Senior Project Abstracts – 2019


Public Opinion in the case of Syrian Refugees: A Comparative Case Study of Germany and France

Thea Gamboa, 2019

The Syrian Refugee Crisis affected Europe in a big way in 2015. Many Syrians were trying to go from Turkey into Europe in order to have a better life. This paper tries to unveil why Germany welcomed more Syrian refugees in than France did. It tries to answer the question; What role did public opinion play in France and Germany’s policy to take in Syrian Refugees? I do this by primarily looking at public opinion and how it can affect a country. I also look at the different governments in Germany and France and how they responded to this crisis. Germany and France were also a different stages at the time of the refugee crisis, therefore they were capable of doing different things. France was going through an election, whereas Germany seemed to be going through a prosperous time. This paper also looks at the rise of far-right sentiments in relation with immigration and why this occurs and how it affects policy. These sentiments occurred in both France and Germany at the time. Integration and security were also major components to public opinion. In Germany, it was important that immigrants integrated into society. In France, there was a lot of fear for security because of terrorist attacks that had happened in 2015.

Major track: Europe

Additional major: French

Project Advisor: Shanna Kirschner

Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

“No Me Gustan Los Moros”: Racism and Xenophobia in Spain

Camila Gomez, 2019

This research seeks to understand the complexity and urgency of racist and xenophobic sentiment in Spain, which is unlike elsewhere in Europe. By interrogating its origins, assessing its evolution, and articulating the potential consequences of its proliferation, this research reveals how Spain conceptualizes race and migration in particular ways and has reacted to global political events, such as the Syrian refugee crisis, in particular ways. This investigation is carried out, in part, through the research and advocacy of SOS Racismo, anti-racist non-profit organization. Spanish history and political circumstances have made it an exceptional case for studying these issues, while its geographical positioning on the European Union’s external border with Africa emphasizes the direct relationship between Spain’s political climate and the well-being of the continent. Where Spain is unexceptional, however, is in the political realm; we are witnessing the rise of ultra-right, xenophobic, nationalist parties across the EU, not only Spain, which threaten the very integrity of the Union. As political instability mounts, and the stakes continue to grow, this research seeks to determine what insight can be gleaned from the Spanish example, and, by according racism and xenophobia the attention they deserve, safeguard the future of Spain and the EU.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisor: Brian Miller

Language Advisor: Teresa Herrera (Spanish)

Lost in Translation: The Global, National, Institutional, and Individual Barriers Limiting Participation in the Erasmus Program

Abigail Johnson, 2019

The European Union’s (EU) Erasmus Program is one of the most successful study abroad initiatives in higher education, aiding nearly four million students to spend part of their tertiary studies in another European university over the course of 31 years. Nevertheless, despite strong support from politicians and participants, the program has never reached its initial goal of a 10% participation rate among European students. This project analyzes three “levels” of potential hindrances on Erasmus in order to discover why this participation rate has never been achieved: the macro level examines the sway of global trends in higher education and the central role of the EU; the “meso,” or middle level, explores the impact of national governments, Erasmus+ national agencies, and universities; the micro level investigates the influence of individual factors such as finances, education level, and personal demographics. The results of these three analyses demonstrate that the Erasmus program is encumbered by ideological struggles, extensive decentralization, and a lack of financial and administrative support for its participants among others. Furthermore, Erasmus appears to be getting lost within the expanding scope of the EU’s education initiatives despite the powerful impact of academic exchanges and the historical influence of the program.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisor: Laura Reeck

Language Advisor: Laura Reeck (French)

Conjugal Rape in Modern French Society

Aurora D. Lynd, 2019

Per the most recent analysis conducted by the European Women’s Lobby, approximately 168,000 women in France were victims of marital rape between the years 2010-11.  Despite these figures, spousal rape in France remains a very controversial and stigmatized topic, the legal acknowledgment for which was not formally pronounced until 1990, with the idea of consent not appearing in legal texts until 2010.  Even after rape between spouses was legally acknowledged to be possible, sentencing for rapists in marital rape trials remained considerably lighter than sentencing for perpetrators of other crimes, such as theft and forgery.  This project seeks to gain a more thorough understanding of the discourse surrounding conjugal rape in French society by analyzing media coverage of two of the most widely recognized marital rape trials in France: Samia Jaber vs Fred Caseneuil and 3 ex-spouses vs Luis D.  Ultimately, this cultural analysis demonstrates how the narrative woven by the media differs from the actual legal proceedings of these cases, and illustrates the effect that these differences have on public perceptions of conjugal rape.  Fundamentally, this project attributes the controversy surrounding conjugal rape to traditional views of marriage (i.e., le devoir conjugal ), varying perceptions of rape victims, and the media’s tendency to focus more on the idea of marriage that the issue of rape.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisors:  Alyssa Ribeiro, Sharon Wesoky

Language Advisor: Briana Lewis (French)

Protest Culture in France: A Legacy and a Heritage

Laura McClain, 2019

This paper looks at the relationships between the images of revolution and protest in French history and their relevance and influence upon the current protest culture in France.  Starting in the French Revolution of 1789, certain images and symbols gained cultural significance.  They continue to be used by protesters even today.  The first chapter takes a close look at how some of these images and symbols play into the protest culture that currently exists in French society.  It looks at series of events that lead to the creation of an almost mythological perception of history.  This mythology idealizes the sometimes violent and deadly events and focuses on the sense of hope that comes from people working together for a common cause.  The second chapter delves deeper into the events of May 1st, 1968 and the protest that wracked the nation.  This instance in history holds its own cultural significance, yet it still draws on the historical culture of protest.  The third and final chapter analyzes a few examples of modern protests.  The most recent protest still contain elements of the mythological images and symbols of revolution, thereby continuing the legacy of protest culture in France.

Major track: Europe

Project Advisor:  Ken Pinnow 

Language Advisor: Briana Lewis (French)

Impedida por “La Raza Chilena”: La integración de los inmigrantes andinos en Chile (1990-2019)

Emily Smith, 2019

This project examines the unprecedented increase of immigration to Chile over the past five years, specifically from Latin American and Caribbean countries. Through providing historical context, the transformation that Chile has undergone in order to become a migrant receiving country is explained. By studying two of the most predominant immigrant groups in the country: Colombians and Peruvians, common attributes, stereotypes and difficulties of integration are revealed. This project distinguishes the three most influential factors of integration in Chile: immigrant attributes, institutions, and society. The goal of this project is to understand Chile’s new role in the context of immigration, and to suggest that the national myth of identity is a hindrance to the integration of immigrants, due to the discrimination that it provokes. I conclude in this project that Chilean society has the most significant impact on immigrant integration, as it influences an immigrant’s ability to successfully utilize social services, form personal connections, and feel a sense of belonging in the country. In order for the situation to improve, institutions must provide the necessary foundations for immigrants to be successful. At the same time, the education system needs to be reformed to promote the value of multiculturalism, which will consequently allow Chilean society to embrace its new identity as a migrant-receiving nation.

Major track: Latin America

Project Advisor:  Shannan Mattiace 

Language Advisor: Wilfredo Hernández (Spanish)