Alumni Dissertations

 

Alumni Dissertations

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  • For Love and for Justice: Narratives of Lesbian Activism

    Author:
    Kelly Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2014
    Program:
    History
    Advisor:
    Blanche Cook
    Abstract:

    This dissertation explores the role of lesbians in the U.S. second wave feminist movement, arguing that the history of women's liberation is more diverse, more intersectional, and more radical than previously documented. The body of this work is five oral histories conducted with lifelong activists and public intellectuals for the Voices of Feminism project at the Sophia Smith Collection: Katherine Acey, former Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Dorothy Allison, author and sex radical; Suzanne Pharr, southern anti-racist organizer and author; Achebe Powell, activist and diversity trainer; and Carmen Vázquez, LGBT activist and founding director of the San Francisco Women's Building. Taken together, their stories dovetail into a new narrative about the relationship between lesbians, feminism, and queer liberation, from the late 60's to the present. In addition to the edited transcripts, this dissertation includes a new chronology of gender and sexual liberation, demonstrating the interconnectedness of late 20th century social change movements, and a chapter on oral history methodology. This work adds to our collective knowledge about lesbian lives by sharing five important life narratives, contributes to a re-imagination of the vast and intersectional scope of second wave feminism and sexual liberation, and attempts to disrupt conventional methods of documenting and sharing history by privileging oral narratives.

  • The Problem of Malawi in Western Discourse: Power, Patronage, and the Politics of Pity

    Author:
    Norma Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Barbara Katz Rothman
    Abstract:

    While recent sociological work on African social problems tends to focus on particular areas such as HIV/AIDS, this dissertation considers relationships and links between diverse social issues to argue that western-defined African social problems are not only disconnected from what Africans themselves see as their major needs but are also rooted in an historical pattern of power and inequality. Using Malawi as a case study I compare discourse about four diverse social problems--slavery, HIV/AIDS, climate change, and homosexuality. I demonstrate how these vastly different issues are related: each is framed and funded by foreigners and each is depoliticized, often blaming Africans themselves for various negative outcomes of global inequality. But despite the blame, these social problems are presented to the western public through a frame of pity that underscores the need for immediate western intervention. Since the mid-1800s Malawi has experienced numerous and distinct cycles of western "help," interest, and involvement but each individual issue revolves around a central troublesome notion--that Malawi and Malawians are flawed and in need of western guidance and assistance to (re)achieve a more ideal state. In this way, even the most "well-meaning" attempts to address legitimate health and social problems further long-standing stereotypes of African helplessness and western superiority. Engaging theories of stratification, development, and realist constructionism, and relying on interviews, ethnography, and survey data, I interweave historical and contemporary western discourse about Malawi to analyze shifting and competing conceptions of what is wrong with the country as well as how these understandings have influenced western interventions. By contrasting western understandings and images of Malawi with Malawians' views of the same problems, this dissertation not only builds on stratification and development theories but also investigates practical reasons why western policy interventions have so often failed to create sustainable change.

  • West Side Stories: Everyday Life and the social space of West Forty-Sixth Street

    Author:
    Christian Anderson
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Earth & Environmental Sciences
    Advisor:
    Cindi Katz
    Abstract:

    This is an ethnographic study of macro-structural change from the vantage point of everyday life on a few blocks of a single street in the Hell's Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood of New York City. The study tells stories from daily life on several blocks of West Forty-Sixth Street between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River as documented over three years of close observation. These stories show how the actions of some residents serve to lubricate outcomes like privatization, rising housing costs, discriminatory policing, displacement, and eviction. These outcomes then negatively affect others who have less power--particularly undocumented migrants, the elderly, the poor, and people of color. This finding is complicated by the fact that people here are not acting malevolently, but more often than not out of well-intentioned common sense ideas about community, quality of life, and progress. What this means, I contend, is that processes like gentrification, neoliberalization, and inequitable urban development are not simply imposed from outside by macro forces such as real estate capital or top-down urban policy. I argue that these processes are also deeply contingent on everyday life--on the daily actions, ideas, and subjectivities of ordinary people in places such as West Forty-Sixth--which act as a kind of social infrastructure. This situation presents a mash-up of spatial, political, and structural questions about hegemony and power that span the intimate and the global in scope while complicating existing understandings of urban space and everyday life.

  • "Double Consciousness" and "Dual-Voice": Ambivalence and Free Indirect Style in Novels and Films

    Author:
    Leah Anderst
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Andre Aciman
    Abstract:

    This project compares and analyzes five novels and three films: Jane Austen's Emma, Gustave Flaubert's Sentimental Education and Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl, Alain Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment and Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's. This dissertation describes a link between the uses of free indirect style, a "dual-voiced" narrative mode that combines two distinct perspectives into one instance of discourse: that of a narrator and that of a character, and psychological ambivalence, the back and forth wavering of a fictional character. This dissertation focuses on novels and narrative fiction films that center on one character, and it shows the ways in which these works call attention to a character's ambivalence and hesitations while relying on free indirect style, a formally ambivalent narrative mode, to expose and, at times, to create ambivalence in the mind of the reader or viewer. As an interdisciplinary project, this dissertation locates free indirect style in prose and cinematic narration, and it also explores the implications of analyzing a traditionally linguistic and literary mode within cinema.

  • Economic Episodes: Crisis and the Affective Politics of Everyday Life

    Author:
    John Andrews
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Sociology
    Advisor:
    Patricia Clough
    Abstract:

    This dissertation advances critical scholarship around the performative character of "the economy" in the wake of neoliberalism. I argue that public moods - what Paolo Virno calls the emotional situation - have become fundamental to how "the economy" is understood and represented by economists, politicians, pundits, and everyday people alike. Moreover, the emotional situation affects how the economy is experienced - both psychically and culturally. I examine four economic moments in the last 40 years - stagflation, Reaganomics, dotcom bubbles, and most recently mass home foreclosures - alongside the respective moods attendant to them - depression, burn-out, euphoria, and rage. A goal of my dissertation is to demonstrate how depression, burn-out, euphoria, and rage shape understandings and ideologies of what is economic or non-economic at different points in history since the 1970s. I argue that the barring of feelings and mood from the strictly economic has become a key mode of governance in the United States, even as "the economy" increasingly becomes the object of public concern and attention. Thus my dissertation takes to task how "the economy" functions as a kind of genre with reverberations in policy-making, mental disorders, social protest, to name a few.

  • A SPIRIT OF THE EARTH: VITALISM IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY LITERATURE

    Author:
    Anastassiya Andrianova
    Year of Dissertation:
    2011
    Program:
    Comparative Literature
    Advisor:
    Felicia Bonaparte
    Abstract:

    A Spirit of the Earth: Vitalism in Nineteenth-Century Literature studies a movement that began in reaction to Mechanism, the view that all natural phenomena, including life, could be explained by observable physical causes. Due to its emphasis on material causation, Mechanism is interchangeable with empiricism, which holds that knowledge is based on experience and regular observation, and, by extension, with the Positivist application of the scientific method outside the natural world. Unlike the Mechanists, Vitalist scientists insisted that there was more to life than physico-chemical processes; life demanded a special cause: what Henri Bergson called the élan vital and Bernard Shaw--"the Life Force." What started in science acquired much broader philosophical ramifications. Vitalism became the sole source of hope for writers, philosophers, and artists committed to deeper questions of being who found it morally objectionable to turn to empiricism and mechanistic science for answers. Mechanism was objectionable on several counts. It emphasized the external over the internal, and framed our connection to the world as that of a subject observing a dead nature. Second, it denied human and artistic freedom, reducing agency to reflex action. Third, it denied existence any higher purpose: Charles Darwin, in Samuel Butler's famous accusation, banished Mind from the universe and replaced it with random selection, thereby raising ethical and existential questions. The nineteenth-century authors examined in this dissertation (George Meredith, Leo Tolstoy, Butler, and Shaw) did not reject science altogether and were drawn to contemporary evolutionary theories; seeing nature as a living being, they reinvented science and gave evolution a purpose, claiming that we could reconnect with nature through instinct, not reason, and becoming part of this organism, come to know it as well as ourselves. As a philosophy, Vitalism allowed them to expose everything unnatural: from abstract theories to outdated social institutions; as an aesthetic, it gave them an imagistic language to embody what Walter Pater called the "spirit of the Earth" in women, children, and child-like individuals. Each chapter reflects a separate area of Vitalist critique: the philosophy of science; poetry; the spiritual quest; Victorian education; and social evolution.

  • DISSOCIATION AND POTENTIAL SPACE ON THE RORSCHACH AS PREDICTORS OF CONCURRENT PTSD AND SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE TREATMENT OUTCOMES

    Author:
    Stephen Anen
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Psychology
    Advisor:
    Denise Hien
    Abstract:

    Both posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD) are ongoing public health crises. Dissociative experiences are considered core processes within both of these conditions (van der Kolk & van der Hart, 1989; Briere & Runtz, 1987; Schafer et al., 2010). Dissociation, which involves the compartmentalization of psychic experience, also exerts a significant influence over psychotherapies that aim to address both PTSD and SUD (Davidson & Foa, 1991; Spitzer, Barnow, Freyberger, & Grabe, 2007). However, dissociation is a wide concept that encompasses several perceptual, cognitive, affective, memory, and self-state processes (Bernstein & Putnam, 1986; Briere, Weathers, & Runtz, 2005). Through separate self-reports and projective measures that operationalize dissociation in distinct ways, this study investigated the quality and intensity of dissociative experiences in a sample of treatment-seeking individuals with comorbid PTSD and SUD. Additionally, this dissertation explored whether these measures of dissociation had significant relationships with treatment outcome. Results: Cross-sectional correlation analysis identified convergence between certain measures of dissociation, but not others. Within hierarchical regression analysis, specific subscales of dissociation demonstrated discrepant relationships with response-to-treatment variables. Altogether, this study further evidenced the multidimensional nature of dissociative processes and, subsequently, the value of multi-method assessment. In addition, separate types of dissociation appeared to differentially influence treatment, indicating a pathway through which to improve customization of treatment planning.

  • Model Favela: Youth and Second Nature in Rio de Janeiro

    Author:
    Alessandro Angelini
    Year of Dissertation:
    2013
    Program:
    Anthropology
    Advisor:
    David Harvey
    Abstract:

    This ethnographic study of the conflicting social lives of representations of the city centers around the creators of a 4,000-square-foot three-dimensional mockup of Rio constructed with painted bricks, mortar, and detritus. For over fifteen years, teenage boys have enacted a role-playing game within this miniature urban world known as Morrinho, or "Little Hill," on the forested edge of their hillside squatter settlement, or favela. By manipulating and ventriloquizing thousands of inch-tall figurines representing residents, drug lords, police, DJs, politicians, prostitutes--a panoply of social figures--they produce a subversive and ludic perspective on urban reality. The game occupies the same physical ground as competing models: since Morrinho's inception, Rio's elite military police battalion have used the community that gave rise to Morrinho as a "live" training ground, and the municipal urban development agencies have implemented a patchwork of engineering projects and social programs aimed at incorporating this favela into formal property markets. These state initiatives hinge on rendering space and people legible to modes of rule through the use of maps, statistics, and tactical knowledge. Amid these changes in infrastructure and security, Morrinho has become valorized as an alternative form of knowing the city. Its creators have traveled internationally as artists, building replicas of their model in collaboration with youth in new urban contexts. Participants define Morrinho as a space of autonomous reflection on the city, and the mimetic relationship of their form of play to systems of power and the production of space does not reproduce these processes as a copy, but rather stages it on its own terms. This dissertation thus argues that maps, models, and narratives do not simply describe an external reality but actively participate in remaking the spaces of the city.

  • POLITICAL INTEGRATION OF TURKS IN THE U.S. AND THE NETHERLANDS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE ROLE OF TURKISH IMMIGRANT ORGANIZATIONS

    Author:
    Isil Anil
    Year of Dissertation:
    2010
    Program:
    Political Science
    Advisor:
    John Mollenkopf
    Abstract:

    This study provides a comparative analysis of political integration by Turkish immigrant organizations in metropolitan New York and Amsterdam. It is based on extensive fieldwork and numerous interviews in the two cities. Over the years, Turks have created a large and diverse network of organizations in both cities, the development of which was shaped by the changing political opportunity structures (POS) in their host countries as well as by political and institutional networks retained with Turkey. Using a political claims analysis method, this study finds that Turkish organizations in Amsterdam have been more politically active over the years than those in New York. Turkish organizations in Amsterdam have made claims on a wider variety of issues and undertaken more diversified types of activities than those in New York. This pattern results from a combination of factors. Differing POS, which include the legal and political institutional frameworks of the host country, alone are not sufficient to explain the different outcomes. This approach is too structurally determinant an argument. In contrast to prevailing approaches in the literature, a satisfactory analysis must also take into account the repertoire of actions developed by the Turkish communities of these two cities as well as choices made by their leadership. The number, mobilization capacity, organizational principles, mission, connectedness, and functional types of immigrant organizations are all as important as the opportunities made available - or foreclosed - by the local political setting. Lastly, this study argues that transnational ties with the homeland have served as crucial resources (political, material), have motivated political activism, and have enhanced connectedness between Turkish groups in both cities. It finds that Turkish organizations can and should be considered important actors in the political arena, advocating immigrants' interests and at times influencing public policy.

  • Gold and Zinc Oxide Nanoparticle Coated Peptide Nanotubes Fabrication and Their Electrical Transport Properties Study

    Author:
    Luona Anjia
    Year of Dissertation:
    2012
    Program:
    Chemistry
    Advisor:
    Hiroshi Matsui
    Abstract:

    There is a growing interest in attempts in using biomolecular as the 1D nanotube templates to grow inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) in controlled morphology and structure. One of the research motivations for this combination is to take advantage of the catalytic activity for the room-temperature material growth and the ability of self-assembly into controlled structures on a large scale. One approach to fabricate such nanotube is by using a glycine-based peptide nanotube as template, and on template sidewall immobilizing biomineralizing peptide, which can selectively bind to the target metal/semiconductor precursor and mediate the formation of the inorganic material on templates incorporating these peptides. By optimizing the experiment conditions, we successfully fabricated high yield of nanotubes with full coverage of high-density monodispersed Au and ZnO NPs coating. Using drop casting technique, we built electronic device with these nanotubes and found very interesting electrical transport properties: the temperature-dependent current-voltage characteristic of Au NPs nanotube; and the negative differential resistance property (current decreases with increasing bias voltage) of ZnO NPs coated nanotube. These results are of great impact on the future development of bio-nanoelectronic devices. Besides, a new biomimetic approach for one-pod synthesis of ZnO nanotube at neutral pH and room temperature is introduced; by self-assembling peptides which possess the catalytic mineralization function for the specific oxide metal, ZnO nanotube can be grown as the peptides are simultaneously assembled into a rod structure and template ZnO growth in gels formed by the peptides and Zn precursors. Traditionally, biomineralizing peptides are coated on 1D templates and then grow ZnO at room temperature, however this new method allows one to grow ZnO nanotubes in one step without using 1D templates since the Zn-mineralizing peptide itself can be assembled into the 1D structure.