Listing of current CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2021 - 2022 CRG Student Research Grantees

Grid with photos of AY 2021 - 2022 CRG Student Research Grantees

AY 2021 - 2022 CRG Student Research Grantees


IRMA BARBOSA (Spring 2022)
Department: Art Practice 

Project Title: Ternura means tenderness

Irmaand their sister Celeste are collaborating on a video/ experimental film project inspired by our grandmother’s goat farm and home in the San Fernando Valley called a recipe for remembering. Drawn by the processes of preservation, invisible labor, and resilience it takes to prepare her delicious birria dish as well as the consumption of it, they have been documenting and learning from how she cares for her goats and how she makes this delicious dish. Birria immigrated with their family to the states and has been made to celebrate their culture and family for decades. In the first half of this projectIrmaand their sister have closely documented their grandmother’s caring gestures. Now they will visit their grandmother’s home in Mexico and continue the documentation to finish the next chapter of the project. Through photography, experimental video, sculpture, performance, and installation they are exploring the animal-human interdependent connection as well as the poetic nature of recipes and their appeal to be remembered and passed down from generation to generation and furthermore across borders.

JESSA CULVER (Fall 2021)
Department: Public Health - Joint Medical Program

Project Title:  Centering the Lived Experiences of Caregivers of Color Navigating Early Intervention (EI) Services through the Primary Care Clinic

Early intervention (EI) services – including but not limited to speech, occupational, and mental health therapies – have been proven to significantly benefit young children’s development, shaping their readiness for school and offering pivotal support for parents. However, racial disparities persist in identification for and access to early intervention services. Few studies to date explore factors contributing to such racial disparities. In particular, there is a dearth of literature exploring ways racism shapes the process by which caregivers, or parents, navigate the screening and EI referral process through the pediatric primary care clinic. The present study seeks to explore the experiences of caregivers of color in this service-seeking process, and to investigate whether – and how – they experience racism, or are racialized, in the process. Through in-depth qualitative interviews, this project will facilitate a collective dialogue with caregivers who have experienced this process. The insight of caregivers themselves – surfaced in this study – is a pivotal aspect of systems-level change. Understanding how this process racializes its users will elucidate pathways of change towards a more equitable system, in which children of color receive early intervention services in a timely and appropriate manner.

DOUGLAS EPPS (Fall 2021)
Department: Social Welfare 

Project Title: Utilizing Race-Class Narrative Frames to Mobilize Support for Community-Based Alternatives to Immigration Detention

Primarily impacting noncitizen communities of color, government reliance on human confinement as a method of immigration enforcement has rapidly and steadily increased since the early 1990’s. The associated psychological, physiological, familial, and financial harms have been well documented in the literature. A critical issue with preventing the continued expansion of mass immigration detention, lies in the disconnect between lawmaker, electorate, and affected group(s) coupled with an onslaught of rhetoric portraying immigrants as threats. Despite growing pressure on leadership to abandon current punitive responses, policy change is left contingent upon an electorate that may perceive little personal stake in reform, given that US citizenship is required to participate in the political process. Focusing on mechanisms of policy reform, this study adopts a survey experiment to investigate the utility of a novel communication strategy that emphasizes racial solidarity, interclass unity, and shared self-interest to mobilize support for incorporating harm reduction policy as an viable alternative to human confinement.

JOY ESBOLDT (Fall 2021)
Department: Education

Project Title: Teacher Racial Equity Learning: A multi-level analysis about racial equity meanings, mediations, and mentoring

Drawing from critical learning sciences, sociology, and education policy, this qualitative dissertation examines how new teachers take up and transform available discourses of race, equity, and intersecting relations of power, and how their learning is constrained and co-mediated by the organizations, institutions, and sociopolitical structures that produce them. Specifically, as part of a broader research-practice-partnership with a self-identified equity-oriented school district, this case study examines novice teachers’ learning within a mentoring for equity program and classroom teaching. Situating scholarship on the dynamic connection between local racial discourse and interactions and larger sociopolitical structures (Essed, 2001; Holt, 1995) in conversation with theories of multiple relations of power and subjectivities such as gender, sexuality, ability, and language (Collins, 2019; May, 2015), this study seeks to provide insights about the multilevel systems and structures that support, constrain, and co-constitute the inherently riddled work of socializing teachers into the system while asking them to be antiracist change agents of the system.

C. DARIUS GORDON (Spring 2022)
Department: Education

Project Title: ‘We, on the other side’: Black Internationalism in the Lusophone World, 1950s-1980s

In the decades following the second world war, Black Brazilians were entering into a racialized political consciousness at unprecedented levels at the same time that Africans in the Portuguese colonies were at war for national independence. Ideas about sovereignty, self-determination, Blackness, and liberation reverberated across the Luso-Atlantic as activist-intellectuals traveled toward, read about, and fought alongside each other. This dissertation examines how these postwar relationships forged between Black activists in Brazil and anti-colonial revolutionaries of Portuguese-speaking Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and São Tome e Principe) shaped the intellectual currents of their respective movements. Drawing on archived exchanges, Black press publications, organizational documents, Portuguese and Brazilian surveillance documents, and oral history interviews, I ask questions not only of the ideas that migrated but of the routes that made them possible. It is my hope that this work will further our understanding of the histories of Black Internationalism, the limits and possibilities of Black transnational solidarity, and the lasting legacy of (Portuguese) empire.

Department: Spanish and Portuguese

Project Title: Evaluating attitude changes in progress towards "native speaker" status in Italy

As linguistic scholarship continues to intersect with critical perspectives of race, gender, and ethnicity, understanding how linguistic bias operates as a gradient scale of implicitness is vital to breaking down oppressive structures. Language ideologies of native speakerism in Italy are entrenched by White Supremacy, despite the vast racial and ethnic diversity that exists there today. In this project, I utilize social psychology research paradigms to assess potential changes in Italians’ attitudes regarding who “counts” as a “native” speaker. I elicit a continuum of explicit to implicit attitudes using various measures of social cognition, including direct questioning (explicit), the matched guise technique, and implicit association test. Any significant differences in bias between the three tests supports an attitude change in progress. Furthermore, I seek to reveal reverse linguistic stereotyping, which highlights how social information, like photos that depict speaker race or gender, affect how listeners perceive language through racializing processes. This reveals how language and nonlinguistic social constructs are co-naturalized, allowing language to serve as a proxy for racism.

RAYAN LOTFI (Sring 2022)
Department: Public Health - Joint Medical Program

Project Title:  Utilizing Healthcare Provider Experiences to Develop a Medical Curriculum Supportive of the Care of Vulnerable Populations

This project aims to develop a medical curriculum on the ancestral healing practices in South West Asia and North Africa (SWANA), how racialization and colonialism have impacted clinical care of SWANA patients, and how clinical practice may be more supportive of SWANA patients from different religious and spiritual backgrounds. In collaboration with organizations supportive of resettlement communities and uninsured people in the state of Georgia, this project aims to center healthcare workers’ experiences providing care to racially and ethnically diverse peoples from different gender backgrounds in the development of this medical curriculum. The intended impact of this curriculum is to provide SWANA patients with culturally affirming care that recognizes their differential healing practices and to create space in clinical encounters for power-sharing and collaboration between providers and patients.

Department: Sociology

Project Title:  Who counts as Black? Classification Struggles and the Legal Recognition of Afrodescendants in Argentina and Chile

Since the 1980s, Latin American states have transformed how they understand and classify their populations: from policies deeply rooted in notions of national unity and ethno-racial homogeneity, these states began to recognize their internal diversity. Following new global multicultural norms, Chile and Argentina slowly came to grant legal recognition to Indigenous and Afrodescendants groups. However, these states took different approaches to recognize the legal status of Afrodescendants: while Argentine law has stressed the importance of ancestry and a broad notion of Afrodescendant culture, Chilean legislation has followed an “indigenous model,” defining the “Chilean Afrodescendant Tribal People” in relation to a particular history, culture, and identity connected to a specific territory. My dissertation analyzes how the Argentine and Chilean states arrived at these definitions, examining which actors participate in and which actors are excluded from debates around who is counted as Afrodescendant. Through a multi-sited ethnography, I seek to understand how, in a broader context of ethno-racial revitalization, different local, national, and international actors interact to adopt transnational multicultural norms and repertoires of action in these two different national contexts. Finally, I inquire into how recent changes in immigration flows affect Afrodescendant movements’ claim-making processes amidst Chilean and Argentine ethno-racial politics.

Department: History 

Project Title:  Border Business: Race, Gender, and the Right to the City in Nogales, Sonora, 1918-1965

Nogales’ rise as a major port of entry in the early twentieth century opened commercial opportunities not only to U.S. and European investors, but also to Mexican women, Chinese merchants, and other immigrant local-business owners who benefited from cross-border traffic. This project aims to understand what the creation of a commercial hub on a newly established border meant for the people who lived there. How did large-scale trade opportunities change city space and infrastructure? Who held claims to public space and municipal services? How does an urban studies approach change our understanding of the multi-racial U.S.-Mexico borderlands? I look to Nogales, Sonora, the city the Chambers of Commerce referred to as “La Ciudad Llave,” the key city to Mexico’s west coast, as a case study of urban civitas between 1918, when the city erected the first physical international boundary, and 1965, when investments from the Mexican National Border Program (PRONAF) rebuilt the Nogales gateway. Once the border physically divided “Ambos Nogales,” city officials gradually restricted access to space, services, and commerce for individuals excluded from post-revolutionary ideas of urban modernity. Using petitions in municipal archives, I explore how working women, Chinese business owners, and Indigenous Tohono O’odham asserted rights in a changing border city

Department: Education 

Project Title:  Computer Science for Racial Justice Program

Computer Science (CS) must do more to end its complicity in the continued oppression of Black and Brown folk and instead become a tool for racially just futures. As part of an effort to move CS in this direction, we1 are designing a summer program—in collaboration with Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) folk—that creates space for BIPOC students to work together, repurpose CS for their own goals, and contest dominant narratives in CS. We will explore the RQ: To what extent did our efforts support culturally relevant computing experiences in collaboration with BIPOC facilitators and BIPOC youth?

LUIS TENORIO (Fall 2021)
Department: Sociology

Project Title: Making the Transition: Formerly Undocumented, Now Legal Permanent Resident Latinos in the United States

Research on the effects of legal status has outlined detrimental economic and social impacts that come with being undocumented. This suggests that attaining legal status—when formerly undocumented—would have significant transformative effects. Yet, scholars have offered competing theories of the effects of legalization ranging from modest benefits to accumulated disadvantaged. My project explores what transformative effects, if any, transitioning from undocumented to a legal permanent resident have for Latinos in the United States. Through in-depth interviews with formerly undocumented Latinos in three U.S. metro areas (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago), I assess how time, place, and racial stratification appreciate or depreciate the benefits of legalization. With respect to economic impacts, I examine shifts in employment, compensation, social support usage, and homeownership. With respect to social impacts, I examine how attaining legal status changes the relationships people develop and the organizations/institutions they interact with.

Department: Sociology

Project Title:  Organizing Despite Precarity

In this project, I draw on ethnographic fieldwork and 42 interviews to advance the literature on organizing precarious workers, while further complicating existing understandings of labor politics through a case study of a labor campaign engaging a diverse workforce of native-born Black and Latino workers—a substantial number of whom are formerly incarcerated—as well as immigrant Latino workers. I examine how workers who lack power because of their ethnoracial background, multiple state-sanctioned statuses, and their employment precarity decide whether to participate in a union campaign. Moreover, I analyze how masculinity emerged as an important theme of the project, particularly as it intersects with race. Based on my findings, I argue that contrary to much of the extant literature, precarious workers recognize their class position and show an awareness of how their particular vulnerabilities facilitate their exploitation. Yet, awareness of their class position and understanding of their shared vulnerabilities does not necessarily lead to acting collectively as a class. Status and power differences across groups within the precarious workers; their structural locations, including racialization; and their subjective understandings shape their relationships to the campaign and determine involvement.

TESSA WOOD (Spring 2022)
Department: Comparative Literature

Project Title: Understanding Race and Gender in the Legacies of Brazil's Peripheral Literature

Whose perspective is really heard when public attention is drawn to literary representations of race, gender, and ideas of marginality? How does a public unfamiliar with marginalized authors’ experiences (mis)interpret their ideas? My project focuses on the peripheral literature movement in Brazil, a twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary movement in which authors from socioeconomically marginalized urban neighborhoods describe daily life and issues in their communities. Because authors representative of this movement often combine criticism of socioeconomic disparities with depictions of racial and gender-based discrimination, my intervention aims to better integrate a critical race and gender analysis into existing critical discussions about peripheral literature. Through analysis of both how these writers present themselves to the outside world and of existing secondary literature on them, my research will seek to understand how race and gender have already been discussed and in which ways these factors have been misrepresented, overlooked, or sensationalized within current conversations.


TOMI CHUNG (Fall 2021)
Department: Ethnic Studies, Sociology

Project Title:  Asian Youth Identity Formation vis-à-vis the Ethnoburb

“Ethnoburb” is a term coined by geographer Wei Li to describe an settlement phenomenon propagating across the United States and abroad, where ethnic placemakers are moving into suburbs and making a cultural impact onto the built landscape, creating a new sociospatial form distinct from the traditional white suburb and the inner city ethnic enclave or ghetto. In contrast to other spatial forms where placemaking is dominated by white residents and white political frameworks, ethnoburbs are home to ethnic residents who have the ability to exercise political agency to shape their suburban landscapes, transforming them into multicultural, often transnational hubs. As with all contestations over space, different racialized, political forms of inclusion and exclusion occur in these environments. This project will investigate several ethnoburban sites across the United States to identify how Asian youth make meaning and negotiate their identities as they navigate or leave the ethnoburb, how they view and reconcile with placemaking politics embedded into the ethnoburb, and how sites of political struggle within the ethnoburb could facilitate identity formation.

Department: Rhetoric

Project Title: Unseen Horrors: Black Feminism, Horror and the Paradoxes of Viewing

In discussions of Black feminism, works of speculative science fiction are routinely turned to as examples of radical worldbuilding and transgressive disruptions of conventional paradigms of space/time. Yet despite the horrific elements in many of these works (including, but not limited to: graphic bodily violence, supernatural creatures and apocalyptic settings) they are rarely discussed as works of “horror.” In my thesis Unseen Horrors: Black Feminism, Horror, and the Paradoxes of Viewing I suggest that horror might be a constitutive element of works of Black speculative science fiction, and thus essential to their project of dys/utopian imagining. Specifically using contemporary Black feminist theory to examine Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed, my research will explore the persistent entanglements of horrific present and future found in Black women’s speculative literature. Looking at contemporary horror movies, the second half of my thesis will turn towards examining the structures of viewing built into the cinematic apparatus that distinguish visual renderings of horror from its literary counterpart. Through these works I’ll explore some of the contradiction between horror as a cathartic method of storytelling and as a repetition and reipscription of violence.

Department: Ethnic Studies

Project Title:  Me Espera un Pueblo: Return Migration to Ancestral Homelands in Oaxaca, Mexico

Between the years 2009-2014, one million Mexican migrants residing in the US returned to Mexico₁. The state of Oaxaca, a primary return destination, holds the highest and most diverse Indigenous population in Mexico, with especially strong forms of community organization locally and in diaspora. Previous studies on return migration have focused on men, economic consequences of return migration and forces of deportation. I propose a short documentary film and Ethnic Studies honors thesis composed of interviews with migrants who have returned to Oaxaca after living in the US for several years. My project centers around Indigenous women’s narratives and Oaxacan Indigenous migrants’ affective experiences of return to their homelands. My methodology, based on Cine Comunitario (communal-filmmaking), intentionally facilitates relationship building and long-form story-making, politically structuring individuals within community knowledges and histories, rather than in state-centered approaches. During Summer 2021, I filmed 10 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with Indigenous Oaxacan return migrants–the majority of which are women-identifying. During winter break, I will conduct the last set of interviews for my project, including ones with my family and myself. We are a family of Oaxacan return migrant women and femmes. Through this project, I hope to honor those of us who the literature has flattened.

YIKE "MONICA" GAO (Spring 2022)
Department: Sociology

Project Title:  Comparative Study of the Naming Choices of Chinese and Indian Americans 

My research seeks to answer why different ethnic groups of Asian Americans adopt American first names at distinct rates, to what extent first names affect one’s identification with their ethnic origin, and how does gender moderate the naming process. The project was motivated by personal observations: I found that my East Asian peers all have Americanized first names while most of my South Asian peers have first names that signal their ethnic origin–a pattern I subsequently confirmed using the California Birth Index. The quantitative discovery intrigues me to further qualitative research. Through in-depth interviews with first- and second-generation Asian Americans of Chinese or Indian descent, I seek to uncover the motivation and consequences behind different naming practices. Given previous literature’s consensus on the adverse effects of racially identifiable names and name-changing as an assimilation strategy, it is particularly interesting how two groups of immigrants display distinct naming patterns.

BRENDA GOMEZ (Fall 2021)
Department: Sociology, Education 

Project Title: Podcasts and Posadas: Communal Linkages as Transformative Teaching Practices

Within California, there have been activist efforts to include Ethnic Studies as a graduation requirement for high schools to foster a more inclusive learning environment. A few studies of a one-year-long Ethnic Studies class in Pomona, CA show that teachers united with community members and taught a history that is reflective of students’ experiences. However, few explore how engaging in transformative learning processes and reimagining school settings impacts political mobilization among young adults. In this project, I investigate the factors within Ethnic Studies curricula in secondary schools that encourage young people in low-income cities to contribute to their communities through civic participation. I take the case of young people enrolled in Pomona High School’s Chicanx/Latinx Studies course to understand how they decide to participate and organize movements to improve their community. In order to investigate the role of Ethnic Studies in civic participation among youth, I will speak with educators and activists about the process of formulating Ethnic Studies courses and their key components that encourage students to engage in civic action. I will conduct interviews with Professors, teachers, and past students of the Pomona High School Ethnic Studies course model to explore how the course was carried out and how it impacted students’ civic awareness and actions. I will also conduct participant observations of the Chicana/o Latina/o Studies Course at Pomona High School. This qualitative study will allow sociologists, practitioners, and educators to understand how histories are taught, learned, and put into practice by young people in their navigation of formal education and community engagement.

LUCIA HUERTA (Spring 2022)
Department: Sociology

Project Title: A Mother's Journey: Notions of Motherhood in Asylum-Seeker Mothers Remaining in Mexico

U.S. asylum policies in place in our current context of massive migration from Central and South America and the COVID pandemic are forcing asylum-seeking migrants to remain in the city of Tijuana, Mexico temporarily while they wait for their turn to be processed into the US. This research explores how gendered notions of motherhood influence the decision-making processes of asylum-seeking mothers “stuck” in the city of Tijuana. While much research has been done on the gendered experiences of migrant mothers that have already arrived at their place of destination, little conversation is taking place on migrant mothers “stuck” in-between their place of origin and their destination. As non-members of the city, the mothers are often in a vulnerable position, needing support from local non-profit organizations. Current migration policies from the U.S and Mexico are not providing aid to this community. These policies have to take into account their position as women, mothers, and migrants. Through in-depth interviews, I will look into what influences the decisions taken by asylum-seeking mothers stuck in Mexico and what policies should be implemented by the U.S. and Mexican government to ensure their safety.

DO KHYM (Fall 2021)
Department: Geography

Project Title:  This is the best farming country in the world, what a pity it has been cursed in the habitating race.

This research examined the reasons why the Norris Colony in Americana was able to flourish and the roles of different factors such as slavery by analyzing how crucial small-scale agriculture and new agricultural expertise were crucial in making Americana into the only surviving settlement in Brazil, while Confederates’ other colonies in Mexico, Venezuela, Egypt, and other parts of Brazil all failed. In addition to cotton planting know-how, Norris’ and of other settlers’ mastery of mechanized equipment seem to have contributed to the colony’s survival well into the twentieth century. Small scale farms (as opposed to bigger, plantation-style farms) where settlers put in their own labor instead of mass slave labor (which was formally banned in Brazil in 1888) coupled with ease of transport (the colony’s proximity to a railroad line) and especially the Confederados’ superior agricultural skills were instrumental in securing the survival of the colony. More importantly, previous works have surveyed many facets of this migration, but no work was conducted linking the colony’s survival to agriculture and use of slave labor. Scholars also have denied the inception of this immigration having depended on the fact that Brazil still had legal slavery at the time of the Confederates’ migration.

Department: Ethnic Studies

Project Title: The Silencing Effects of the Rhetoric of Representation in Law Enforcement: Latinos in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

Many law enforcement departments argue that because they have a racially diverse department, they are proponents of equity, justice, and inclusion. My research project “The Silencing Effects of the Rhetoric of Representation in Law Enforcement: Latinos in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department” aims to address the fact that despite racial integration, law enforcement agencies nevertheless remain proponents of racial violence. In particular, I will highlight this by demonstrating how Latino male officers often engage in high rates of use of force and shootings, often against Black and Latinx civilians. Many Latinx civilians are more afraid of Latino officers than white officers. I will analyze the LASD, the largest sheriff’s department in the country. My methods for conducting my research include utilizing department data on Latino officers engaged in shootings and use of force incidents to create statistics, conducting surveys with community members, and analyzing previously written articles. My results will demonstrate that many Latino officers engage in high levels of racial violence, upending the rhetoric of representation that law enforcement officials promote in order to portray themselves as reformed and just. I believe my conclusion from my research will be that policing has always been inherently violent, enforcing hegemonic power.