Senior Project Abstracts – 2011

The Major Economic and Political Impacts of German Reunification from 1990-1992
Jessica L. Cuy, Fall 2011

As cries of “We are one people” echoed throughout the streets of Berlin during the fall of 1989, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic embarked on an unprecedented process to unify their extremely differing political and economic institutions. East Germany suffered from significant economic malaise with its dilapidated infrastructure and inefficient business practices.  Some politicians hoped that German reunification would prompt rapid economic development in the eastern territories, akin to the growth experienced by West Germany following World War II. However, the initial optimism expressed early in the reunification process gave way to disappointment as reunification required immense financial investment and resulted in the collapse of the East German economy. This project aims to analyze the economic and political processes of German reunification and to elucidate the early ramifications of this unity.  By concentrating on the period from 1990 to 1992, this project focuses on the early stumbling blocks faced by German policymakers in their efforts to foster economic prosperity throughout Germany.

Double Major: Western European Studies / German
Project Advisor: Dr. Antoni Moskwa; Dr. Jacqueline Gehring; Language Advisor: Dr. Jochen Richter

Beyond Economics: Reevaluating the Success of West Germany’s Guest Worker Program
Sarah L. Davis, Fall 2011

West Germany’s guest worker program from 1961 – 1973 provided the German economy a substantial boost, helping Germans to achieve phenomenal growth. Thus, from a purely economic perspective, it is often considered a given that the guest workers were beneficial for Germany. However, this assertion needs to be qualified by other factors, such as social effects, humanitarian concerns, and the actual intentions of guest worker policies. Furthermore, West Germany’s position as a global actor in the context of the Cold War needs to be included in this evaluation, namely in regard to the guest worker program’s effects on the countries who sent workers as well as West Germany’s competition with East Germany. When these factors are accounted for, what results is a more nuanced view of the benefits that the guest workers accrued to West Germany.

Major Track: Western European Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Jackie Gehring, Language Advisor: Dr. Jochen Richter

Analyzing the Extent to which Pierre Laval was Responsible for the Collaboration with the Germans and the Repercussions of the Policies Implemented
Natalie A. DiNunzio, Fall 2011

It is my goal in this thesis to analyze and understand where the responsibility for the Collaboration was, and whether or not it was solely the fault of those in the Vichy Regime. More specifically I am looking at Pierre Laval and the importance he played in facilitating the collaboration and reforming France through a government under the power of another country. Ultimately Pierre Laval was tried for treason against France and found guilty. In order to define his guilt it is my goal to understand specifically what he was responsible for. After the Vichy Regime fell, the new government acted harshly against those who had been apart of the Vichy government, however they did not all meet the same fate as Pierre Laval did. Marshal Pétain for example was Head of the Vichy Government but ultimately in the end did not meet the same treatment that Pierre Laval did. So, I ask, what was Pierre Laval’s responsibility to France and did he truly betray his country and he was found guilty of?

Major Track: Western European Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Barry Shapiro; Language Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck

Language Reform is not a Dinner Party: The Evolution of Language, Literacy, and Identity in China
Amy M. Frake, Fall 2011

The Chinese language has been evolving since it was first developed. In the 18th century, however, under the onslaught of foreign encroachment in the China, reformers targeted language as one of the things keeping China backward. Instead of allowing the language to develop naturally, there was a period of artificial language development in the form of language reform. Various attempts at language reform occurred under the Qing Dynasty, the rule of the Guomindang in Republican China, and most recently under the Chinese Communist Party. These reforms fall into three categories. First, there were widespread attempts to create an alphabet to transcribe Chinese characters. Second, some characters were themselves simplified and their stroke order reduced. Third, a ‘common speech’ based on Beijing dialect was developed for the entire country. The purpose of this study is to examine the purposes of language reform and some of the effects it has had on the Chinese people. The main stated purpose of language reform was increased literacy, but it also had a great impact on Chinese identity. Throughout Chinese history, the ruling power has used language to control the population. The dynasties controlled access to language. The CCP granted widespread access to language, then used propaganda to control the population.

Double Major: Asian Studies / History
Project Advisor: Dr. Sharon Wesoky; Language Advisor: Dr. Xiaoling Shi

The Feminization of Poverty and Women’s Position in Algeria
Katie L. Austin, Spring 2011

The primary goal of this study is to obtain an understanding of the quality of women’s lives in Algeria. Different methods of analysis are employed to determine whether the quality of Algerian women’s lives has recently ameliorated or diminished, and why the observed trends have occurred.
The globally recognized theory of the feminization of poverty is initially utilized to ascertain whether or not the quality of women’s lives in Algeria has worsened in recent years. Economic indicators are proposed, explored and analyzed in an effort to measure Algerian women’s access to the modern sector, and to therefore determine whether or not the feminization of poverty is present. Although a conclusion is drawn regarding the feminization of poverty, the data yield mixed results, and it is determined that gender inequality persists in Algeria.
To further understand the nature of Algerian women’s lives and to clarify the mixed findings of the economic indicators, the position of Algerian women in society is explored through analysis of social and political conditions.
The findings of the study of Algerian women’s position in society help to explain the discrepancies presented by analysis of economic indicators. The juxtaposition of the two assessments reveals that both elements are integral to the comprehension of women’s lives in an Islamic society. Interpretation of the results of both methods of exploration indicates a clear trend in the quality of Algerian women’s lives. The current situation in Algeria is presented, and implications regarding women are suggested, in light of the findings of this study.

Major Track: Western European Studies
Project Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck; Language Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck

Germany’s Prostitution Policy: How Legalized Prostitution Effects the Country and its Fight Against the Sex Trafficking of Women
Jennifer C. Brooks, Spring 2011

The sex trafficking of women is a serious and universal human rights violation in the world today. A country’s prostitution policy can be quite influential in how prevalent sex trafficking is in that country, as well as affect its fight against the sex trafficking of women. In my project, I studied Germany’s prostitution policy. I researched to see how legalized prostitution has affected the country and how it has affected Germany’s fight against sex trafficking. I considered why Germany is a destination country for sex traffickers, where the majority of the women come from, and some ways in which international organizations attempt to fight sex trafficking. I looked at arguments in favor of legalized prostitution, including the argument that legalized prostitution would deter sex traffickers due to the increased regulation of a legal sex market. I then looked at argument against legalized prostitution, which included the argument that legalization would encourage sex trafficking because of the increased benefits, lower costs, and large revenues that sex traffickers gain in countries with legalized prostitution. After I analyzed both arguments and the statistics, I came to the conclusion that Germany’s legalized prostitution policy has created consequences that are negatively affecting the country, including the enhancement of the sex trafficking of women. My findings are specific only to Germany, but it forces one to consider other countries that have legalized prostitution policies. After arguing that Germany’s prostitution policy has been bad for the country, I present some ideas on ways in which Germany can improve their current fight against sex trafficking. I also produce some new ideas and models for Germany to consider, in the hope that one day they will change their prostitution policy to better fight sex trafficking. Only when the international community makes a concerted, universal effort to fight the sex trafficking of women, will the number of sex trafficking victims be greatly reduced.

Double Major: Western European Studies / German
Project Advisor: Dr. Jackie Gehring; Language Advisor: Dr. Jochen Richter

Understanding Race and Nation in Post-Dictatorial Haiti
David A. De Micheli, Spring 2011

The goal of this study is to explore what has become of “the color question” in Haiti’s contemporary period. Haiti’s long history of color-based social stratification served as the basis for political instability and chaos for centuries, and color difference was the basis of François Duvalier’s election to power in 1957. The fall of dictatorship in 1986, however, marked the country’s transition to a period focused on economic development and progress which politicized class instead of color difference. In this study, I therefore ask: how does the color question influence politics in Haiti’s post-dictatorial period? I answer this question by exploring the history of Haiti through the prism of race and color and identifying the ways in which color has been politicized. I focus on Haiti’s colonial and revolutionary periods, as well as its twentieth century politics and the rise of the Duvalier Dictatorship. I then consider the decline of color and the rise of class in political discourse since dictatorship. I argue that the (de)politicizations of class and color in Haiti depend on political elites’ strategic use of those divisions as a means of gaining political power, and that politicization does not accurately reflect social divisions. I then argue that the influence of the color question on politics can best be seen in questions of nationalism. The disconnect between ethnic and civic nationalism in Haiti demonstrates the divisiveness of Haitian politics and the fundamental nature of the color question as an obstacle to unity and progress in the country.

Double Major: Latin American Studies / French
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace; Language Advisor: Dr. Laura Reeck

Autonomy in the 21st Century: Colombia’s Indigenous and Spain’s Catalans Fight for Self-Rule
Derek McMahan, Spring 2011

Political autonomy grants regions the opportunity for self-rule and the right to govern themselves. This trend can be seen in Catalonia of Spain and the Cauca indigenous region of Colombia, where each country has fought for self-determination. Since each area has achieved their individual sense of autonomy through unique cultural, economic and political means, this essay is a comparative analysis of the two regions in the post World War II period. By investigating the process that both countries have used to garner a degree of autonomy, I intend to demonstrate the importance of culture as well as economic and political factors in the mobilization of the two regions. For instance, Catalonia distinguishes itself from the rest of Spain through its distinct language and culture. In comparison, indigenous Colombians focus on the importance of land, language and dress to set them apart from the rest of the country. In both cases, the economic and cultural factors were critical to group mobilization and achievement of some degree of autonomy. Political elites, economic factors and a cultural component led to both regions obtaining autonomy through new constitutions. Both the 1978 Spanish Constitution and the 1991 Colombian Constitution provide a legal basis for each region’s political autonomy. In general, since World War II, the Colombian Indigenous and the Spanish Catalans have framed their demands through “a cultural lens,” showing that culture, politics, and economics affect their perceptions of autonomy.

Double Major: Western European Studies / Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace; Language Advisor: Teresa Herrera