white” – feminist movements in France. Whereas feminism is hardly ever analyzed through the race lens in modern French sociology, my research project aims to deconstruct this movement and introduce the race variable in order to understand the diversity of claims for gender equality in France. My project also furtherly questions the racialization – and so the particularization – of claims that are said to be universal (women’s rights). Is the racialization of the claims for women’s rights creating further racial stereotypes? Are there some intersections between “white” and “colored” feminism? To what extent can racialized feminist movements achieve their goals in today’s context of growing resentment toward immigrants in France?

BONNIE CHERRY (Spring 2016)
Department:  Interdisciplinary Studies

Project Title:  Queering Sovereignty: Conflict and Human Rights in the Tohono O’Odham Nation

This project seeks to study how and if the Tohono O’Odham Nation (a sovereign tribal nation bifurcated by the US Mexico border and the site of increased irregular migration due to border militarization) can maintain political and cultural sovereignty in the face of the dynamics of violence, capitalist markets, US border imperialism, and the humanitarian asylum crisis which resulted from the confluence of these forces. It will also address racial profiling in Border Patrol activity, and what Jasbir Puar calls persecution of and violence against “terrorist look-alike bodies”: the conflation by the state of indigenous, migrant, and “Middle Eastern” subjects. This project will apply the work of both Foucault and Agamben to the concept of borders and border security as productive performance as well as the more mundane ways in which refugee and migrant bodies are counted, controlled, and utilized in the production of a normalization of exclusion and detention as a response to a perceived threat. The critical feminist theory of Jacqui Alexander, Inderpal Grewal, Judith Butler, Leti Volpp, Andi Smith, and Maria Lugones will also be used to develop the concept of subjectivity as well as the coloniality of power which is inextricably embedded in the construction of race, gender, and self-determination as it applies to the indigenous subject: something neither Foucault nor Agamben quite get around to doing in their work.

AMY HUỲNH (Spring 2016)
Department:  Geography

Project Title:  Intersectional Analysis of Food Security in Nepal's Mid-Hills: Gender, Remittances and Caste

Male out-migration is a common strategy to improve household welfare in Nepal by increasing household cash flow in the form of remittances. However, cultural gender norms prevent women from absorbing absent males’ farming roles, leading to inefficient agricultural yields and consequently, poor food security within the household. This project examines the food security of female headed-households (FHH) because access to nutrition is a direct measure of a household’s vulnerability. Additionally, the quality of abroad work placements, which are organized in Nepal, is highly dependent on the male’s caste, thus impacting the eventual nutritional access of FHH. This research will look at the impact of remittances on the food security of FHH and the degree to which this relationship changes due to caste. This endeavor will serve as a platform to further understand migration, as a poverty-alleviation technique, in one of the Least Developed Countries (LDC). It will also help scholars assess social exclusion, from both a gender and caste perspective.

SAGAREE JAIN (Spring 2016)
Department:  History

Project Title:  Population, Control, and Planning the Family in 1960's India

Population growth in India was characterized by as an impending emergency: a bomb, a crisis, or a Malthusian disaster. The concern over overpopulation in the 1960’s, driven by intersecting anti-Communist, eugenicist, development, and feminist ideologies, found support both in international organizations such as the United Nations and Ford Foundation and in the Indira Gandhi administration. These concerns, which coalesced under the divided banner of “Family Planning,” justified new forms of intervention into family structure, especially among rural and remote populations. Family planning professionals sought to raise the average age of marriage and deconstruct the joint family, engaging the language of feminist emancipation as one of many tools to limit births. Through the knowledge created in demographic and “Knowledge-Attitudes-Practice” studies in India, the failed policy attempts to legislate interventions into family structure, and popular response to policy attempts and propaganda, this paper seeks to clarify the conception of a modernized family developed in this time. The tension of emphasizing individual choices while also promoting one ideal form of reproduction ultimately led family planning professionals and feminists alike to valorize domesticity, reworking but never challenging women’s roles as caregivers.

EIMAN KAZI  (Fall 2015)
Department:  Public Health

Project Title:  Understanding Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening in Female Pakistani Americans

Colorectal cancer is currently the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men and women in the United States. This statistic is of even more concern within the South Asian population, as colorectal cancer screening within this demographic was reported to be lower at 41% compared to 47% in Asian Americans overall, 59.8% in non-Hispanic Whites, and 55% in African-Americans (Thompson et al. 2210). Since colorectal cancer screening is low among Asian Americans, including South Asians, this is indicates that there are health disparities in South Asian sub-populations. Little research has been done among South Asian Americans, specifically Pakistani Female Americans. This study will seek to gather this information from female community members in the Pakistani population. An aim of the study is to conduct two female focus groups, with around 8-10 participants in each group, to analyze their perspectives and attitude about cancer, the unique barriers to colorectal cancer screening in South Asians as well as assess which strategies community members suggest to promote colorectal cancer screening within the Pakistani population.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Racialized Consent

My research question asks how race affects the courts’ perception of underaged sexual actors’ knowledge of the alleged act? In other words, I am looking at how race shapes the perception of maturity of an adolescent and thus their ability to consent in a court case. More specifically, the project will examine court cases where judges decide on whether juveniles based on their race had the capacity to provide consent in sexual relationships. Past research has demonstrated how courts perceived adults’ sexual/romantic relationships with youth based on the their racial identity. Yet, little to no research has been conducted on how adolescents’ race plays a role in how their age is perceived and thus how their maturity is perceived by the courts. While courts punish adolescent sexuality by enforcing the age of consent, they also hyper-penalize racialdifference. By conducting a historical analysis of legal cases of age of consent with intersecting identities of race and age, I will expose the differences in legal treatment when courts handle adolescent sexuality.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Gender & Technology: The Gender Disparity in Computer Science at UC Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley is home to one of the most renown Computer Science programs in the world, yet the number of female representation in the major remains lackluster. This research aims at evaluating the current “classroom climate” to determine several factors that may inhibit the Program’s inclusivity. This research uses UC Berkeley as a focal point while comparing with campuses such as Harvey Mudd College who have found success in encouraging more women to the computer science field.