Shaping a Nation: Middle Class Mobilization in Caracas

Neighborhood associations in east Caracas have been pivotal in organizing the large demonstrations, an average of five per week, that have characterized public protest against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez during the last year. Laura’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in anthropology, will examine how two middle class neighborhoods in east Caracas exercise power against Chavez’s administration, and how this exercise of power affects other sectors of society. Through participant observation, in-depth and key informant interviews in two east Caracas neighborhoods (Chacao and California Norte) that are specifically active in the movement, Laura will explore how neighbors organize and mobilize in the city: how and where people meet, what kind of rhetoric they use, and why they mobilize. This study will help to understand the socio-political implications of movements led by the middle class.

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Social Science

Secret Trials and Deportations

Faisal will examine the changes made to Immigration and Naturalization Service statutes following September 11, 2001, focusing on the ways these changes targeted Pakistani immigrants, who were often detained for months and then were summarily deported. His project hopes to shed light upon the legalistic basis for this treatment of Pakistani immigrants, and its effects upon them. In order to assess the extent of the changes to INS policies — when, why, and how they took place — Faisal will first be working closely with the Migration Policy Institute at NYU Law School, and with the American Civil Liberties Union. He will then travel to Pakistan to interview Pakistani immigrants who were deported following the changes to INS codes, in order to determine their treatment and explore their understandings of why they were deported. His research will be presented as his senior honors thesis in history.

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Social Science

The Association Between Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Self-Perception, and Worldview -- and its Social Ramifications

The vast majority of research associated with combat-related trauma and PTSD is conducted employing psychoanalytical and psychosocial models utilizing quantitative methodology that focuses primarily on the individual. Comparatively, little is known about the social impact of an illness that afflicts a great number of combat veterans and affects the lives of many others. Malcolm hopes to address this deficiency by: exploring it from a sociological perspective which will expand the scope of inquiry beyond the individual to society at-large; applying qualitative methodology which will uncover nuances that are missed by quantitative methods; and gathering data via semi-structured interviews, a method that better lends itself to the depth and sensitivity necessary to elicit meaningful information. From his efforts, Malcolm hopes to provide answers regarding the potential correlation between PTSD, self-perception, and worldview and its broader social implications and to create a quality research study for his senior honors thesis in Sociology.

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Social Science

Exploring Rural Gay Identities and Communities

The aim of Greg’s project, which will constitute his senior honors thesis in sociology, is to create a greater understanding of how gay identities and communities are formed in rural areas. Urban areas have formed not only the backing but also the major theoretical causal concept in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) theory. Rural gay culture and communities have remained unexamined and under theorized. Greg will be doing fieldwork in an area of the Northwest, where a rural community of gays and lesbians has developed. The area he will study has no gay bars, gay ghettos or any of the other institutions that normally foster the development of a gay community. Greg will attend annual community events and interviews will be conducted with members of the gay community, including ranchers, farmers, cowboys and truck drivers as well as local people who work in other occupations.

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Social Science

Effects of Unconditional Self-Construal on Vigilance and Performance: the Role of 'Positive Glow'

Tim’s study, which will become his senior honors thesis in Psychology, will test the hypothesis that being in a state of positive glow as a result of unconditional self-construal will lead to a decrease in vigilance, hindering performance, and in turn, causing a person to be more susceptible to negative feelings following a subsequent failure. Much research has focused on positive aspects of experiencing positive glow, which is a state in which a persons happiness, confidence, and internal positivity are maximized. One psychological mechanism that contributes to this positive glow is the way in which people construe self-relevant events. The construal of self-relevant events in global, unconditional terms (e.g. I am a great student), has been shown to result in greater shifts in affect (both positive and negative depending on the situation) than construing events in more circumscribed, contextualized terms (e.g. I am great when I study hard).

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Social Science

Sex Worker Identity, Citizenship, and Health in Brazil

Tara will undertake ethnographic research in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where sex workers earn their livelihoods in extreme economic and social marginalization. They face health problems such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Although their work is decriminalized, they struggle with police brutality and have little legal redress against human rights violations. In response, non-governmental organizations offer professional development predicated on an ideology of community development. Using the term profissional de sexo, outreach workers are attempting to disable stereotypes and social stigmatization and empower the citizenship of sex workers. Tara’s project, which will constitute her senior honors thesis in anthropology, will explore the dynamic whereby sex workers and non-governmental organization health outreach workers are engaged in a process to transform social and self-identities. Tara will evaluate and interpret the relationships between sex workers and PIM outreach workers through ethnographic writing that privileges thick description and local narratives.

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Social Science