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Identity and Linguistic Policy in the Catalan Context: The Linguistic Choices of Latin American Immigrants

Advised by Dr. Niklaus Steiner

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Claire spoke with Latin American immigrants in Barcelona to determine how they perceive Catalan linguistic policy and how they make their personal linguistic decisions (to learn Catalan or not). In the Catalan context, Catalan and Castilian Spanish are co-official languages, but the Catalan government promotes its own language fiercely and has essentially tied immigrant integration policy to linguistic policy. Claire found that the most important factor is determining whether immigrants view the linguistic policy favorably and whether they decide to learn Catalan themselves is their socioeconomic status. Wealthier and better-educated Latin Americans learn the language as a means of labor market insertion and social mobility, while poor and lower-skilled Latin Americans communicate primarily in Castilian Spanish and live in working class neighborhoods where they do not need to use Catalan in their daily interactions.


Mitali DAYAL

Unraveling the Web of Maternal Mortality: Addressing the Interaction of Structural Violence and Maternal Mortality in Modern India

Advised by Dr. Altha Cravey

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This thesis examines how structural violence influences rates of maternal mortality in India, a country that accounts for one quarter of all maternal deaths globally. This thesis conceptualizes the complex issue of maternal mortality as a web of entangled threads, each strand within the web representative of a determinant of maternal death.  The research question examines whether structural violence against Indian mothers is the root cause of maternal death, the overarching determinant behind the numerous social and medical determinants that combine to cause high rates of maternal mortality in India. This thesis further defines structural violence in the Indian context. To illustrate how structural violence is manifested in maternal mortality, the research focuses upon a case study between two Indian states, Kerala and Assam, which have the lowest and highest maternal mortality rates, respectively. The thesis examines three factors in each state – literacy levels, access to healthcare, and status of women – and shows how they interact with maternal mortality and, ultimately, structural violence. The goal of this thesis is to show that maternal mortality has deep social roots and improving the situation of maternal mortality will require significant changes at a very fundamental societal level.



The Migration and Development Nexus: A Case Study of Jordan since the 1950s

Advised by Dr. Sarah Shields


Jordan is both a migrant sending and receiving country. The country’s complicated migration dynamics have had a fundamental impact on its sociopolitical and economic development. In recent years, scholars and policy makers have paid close attention to the potential for migration to have a positive impact on development outcomes. Widely optimistic about migrants’ development potential, much of recent scholarship lacks appropriately nuanced conceptualizations of the interplay of migration and development. Migration must be understood as a constituent part of the development process, but also as an independent factor affecting it, and as a factor that has the potential for negative, as well as positive, impacts on human development. The Jordanian case reveals the great potential for migration to positively shape a country’s development, but it also highlights the need for caution in policy approaches. Overly sanguine attitudes towards the migration-development relationship are not justified, as positive outcomes are heavily contingent on societal context and policy frameworks.



Maneuvering the Safety/Freedom Paradox: How a group of gay men in San Francisco go beyond public health policies to develop personal strategies that minimize risk of HIV and maximize sexual freedom

Advised by Dr. Peter Redfield

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Qualitative sexual life history interviews conducted with educated, engaged, and articulate gay men who Molly considers “lay experts” reveal that at least some gay men living in San Francisco take into account a complex set of factors when making decisions about engaging in unprotected sex. They make decisions with a common goal in mind: to simultaneously minimize the risk of HIV infection and maximize the pleasure of sex without barriers. Acting as lay experts, these five men developed strategies in order to maneuver what she calls the safety/freedom paradox, the conflicting desire for both protection and sexual intimacy. While this is a very modest and limited study, its implications are potentially quite rich. The findings provoke a question to be pursued globally: If these five gay men operate as lay experts, do people in other settings also develop their own strategies to minimize risk? Pursuing this study on a global scale could provide a sense of how people not only live with public health policies, but also develop their own understandings of risk and self-management of sexual practices.



Constructing Migrants’ Rights: Shifting Paradigms and Human Rights Innovations in Argentine Migration and Refugee Legislation

Advised by Dr. Niklaus Steiner

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This thesis examines the passage of Migration Law 25.871 (2004) and Refugee Law 26.165 (2006) in Argentina. These laws marked a sharp paradigm shift in Argentina’s migration policy, moving away from a migration law crafted in the paradigm of national security under the 1976 – 1983 dictatorship towards these new laws centered on a human rights discourse. The project aimed to identify the international and domestic factors that influenced this incorporation of a human rights discourse, and to determine if the socialization of human rights norms may lead states not only to adopt international norms, but also to appropriate the human rights discourse and apply it to internal policy not yet regulated on the international scale. In light of Argentina’s authoritarian past, the research also examined whether ‘political learning;’ may have played a specific role in this case.
The investigation consisted of interviews with government representatives, civil society members and academics. Findings indicate that domestic factors were more significant than international factors, debunking top-down models of the diffusion of human rights discourse. The research reveals that a twenty-year fight on the part of civil society organizations was the key impetus in ultimately a change in law. These groups used themes of history and conceptions of national identity as rhetorical tools in constructing arguments for a change. This long-term effort was ultimately successful, however, only because of the particular political climate created by the 2001 economic crisis. Of particular import were the effects that the crisis had in shaking up the political status quo and thereby opening the way for the election of Nestór Kirchner, whose administration brought an agenda of human rights and Latin American regionalism.



Literary Perspectives of Ethnic Identity in Guatemala

Advised by Emilio del Valle Escalante

In this thesis Mariel explores the way indigenous and non-indigenous Guatemalan authors depict Maya culture in their works of literature. In order to highlight this comparison, she engages a literary analysis of canonical works of Guatemalan literature by Ladino and Maya authors. She therefore traces the development of a contemporary indigenous literary corpus in Guatemala, and explore the socio-political importance of this literature. Mariel argues that works by Ladino authors, namely Miguel Ángel Asturias’ Leyendas de Guatemala [Legends of Guatemala, 1930] and Mario Monteforte Toledo’s Entre la piedra y la cruz [Between the Cross and the Stone, 1948]  often reflect ideologies of mestizaje as possible solutions to the issue of ethnic fragmentation in Guatemala. More recent works by Maya authors, such as I Rigoberta Menchú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala (1983) by Rigoberta Menchú and Elizabeth Burgos and A Mayan Life (1992) by Gaspar Pedro González, on the other hand, depict ideas of coexistence while still preserving separate cultures as possible manners to improve ethnic relations. In this way, literature serves to understand changing attitudes regarding race and ethnicity in Guatemala over time, and reflects the emergence of indigenous activism in the nation. Literature is therefore used by indigenous authors to depict the conditions of oppression that Maya people experience, as well as to reaffirm their own ethnic identity and make their voices heard.


Minorities, Mobilization, and Marginalization: Non-Majority Actors and the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions

Advised by Banu Gokariksel

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The purpose of this research is to attempt to understand the role of minorities who, even after active participation in revolutionary movements, are then marginalized in favor of majority-centered nationalistic pursuits.  It examines the events of the 2011 revolutions in Middle Eastern and North African countries, also known as the “Arab Spring”, specifically Tunisia and Egypt.  It incorporates historical data, contemporary events, and media analysis to craft a picture of how events unfolded and progressed from the initial sparks of the revolutions.  Economic and social institutions played a significant part in protest mobilization; labor unions were key in both countries, but other factors also contributed to the building discontent and eventual rebellion.  By analyzing the participation of women and ethnic or religious minorities, I hope to understand how nationalism works as an exclusionary force against minority groups in a post-revolutionary setting.  Women, Berbers, and Coptic Christians are the three groups of focus in this research; a small section on the Baha’i in Egypt is also included for context.  This work contributes to greater understanding of the political issues in each country and adds to the body of literature pertaining to minority involvement in revolutionary contexts, as well as post-revolutionary forms of nationalism and nation-building that exclude minority demands


Of Computers and Cape Town: An Evaluation of Computer Education in South Africa

Advised by Janice Anderson

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This thesis explores the relationship between South African high schools students and technology education by conducting research using both quantitative and qualitative methods. In Erica’s capacity as a research intern for the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP), she used surveys and interviews to better understand students’ sense of self-efficacy with technology, how they view their technology education, and what kind of access they have to technology. Students from three different types of public schools in Cape Town participated in the study. The data gathered on computer access and self-efficacy will enable SAEP to improve and possibly expand its after school technology education program, ADT Teach.

Chelsea PHIPPS

Evaluating Factors for Nonprofit Water Project Sustainability in Delhi, India

Advised by Georg Vanberg


Despite the water sector being hailed as one of the Millennium Development Goals’ successes, one-third of water development projects fail soon after implementation. Gaps between the literature and implementation organizations’ knowledge and approaches lead to the project failures. In this paper, the interviewer conducted six interviews with implementation experts from nonprofits in Delhi, India to reveal decision-making processes and how those processes compared with the five main sustainability factors (1- social, 2- institutional, 3- financial, 4- technical, and 5- environmental) identified in the literature to determine where the gaps lay.


The Body in Remembrance: Dhikr in Moroccan Sufism

Advised by Della Pollock

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Despite what the stories of modernity tell of the greatly prized, self-actualized, autonomous, reflexive self – the prized subject, the seat of experience and expression, the source of thought and speech – there is, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty writes, “another subject beneath me, for whom a world exists before I am here, and who marks out my place in it”: the body. In an effort to celebrate the body as a substantial, fluid element of human reality, this thesis explores the embodiment of the Sufi Ritual of Remembrance or dhikr within the context of Morocco’s mystical tradition. Though dhikr takes on many forms and expresses itself through many mediums (the tongue, heart, and breath, individually and collectively, among many others), the role of body is both unmistakable and understudied. While the body as a system of meaning has gained scholarly attention over the years, embodied understanding and writing have yet to be thoroughly applied to dhikr. Thus, this thesis is about the body. It is about dhikr. It is about a small collection of Moroccans for whom Remembrance is life, for whom the body remembers, for whom the body is a critical site of spiritual life. This work moves with the bodies of dhikr – remembering Morocco as it weaves through the old city’s streets, twisting through the narratives of eleven Sufis, spinning as dhikr dances around it, through it, opening in these pages.


The Hour of the Regions: An Analysis of the State of Governance in the European Union

Advised by Erica Edwards

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As the European Union has expanded and delved into new policy areas the need for cooperation among local, national, and supranational actors has become evident.  Scholars have characterized this new wave of European Union and regional cooperation as multilevel governance. However the exact role of regional entities remains a hotly contested issue.  This thesis analyzes the current state of regional government participation in the European Union.  Shaniqua argues that, despite its initial fame in the late nineties, multilevel governance is not a viable description of the type of governance seen in today’s European Union.  Instead she shows that governance in the European Union most closely resembles a combination of multilevel governance and liberal intergovernmentalism.


The Strategic and Symbolic Use of Social Networking Sites  by the 15M Movement

Advised by Neal Caren


Online activism is significant to the 15M movement in Spain, and in this thesis, Fara studies the politics of this social movement’s use of social media sites. Understanding the 15M movement’s strategic and symbolic use of social media is important to recognize the complexity of online activism and its complementary relationship to offline activism.






Treating the Symptoms of Commitment Issues: Analyzing institutions as a prescription – A case study of Kenya

Advised by Andrew Reynolds

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Following presidential elections held in 2007, the nation of Kenya was plagued with conflicts stemming from election violence.  Soon after, dialogue began to discuss and analyze just what was contributing to this instability, which to many had seemingly sprang up without any warning.  Many argued that Kenya was a good model of governance and stability for many years.  Within his thesis, Ryan argues that there were much more embedded factors contributing to democratic instability within the nation of Kenya.  Rather than blaming one specific cause such as ethnic politics or neopatrimonial relationships contributing to grievance or greed-based claims, he focuses specifically on a series of factors within the larger issue of commitment issues.  He notes that these previous factors further erode the ability of those in power to credibly commit to protecting out-groups and upholding institutions, thus commitment problems abound.  Ryan further notes that evidence indicates it is institutions themselves which help correct for these commitment problems.  He thus decided to study specifically the new 2010 Constitution of Kenya as an institution to determine if it helped abate some commitment issues.  He made use of two Afrobarometer surveys on perceptions of democracy and stability within the nation.  Evidence indicates that the Constitution did indeed help reduce commitment problems and thus correlating conditions and symptoms such as ethnic politics and neopatrimonialism.  Ryan also notes that the Constitution has increased accountability.  Ultimately, if the citizens of Kenya believe in the power of the Constitution, it will become self-enforcing and hold those in power in check by making them accountable to both the citizens of Kenya and the Constitution itself.  Time itself will tell if this Constitution has assisted by actually curbing violence and claims of ethnic politics, but as this thesis indicates, all signs are positive thus far.


The 95%: Why Women Embrace Diets That Don’t Work

Advised by Amanda Thompson

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Dieting and diet products in the United States comprise a booming $40 billion industry, yet 95% of dieters regain their lost weight within 1-5 years. While dieting is pervasive across genders, ethnicities, cultures and social classes, it is especially concentrated among women. Why, then, do women diet so persistently despite their repeated lack of success? The literature offers three factors: The strong motivation of the thin ideal and the desire to avoid the stigma the overweight face; the diet industry’s marketing ploys, which play up the consumer’s past failures as due to the faulty premises of other diets; and the psychology of false hope, which explains that the initial success of self-change resolutions (then followed by plateau and eventual return to the original behavior) gives the dieter motivation to start anew, as she attributes failure to her own lack of willpower rather than factors outside her control. To lend nuance to the factors presented in the literature, qualitative interviews were conducted with seven women who had dieted multiple times without long-term success. The study found that while women had all attempted commercial diets, they were far less swayed by the diet industry’s advertising than by personal pressures to conform to the thin ideal, especially when these were present in childhood. The psychology of false hope was also an important driver of repeated dieting, as well as a factor not represented in the literature: the social force of dieting and the common suggestion to diet with friends. Because those who became aware of their self-image and began dieting at a young age went on far more total diets across their lifetime, the study makes a case for parental education to instill strong self-worth in children in order to avoid lifelong struggles with body image and the dangerous weight cycling associated with chronic dieting.


Elizabeth WILLIS

SHELL IN OGONILAND AND CHEVRON/TEXACO IN THE ORIENTE: A comparative analysis of human rights and corporate social responsibility

Advised by Eunice Sahle

Willis Honors PhotoThis paper explores the usage of human rights and corporate accountability language by social movement organizations on the one hand and by oil corporations on the other through the comparison of two case studies. The subject of the first case study is the impact of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) in Ogoniland, Nigeria on Royal Dutch Shell’s approach to Corporate Social Responsibility. The second case study surrounds the efforts of the Frente de la Defensa de la Amazonia (Frente) to hold Chevron accountable for their actions in the northern Amazon region of Ecuador. The purpose of this paper is to answer the following question: How do social movement organizations and oil corporations use rights and corporate social responsibility (CSR) language in the context of transnational legal cases? A follow-up question is: How does the usage of certain language exemplify or challenge the existing theoretical and practical relationship between corporate social responsibility and human rights? These questions arise from the increased emphasis on responsibility and the role of the corporation in theories of human rights as well as the increased usage of human rights framework in practical applications of corporate social responsibility (Wettstein 2009, 282). The findings of this paper contribute to conversations surrounding 1) the moral and legal human rights obligations of corporations and their real world applicability, 2) whether the adoption of rights-based language by different actors is enough to create real improvement in people’s lives and 3) what role power dynamics play in those processes.