Senior Project Abstracts – 2017

Political Perceptions: How Germany Perceives Russian Aggression

Katarina D’Ercole, 2017

from the Introduction: Within the past 50 years, the international community, especially Europe has witnessed increasing Russian aggression.  This project aims to explain Russian aggression and its underlying motives from the German perspective.  Using qualitative methods of analysis, this work establishes three schools of thought which categorize German scholarly opinions, and operate on three different levels of analysis.  In order to explain each school, three corresponding models are developed, that generate implications for Germany, Europe and the United States of America.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisor: Howard Tamashiro 

Language Advisor: Peter Ensberg (German)

How China’s Family Planning Laws Reflect Attitudes Toward Congenital Disabilities

Alexis Dickman, 2017

The factors that contribute to any society’s view of disability are many in number and complex in nature. When encountering a society where negative attitudes towards people with disabilities are pervasive, it is necessary to identify and expound on the conditions that contribute to such attitudes in order to change the society’s narrative on disability. By all accounts, the Chinese perspective of disability is overwhelmingly negative. In light of this, I seek to explore evidence of cultural bias against people with disabilities in Chinese family planning legislation. I begin by describing the Chinese view of disability through the study of Chinese language, history, culture, and social welfare. I argue that the origins of China’s negative view of disability are found in these elements. I then explore how the eugenics movement in China compounded the effects of entrenched cultural bias towards people with disability. Lastly, I explore China’s One Child Policy and Maternal and Infant Health Care Law in depth to prove that China’s family planning laws reflect and reinforce negative attitudes towards disability.

Major track: East Asia

Project Advisor: Guo Wu (History)

Language Advisor: Xiaoling Shi (Chinese)

Aid effectiveness and its contribution in economic development in post-colonial countries: A case study of France and Senegal

Edson Hernandez, 2017

The implementation of the Marshall Plan in war-devastated Europe during the 1950s demonstrated to the public how effective foreign assistance could be.  If an entire region, who suffered arguably the same issues present in developing countries today, be rescued and thrusted into decades of progress, what is preventing foreign aid from doing the same in today’s developing world?  The relationship between aid and development has often been debated as being either “good” or “bad,” but either description fails to capture the multi-faceted complexity of their relationship.  In recent years, some have perceived foreign assistance as a form of neocolonialism; a way for former colonial powers to retain their influence in their former colonies.  In my project, I attempted to assess the effectiveness of French aid towards development in Senegal by analyzing current, available data from various financial institutions; as well as understanding France’s motivation for assistance.  Through my findings, I found that their historical tie plays a significant role in aid distribution and that quantifying aid effectiveness is not currently possible.  As a result, I conclude my project with a formula derived from my findings as a possible building block for devising a quantifiable index for aid effectiveness.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisor: Steve Onyeiwu

Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

What makes French Land French: A Historical Interpretation of Education and Language during the Annexation of Alsace-Lorraine from 1871-1919

Justin Litus, 2017

from the Introduction:  [F]rom the perspective of the French, this account will be a historical interpretation of education, language, and democracy, and their effect on linguistic and territorial nationalism during the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine from 1871-1919.

Major track: Europe

Project and Language Advisor: Phillip Wolfe (French)

Muslim Heritage Minorities within the French Educational System

Ricardo Llovet-Nava, 2017

This project explores the experience of Muslim Heritage minorities within the French Educational system.  Through researching the background of secular laws within the French Educational system and Ed-Christianization within France, I was able to find where the precedents were set for how the Majority of French believe religion can and should be expressed within the public sphere.  From there on I analyzed personal experiences that Muslim Heritage minority students had when dealing with either personal bias against them by school administrators or when they had to deal with secular laws specifically targeted at their heritage.  Included in this analysis was also the portrayal of Islam and Muslims within the French curriculum and textbooks which tended to portray their religion as a backwards one.  During this, along with other examples, I looked into how specific recommendations by the Stasi Report and certain zoning laws that created priority education zones (ZEPs and REPs) worked in practice.  Overall, I was looking for whether or not the French Educational System’s secular laws were doing what they were intended to do which was to create a completely equal and unbiased space of learning.  Analyzing how the secular laws and priority education zones affected Muslim Heritage students in practice showed that at best the laws were not helping the students and at worst certain laws such as the Veil Law recommended by the Stasi Report worked to significantly alienate Muslim Heritage minority students.  The majority of French have a significant fear of communitarianism and the current actions by the government have in large been reactive to upticks in that fear.  However, the government’s actions in the educational system raise questions as to whether they are creating communitarianism among Muslim Heritage minority students where it had not existed in the first place and alienating well integrated citizens.

Major track: Europe

Project and Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

De-Ba’athification, the Institutionalization of Sectarianism, and the Rise of Daesh in Iraq

Grant Marthinsen, 2017

This paper examines how the policies of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in post-invasion Iraq alienated Sunni Iraqis — in particular, de-Ba’athification, the disbanding of the Iraqi armed forces, and the institutionalization of sectarianism — and led to their further persecution at the hands of the Shi’a-dominated government which was made possible by the aforementioned institutionalization of sectarianism.   The Iraqi Sunni community, due to its fear of the Shi’a government and the visible military success of Daesh, became generally willing in the last few years to be governed by the vicious organization in exchange for protection from Baghdad and the various Shi’a militias which have terrorized them for years.  Much of Daesh’s recent success, however, has only been possible because of the infusion of new blood into its upper echelon of leadership, drawn almost entirely from former members of Saddam Hussein’s military and intelligence apparatuses; these men bring with them extensive experience in both military matters and coercive operations.  This prowess has allowed Daesh to conquer and control territory with largely Sunni populations in recent years.  Because of Coalition policies after the invasion, the sectarianism which was institutionalized in Iraq took hold of the hearts of much of the country’s population, which led to abuses that primed the Sunni community to accept the militarily effective iteration of the group as its protector.

Major track: Middle East/North Africa

Project Advisor: Younus Mirza

Language Advisor: Reem Hilal (Arabic)

From Conquest to Care: Ecology and Contemporary American Poetry

Kevin Orr, 2017

No abstract available.

Project Advisor: Sharon Wesoky (Political Science)

Convergence and Divergence: French and German Immigration Policy Since WWII

Amasa Smith, 2017

This research seeks to understand the connection between conceptions of citizenship, citizenship policy and immigration policy, as well as discover if there has been convergence in French and German immigration policies since the end of WWII.  The historically different French and German immigration models have stemmed from differing conceptions of citizenship.  France’s jus soli model of citizenship and expansive immigration regime has been praised by scholars and used as a model by other liberal democracies, while Germany’s jus sanguinis model has been criticized for its ethnocultural conception of citizenship and more restrictive immigration policies.  Previous research on the subject has noted convergence since 200; however, this project demonstrates that there have been similarities in the immigration policies of France and Germany since WWII.  This project analyzes three moments in immigration policy in France and Germany to evaluate whether there has been convergence or divergence in immigration policies since WWII.  The results show that there has generally been a trend toward restrictive immigration policies in both France and Germany, while the citizenship policies of the two countries have converged toward each other.

Major track: Europe

Project and Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

How the Systemic Use of Torture by the French led to the Independence of Algeria

Amelia A. Spitzer, 2017

France’s history has been a long and colorful process.  Since the beginning of the 16th century, France has infiltrated many countries around the world.  The desire of wanting to spread the French culture came at a cost.  Routinized violence and colonial oppression became one of the everyday occurrences throughout the French empires starting during their time in Indochina (1946-1954).  As the generals from the Battle of Dien Bien Phu moved on to their next task, Algeria became their next conquest.  This study looks into the memoirs of three generals, General Jacques Massu, General Paul Aussaresses, and General Marcel Bigeard.  Through these memoirs these men make an effort to justify the systematic use of torture by the French military during the Algerian War of Independence.  All three generals were put on trial for allegations of torturing victims, three of which are represented through their personal recount in this document, Henri Alleg, Djamila Boupacha, and Louisette Ighilahriz.  The memoirs represent the French governing rue [sic] in Algeria.  Through France’s systematic use of torture during the Algerian War of Independence, the native French population began to question its role in the Algerian state.

Major track: Europe

Project and Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

The Future of the Moroccan Women’s Rights Movement in the Wake of the 2004 Personal Status Code Reforms

Lisa Taapken, 2017

Morocco has gained international attention on the women’s rights front since the 2004 pro-women reforms of the Moroccan Personal Status Code, which governs issues of marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.  Moroccan secular feminists were instrumental in advocating for the the reforms and the Personal Status Code is considered their biggest achievement of the Moroccan women’s rights movement.  Using the Personal Status Code as a case study, this paper analyzes the real-life effects of the reforms in order to gain a better understanding of what the success of the reforms can tell us about the future of the women’s rights movement in Morocco.  This analysis will show that despite the fact that secular feminist groups in Morocco are often favored by international organizations, Islamic feminism is the key to the future of the women’s rights movement.

Major track: Middle East/North Africa

Project Advisor: Younus Mirza

Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

From Gut Microbiota to Macro-Level Influences: A Cross-Cultural Examination of the Statistically Reported Prevalence of Depression with an Acute, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of a Daily Multi-Species, Multi-Strain Probiotic Examining Depressive Symptoms in Young Adults

Lora Waybright, 2017

Current pharmaceutical methods, grounded in a biomedical, monoamine-based hypothesis of depression, fail to account for the host of multifactorial influences which affect the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD), including stigma, access to mental health care, and other cultural influences, or incorporate models such as the hygiene hypothesis and the inflammatory model of depression into treatment approaches. However, recent research on the influence of gut microbiota on the enteric nervous system has found that specific strains of bacteria may have beneficial effects on the “gut-brain connection” in psychiatric disorders such as major depressive disorder (MDD). This study examined the effects of a multi-species, multi-strain probiotic in a randomized controlled trial of 100 participants on symptoms of depression as measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) while accounting for a number of other variables, such as mode of birth, exposure to animals, and a rural or urban upbringing. Probiotic intervention was not found to have any significant effects on symptoms of depression, and correlations between hygiene hypothesis variables were also not significant predictors of CES-D scores at initial testing. These findings indicate a need for more research to rigorously examine the influence of probiotics on mood, specifically the effects of specific strains of bacteria or varying lengths of probiotic interventions to further investigate the reasons for these non-significant findings, as well the development of a new approach to the treatment of depression that incorporates a broader array of factors, including a cultural perspective.

Major Track: Latin America

Project Advisors: Sarah Conklin (Neuroscience), Laura Reeck (International Studies)