2019 - 2020 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2019 - 2020 CRG Student Research Grantees

Grid with photos of AY 2019 - 2020 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2019 - 2020 CRG Student Research Grantees


BRYCE BECKER (Spring 2020)
Department:  Education

Project Title:  The Coloniality of Statewide Literacy Testing and #OptOut as a Decolonial Option

In my dissertation, I explore the opt-out movement in statewide testing, a grassroots movement in which parents/guardians choose not to have their children participate in statewide testing. Informed by decolonial theory on language, literacy, and institutionalized knowledge (e.g., Lugones, 2010; Mignolo, 2000; Tlostanova & Mignolo, 2012; Urciuoli, 1995), I conduct a social media ethnography to critically analyze the discourse found in social media posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Focusing on the movement within California, I explore motives for opting out, and how opt-out pushes against the role that standardized testing plays in reinforcing colonial ideologies about language, knowledge, and in turn, being (Tlostanova & Mignolo, 2009). In doing so, I examine whether this resistance movement represents a possibility towards decolonizing literacy from within the U.S. education system.

REE BOTTS (Spring 2020)
Department:  African Diaspora Studies

Project Title:  I See You Sis: an Exhibition of Black Womxn Healing

My dissertation project is an ethnographic curation of Black women’s healing spaces. I ask, how do creatively curated sites of care expand possibilities for Black women’s wellness? I use art-based methodologies to map Black women’s creative processes of designing physical and metaphysical sites of care against a backdrop of ever pervasive antiBlackwomaness that impedes upon our access to holistic well-being. Using a deeply reflexive approach, I engage a Black feminist poetics of geography to trace how adjacent sites of healing become mapped onto each other, from the body to the home, the sister circle to the astral plane, the city to the interior self space. Hence, my work is, more broadly, an unconventional narration of Black women’s spatial interventions within urban environments.

I See You Sis: an Exhibition of Black Womxn Healing is a week long art exhibit that serves as a focus-group style site of data collection for my dissertation. One of a plethora of community centered events I host and attend, this space is produced through what I call creative space making as methodology, in that it merges a Black feminist ethic of care with a geographic investment in communal gathering and exchange.

ALEX BROSTOFF (Spring 2020)
Department:  Comparative Literature

Project Title:  Bodies of Theory: Auto-Relational Writing Across the Americas

My dissertation investigates subversive literary reactions to two disciplinary developments: the rise of high theory and the institutionalization of programs in the study of gender and race in the Americas. On their margins, I claim, queer forms of writing begin to emerge in the 1980s. Rather than parody how philosophy falters beyond the ivory tower (as the theory novel has), I show how this corpus redresses theory’s elision of an embodied subject, melding theory with life writing to critique the structural conditions under which knowledge is produced. My study, which combines intellectual history with close readings of Argentine, Brazilian, and American texts, compares the sites of schooling and broader social movements from which this corpus emerges and upon which it acts. From Third World Feminism’s “theory in the flesh” to Brazilian outlaw poetry’s “body in heteronyms” to Euro-American crossings of “autotheory,” I maintain that these marginal writing cultures react against their schooling by forging culturally and historically-specific modes of fleshing out an “I” that is always already relational. At the crux of my study are the relational effects of theory on self-figuration and the ways in which embodied subjects contest what constitutes theory today.

WILLOW FRYE (Spring 2020)

Department:  Public Health - Joint Medical Program

Project Title:  Transgender perspectives on the use of detention for asylum seekers and its impact on their health and wellbeing

Transgender asylum seekers carry with them a unique experience of immigration detention, which lies at the nexus of multiple marginalities on the axes of gender and race/ethnicity. They experience cumulative exposure to transphobia, xenophobia, violence, and trauma before, during, and after their migration. Legal consciousness is a framework rooted in a commonsense understanding of the law and its impacts on everyday life. Legal consciousness is understood to be situated in and contingent upon the social contexts within which it is shaped along the axes of race, gender, class, and legal status. Because studies of legal consciousness focus on ordinary people and how they view law and its efficacy, this line of research has broad implications for justice, legitimacy, and ultimately, social change. I will conduct qualitative interviews with formerly detained transgender asylum seekers using the legal consciousness framework. The two aims of the project are (1) to describe their perspectives on the impact of detention on their health and wellbeing and how those experiences intersect with their gender and race identities and (2) to highlight forms of resilience and resistance to structural violence and marginalization.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Unequal Aging: The Effects of Legal Status Trajectories on Older Mexican Immigrants’ Strategies in Later Life

Immigration scholars have long demonstrated that immigration status affects people of all ages in all aspects of their lives. Based on semi-structured interviews and an analysis of legal and social policies, this dissertation explores the effects of immigration status for Mexican older adult immigrants (50 years old and older) in the U.S. and return migrants to Mexico. I add to this literature by examining the factors that facilitate or hinder how older immigrants access economic, family, and medical and psychological support and the strategies they deploy as they age. This study investigates how these differ across countries, by gender, and by immigration status. This study identifies strategies older Mexican-origin immigrants deploy in older adulthood and how their strategies are enhanced or limited by location (e.g., state and local communities), familial relations, economic background, and by the broader legal context.

Department:  Comparative Literature

Project Title:  Possession as Form: The Modernist Temporality of Zar in 20th Century Iran

My research traces aesthetic representations of zār (the Afro-Iranian ritual and spirit possession that has its roots in East Africa) in modernist Iranian film and fiction. While Iran’s history of slavery and contemporary race relations is elided from national narratives, 20th century aesthetic production from the south of Iran (the Persian Gulf region) reflects zār as a mythic, spiritual, and elemental force that links Iran to East Africa, and foregrounds the lived experiences of Black Iranians. In supplementing my literary readings with semi-ethnographic findings, I will deepen the frame of reference on this ritual and the Afro-Iranian community in Iran beyond aesthetic representations.

GABRIEL LESSER (Spring 2020)
Department:  Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title:  Caricaturing the Nation: Race, Gender, Social Sciences, and Nation Building in Nineteenth-century Mexico and Brazil

Why do caricatures appear in 19th century scientific publications on race and gender? Why did social scientists write comical texts to share their findings? My research focuses on a genre of often-humorous newspaper chronicles, called costumbrista sketches, that describe the unique habits and features of the rural and urban poor in each country by categorizing them into “types.” The authors of these racially charged and highly gendered satirical sketches viewed themselves as pioneers in the emerging field of social sciences. I hope to show that caricatures and jokes about race and gender were thus more than silly banter, functioning as part of a broader elite project to educate the countries’ populations on emerging scientific discourses. My project will analyze the relationship between humor, caricatures, social sciences, and nation building in 19th century Brazil and Mexico.

MELISSA MCCALL (Spring 2020)
Department:  Jurisprudence and Social Policy

Project Title: Nurture or Neglect: Race, Gender, and the Social Psychology of Misogyny

Laws that govern child neglect rely on subjective judgments about risk to a child. Where laws are ambiguous, people may be influenced by culturally embedded stereotypes about a parent’s intersecting social identities. For Black mothers who work outside the home, these stereotypes create a double bind, because Black mothers are simultaneously expected to work and care for their children. Using an experimental design, I examine how lay decision makers assess risk to an unattended child differently, based on a parent’s race and gender, and decide whether or not to report the parent to Child Protective Services or to the police. This study should shed light on a psychological mechanism that helps to explain why Black families are more likely to be reported for abuse and neglect than White families, why their cases are more likely to be investigated, and why Black children are more likely to be removed from the home. Using the same theoretical framework, a second study explores how perceptions of essential workers’ identities in the COVID-19 pandemic affect the assessment of risk to workers’ families, and support for policies that would guarantee affordable childcare for parents who must continue to go to work while schools are closed.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  The Social and Cultural Tensions in Mexican Immigrant Families’ Acquisition, Use, and Understandings of Wealth and Household Finances

Although Latinos are the largest racial minority group in the United States, Latino families account for only 8 percent of wealth (Macias 2018). Wealth serves as a source of household stability, status, children’s well-being, personal fulfillment and more (Sherraden 1991). In Latino families, changes in wealth may be tied to familial and cultural obligations (Vallejo 2012). Therefore, wealth may also matter for reasons beyond those that are financial in nature; wealth and finances can carry cultural, social, and emotional meanings and expectations (Zelizer 1997). However, this particular framework has not yet been applied to Latinos, specifically Mexican immigrant families. This work brings together the literature on wealth inequality, economic incorporation, and immigration. Using a generational comparison, I will examine how Mexican immigrants and their adult children understand and navigate household finances and wealth in San Joaquin County. Drawing on in-depth interviews with parent-adult child pairs, I will argue that Mexican immigrants and their families face unique social and cultural tensions, related to immigrant generation, in their acquisition, use, and maintenance of finances and wealth in the U.S and abroad.

Department:  Education - Social Cultural Studies

Project Titile:  A Geography of Violence and Safety: Black Youth, Spatial & Racial Logics

My dissertation project is a critical geography interrogating the intersections of violence, race, and spatiality in Oakland, California. In particular, I hope to complicate understandings of how Black youth experience violence, and in the process, highlight the sense-making ‘cartographies’ they deploy when navigating material, symbolic, and social geographies. While urban violence has been heavily studied, it has largely been through the purview of interpersonal violence. This conceptualization of violence, while critically important, lacks the theoretical depth to capture the varied ways quotidian violence often structures Black life in the inner city, including young people’s social ecological realities across neighborhoods and schools.

This study then attempts to highlight the void in traditional conversations about “urban violence” by inserting Black youths’ qualitative experiences within them, and in the process, amplify questions of sense- and space-making. Methodologically, cartography offers a window into how Black youth physically navigate space, but more significantly, the attendant perceptions and meanings they have regarding ‘place,’ including how race and violence operate socio-spatially. In a rapidly gentrifying landscape these situated knowledges take on added significance. Insomuch, the project signals the worlds of Black youth as spaces to deepen theorization about racialized violence and anti-Blackness, yet the possibility for counter-mapping, spatial transgression, and points of departure for Black futurity. These are the tensions, contradictions, and possibilities of Black youth space in Oakland.

Department, Ethnic Studies. Latina/o/x Studies

Project Title:  How Older Latinas Collectively Care for “Chosen Family”

Broadly, my research provides one of the first studies completed on older Latina/o’s in the United States by examining how they negotiate the challenges of aging in the context of extreme poverty, deteriorating health, and diminishing government support. In this project, funded by the CRG, I utilize the work of queer and feminist scholars, such as Kath Weston’s seminal work, Families We Choose, to highlight how older Latina’s select friends as familia elegida/“chosen family” to carry out daily tasks, provide social and emotional support, and make important life decisions. As a grant recipient, I plan to revisit my fieldsite, a pan-ethnic Latinx community, in order to unravel more instances in which friends provide older Latina’s with vital information, resources, and support.

Department: Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender in Education

Project Title:  Learning to Be: A Critical Phenomenology of Institutional Transphobia as Recounted by Trans Latinx Students Navigating College Life

This dissertation is a case study on the “cultural ideological system of oppression” (Leonardo & Broderick, 2011) that makes trans violence possible in institutions of higher education, and how trans Latinx students imagine a new university amid this violence. Embedded in what Lather (2014) describes as “post-qualitative research grounded in the immanence of doing,” I ask, what do trans Latinx students’ embodied knowledge of college life tell us about how transphobia functions on the college campus? That is, I uncover the embodied (Cruz, 2001) and affective dimensions of knowledge through students’ accounts of learning self-discipline and governance (Foucault,1970; Critchley, 2010) that is necessary to be a college student of a given university. Using critical phenomenology as a method that situates individual consciousness in material, historical, and social contexts (Guenther, 2018), I draw from students’ accounts of tacit knowledge (Polanyi, 1960) as a window into “the organization of academic culture” (Dill, 2012). I then use this knowledge as an indication of the implicit values, beliefs, and ideologies of the institution. In this manner, I rely on theories on the management of academic culture (Clark,1983; Becher, 1989; Dill, 2012) and the process of acquiring embodied knowledge within organizations (Strati, 1999), to make intelligible the organizational cultural processes that instrumentalize trans violence (Salamon, 2018), and how students negotiate the complex and multilayered processes of accommodation and resistance rooted in this violence.

Department:  Sociology

Project Title:  Navigating Inequality: Black Tech Entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley and Atlanta

This dissertation explores the experiences of Black technology founders in Silicon Valley and Atlanta. Geography matters because it effects access to institutional and organizational resources, and social networks. Silicon Valley receives the largest proportion of all venture capital dollars but the region struggles with racial diversity, as Blacks make up just six percent of the population. Conversely, Atlanta receives much fewer venture capital dollars and is a majority Black city. I hypothesize that differences will arise between how Black tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and Atlanta network, fundraise, and navigate entrepreneurship. To answer my research question, I will interview Black tech entrepreneurs and investors, gather media archival data, and conduct participant observation at tech meetups and pitch competitions to get a holistic understanding of tech entrepreneurial spaces. My research has important implications. The racial disparities that exist in tech mean that some racial groups have access to shape the future of political, cultural, social, and economic life, while other underrepresented racial groups are excluded altogether. Understanding how Blacks navigate through racial barriers, particularly in the technology space, will shed light on the mechanisms that can facilitate a more equitable future

SURILI SHETH (Fall 2019)
Department:  Political Science

Project Title:  Sexual Assault and Intersectional Women’s Gender Consciousness

How can we conceptualize and measure women’s (politicized) gender consciousness quantitatively while taking intersecting identities, particularly race, into account? How do discussions around sexual assault effect this politicized gender consciousness for different groups of women and men? Does women’s gender consciousness, and the effect that discussions around sexual assault as a topic have on it, differ in different political milieus in the United States – for example, during the women’s march or during the next presidential election? In this project, I examine previous scholarship on consciousness and social identity, summarize results from a pilot experiment, and lay out an extended experiment based on these results. I intend to (1) improve the conceptualization and quantitative measurement of intersectional women’s gender consciousness, (2) estimate whether and how much discussions around sexual assault are affecting consciousness women of different parties and identities, (3) understand if there are simultaneous effects on other aspects of political attitudes and behavior – turnout, vote choice, trust, interest, and social movement participation.

DAVID TURNER III (Spring 2020)
Department:  Social and Cultural Studies in Education/Critical Studies in Race, Class, and Gender

Project Title:  Free Our Dreams: A Comparative Analysis of Political Meaning-Making in Black Male Youth Activists in Los Angeles

This dissertation focuses on Black male youth activism and political engagement. More specifically, this study focuses on the experience of Black male youth in community based programs that engage in racial justice-based activism and community organizing. Drawing upon 60 interviews from 30 Black male youth activists in two community based organizations in Los Angeles, this study elevates the political imaginaries that Black male youth adopt based on their political activism and how they were educated in community based organizations. Focusing on two groups – Black male youth who are politicized amongst other Black male youth, and Black male youth who are politicized amongst young people of color across race and genders, this study asserts that Black boys and young men engage in Black Transformative Agency. I define Black transformative agency as a dialectical process where Black youth make sense of, and work to transform, social institutions and their relationships to communities of color. How Black students theorize their agency, however, varies depending on how they were politicized and what forms of activism they engage in, which is deeply influenced by their understanding of gender, geography, class, and comparative race relations.

ALTHEA WASOW (Spring 2020)
Department:  Film & Media

Project Title:  "Cops" 1897

My dissertation, “Criminality, Capitalism, Critique: Silent Film and Its Afterlives,” examines silent film through the prisms of criminality and capitalism, analyzing the ways in which the emerging institutions of modern policing and motion-pictures corroborated and subverted one another’s projects from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. I focus on silent films that register the imbrication of the police and moving-pictures as they were consolidated into dominant social institutions with increasingly standardized practices. “’Cops’ 1897,” the first chapter, traces continuities and ruptures between early silent films that focus on the policing of Asian and Asian American communities and other “reality” moving-image media that engage policing and racial difference, including “Cops,” the long-running television program.


Department:  Psychology, Gender & Women Studies

Project Title:  Not Just Words?: Relationship between news consumption, daily emotions, and stress for farmworkers

If you have followed the news at all in recent years, you have undoubtedly encountered stories about immigration from Latin America, whether it be “illegal” immigrants crossing the border, asylum seekers traveling to the U.S., or images of children in cages as a result of their parents being deported. You do not have to be Latinx or undocumented to be psychologically impacted by these news stories, but what if you are part of these groups? Recent scholarship has uncovered a relationship between immigration news consumption and psychological distress among Latinx immigrants in the U.S. (Roche et al., 2018). However, no previous research has measured the quantity and content of news consumed by participants, or the associations between these variables and negative daily emotions. Using daily diary methodology, I seek to uncover these relationships among farmworkers in Tulare County, CA, the majority of whom are undocumented Latinx immigrants. My intersectional analysis will explore differences along the lines of time spent in the U.S. and gender. I will also examine social support as a buffer against the harmful outcomes associated with news consumption. Results will contribute to the broader literature and public understanding of the effects of news media on overall mental health.

Department:  English with Creating Writing Minor

Project Title:  Transforming Melancholia: Depression and Female Coping in Morrison's Beloved, Jones' Corregidora, and Walker's The Color Purple

Within works of contemporary African American literature, topics such as psychic dysfunction and transgenerational trauma play a critical role. This is especially true in pieces of women-authored African American fiction that center female characters. While this literature offers complex narratives, mainstream literary scholarship has yet to examine these themes at length. The research that does exist tends to overlook the multifaceted psyches that female African American characters embody.

Drawing upon Psychoanalytic literary theory, this project centers Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Gayl Jones’ Corregidora. I examine how Denver, a main character in Beloved, and Ursa, the protagonist in Corregidora, embody symptoms of chronic depression and develop coping mechanisms throughout their narratives. I argue that these texts are significant in their unique portrayals of African American daughters who suffer from trauma passed down through their matrilineal ancestries. Each character’s depression manifests differently. A socially isolated Denver develops a complicated relationship with mothering, at times adopting the role of mother and later yearning for maternal nurturing. Meanwhile, Ursa seeks out creative expression—Blues singing—as a means to release the painful history her family has preserved orally for generations. In analyzing these characters, I seek to establish an in-depth understanding of how Morrison and Jones depict realistic aspects of psychic oppression that impact African American women. Additionally, I also engage questions of reproduction and memory, investigating how these concepts emerge in both works and what they signify in the larger context of daughters learning to survive deeply-rooted familial trauma.

Department:  Psychology

Project Title:  Supporting the Stigmatized: The Influence of Allyship on Well-being

Previous research has established that individuals with marginalized identities experience a host of negative outcomes, but the ability of social support and allyship to alleviate these adverse outcomes is currently not well understood. To better understand this complex relationship, my study will examine identity threats, or challenging social interactions where a conflict arises between one’s current context and a marginalized identity one has. These can range from relatively subtle instances such as friends discussing vacation plans when one can not afford to travel to more blatant situations such as someone’s career success being attributed to affirmative action. This study will examine the influence of receiving social support from allies on mitigating negative consequences associated with experiencing identity threat, specifically negative affect and diminished well-being. A sample of participants with stigmatized identities will complete a novel self-report inventory, which measures affective responses to 30 categories of identity challenges applicable to a wide range of marginalized identities (e.g., race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.). Participants will then report whether they experienced allyship behavior concerning each reported instance of identity threat and complete measures of 3 well-being indicators: loneliness, life-satisfaction, and physical health. This project will not only provide insight into the ability of social support and allyship to improve the well-being of those with stigmatized identities, but also allow for a better understanding of how friends, coworkers, family members, and allies can best provide support in daily life.

SHELBY MAYES (Spring 2020)
Department:  Political Science

Project Title:  An Analysis of Matriarchy and Afro-Indigenous Spiritual Traditions of the Trans-Atlantic Diaspora

I seek to study various forms of African and Indigenous spiritual practice as a means of resistance against colonial rule. My research will historicize how slavery, colonization, and Catholicism impacted these spiritual knowledges, and how these practices served as a means of resistance and survivance for African and Indigenous peoples. I will concentrate my studies on New Orleans, Louisiana and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, focusing primarily on the traditional spiritual practice of these regions. My research will analyze the similarities and differences that exist within the African and Indigenous practices of each culture, how Afro-Indigenous women conduct these practices, and how these practices are influenced by their geographic location and socio-political history. My research will also examine how Afro-Indigenous spiritual practices serve to challenge colonialism and patriarchy, maintain cultural livelihood, and imagine modalities of liberation.

MIRANDA MOSLEY (Spring 2020)
Department:  Social Welfare, Education

Project Title:  Colorblind and Colorist: Femme-Centered Anti-Blackness in US Education

The privatization policies of charter school movements can serve as one example of resegregation as sites of violence against Black people. This violence and the effects of this violence (via the school-to-prison pipeline) are researched among Black boys and Black men, however, little research connects the current state of privatizing education policy to Black, mixed racial identity and femininity—both existing at an intersection that exacerbates this violence and suffering. To add to current research literature, my research will highlight the experiences of Black-white, mixed-race girls and will examine the use of colorism in the education system to investigate schooling as sites of violence and intergenerational trauma in their newest form of segregation: charter schools. In Berkeley Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District, I will conduct 20 parent and teacher interviews to inspect how Black-white, mixed-race girls develop and understand their identities. Further, I will provide the much needed and yet unseen connection between teaching practices and the ways that intergenerational trauma manifests in these girls and through school policy and curriculum through asking the following questions: 1) How does the charterization (or lack thereof) in Berkeley Unified School District and Oakland Unified School District at present impact the ways that Black-white, mixed-race girls understand their identities? 2) Subsequently, how might the teacher’s practices aggravate a national haunting of Blackness for these girls, and how might that manifest?

GITIKA NALWA (Fall 2019)
Department:  Economics, English

Project Title: Strange Fruit: Male Racial Identity and the American Wilderness, 1830-1950

Something about a white man in the woods drives this country wild. This project aims to find out what that “something” is. I will examine the white male literary tradition — driven by the fantasy of the New England woods as a site for reinvention, expansion, and liberation — before exploring how the black male literary tradition rewrites this fantasy among the Southern trees. For the black male writer, the American wilderness is not a site for reinvention, but a space for social death, not an opportunity for empowerment, but a reminder of dehumanization, and not a route to intellectual liberation, but an escape from physical bondage: It is a place where those who have not yet been hung from “poplar trees” (Meeropol) are invisible. My research will construct two narratives, one by black male writers and the other by white male writers, through fiction, poetry, and essays set in the American wilderness from the 1830s to the 1950s. These narratives will speak to the capacity of the written word to elevate the writer and the capacity of the subject matter to diminish that same writer.

JASMINE SOZI (Spring 2020)
Department:  Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  It’s a Racialized World After All: A Transnational Study of Oakland, California and Durban, South Africa as Racialized, Yet Resistant Geographies

Traditional, Western geographers have theorized a separation between land, capital, and labor, which naturalizes a conception of geography as completely independent of sociohistorical factors. This conventional ideology strips the landscape of its ongoing relationship with capital and labor, isolating the land from its white supremacist histories, which—according to Andrea Smith—are actualized through processes of global capitalism, genocide, and orientalism. Scholarship in critical geography has revealed that forces of colonialism and imperialism transcend conventional spatial-temporal limitations, constructing geographies of confinement for people in contemporary times. In focusing on Moms 4 Housing—a collective of Black, houseless and marginally housed mothers in Oakland, California—along with Abahlali baseMjondolo (Abahlali)—a Black South African grassroots movement run by and for shack dwellers in Durban, South Africa—I was able to investigate how racial capitalism maps onto the lives of Black people in localized regions. More particularly, I conducted a transnational study that illuminates how African peoples are able to transform racialized sites into sites of resilience. Drawing from Henri Lefebvre’s theory of the production of space, my work contributes to a spatial understanding of how neoliberal capitalism confines Black people to particular racialized landscapes across the diaspora. I turned to the Black Radical Tradition to examine what pushes distinct African peoples to mobilize around humanity in ways that advance a transformative and inclusive politic of Freedom. For this interdisciplinary study, I employed digital ethnography, supplemented by an analysis of news articles and digital archives to reveal each group’s conditions of mobilization, tactics of resistance, in addition to formations of political consciousness and solidarity. This transnational study worked to reveal the similarities, as well as “slippages, openings, and contradictions” between Black people in relation to a global fight against racial capitalism and white supremacy.

Department:  English

Project Title:  Ana Castillo's "Black Dove"; Turning Painful Rape Experiences Into Narratives for Chicanas

In the field of Narratology, “narratology” and “narrative theory” are used interchangeably to describe the systematic study of how narrative forms make meaning (2). Narratology’s semiotic scope limits textual analysis because its conventions do not adequately account for social, historical or contextual content. An intersectional representation of narrative is suppressed by narratology and feminist narratology because the narratives considered as foundation for its theory have been male texts or texts treated as male texts (343). The limits to feminist narratology’s approach is acknowledged in Narrative Theory Unbound as Warhol and Lanser attempt to understand the benefits of an intersectional approach to narrative theory. As a contribution to Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality, my study seeks to establish intersectional narrative theory by analyzing how intersecting differences may shape an individual’s narration of an experience. 

A powerful voice in contemporary Chicano Literature, Ana Castillo’s Black Dove offers a reflection of her family’s intergenerational struggles as she traces their experiences from Mexico City to Chicago. Through a revision of theories of plot, my study will demonstrate how negative plotting applies to Castillo’s narration of an experience of sexual violence. Negative plotting refers to the narrative formations in which specific events, sequences or stories take their meaning from textually triggered, though not necessarily textually inscribed, antithesis (35). Thus, my research asks the following question: “What are the different ways race and class affect Ana Castillo’s writing as she transforms her painful rape experience into narrative?” The results will demonstrate how intersectional narrative theory offers a deeper understanding of time and place into an analysis of how Chicana narratives may work out the dynamics of Chicana identity and actions.

NAYZAK WALI-ALI (Spring 2020
Department:  Legal Studies, Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  “Ain’t I a Woman”: The Histories and Criminalization of Black Women Organizers within the UC System

This project investigates the histories and criminalization of Black women activists and organizers at predominately white public universities in California, specifically examining the University of California system. Through interviews and archival research, this project serves to illuminate the stories of Black feminism and radicalism within the UC system and providing context to Black women activism on these campuses. Additionally, the focus on the criminalization of Black women sheds light on the hypervisibility of Black feminine bodies in the eyes of the state and institution. While this research incorporates a broader critique of anti-Black structures within the UC system, the purpose of the project is to create spaces for Black women to record their histories and cement their contributions to Black liberation on their campuses. In acknowledging the racial and gendered hierarchy with activism on predominately white college campuses, Black women are often overlooked and undervalued in progressive movements that have transformed UC campuses. However, this project centralizes the experiences of Black women activists, while incorporating historical, archival, and media research to provide cohesive histories. Furthermore, I investigate the violative policies, procedures, and patterns of UC campuses that have counteracted the organizing efforts of Black women.