Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • GENDER (IN)EQUALITY IN POLAND FOUR YEARS AFTER ENTERING THE EU: YOUNG POLISH FEMINISTS SPEAK THEIR MINDS - CASE STUDY OF KONSOLA ORGANIZATION

    Author:
    Maria Biskup
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Hester Eisenstein
    Abstract:

    This dissertation concerns the study of gender (in)equality in Poland as it is experienced by the young Polish feminists themselves. Through in depth interviews, an ethnographic study of young Polish feminists belonging to the most active feminist organization in Poznan, Poland, supplemented by works of contemporary Eastern European as well as Western feminists I have tried to show how feminism is experienced, explained, lived through, fought for and talked about in contemporary European Union belonging Poland. I argue that feminism, although known on a large scale in Poland, still has a status of a problematic word on which a spell of suspicion had been set due to particulars of Polish history, including the treatment of gender issues by the Communist government, the Solidarity Trade Movement and the understated power of the Polish Catholic Church in this matter. Because each of these institutions created their own meaning of gender rights and feminism overall, these confusing messages have for years entangled and problematized the meaning of feminism, creating unflattering stereotypes of what feminism is as a movement, who feminists are, what they are fighting for and in what manners. Feminism became associated with images of burly women who burn bras, don't shave their legs and hate men. Although feminism in Poland is still largely relegated to the academic sphere, the actions these young active feminists take, such as their growing presence on the local scale through organizing, sponsoring and coordinating feminist events, cooperation with other women's organizations in organizing, conferences and publications on the issues of women's presence on the local and national levels in the media, have been slowly paying off. Because of the efforts of women from KONSOLA, feminism is becoming a less problematic word in the contemporary Poland.

  • Impact of Ethnic Conflict on Development: A Case Study of Guyana

    Author:
    Visnoonand Bisram
    Year of Dissertation:
    2015
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Stanley Kornblum
    Abstract:

    Abstract Impact of Ethnic Conflict on Development: A Case Study of Guyana By Visnoonand Bisram Adviser: Professor Stanley Aronowitz The study presents an alternative framework, from the dominant political and economic theories, for explaining the feeble and relatively slow pace of development of an ethnically divided, resource rich country. The study, using primary and secondary sources, empirical evidence, and interpretive analysis, examines the emergence and role of racial conflict and its stifling impact on national development in Guyana, which represents an extreme case of a society plagued by racial division. Organizations including labor unions and political parties, as well as occupations and aspects of the economy, among other social constructs, are all racially divided. Utilizing an inter-disciplinary (sociology, political science, economics, history, anthropology, culture) scope of investigation, the study explains: how Guyana became a multi-ethnic state, how ethnic rivalry emerged during colonialism; how ethnicity has shaped its development; how racial conflict was advanced by colonial forces to serve their interests; how it became institutionalized; how it was used by the US and UK to delay the independence of the colony; and how the race conflict affected the political and economic development of the post-colonial state including its debilitating impact on social change. The study determines that the failure of development in Guyana is tied to a range of interrelated social issues and problems associated with ethnic identity and rivalry. The study discusses various theories on economic development and on ethnic conflicts in order to explain Guyana's ongoing racial conflict and illustrates some effects of conflict on Guyana's development. It examines, discusses, interprets, and analyzes various variables (power and economic control) impacting on ethnic relations and politics in Guyana and their effects on the country's overall development. It also looks into the causes for heightened ethnic competition and conflict attributing blame to both major (largely ethnic) political parties, PPP and PNC, and their respective founding leaders, Dr. Cheddi Jagan and Mr. Forbes Burnham as well as their respective supporters, Indians and Africans. The study also proposes solutions as models of governance to manage ethnic conflict to facilitate development. The study has implications for similar societies serving as a guide to help resolve ethnic conflicts that could affect national development.

  • Arts Work: A Typology of Skills for Arts-Based Group Workers

    Author:
    Mary Bitel
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Social Welfare
    Advisor:
    Harriet Goodman
    Abstract:

    The arts are utilized in groups across the applied humanities and social sciences with a wide range of populations to address a multitude of individual, group, and community needs. Despite literature suggesting challenges to the implementation of mutual aid based groups in social work, a body of empirical evidence exists on the use and benefits of the arts in working with groups across social science disciplines, including social work. In groups that utilize purposeful activity, balance of group process and task completion is integral to the development of the group as a system of mutual aid. Through interviews with a sample of expressive arts group practitioners, this study sought to identify the skills expressive artists used and to determine whether those skills had a significant impact on group dynamics. This study explored expressive artists' rationale for the intervention skills they used. It also explored whether their work with groups suggested additional skills beyond those articulated in the social work literature to promote group dynamics including development of a system in mutual aid and the balance of group process and creative task completion. The researcher developed a performance-based typology of skills in response to how expressive artists described the skills and tools they used in activity-based group work. This typology reflected a focus on performance-rooted traits, facilitative skills, and interventions that resembled aspects of the interactional or mutual aid approach to group work but moved beyond that model to address the unique aspect of creative arts in groups. The typology of skills presented in this study suggest an expanded and highly engaged role for the worker; it supports a fluid, cyclical quality in the use of skills and interventions that moves beyond the approach provided in traditional models of social group work. Most significantly, it suggests that arts-based group worker's primary and essential task lies in the consistent balance of group process and creative task completion. Engagement around both process and task promote the transmission of voice to group members, a significant aspect of this study that has implications for anti-oppression work across the field of social work.

  • Meaning Making at the Interface of Gender, Disability, and Policy: Physically Disabled Women in London and Coventry, England Explore the Covention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

    Author:
    Heidi Bjorgan
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Anna Stetsenko
    Abstract:

    Historically, persons with disabilities are socially, culturally, and economically underprivileged and neglected worldwide (WHO, 2006, 2011) and this is especially true of women with disabilities. The intersection between women's gender and their disabilities, although overlooked for many decades, has been described as the phenomenon of a dual handicap. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, 2006) was created to protect the rights of all people with disabilities and, for the first time in history, identified women with disabilities as a population that has unique rights and needs that warrant special legislation and protection. This qualitative study explores the lived experiences of physically disabled women living in England, while contextualizing them within the discourse on disability rights within the sociocultural and historical-political context (England). The lived experiences of physically disabled women are posited to be mediated by human rights documents as well as by political discourses and practices that surround and accompany these documents. Framed in socio-historical cultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978) and Bakhtin's (1986) dialogical works, this study investigates how policy documents are meaning-making systems (Daiute, 2008, 2010) that shape and serve as the tools to organize and frame disabled women's experiences. Narratives collected through group meetings with 18 physically disabled women in London and Coventry, England, were first analyzed using a values analysis (Daiute, Stern, & Lelutiu-Weinberger, 2003) to understand the interactions between the CRPD and women's lives. Then a discourse analysis of group narratives and policy documents (Daiute, 2008) was conducted across the CRPD (2006) and the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979) as activity- meaning making systems. Finally, a historical analysis of disability and gender within the UK and the UN was conducted. The major findings indicate that the intersection of gender and disability is historically absent within UK and UN activity-meaning systems (Daiute, 2008, 2010) as enacted in the CRPD and CEDAW treaty. The values analysis revealed disability and diversity education at local levels (schools, councils, hospitals) and their own participation in local politics, specifically for Lambeth, with a high level of value expressions. Surprisingly, both groups given their right to have a family and a home took an opposing view to the CRPD values. Interestingly, both groups described social practices such as staring, being ignored by others as being issues within their daily lived experiences, but still provided a subjective view to Article 6: Women and Disabilities. The study suggests that there is a need for further research on disabled women's perspectives and experiences within the discourse of human rights in order to develop socio-political practices that support rather than isolate disabled women.

  • Claiming Space, Redefining Politics: Urban Protest and Grassroots Power in Bolivia

    Author:
    Carwil Bjork-James
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Marc Edelman
    Abstract:

    This dissertation analyzes the role of space-claiming protests by primarily left grassroots social movements in Bolivia's current political transformation. Space claiming includes mass protests that physically control or symbolically claim urban space through occupations of plazas and roads, sit-ins, blockades, and other measures. As a theoretical construct, space claiming brings together tactics of collective action and meanings of public spaces, and looks at the consequences of their interaction. This dissertation is based on ethnographic engagement and oral interviews with protest participants and their state interlocutors during twelve months of fieldwork and archival research. By using detailed ethnographic evidence--of social life as experienced through the human body, the meanings attached to places, and social movement practices--it explains how grassroots movements exerted leverage upon the state through pivotal protest events. This study shows that the political import of these protests arises from their interruption of commercially important flows and appropriation of meaning-laden spaces in cities like Cochabamba and Sucre. Social movements used spatial meanings, protest symbols and rhetoric to build an imagined community of interest and sovereignty, which claims the right to direct the political course of the state. The presence of indigenous bodies, symbols, and politics in these spaces challenged and inverted their longstanding exclusion from power. The largest mobilizations exercised control over aspects of daily life that would otherwise be organized by the state. These interruptions of commerce and circulation, and the collective gatherings that directed them posed an alternate possibility of sovereignty. This put the existing order into question, forcing shifts in political life to resolve the temporary crises. At the same time, the practices of disruption were added to the routines of political practice, making future officeholders even less able to maneuver independently of the grassroots base. This dissertation explains why and how space-claiming protests work as political tools, and the ways that practices of cooperation, coordination, and decisionmaking within protest have become models for Bolivia's political culture. In doing so, it contributes to the study of social protest in Latin America, the theory of social movement practice, and the geographic study of political protest.

  • THE POLITICAL ETHICS OF INTIMACY IN AMERICAN EVANGELISM

    Author:
    Sophie Bjork-James
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Leith Mullings
    Abstract:

    The Political Ethics of Intimacy is an ethnographic study of how conservative evangelical ethics are cultivated within religious communities and become linked to political projects. Based on fourteen months of participant observation research in evangelical churches and Bible study groups in Colorado Springs, I argue that evangelical ethical life is modeled on hierarchical relationships defined by gender and symbolized in the patriarchal family. As the heterosexual nuclear family has become both the central metaphor structuring evangelical ethics and the site where lived evangelicalism is practiced, issues perceived as threatening this family structure are seen as threatening to evangelical ethical life. Thus, abortion and gay rights receive continuing political concern by evangelicals, while issues not framed as directly affecting the family receive less political concern. I show how the familial ideals that shape white evangelical ethical and political life are tied to a racial history of seeing the normative, patriarchal family as the moral foundation of the nation, ideas that shaped resistance to racial equality in the United States from debates about abolition to the Civil Rights Movement.

  • Place Attachment and Mobility in the Lives of HIV positive Men

    Author:
    Libby Black
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Susan Saegert
    Abstract:

    This study explored how transformative effects of an HIV diagnosis inform our sense of place and connectedness to a setting/place attachment and the influence on our use and movement in social space. Using Bourdieu's Sociological perspective I explored the notion of `knowing' or `habitus,' by investigating the nature of a person's position and the conditioning (social learning) of that position which can be viewed as a transformative process that effects, changes, and creates both the position and the conditions that govern practice. Methods: The research included semi structured interviews and (2) focus groups, where one set of groups had the specific objectives of the study disclosed to them, and the researcher surveyed the respondents on the types of questions and information they believed needed to be collected to capture their sense of social space. The final group was presented with the results of the initial group and asked to critique and inform the results. A total of 36 subjects were interviewed or were a part of the focus groups. Using cognitive mapping, I explored the places they frequent, noting physical settings, how these settings were used, evaluated and perceived and how they spent their time. Research findings: The findings reveal themes related to respondents' sense of place and connectedness and their sense of connection to those people and places they deem significant. There are examples of life philosophies that appear connected to positioning and are connected in influential ways to ones sense of `constriction' or `expansion.' When dealing with socially impoverished, isolated men, and their HIV diagnosis, their positioning and conditioning in social space, it appears their `situatedness' directly effects and instructs their `practical sense,' or everyday practices and this allows creative and instructive thinking that transforms their experience of becoming HIV positive into an experience of expansion and growth. Broader, the meanings people attribute to their histories, suggests how one comes to choose, use, and is transformed by the spaces supportive of them, are themselves products of the same cultures and social structures that produce and reproduce the `practical sense' of an agent.

  • On the Arithmetic and Geometry of Quaternion Algebras: a spectral correspondence for Maass waveforms

    Author:
    Terrence Blackman
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Mathematics
    Advisor:
    Stefan Lemurell
    Abstract:

    Abstract

    ABSTRACT

    TERRENCE RICHARD BLACKMAN

    Let A be an indefinite rational division quaternion algebra with discriminant d equal to pq where p and q are primes such that p,q > 2 and let Opq be a maximal order in A. Further, let Opq,p2rq2s,r,s 1 be an order of index p2rq2s in Opq with Eichler invariant equal to negative one at p and at q . Finally, let Opq,p2rq2s1 be the cocompact Fuchsian group given as the group of units of norm one in Opq,p2rq2s. Using the classical Selberg trace formula, we show that the positive Laplace eigenvalues, including multiplicities, for Maass forms on Opq,p2rq2s1 coincide with the Laplace spectrum for Maass newforms defined on the Hecke congruence group Γ0(M) where, M, the level of the congruence group, is equal to p2r+1q2s+1, i.e., the discriminant of Opq,p2rq2s.

  • An Examination of the Goodness of Fit Model: How is the Relationship Between Child Temperament and Behavior Expressed in Different Types of Classroom Environments?

    Author:
    Sasha Blackwell
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Educational Psychology
    Advisor:
    Georgiana Tryon
    Abstract:

    The present study examined how the relationship between child temperament and behavior is expressed in different types of classroom environments in prekindergarten settings. Other goals of the study were to further operationalize the goodness of fit model in school settings and to evaluate possible interactions of process variables indicative of classroom quality with child temperament to see if these interactions predicted child behavior and social skills. Participants included 130 students and their teachers (N = 11) in three prekindergarten settings. Child temperament was measured using the Total Temperament score from the Teacher and Caregiver Temperament Inventory for Children (TACTIC; Billman & McDevitt, 1998). Classroom quality and environment characteristics were measured using the Program Structure scale of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scales-Revised (ECERS-R; Harms et al., 2005) and the Sensitivity subscale score from the Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS; Arnett, 1989). Outcomes in behavioral and social domains were measured using the Externalizing Behavior Problems and Social Skills subscales on the Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales- Second Edition (PKBS-2; Merrell, 2002). Hierarchical linear modeling indicated that child temperament alone was the sole predictor of child externalizing behavior, while child temperament, disability status, and school program structure predicted child social skills. Overall, the study indicated that the goodness of fit model when operationalized in terms of the transactional relationship between temperament and environmental demand factors of characteristics of the classroom setting (as informed by the classroom quality literature) has predictive value and describes child behavioral and social outcomes in prekindergarten settings.

  • Pilgrimages to the Past: Place, Memory, and Return in Contemporary Life Writing

    Author:
    Marta Bladek
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    English
    Advisor:
    Nancy Miller
    Abstract:

    Pilgrimages to the Past draws from recent scholarship on autobiography, memory, and trauma, while attending to the historical and ethnic specificities of each text. Extending beyond an inquiry into how autobiographical narratives evoke place and how they present the interplay between location and remembering, my dissertation aims to show that the autobiographical impulse, or the desire to tell one's life story, is intimately bound with specific locations that inspire and facilitate remembering. Return lends the past new urgency and propels its narrative reconstruction. An important concept in this project is the dialogic dimension of the homonym routes/roots, which Susan Stanford Friedman sees as integral to processes of identity formation in an age of increased mobility. This analysis of the recuperative potentialities and reparative limits of return seeks to explore place as identity's foundational and transformational site. Going back affirms the returnees' connection to places from the past; at the same time, return changes how they perceive and inhabit their location in the present. Although returns are retrospectively oriented, they propel a prospective engagement with the past that both acknowledges its relevance and accepts its irretrievability. Insofar as visiting places of ancestral or personal significance ultimately leads to an incorporative separation from the past, Pilgrimages to the Past posits that journeys of return are, in fact, journeys of departure that result in the returnee's turn towards present and future. The diasporic quest for origins organizes Eva Hoffman's After Such Knowledge: Memory, History, and the Legacy of the Holocaust (2004) and Daniel Mendelsohn's The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million (2006). In Running in the Family (1982) and My Brother (1997), Michael Ondaatje and Jamaica Kincaid, two writers of the postcolonial experience now living in North America, play on "the return of the native" theme as they describe visits to their home islands, Sri Lanka and Antigua, respectively. The predicament of exilic homecoming, in turn, is the key theme in Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (2003). Revisits to places of personal significance, rather than to a place of origin, give narrative shape to Susan J. Brison's Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of a Self (2002), Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), and Alix Kates Shulman's To Love What Is: A Marriage Transformed (2008).