2016 - 2017 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2016 - 2017 CRG Student Research Grantees

Grid with photos of AY 2016 - 2017 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2016 - 2017 CRG Student Research Grantees


Department:  Education

Project Title:  (En)gendering Whiteness: A Historical Analysis of White Womanhood, Colonial Anxieties, and “Tender Violence” in US Schools

My dissertation explores the over-disciplining of students of color by taking a thus far unconsidered stance and asking how white women have historically understood their roles in the disciplining of nonwhite student bodies. By asking, “How and why has the role of the heroic white female teacher developed over time and in varying geographic locales?” this study provides a gendered historical analysis of the reinforcing relationship between settler colonialism and anti-Blackness as it manifests itself in schools contemporarily.

This project employs two main methodologies: (1) critical case studies of three pivotal moments in 19th Century US educational history, and (2) Foucauldian discourse analysis, which I use in constructing a genealogy of heroic white womanhood (“benevolent whiteness”). Through this analysis, I explain how the collective acceptance of and participation in the discursive construction of heroic white womanhood has been the normative underpinning of US educational and disciplinary practice for nearly two hundred years. Thus, this dissertation offers a critical link between past and present as a way through which teachers and researchers can consider the over-disciplining of students of color, a task largely performed by white females in an institution haunted by the specter of an imagined benevolent whiteness.

RACHEL GARTNER (Spring 2017)
Department:  Social Welfare

Project Title:  The Spectrum of Campus Sexual Violence Against Women

Sexual violence on college campuses has substantial reach and impact. A notable gap in the current campus sexual violence literature is its exclusion of chronic, “low-severity” forms of gender-based violence known as gender microaggressions. The proposed study addresses this gap by examining gender microaggressions as a distinct form of sexual violence against undergraduate women and as environmental antecedents of legally actionable forms of sexual violence. The study aims to: (1) develop and validate a campus gender microaggressions measure for undergraduate women; (2) identify frequencies and (3) locations of gender microaggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual assault for undergraduate women; (4) assess associations between gender microaggressions and mental and behavioral health outcomes. This mixed methods study will consist of: (1) qualitative measure development in the form of focus groups, expert advisory input, and cognitive interviews and (2) a cross-sectional, quantitative online survey with a diverse sample of University of California, Berkeley (UCB) undergraduate women. Sexual violence prevention is about more than stopping an assault before it happens: it is about changing the culture on college campuses so that sexual violence is no longer a threat.

Department:  Jurisprudence & Social Policy

Project Title:  Property as Power: How Enslaved Women and Girls Gained Access to Justice in Antebellum Louisiana

This project focuses on women and girls who had traveled to Revolutionary France as slaves. Upon their return to New Orleans, they submitted often-successful freedom petitions in the 1830’s-1850’s. While state legislation weighed in favor of continued enslavement despite travel to free territory, the petitioners’ lawyer grounded their arguments in higher sources of law: constitutional and international. In a patriarchal society stratified along complex racial lines, how did enslaved women and girls gain access to justice? This is the central research question of Chapter 2, which is supported by the Center for Race and Gender. The bias of the historical discipline towards written records presents challenges for research on illiterate, enslaved petitioners. Therefore, this project draws on tools from historical anthropology and critical legal geography. Property records of various sorts, including the records of the nation’s first African-American Catholic congregation, can be used to answer the central research question on access to justice. This study contributes to a growing literature that complicates the dichotomy between property and personhood, and to understandings of black mobility within the French Atlantic world.

Department:  East Asian Languages and Cultures

Project Title:  The Tree of Life: The Politics of Kinship in Meiji Japan and Victorian Britain

My dissertation examines the emergence of kinship as a cultural, scientific and literary concept in late 19th and early 20th century Japan (1870-1915). It tracks the conceptual origins of kinship in the spheres of colonial anthropology and evolutionary science, showing how literary writers modified the discourse of kinship in their own works to challenge the racially essentialist rhetoric to which this discourse gave rise. As the borders of the Japanese empire expanded around the turn of the 20th century, the Japanese state increasingly drew upon the language of biological kinship in order to justify an imperial project rooted in ethnic nationalism. Within this context, my dissertation articulates how transnational Japanese writers drew on late-Victorian science and its discourses of evolution, heredity, and eugenics in their literary writing to forge alternative modes of affective belonging that resisted the attempts of the state to co-opt the language of kinship for nationalistic ends. Building on Judith Butler’s notion of “queer kinship”—a term that gestures toward forms of relationality that deviate from biological or heteronormative bonds of belonging—I will demonstrate the importance of kinship as a conceptual frame for thinking about literary bonds between readers and writers in a historical moment in which race and nationhood constituted the primary vehicles for such belonging.

Department:  English

Project Title:  Maroons and Marronage: A Literary Study with Objects

“Maroons and Marronage: A Literary Study with Objects,” explores how fictional narratives refocus the problem of an inchoate archive of marronage. As slaves who emancipated themselves and created clandestine communities within slave states, maroons were intentionally elusive, and the limited archive available to scholars today reflects in many ways their successful escape and practice of marronage. How can scholars represent people who did not want to be found? I address this question by reading colonial representations and fictionalizations alongside present-day discussions of marronage across the Atlantic world African Diaspora. Four objects carried by maroons—the portrait, the bottle, the epaulette and the hatchet—act as springboards for the concerns of each chapter. By attending to the telling material objects that cross borders and periods, I depart from a tradition of nation-specific studies to consider the broader cultural significance and theoretical import of maroons and marronage. The Center for Race & Gender supports the writing of my second chapter that examines the figure of the Maroon General and images of black male leadership in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century. Towards this end I will be conducting archival research on flight and marronage in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Department:  African American Studies

Project Title:  Domestic Architecture and Spatial Performance in Great Migration Chicago

How can we understand domestic practice and dwelling space as indicative of particular—and peculiar—social, political, and historical environments? This project engages how the kitchenette apartment—a primary symbol of black southern migrant experience in 1940s and 50s Chicago—both exposes and contains black people’s negotiations of outsider status vis-à-vis the nation. I am interested in understanding how architectural designs construct the way that bodies move through these home spaces, as well as how living proximity and class status in a neighborhood or apartment building shapes how residents might perform “being at home.” I analyze the built environment of black home spaces as they are represented through architectural blueprints/drawings, photographs, and dramaturgical cues in the stage directions of plays of the period.

TOSHI PAU (Spring 2017)
Department:  Theater, Dance and Performance Studies

Project Title:  Sexual Asiancies: Queer Asian Males and Sexual Labor

What is sexual subjectivity and sexual agency to an asexualized entity? Historically asexualized, emasculated, and feminized, Asian men in America have paradoxically inhabited opposite ends on the spectrum of desirability. On one hand, as Steve Harvey and others would have it, Asian men are simply unattractive, undesirable, and ultimately unknowable (“I don’t eat what I can’t pronounce”). On the other, in the eyes of so-called Rice Queens, Asian men are submissive, feminine, and exotic delights. In both cases, the agency to self-identify through sexual expression is foreclosed. This project looks to Asian men who perform in the industry of pornography, drag, and nightclub service to locate modes of sexual self-expression that serve to mediate and negotiate sexual agency and subjectivity. Furthermore, while this project looks specifically at Asian men, it also seeks to actively transcend binary notions masculine/feminine to encourage feminist (not feminizing) progress without engaging in a project of remasculinization. Over the next year, I plan to conduct observations and interviews with these workers in various sites including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

ZAINAB RAMAHI (Spring 2017)
Department:  Law

Project Title:  Towards an environmentally-conservative, gender-equitable, economically just property law system in Indian-administered Kashmir

Mughal emperor Jahangir once described Kashmir as a paradise on earth. Today, Kashmir is a territory violently disputed by three nuclear powers. The resistance to Indian occupation, and the resulting political incapacity, has led to exploitation of regulatory regimes in the state, including unchecked residential and commercial development and mass privatization of public, environmentally-sensitive lands. The Indian government has undertaken a project of transfer and re-settlement of Hindu Indian nationals in Kashmir. Purportedly responding to a need to preserve the demographic integrity of Kashmir, the real property rights of women who marry non-state subjects have been threatened.

Kashmir is the most heavily militarized zone in the world and faces a neo-colonial occupation that remains a destabilizing force in civil life. This project will analyze the ways in which property law impacts and insufficiently protects the rights of Kashmiris and is shaped by the political conflict. This project aims to engage socio-cultural norms, the political and historical context of the region, and contemporary challenges relating to real property use and transfer. Investigation of the implications of the existing property law system and its competing goals is critical to begin conceptualizing a gender-equitable and environmentally sustainable regime in Kashmir under Indian occupation.

MICHAEL SINGH (Spring 2017)

Department:  Education

Project Title:  The cultural production of the Latino male role model: Male mentorship programs and the discursive and embodied Latino male educator

Concerns for the educational achievement and wellbeing of boys of color in schools has led to an increasing call for men of color to enter schools as teachers and mentors. My dissertation research is an ethnographic case study of Hermanos Unidos[1], a Latino male mentorship program created through a partnership between El Concilio, a Latinx community organization, and the Bahía Unified School District. This research explores the ideological forces informing the increasing call for more Latino male teachers and mentors as a solution to the poor educational performance of Latino boys in school. Included in this case study will be participant observations done with Latino male mentors to provide a detailed account of the ways these discourses construct and frame the cultural performance of the Latino male educators and the ways these formations are resisted or embodied. My study draws on an array of critical gender and race theories, and speaks to not just the topic of Latino male achievement, but has larger implications regarding the cultural politics of Latino masculinity and the complexity Latino male subject formation.

[1] Pseudonyms have been assigned to the name of the program, school district, and individuals involved in the study.

JEN SMITH (Fall 2016)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Ordering Space, Spatializing Order: Land and Race in Edward Curtis’ Photography of the 1899 Harriman Alaska Expedition

In 1899, the Harriman Alaska Expedition (HAE) traveled around the coast of Alaska and carried some of the nation’s most illustrious academics on board, including Edward Curtis and John Muir. The HAE team produced 12 volumes of data, discovered 13 genera and nearly 600 species, named and mapped several glaciers, and captured over 5,000 photographs. Edward Curtis was the official photographer for the journey. However, unlike his better-known work, photographs from the HAE are mostly of Alaska Native cultural belongings, and landscapes in the form of glaciers, mountain ranges, and rivers. When contextualized within Curtis’ larger portfolio, a genealogy of early anthropological thought, and the legal moment of the imperially acquired space of Alaska, the photographs of the HAE demonstrate an entanglement of legal, scientific, and imaginative processes of creating order. In this way, my research project traces the ordering of human difference as it is made through the ordering of Indigenous spaces, and Indigenous material objects, both of which were, and continue to be, readily appropriated under regimes of (ongoing) settler colonialism. This analysis is one thread of a larger dissertation project that centers questions of land dispossession and land claims in an Indigenous North.

JOANNE TIEN (Fall 2016)
Department:  Education

Project Title:  Educating for Freedom: A study of the Berkeley Experimental Schools Project, 1968-1975

This study examines two contradicting priorities that have always stood at the heart of liberal democratic pedagogy and continue to be prominent in “social justice” education and critical pedagogy today. The first is the task of cultivating students’ commitment to democratic values and challenging oppression, and the second is the task of fostering the capacity of the individual for autonomous critical thinking. Both are expressed within critical pedagogy. Critical pedagogues advocate a constructivist approach to learning – which emphasizes the autonomous, self-directed construction of knowledge from the learners’ experience – while at the same time expecting students to develop an explicit critique of the social order (Freire, 1970). However, the use of a constructivist approach for the pursuit of explicit ideological goals leaves educators with a dilemma: what happens when students’ reflections don’t lead them to conclusions that challenge oppression? Using historical archival methods and oral history interviews, my research interrogates how teachers and students navigated this contradiction in the Berkeley Experimental Schools Project (1968-1975), a public educational program that sought to actualize the goals of both the Free School and Black Power movements.

Department:  Public Health

Project Title:  The Case of the Leaky Pipeline: Exploring the Premed Experiences of Under-Represented Minority Students in the UC System

The lack of representation in the physician workforce poses a complex problem for the US healthcare system. This issue is particularly evident in California where under-represented minorities (URM) – African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, Native Americans- make up 40% of the population but only 9% of physicians. Studies have shown an association between having providers of similar race/ethnicity and greater patient satisfaction and a decreased likelihood of unmet health needs. Additionally, URM physicians are more likely to practice in health physician shortage areas thereby filling a critical workforce need. There is therefore a need to invest in research, programs and policies that increase access and facilitate entry into health professions for URMs as a means of increasing diversity in the physician workforce. Post-bacs often serve as an alternate, lengthier and costlier pathway to medicine for URM students who face challenges during undergrad and are unable to apply directly to medical school after graduation. I argue that post-bacs, while playing a critical role in the pipeline to medical school for URMs, serve as a “band-aid” to larger institutional level issues. Based on data from semi-structured interviews with URM graduates of the University of California system, secondary data from the literature and personal observations, this dissertation explores the undergraduate premed experiences of URM students with the goal of developing recommendations to facilitate a more direct pathway into medicine.

Department:  City and Regional Planning

Project Title:  The Landscape of Urban Restitution in South Africa

Land reform remains central to socio-political reform in post-apartheid South Africa. In the wake of colonial and apartheid histories forged by racial, gendered and spatial engineering, land restitution emerged as the first major piece of post-apartheid legislation in 1994, a process now criticized for its failure to unmap centuries of dispossession and discrimination. Whereas the racial character of land was paramount during the political transition—largely obscuring gendered disparities—‘the land question’ was ultimately subsumed by the narratives of citizenship and nationalism. In 2014, the restitution claims process re-emerged amidst challenges to the current political leadership, demands for national expropriations of land, and a groundswell of land-based struggles. However, this current process prioritizes state mediation between landholders and current claimants, and favors group claims made on behalf of historic and imagined communities. As such, the beneficiaries of past dispossessions are obscured by state arbitration, and centuries of gendered discrimination precluding land ownership among women are perpetuated beneath the mantle of ‘traditional’ community structures. My research analyzes the colonial and apartheid continuities within this restitution process, and the points of current contestation and negotiation that emerge to challenge the racial and gendered landscape of restitution.


Department:  Ethnic Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies

Project Title:  mY [blOOd] bOdY

The performance we will analyze is Untitled (2012), by black artist Tameka Norris, directly inspired by Ana Mendieta’s performance piece, Untitled (Body Tracks) (1974). In her work, Norris paints a wall using her body as both tool and medium. Norris runs a knife through a lemon before cutting her tongue. Pressing her body against the wall, she uses the trail of blood and saliva to create a minimalist landscape upon the gallery walls. The painting disrupts the notion of an institutional space, implying the undeniable presence of a body and its painful experience of sexual violence. Norris’s piece powerfully uses blood and body as medium, conveying a deliberate performance of frustration and agency while alluding to a legacy of performance art by women of color projecting their blood and body into public spaces. By projecting her body into public and historical spaces, Norris demands a decolonial, intersectional visibility of her body that forces questions of her race, gender, class and sexuality, and her interaction with the imperialist, capitalistic, white heteropatriachy. As black women’s bodies have historically been sites of sexual violence in private spaces, Tameka Norris has contests this secrecy by invoking her body and its pain endured into public spaces, forcing confrontation from the public domain. I will conduct my research through the lens of performance art in order to trace how these bodily performances address the historical and political violences committed against the black female body.

DYLAN BUSH (Spring 2017)
Department:  Latin American Studies

Project Title:  Buscando Y’ol: Comparing Perceptions of Access to Healthcare Between Maya and Latina Women in East Oakland

Woven into the intricate fabric of Oakland’s Latinx population is a community of Maya immigrants. Many arrived as refugees, escaping genocide during the Guatemalan Civil War, and in part because of this traumatic history and their indigenous identity, Maya individuals face unique challenges. One such challenge, as articulated to me by community members, is accessing healthcare. While access to healthcare is affected by a variety of factors, the literature often fails to measure one very important factor, an individual’s own perception of access. Research shows that an individual who feels uncomfortable or unable to access health services faces greater health risk. While both Latinx and Mayan populations may perceive a lack of access, no existing research analyzes how these perceptions differ, allowing for the assumption that both groups face the same challenges. Therefore, I propose to create a piece of research that voices the distinct challenges that the Maya perceive in accessing healthcare and their experiences within the healthcare system of the United States. I will use concurrent mixed methods interviews, nonparticipant observation, and focus groups to conduct my study, which will push us to rethink how our healthcare system interacts with the indigenous immigrant community.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  San Joaquin Valley Women's Experiences Accessing Abortion Services in California

Since the 1973 United States Supreme Court Roe v Wade decision to legalize abortion, access to safe abortion services continues to be contested by conservative state legislators nationwide. Because of this, research is predominantly focused on the implications of abortion access in conservative states that tend to implement restrictive abortion legislation. Liberal states such as California are the exception to the national discourse of limited abortion access. California is known for it’s progressive abortion laws that appear exemplary over the limitations imposed by the majority of states. California is one of seventeen states to cover abortion care without limitations through their state-funded insurance, Medi-Cal, minors are not required to obtain parent permission to get care, nor does the state impose waiting periods or other requirements that tend to be obstacles to care, common in Southern states. However, while California’s progressive abortion laws may be on the books, the state’s large and diverse population and geography suggests that implementing them equitably can still be a considerable challenge.

Despite California’s liberal politics, the historically conservative San Joaquin Valley continues to have limited access to abortion services. The region is made up of nearly half Hispanic or Latinos, 36.5 percent non-Hispanic white, 4.6 percent Black, and 7.04 percent Asian (US Census, 2016) and has some of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the state. Currently, there are two abortion clinics in the San Joaquin Valley that provide medication and surgical abortions. This limited access potentially presents barriers to women seeking abortion care.

This qualitative research project will use in-depth semi-structured interviews to identify the social-cultural, economic, and geographic barriers to abortion access in the San Joaquin Valley, with a particular comparison approach among women of color and non-Hispanic whites.

CELINE LIAO (Spring 2017)
Department:  Sociology, Gender and Women's Studies

Project Title:  From Canton Maids to Filipino Domestic Helpers: Migrant Labor Transition in Hong Kong Domestic Service Market

In the years after World War II, Hong Kong functioned as an increasingly crucial locale for movement of goods and labor. A large group of working-class women from Canton Province of China who used to work in lucrative silk mills and form a intimate community of unmarried women, lost their jobs among the waves of war and economic crisis, traveled across borders to work in domestic service, and generated a new social status group as mahjeh serving rich families. Their participation had become a crucial part for constituting a Hong Kong’s lifestyle and identity, until they gradually disappeared among the massive influx of Filipino domestic helpers (FDHs).

This project aims to comprehend the vicissitudes of Hong Kong’s domestic service industry in the prelusion of democratization and neoliberalism, and therefore understand how the intersecting and shifting power relations surrounding gender, race and class in Hong Kong domestic service industry draw women from Canton and the Philippines to become reproductive labor workers. This project will serve as an effort to further understand how the international division of labor in a shifting neoliberal context impacted individuals’ actions, movement and the structure of their embedded institutions.

J. M. (Fall 2016)
Department:  Peace and Conflict Studies

Project Title:  Islamophobia Rising: The Nicois en Nour Mosque and 2016 Terrorist Attack in Nice, France

Department:  Mathematics, English

Project Title:  Queer(ing) Interracial Relationships: Seeking Liberation at Intersections of Difference

My creative research project addresses the social and political potentiality of queer interracial relationships, both historically and with regards to futurity. I employ the structure of a mathematical “proof by exhaustion” as a medium through which I search history, critical theory, and personal narratives for what queer of color scholar José Muñoz calls the “queer aesthetic.” From federal documents of landmark cases on anti-miscegenation and same-sex relations, to literary accounts of the biracial and bicultural experience, to personal ruminations on what it means to be in a queer interracial relationship today, each of these sites uniquely construct the “given,” “variables,” “claims,” and “conjecture” of this proof. In doing so, I suggest that the unassumed intersections of opposite subjects or fields can reveal the radical cohesion and potential of relationships that are defined by difference. This project thus asks whether or not queer interracial relationships are more capable of subverting dominant structures of thought than solely queer or interracial relationships can.

Department:  English

Project Title:  See the Body:  Performance in City of Night

My research project’s question is how the visual devices within literary texts subvert notions of marginality. This question is part of a thesis project in which I look at three Chicano authors (two of which are also queer): City of Night by John Rechy, a novel; Slow Lightning by Eduardo C. Corral, a poetry book; and Letters to the Poet from his Brother by Maceo Montoya, a text that merges both painting and lyrical essays. However, for the purposes of this grant, my focus is on the novel entitled City of Night by John Rechy. City of Night was published in 1963 and although it was widely received by homophobic literary critics, it was popular among audiences and charted the New York Times best-seller list[1]. Scholars have predominantly focused on the representation of the depicted gay hustling culture and the autobiographical influences of John Rechy’s novel, while virtually ignore the experimental formal structure[2]. By experimental form, I’m referring to the capitalization of all the letter cases for specific words, the use of ellipses to elide sexual scenes, the spatial formatting of dialogue, the randomize portmanteau, and omitting of apostrophes. I describe these formal devices as visual features that exhibit how literature can be performed and embodied in order to resist or disrupt textual forms of “marginal” representation.