Alumni Dissertations and Theses

 
 

Alumni Dissertations and Theses

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  • The Struggle for Recognition: Muslim American Spokesmanship in the Age of Islamophobia

    Author:
    Nazia Kazi
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Vincent Crapanzano
    Abstract:

    The events of 9/11/2001 intensified the hypervisibility of U.S. Muslims, making them the subject of academic, artistic, and cultural curiosity. Alongside this public hypervisibility came a campaign of institutionalized Islamophobia, manifest in such measures as the anti-Muslim legislation of the USA PATRIOT Act. The result for Islamic Representative Organizations (or IRO's) was that combatting Islamophobia became a central concern. In this dissertation, I consider the multifaceted and complicated politics of representation used by IRO's in the aftermath of 9/11. I consider both the negative, or Islamophobic, and the so-called positive, or Islamophilic, representations of U.S. Muslims in the discourse of these groups. Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork at IRO events dealing with the subject of "Islam in America," this dissertation addresses the racial, class-based, and cultural politics of representing U.S. Muslims. I consider the aspirations and ambitions of IRO members: Do they understand their anti-Islamophobia activism as a way to include Muslims in the existing social order, or do they imagine themselves engaged in a revolutionary process of transformation? I present ethnographic data that reveals IRO members imagining the United States as at once a pluralistic, diverse, and egalitarian nation and a foundationally racist, imperial formation. Hardly uniform, IRO representations reveal both transformative, counterhegemonic processes and a deeply entrenched neoliberal multiculturalism that is constitutive of the paradox of representation in the age of empire.

  • PERSONAL NARRATIVES OF WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP AND COMMUNITY ACTIVISM IN CHERKASY OBLAST

    Author:
    Martha Kebalo
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Gerald Creed
    Abstract:

    Ukraine's women's movement is part of a complex social field characteristic of formerly Soviet countries, but it also emerges from its own specific political history. Post-Soviet period, (neo-) nationalism, feminism and (neo-) socialism are significant forces shaping women's collective behavior. Their activism resonates with the pre-Soviet liberation struggle while it is shaped also by practices from the recent Soviet past. It also is sensitive to external pressures, including the agendas of Western aid and the Ukrainian diaspora. This study accepts the emergence of non-state women's organizations as indicative of an incipient movement and examines this field of social activism in Cherkasy, a largely rural province of central Ukraine. The inquiry proceeds from the heterogeneity of women's responses to Ukraine's post-Soviet transition, and from the premise that their various life experiences bear on their engagement in activism and choice of organizational commitment. The analysis probes issues of differential recruitment, personal presentations of self as activist, and ideological motivation for participation in projects often melding feminist, nationalist, and/or socialist goals. The spectrum of activism mirrors Ukraine's post-Soviet nation building crisis, and includes both conservative and transformational aspects. An optimistic trend is discerned in the practices of self-directed activist groups seeking affiliation with independent national women's federations and working outside of the para-statal structure that is heir to the Soviet women's councils. Personal narratives of activism reflect positions on gender and nation and suggest a Ukrainian feminist standpoint that is simultaneously supportive of both women's parity and post-Soviet national integrity.

  • Stories of Tin City: Narrative Identity and the Histories of Gejiu, Yunnan Province

    Author:
    Lara Kusnetzky
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Jane Schneider
    Abstract:

    "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics," the experiment with a socialist market economy, has brought unprecedented affluence, opportunities, and political freedom in the People's Republic of China, but also unprecedented unemployment, corruption, poverty, and crime. Retirees in Gejiu, a tin mining town in southwest China, narrate their life histories in this uncertain context, as they try to determine their place in the shifting present by means of the political concepts, historical narratives, and institutional locations they have acquired in the course of the decades. They frame their individual experiences within institutional constraints, such as work units, education, membership of the Communist Party, and class status, and make idiosyncratic use of the cumulative vocabulary of government policies and mass campaigns, and of the assembled storylines of official history. This dissertation examines the relationship between ideology and subject formation through a reconsideration of Communist discourse. The first four chapters of the dissertation analyze materials of successive national campaigns--a feature film about a miner who becomes a revolutionary, histories of the tin industry, biographies and autobiographies of miners, exhibitions about class struggle, and local gazetteers--to demonstrate how the Chinese Communist Party used the local landscape and details of local life to substantiate the universal truth of Marxist historiography and to confirm the legitimacy of the Communist government. The fifth chapter shows how Gejiu retirees today make selective use of this cumulative vocabulary of government policies and mass campaigns, and of the storylines of successive official histories of Gejiu, to give shape and meaning to their lives in the present. The analysis of the narrative identities of Gejiu retirees demonstrates not only that local residents take up Communist conceptions of self and society, as well as current and abandoned storylines of Communist discourse, but also that they produce diverse, alternative histories of the present in words and narratives intended by the Party to universalize individual experience.

  • Claiming the Right to the City: Towards the Production of Space from Below

    Author:
    Mehmet Kuymulu
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    David Harvey
    Abstract:

    CLAIMING THE RIGHT TO THE CITY: TOWARDS THE PRODUCTION OF SPACE FROM BELOW by Mehmet Barýþ Kuymulu Advisors: Professor David Harvey and Professor Neil Smith This dissertation examines the theoretical and political contradictions surrounding the notion of the right to the city. The right to the city concept has lately attracted a great deal of attention, both from academics who have long engaged with urban theory and politics, and from grassroots activists around the globe who have been fighting on the ground for an alternative just urbanism. In addition to urbanists and grassroots urban justice activists, the right to the city concept has also drawn considerable attention from the United Nations (UN) agencies such as UN-HABITAT and UNESCO, which have organized meetings and outlined policies to absorb the notion into their own political agendas. This wide-ranging interest has created a conceptual vortex that has pulled discordant political projects behind the banner of the right to the city. By reframing the notion of the right to the city to foreground its roots in Marxian labor theory of value, this dissertation offers a theoretical framework to analyze diverse and often contradictory struggles for realizing the right to the city. Based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in New York, Boston and Istanbul, the dissertation is organized around the three pillars of the labor theory of value, namely, use value, exchange value and value. It begins with an examination of the political struggles that are mobilized for accessing use values in the city. This is followed by an examination of the UN agencies' claim over the right to the city that is primarily for realizing exchange values in the city. Although this dissertation acknowledges the usefulness of the analyses of urban political struggles based on the contradiction between use value and exchange value, it concludes with the shortcomings of such analyses and argues for a politics of value, which aims to cast labor in the epicenter of struggles for the right to the city.

  • Raising Children the American Way: Court-Mandated Parenting Education in Alameda, California

    Author:
    Nicole Laborde
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Shirley Lindenbaum
    Abstract:

    Based on ethnographic research in Alameda County, California, this dissertation examines the parenting practices and knowledge that are taught in court-mandated parenting classes along with those of parents enrolled in these classes. In California, two of the primary reasons that parents would be mandated to take classes are because of involvement with Child and Family Services (CFS) or in a custody dispute that reaches the courts. I argue that the different forms of knowledge and the practices advanced in the classes, at times consistent with, at times in conflict with those of the parents, reflect the demands and social responsibility of our current political and economic setting in the United States. The demands of a global market-driven economy require citizens who are self-disciplined, prepared to be flexible for the job market, schooled in the ways of a consumer society, and ready to accept responsibility for their own health and well-being ((Katz 2004), (Rose 1999), (Petersen and Lupton 1996)). I also suggest that this ideology rests on the authority of scientific and psychological research that is far from conclusive; it is the authority, rather than the information, that informs the values behind parenting advice. Further, I argue that the prevalent parenting approach, which is time-intensive and expensive, works to reinforce structural inequalities. Parents are the focus of much attention as the means to reverse many social problems including poverty, crime, ill health, and illiteracy. If parents could raise children with the appropriate morals, ambitions, and abilities, the thinking goes, children could grow up to be responsible, healthy, and middle class. As Sociologist Val Gillies phrases it, this assumption results in "a stream of initiatives designed to regulate childrearing as part of an almost evangelical drive to equip working-class parents with the skills to raise middle-class children" (Gillies 2005, 838). I have tried to show in this dissertation how parenting education is integral to this overall drive. I base my writing on two years of ethnographic research on parenting education in Alameda County, California. I attended classes of three different parenting organizations and conducted in-depth interviews with class participants, teachers, and program directors. I also read hundreds of parenting magazines and books, and had countless conversations with other parents, looking for advice for raising my own three-year-old daughter.

  • Raising Children the American Way: Court-Mandated Parenting Education in Alameda, California

    Author:
    Nicole Laborde
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Shirley Lindenbaum
    Abstract:

    Based on ethnographic research in Alameda County, California, this dissertation examines the parenting practices and knowledge that are taught in court-mandated parenting classes along with those of parents enrolled in these classes. In California, two of the primary reasons that parents would be mandated to take classes are because of involvement with Child and Family Services (CFS) or in a custody dispute that reaches the courts. I argue that the different forms of knowledge and the practices advanced in the classes, at times consistent with, at times in conflict with those of the parents, reflect the demands and social responsibility of our current political and economic setting in the United States. The demands of a global market-driven economy require citizens who are self-disciplined, prepared to be flexible for the job market, schooled in the ways of a consumer society, and ready to accept responsibility for their own health and well-being ((Katz 2004), (Rose 1999), (Petersen and Lupton 1996)). I also suggest that this ideology rests on the authority of scientific and psychological research that is far from conclusive; it is the authority, rather than the information, that informs the values behind parenting advice. Further, I argue that the prevalent parenting approach, which is time-intensive and expensive, works to reinforce structural inequalities. Parents are the focus of much attention as the means to reverse many social problems including poverty, crime, ill health, and illiteracy. If parents could raise children with the appropriate morals, ambitions, and abilities, the thinking goes, children could grow up to be responsible, healthy, and middle class. As Sociologist Val Gillies phrases it, this assumption results in "a stream of initiatives designed to regulate childrearing as part of an almost evangelical drive to equip working-class parents with the skills to raise middle-class children" (Gillies 2005, 838). I have tried to show in this dissertation how parenting education is integral to this overall drive. I base my writing on two years of ethnographic research on parenting education in Alameda County, California. I attended classes of three different parenting organizations and conducted in-depth interviews with class participants, teachers, and program directors. I also read hundreds of parenting magazines and books, and had countless conversations with other parents, looking for advice for raising my own three-year-old daughter.

  • Analysis of the Carl Lumholtz Collection of Casas Grandes Ceramic Artifacts at The American Museum of Natural History

    Author:
    M Patricia Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    William Parry
    Abstract:

    Abstract Analysis of the Carl Lumholtz Collection of Casas Grandes Ceramic Artifacts at the American Museum of Natural History by M. Patricia Lee Adviser: Professor William Parry The Carl Lumholtz Collection of Casas Grandes ceramic artifacts at the American Museum of Natural History, with its complete and exact provenience, is the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Casas Grandes ceramics available to researchers in a United States or Canadian museum. This collection was excavated during Lumholtz's expedition of 1890-1891 to northern Chihuahua in Mexico. None of the museum collections outside of Mexico provide the data specificity of the Lumholtz Collection. The artifacts analyzed in my dissertation were excavated in Cave Valley and from under the floors of ruined pueblos in the vicinity of San Diego, 10 miles south of Paquimé (Casas Grandes). While many of the collections of looted artifacts in museums have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the past, these collections may present a distorted picture of Casas Grandes ceramics since they consist of vessels chosen for their "aesthetic appeal to collectors" (Kelley, et al. 2011:214). Forgeries pose another threat to the efficacy of museum research. The Mesoamerican versus North American origins argument for the fluorescence of the Casas Grandes Medio Period (1200-1450 A.D.) has been hotly debated for decades. Many scholars hold that the key to answering this question lies within the unique ceramic assemblages, since the design elements carry many stylized representations that can be correlated with Mesoamerican as well as Southwestern culture zones. Yet, theories centered on the ceramic assemblages are often based solely upon design elements present in United States and Canadian museum collections that have meager documentation. This study seeks to remedy that void. Chapter 1 sets the stage for the Casas Grandes Culture Zone while Chapters 2 and 3 elucidate early work in the region. Chapter 4 and 5 cover theoretical issues and Chapters 6 and 7 contain a comprehensive analysis of the Lumholtz Collection Casas Grandes ceramics. Chapter 8 offers my conclusions and a view toward future research. Appendix I through Appendix III provide visual references. The Lumholtz Collection of Casas Grandes ceramics at the American Museum of Natural History creates a unique opportunity to study an assemblage that is well documented and legally acquired by a U.S. museum.

  • STRATIFIED REPRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS OF CHILD NEGLECT: STATE PRACTICES AND PARENTS' RESPONSES

    Author:
    Tina Lee
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Leith Mullings
    Abstract:

    This dissertation focuses on the day-to-day decision-making practices and definitions of child neglect used in the child welfare system and on parents' experiences with child welfare cases and their attempts to regain custody of children placed in foster care. It is guided by an overarching concern with how and to what extent state practices build on and recreate inequalities of race, class, and gender. It also seeks to add to our understanding of state efforts to shape the lives and behaviors of poor women of color in the contemporary United States and of state change under neoliberalism. My purpose is to examine how child welfare decisions are made, to understand on what basis they are made, and to see how these decisions are related to and reproduce larger inequalities. I understand reproduction as "political" (in the sense of being inextricably bound up with power and inequalities of power; see Ginsburg & Rapp 1991) and employ the term "stratified reproduction" to discuss the conditions under which some categories of women are valued and supported in bearing and raising children while others are not (Ginsburg & Rapp 1995). Everyday practices in child welfare empower or disempower women (and men) to carry out their caretaking work through the legal processes that grant custody of children to some and not to others based on notions of what the proper care of children entails and what kinds of individuals proper parents should be. Child welfare is thus a key arena for drawing lines between "fit" and "unfit" parenting and these often fall along lines of race, class, and gender. Consequently, I see the child welfare system as integral to the production and reproduction of stratified reproduction. Drawing on observations in family court and at support groups for parents, interviews with child welfare decision-makers, and interviews with and a survey of parents with children in foster care, I argue that the child welfare system both builds on and directly reproduces relations of stratified reproduction as well as race, class, and gender inequality.

  • The Causes of Cholera: Public Health in Post-Transition Vietnam

    Author:
    Martha Lincoln
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Victoria Sanford
    Abstract:

    This dissertation argues that market transition in Vietnam, while enabling rapid economic growth, has generated new vulnerability to a classic disease of poverty. Using a series of recent cholera outbreaks as a case study, it argues that the transition has sharpened the contradiction between the promises of development and modernization and experiences of inequity and poverty. Fieldwork was conducted between August 2009 and September 2010 in Hanoi, Vietnam among poor and near-poor urban households as well as foreign and Vietnamese public health professionals. Additional source materials included news media, weblogs, state accounts of the outbreaks, and the reports of international health agencies. Interpretive readings of these texts demonstrated how diverse actors ascribed social, moral, and political significance to infectious disease and health care in Vietnamese society, and traced how Vietnam's economic transition has reshaped moral imaginaries of risk and responsibility. Ethnographic interviews with everyday citizens and public health workers also revealed anxieties about the contagious circuits of capitalism and the unpredictable, potentially destructive consequences of profit-motivated practices of petty traders. Such explanations of disease outbreaks gave voice to Vietnam's shifting ideological valuations of social class during a period of economic upheaval, rapid economic stratification, and massive rural-to-urban migration. However, as I argue, these perspectives, and the Vietnamese state's response to the cholera outbreaks, neglected the more likely risk factors: lack of capacity in urban water management, sanitation, and public health. These episodes reflect the costs of market transition for public health, especially among the urban poor. While some of the historic institutions of Vietnam's socialist health care system continue to provide security for vulnerable populations, the significance of socioeconomic inequity and health disparities is increasing. By drawing attention to public health, sanitary conditions, and living standards in the national capital, the cholera outbreaks threatened to disclose economic transition's association with deteriorating living standards and the advent of new forms of risk and precariousness. As a result, cholera's political "sensitivity" for the Vietnamese state posed significant obstacles to research. This dissertation represents the first substantive and critical account of these episodes.

  • ARTICULATING NAGA NATIONALISM

    Author:
    Abraham Lotha
    Year of Dissertation:
    2009
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    Donald Robotham
    Abstract:

    Nationalist movements by nations without states or ethnonationalism continue to be part of the political landscape in many parts of the world. Internal colonialism, state imperialism, and economic exploitation are cited as some possible causes for ethnonationalism. Examples of economic growth and granting of greater autonomy have not resolved these conflicts. So what is it that engenders, motivates and sustains these ethnonationalist movements? By analyzing a case of ethnonationalism, Naga nationalism, this thesis makes a two-tiered argument: first, the ultimate aim of ethnonational movements is for a greater political power for self-determination either for autonomy within states or sovereignty. Secondly, what gives credibility and motivation to these movements are the ethnic cores with deep historical roots that predate modern constructionist forces. Throughout more than six decades of the Indo-Naga conflict, the Nagas have insisted that they are not Indians and that Naga territory was never a part of India. Based upon such `colonial free' history and ideology, Nagas see themselves as defending their independence, and not asking for independence from India. It isn't as if the Nagas woke up one day and decided to band together and fight for Naga independence. There has been a progression from the initial defense of independent village-states, to an articulation for a pan-Naga cause through the formation of the Naga Club in 1918 leading to the eventual declaration of Naga independence on August 14, 1947, a day before Indian independence, to its articulation as a peoples' movement today. Modern exogenous factors such as British colonialism, Indian state building measures including armed repression and discriminatory extra-judicial laws, modernization, economic differences, and global indigenism have influenced the development of Naga nationalism. But Naga nationalism is ultimately centered on and motivated by a functioning `navel' - an ethnic core consisting of elements such as kinship, history, origin, myths, race, polity, language, territory, symbols, and religion which provide the foundations and cultural resources for their identity, a strong psychological bond and consciousness of their oneness as a people that find expression in nationalism as a credible struggle to define and protect the `Naga way of life.'