Senior Project Abstracts – 2009

Irreconcilable Differences?  The Origins of Contention Between Tibet and China
Elizabeth C. Benvin, 2009

The contention between Tibet and China that has existed for almost 100 years comes fundamental differences in the concepts of sovereignty and, more importantly, autonomy.  While Tibet embraces a more Western philosophy of these two theories, China embraces a Western philosophy of sovereignty, but not of autonomy.  While the Tibetans seek self-determination, the Chinese see this as a threat to national unity, which is of utmost importance, and should be protected even at the cost of individual freedoms.
These two concepts for both Tibetans and Chinese are products of their unique histories.  While Tibet felt that the Chinese had unexpectedly thrust colonialism upon them when the Communists entered in 1950, the Chinese felt that they have always had a historic claim to Tibet which was threatened with the British invasion of Tibet, and therefore had to be protected by force to save national unity of the “motherland.”  The theories are manifested in the policies of different leaders from 1950 to today, with the Dalai Lama, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Hu Jintao exhibiting the most important manifestations.
Recent events have only served to complicate the problem.  The Dalai Lama’s international campaign, with the reception of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2006 has embarrassed China and only caused them to enforce their policies in a harsher fashion.  The differences in thought continue to affect policies and incite riots and protests even today and appear to be setting a very grim stage with a pessimistic atmosphere that will only worsen when the 14th and current Dalai Lama eventually dies.

Major Track: Asian Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Sharon Wesoky; Language Advisor: Dr. Jing Wang

The Silent Spectator: How the United States Tacitly Approved Mexican State Repression from 1968-1974
Patrick M. Fogarty, 2009

From 1968 to 1974, Mexico used authoritarian repression in response to two distinct anti-government groups: one a student-organized movement and the other a guerrilla uprising. At the time, the United States had a thorough understanding of the repression taking place that at times abused and harmed innocent people and violated their constitutional rights. However, the United States failed to respond or intervene diplomatically to Mexico’s uses of repression. Standing by silently, the United States essentially condoned the methods used by the Mexican government to maintain control. The reasons for the lack of intervention lie in the importance of Mexican stability to U.S. foreign relations, U.S. contentment with Mexico’s ruling party based on political allegiances, and an unwritten agreement between the two nations during the Cold War. The student movement of 1968 took place in Mexico City starting in July and was put to a violent end on October 2nd in the “Tlatelolco Massacre”. The guerrilla movement, the Party of the Poor, was led by Lucio Cabañas in the state of Guerrero from 1968 to 1974. Finally, a cultural study is conducted in Spanish regarding two works which address the Tlatelolco Massacre: Rojo amanecer, a film by Jorge Fons, and La noche de Tlatelolco, an example testimonial literature compiled by Elena Poniatowska.

Double Major: Latin American Studies / Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace; Language Advisor: Dr. Wilfredo Hernández

Philippe Pétain’s Public Image and Persona and Their Aid in His Rise and Fall from Political Power in the Vichy Regime
Erin E. Geiser, 2009

Philippe Pétain was a major figure in the collaborationist Vichy Regime during World War II. He was the creator and head of state in the Vichy Regime from 1940 to 1942, and then became a figurehead during the Nazi Germany occupation of 1942 to 1944. The purpose of this study is to examine how Pétain’s public image, persona and popularity among the French post World War I convinced both himself and the French public that he was the true hero and savoir of France, which led to his rise in political power and eventual fall from power via his transformation into a figurehead during the occupation by Nazi Germany in World War II. This will be examined in three parts: the first will be an examination of Pétain’s life, highlighting aspects that are crucial in further understanding of the argument. The second will be an examination of the development of Pétain’s public persona, image, and popularity between the first and second World Wars and how this affected his self-image. The third is an examination of Pétain’s role in collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II, his transformation into a figurehead, and how his public persona, image, and popularity had a massive influence on this time period. The attention and admiration that Pétain received between the wars changed his self-image; he began to believe in the positive press published on him. This led to him believing that he was the perfect person to lead a collapsing France in 1940; but his popularity was used against him by both French politicians who tried to gain support and by the Nazis, who used his popularity to make him a figurehead.

Major Track: Western European Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Barry Shapiro; Language Advisor: Dr. Phillip Wolfe

“Qui Sème le Vent Récolte le Tempo”: An Examination of French Rap and Its Use in Banlieue Youth Movements
Brett A. Heidenreich, 2009

My senior project focuses on the French rap movement of the banlieue that occurred in the early 1980’s. This movement was a reaction to the problems of social inequality in post-colonial France; specifically concerning discrimination against the immigrants and their families who live in the banlieue, the projects on the outskirts of society. Like their location, many of the people who live in the banlieues felt like they were on the outside looking in, never able to fully integrate. In order to protest this social injustice, they looked to the the rap movement in America and adapted it to fit their circumstances. Rap became an outlet for expression for the youth in the banlieues who felt that they could not be heard from more conventional protests, peaceful or violent.
In this project I explore the history of rap as a social movement and why the banlieue youth sought this emerging medium expression of expression.  I then evaluate the different styles of Rap that developed within this movement; specifically Pop, Hardcore and Alternative. Each genre presents a different way to expressing varied opinions on societal inequalities and I interpret the social significance of some of lyrics to identify these different approaches. The three main artists that I discuss are: MC Solaar, Supreme NTM and Zebda. After introducing the rap movement, I present its evolution within French society. This movement began as a form of protest within the banlieues in the 1980’s; however, by the 1990’s record labels began looking for “undiscovered talent” in these projects and some forms of Rap went mainstream. In the end, I have found that the French Rap movement was generally ineffective as in helping with youth banlieue movements, and in some cases, may have made situations even worse.

Double Major: Western European Studies / French
Project / Language Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck

The Banlieues Erupt: The effect of governmental institutional racism and discrimination on the relationship between French police and banlieue youth from 1980 to present day
Kristin E. Isabelli, 2009

This project attempts to analyze the complicated and violent relationship between the police and banlieue youth in France over the last thirty five years. Violent riots erupted between the two groups in 1980 and have yet to cease. One of the objectives of this thesis was answer why these violent riots keep occurring and what role the government has played in instigating police brutality and racism. To begin, the French government has discriminated against immigrants, which stemmed from the Economic Crisis during the 1970s. In an attempt to explain the crisis to the french people, the government blamed post colonial North African immigrants for stealing jobs from French citizens which created high unemployment. Racist ideologies segregated immigrants from society setting the tone for confrontation. Another reason for the violence is that police brutality has been a frequent occurrence in the run down, segregated and poor french suburbs also known as the banlieues. The low income housing suburbs were created specifically for housing immigrants in the 1960s during France’s open door immigration policy. However today, these areas cut off banlieue youth from finding a place within French society. These youth are uneducated, unemployed, due to lack of opportunity,and are antagonized by the police daily. Because of the lack of opportunity and racism, these youth have become disenchanted with French society which has resulted in further disrespect and violence. Identity checks and profiling, encouraged by the government, also increase tensions between these groups. The youth detest identity checks which allow the police to stop them without reason. The question sessions in many cases, have been an opportunity to beat and harass these youths sometimes resulting in an accidental killing. These deaths have been the main reason for every riot, in the suburbs, in French history.
The police, a representation of the government, follow governmental policy and enforce laws. When the government creates conservative policy regarding citizenship, equal opportunity against immigrants and third generation disenchanted banlieue youths,it is the police’s job to enforce that policy. Consequently, the government has perpetuated the cycle of violence.
At the end of this project, it is obvious that the French government needs to admit that the overall French governmental institution is racist and address this issue. To find a solution, the government needs to diversify the police force and educate police officers about banlieue life and Maghrebi culture. This will promote better communication between the police and banlieue youth instead of the violent clashes that have happened in the past creating a stronger France for the future.

Double Major: Western European Studies / French
Project / Language Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck

The Pan-Mayan Movement in Guatemala: An Example of Social Movement Affected by Civil War
Kyrie A. Kowalik, 2009

The indigenous peoples in Guatemala comprise approximately 60% of the population.  For over four hundred years these peoples have experienced extreme oppression by the ladino race due to their inability to unite and stand up for their rights as a majority.  However, after the forty year civil war many changes began to occur allowing the Pan-Mayan movement to emerge.  The emergence of the movement was affected by the Catholic Church, international actors, education and most importantly the civil war.  These actors contributed to the development of political associational space, capacity and motive in Guatemala.  It can be argued that even though the civil war is not the sole reason for the emergence of the movement it strongly influenced the beginning of Mayan organization.  Even after the emergence the effects of the civil war and problems of disunity throughout Guatemala are still contributing to the continuing struggle for equality through the further development of the Pan-Mayan movement.  In general, this senior project will discuss, the historical oppression of the Mayan peoples, the emergence of the movement, the importance of literature to the development of the Mayan story, and how disunity and the civil war are still affecting the push for rights in Guatemala.

Double Major: Latin American Studies / Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace; Language Advisor: Dr. Wilfredo Hernández

Exporting Daughters, Importing Wives: A Comparative Case Study of Unbalanced Sex Ratios in China and India
Valerie A. Lewis, 2009

China has the largest population on earth and has experienced the most rapid economic growth ever recorded, but China today is also faced with the problem of a society of men. This project is a comparative case study between China and India and the causes for demographic sex imbalances, what this means, and why we should care. I analyze structural, traditional and cultural differences between India and China to try and pinpoint why each nation is experiencing uneven sex ratios within the population. Once traditional, cultural, and structural causes are identified I explain where the missing girls have gone throughout China’s history and how they have come up missing. My final chapter shows ways China can work around the current female deficit problems today and how they can take steps now to stop this from happening in the future.

Major Track: Asian Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Sharon Wesoky; Language Advisor: Professor Rei Wu

Cuban Tourism: When selling Sunsets, Sex, and the Rumba become Ideological Contradictions
Sonja S. Marziano, 2009

Cuban tourism poses an interesting challenge to the identity of the Cuban people when that identity has been influenced by the Revolution’s ideals for the last forty years. Three prominent tourism booms, in the 1920s, 1950s, and 1990s, have reconstructed Cuban identity. Tourism in the 1920s and the 1950s represent a pattern of corruption and U.S. hegemony, which Castro’s revolutionaries used to legitimize their platform. In 1959, when Fidel Castro came into power, tourism was prohibited and the Cuban economy again relied on sugar as its main means for revenues. Castro also established strong economic ties with the Soviet Union, which helped the economy prosper until 1989 when the demise of the Soviet bloc was detrimental to the Cuban economy.  In response, Cuba entered its Special Period, el período especial en tiempo de paz, and Castro used tourism as its new economic development strategy.   Therefore, when Castro accepts tourism as Cuba’s economic savior he contradicts the ideology on which his Revolution was founded. In contradicting his ideology, he also contradicts the Cuban identity. Tourism creates a situation in which the Cuban people are trapped in a tourist apartheid and must rely on jineterismo, either street hustling or sex work, in order to confront the social inequalities tourism creates. This paper will address the implications of tourism selling a less than authentic image of Cuba, while focusing on the contradictions in both ideology and identity.

Major Track: Latin American Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Kale Haywood; Language Advisor: Dr. Barbara Riess

The Transition from Agriculture to Tourism Industries in Cuba and Costa Rica and Projections of future Sustainability
Garret B. Piispanen, 2009

The economies of Costa Rica and Cuba have followed a very similar path. Large-scale agriculture and foreign influence dominated their earlier years. After struggling through countless decades of unsure agricultural success these countries realized their potential in the tourism sector. They slowly altered their economy in order to support a large-scale tourism industry. Their transition from agriculture to international tourism presented a challenge. Between dealing with overzealous international investors and interior political problems these nations faced insurmountable odds in creating a new economic sector. Once created this new industry quickly spiraled out of control as it began to control the country itself. This thesis examines the transition of the economies in these two countries in order to determine the sustainability of tourism in Costa Rica and Cuba. History has always had the ability to help project future events. In this case the economic history of the nations will help to determine whether a capitalist themed industry such as tourism will be able to flourish in a strictly controlled Cuba and in a nature-dependent Costa Rica.

Major Track: Latin American Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Donald Goldstein; Language Advisor: Dr. Barbara Riess

Behind the Scenes: The Roles of Repression and Violence in Franco’s Spain
Sarah J. Renda, 2009

The purpose of this project is to explore the nature of political and social repression in Spain during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco. In this project I use various political models to define Franco’s dictatorship in order to better identify the goals for his regime. I present a brief history of Spain to show the reader the extent to which the political turmoil had accumulated before the Civil War. I then discuss Franco’s ascension to power and why Franco used methods of political and social repression and then evaluate if his decision ultimately served his purposes.
I also investigate the role of violence during Franco’s regime and discuss why he chose to employ severe disciplinary methods in order to maintain control in his regime as well as promote his own ideology for Spain. I take an in depth look into the little-known about Labor Camps in Spain to further explain the hidden violence in the regime. For the Spanish portion of the project, I explore how repression affected the Women of Spain, regardless of their political inclination. With all of this in mind, I close the senior project by evaluating the long-term implications of repression on Spanish society after Franco’s death.

Double Major: Eastern Europe Studies / Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Kenneth Pinnow; Language Advisor: Dr. Teresa Herrera

The Fight for Bilingual Education in Ecuador: A Difficult Process Complicated by the Disagreements between the Government and the Confederación de nacionalidades indígenas del Ecuador
Lindsay Romigh, 2009

In Ecuador, a great inequality exists between native Spanish speakers and the indigenous population and the language barrier only adds to the challenges faced by indigenous people. Although many different languages are spoken throughout Ecuador, historically schools have only been taught in the country’s official language, Spanish. As a result, very few indigenous people finish high school and they are more likely to live in poverty. To fix this situation, the Ecuadorian government and the national indigenous movement the Confederación de nacionalidades indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) both tried to develop a system of bilingual education. Beginning in the middle of the twentieth century, these two groups used various methods to achieve that goal. These methods include implementing constitutional changes and applying to international organizations for assistance. However, although they were able to agree that bilingual education is necessary to make their country successful, they could not reach an agreement on how education should work or who should have control over the process. In 2000, the disputes caused a break between the government and the indigenous movement that ultimately held back the progress on social programs. In this paper, I examine the actions leading up to that break and discuss the consequences for bilingual education. Furthermore, I analyze the role that indigenous women have played in the process. I argue that although progress has been made for bilingual education, there is still much work to be done. As such, it is imperative that the government and CONAIE be able to cooperate for the good of the country.

Double Major: Latin American Studies / Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace; Language Advisor: Dr. Wilfredo Hernández