Senior Project Abstracts – Class of 2013

Projects in German

What causes Genocide? A Comparison of Benjamin Valentino’s and Matthew Krain’s theories of Genocide Onset in the German and Guatemalan cases.
Leigh Charland
Major(s): International Studies/German
Project Advisor: Prof. Peter Ensberg
Genocides have occurred far too frequently in the last century. In this comprehensive project, I attempt to discover what causes the onset of genocides. Benjamin Valentino argues that elites use genocide as a tool to solve their most difficult problems. Matthew Krain argues that circumstances can create the right conditions for genocide. I chose to test and compare these theories in the German and Guatemalan cases, while paying attention to specific and unique historical events that may demonstrate weaknesses in the theoretical approaches. I found that Krain explained the German Holocaust better than Valentino did. However, I felt that Krain’s approach did not completely capture the reasons why genocide occurred in Germany and that Valentino’s explanation was better for why the Guatemalan genocide occurred. Overall, it seemed that both theories were an imperfect fit. Instead, I would recommend an approach that advocates for a set of variables, as genocide does not seem to be explained by only one or two variables.

Die Stasi: Ihre Rolle im Überwachungsstaat der DDR und ihre Darstellung im Film Das Leben der Andern.
Kevin Edwards
Major(s): German
Project Advisor: Prof. Jochen Richter
The 40 years of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) are branded in the memories of many Germans. The peculiar, omnipresent surveillance of the GDR and its citizens by the Ministry of State Security (Stasi), has a very special place in the history of Germany. Immediately after World War II, as the country healed from the incredible toll of the mass destruction that was inflicted, a social experiment rose up in the eastern portion of the divided country. With the appointment of Walter Ulbricht as head of state and the creation of the Stasi as his inner defense and secret service, the soviets gave rise to the second German dictatorship. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the discovery of kilometers of Stasi files, many Germans were left searching for answers regarding the four-decade-long rule of the Socialist Unity Party. Even though explanations and answers usually do not exist and are not given, the 2006 movie Das Leben der An deren (The Lives of Others), which depicts the enlightenment of a Stasi agent, encourages Germans to cope with their past and to believe in the innate goodness of people. Even though the movie was heavily criticized in Germany, the societal implications are profound. The movie’s critics demonstrate the need for such films and show how far Germans still have to go before they can truly overcome their past.

Examination of Keynesian Economics in the Case of Sino-German Economic Relations after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008.
Jiarong Li
Major(s): International Studies/German
Project Advisor: Prof. Sharon Wesoky
The 2008 global financial crisis had a large impact to the world economy. As two of the biggest economies in the world, China and German stood out for their quick and significant economic recoveries compared to their peer developed and developing states. Since 2008, there has been also a significant increase in bilateral economic and political communications that have never been seen in recent decades, whereas their major exporting markets were still under slow recovery. Such a phenomenon was a result from both domestic expansionary policies as well as the changing economic conditions in the globe.
As a response to the crisis, both states adopted expansionary policy by increasing government expenditure, tax reduction and other stimulus policies to boost domestic economies. Despite the differences in terms of the economic/political structures as well as the scale and the scope of government intervention, statistics showed that both states had very good pre-crisis conditions to make expansionary policy feasible. At the same time, institutional, political and social structures contributed to the outcome of the policy implementation.
To further stimulate domestic economic recovery, the two states saw opportunities in each other. Supports on the state-level also speed up the process of cooperation. The rising bilateral trade communications contributed largely to their domestic growth or structural upgrading respectively.

Projects in Spanish

Entre el agua del mar y el agua coloquial de un río manso: Una navegación interdisciplinaria de los narrativos afroecuatorianos con respeto a los usos de la tierra en la Provincia Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
Max Balakoff
Major(s): Environmental Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández
In Ecuador, the ongoing national discourse declares that it is a multicultural country that respects the rights of the natural world. Although representation of indigenous cultures in this discourse is evident, representation of Afro-Ecuadorian vision remains largely out of view. This work explores the Afro-Ecuadorian identity, the history of land use in the Afro-Ecuadorian region of Esmeraldas Province, and the vision of land use as is expressed in two Afro-Ecuadorian novels, Juyungo by Adalberto Ortiz and When the Guayacans were in Bloom by Nelson Estupiñán Bass. This work has concluded that decisions regarding land use in Esmeraldas Province need to be more intentionally renegotiated between the Afro-Ecuadorian community of Esmeraldas and external actors through bilateral relations rather than oppressive or paternalistic ones.

Las estrategias globales de las compañías multinacionales españolas: un estudio de caso real de ZARA.
Noelle Brouillard
Major(s): Economics/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Steven Onyeiwu
Spain has not been a well-known origin of multinational corporations. This study examines the reasons for the lack of Spanish multinational corporations (MNCs) in the global economy in relation to their global strategies. The focus of this study is on the Spanish MNC, Zara, which is part of a larger conglomerate group Inditex. Inditex’s global strategies are examined using Porter’s (1998) global strategy frameworks of configuration, coordination, and the diamond concept. Next, financial data from Inditex’s annual reports from 1998-2011 are used to evaluate the success of their global strategies.
A comparison of Gap Inc. and Inditex suggests that the latter has achieved financial success over the past 13 years, while at the same time expanding into new global locations. In contrast, Gap Inc., has had difficulty sustaining high levels of net income, as well as difficulty competing effectively in the international marketplace. Finally, the second section of this study, through the use of the Spanish language, examines Spain’s culture and economic history during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in order to explain the reasons for Spanish corporations’ late entrance into the global market. This examination includes an analysis of Spanish business practices within the film Las razones de mis amigos (2000) directed by Gerardo Herrero. Inditex’s ability to be a global success is both attributed to their unique business model and their ability to overcome the challenges posed by the Spanish economy.

Diminishing gender’s imagined importance in contemporary Argentine cinema.
Molly Duerig
Major(s): English/Spanish
Project Advisor: Prof. Lloyd Michaels
This study focuses on three recently-produced Argentine films, each of which reveals some problematic aspect of traditional gender roles imposed by society. Each movie employs crime and manipulates a particular film genre to present its message. The newest wave of new Argentine cinema refers to a group of films produced between 1996 and the present day, on low financial budgets, by an educated generation of professionalized screenwriters, directors and producers. After Argentina’s domestic audience and cinematic output levels reached record lows in 1994, the then-president Carlos Menem passed the National Law for Support and Regulation of Cinematographic Activity. This law, fully enacted in 1996, guarantees governmental support for Argentina’s cinematic industry: in the form of financial grants, film contests and prizes, as well as by preserving theaters and educational institutions dedicated to the art of film-making. Since this l aw was passed, most Argentine film-makers receive some kind of support from the National Institute of Cinematographic and Audiovisual Production (INCAA). Despite support from the government, new Argentine film-makers produce films which make meaningful social, political and cultural critiques. This study focuses on three Argentine films that advocate alternative models for gender expression.

The Creation of Juan and Eva Perón’s Descamisados, 1946-1955: A Study of Informal Political Channels and Their Effects on Public Identity.
Molly Durot
Major(s): International Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. E. Kalé Haywood
This project explains the mobilization of the working class in Argentina during Perón’s unofficial and official years in power (1943-1955). It is my contention that the working class willingly followed Perón because he was the first president to effectively address their concerns. He did so by using informal channels of political participation such as unions, clientelism, and patronage systems that included the working class in the political sphere for the first time. These informal channels also guaranteed the working class political and economic benefits that previous governments had denied them. Eva Perón herself ended up becoming the most powerful channel of informal political participation because her unofficial role within the government allowed her foster a direct relationship between the government and the people. While the Peróns continued the policies of previous governments, their use of informal political and economic structures made them successful in their pursuit of the working class’ political support.

Restaurant Industry Strategy: Exploiting Demographic Change in a Weak Economy.
Ashley Lehr
Major(s): Economics, Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Teresa Herrera de la Muela
The American cuisine is consistently changing due to influences from different food cultures around the world. The restaurant industry plays a huge role in the promotion of different food cultures in the United States. I am studying a restaurant called “100 Montaditos,” which is a restaurant from Spain that is globalizing into the United States. I will be using theories from four different academics to better understand how a globalizing firm can find its place in the American market. I will also be looking at two Spanish films in order to better understand Spanish culinary traditions. Montaditos is targeting two demographics in the United States: the Hispanic population and college students. As the Hispanic population rises in the United States, Montaditos attempts to grab their attention and create a good reputation. The needs of college students who eat off-campus seem to be cheap prices, variety, and healthy foods. Therefore, Montaditos will need to find a balance between maintaining its Spanish authenticity and adapting to American food culture in order to exploit these two demographics and be successful in the United States restaurant industry.

Las fundaciones institucionales y ajustes neoliberales: Un estudio comparado de las facciones partidarias argentinas y la cooperación nacional uruguaya.
Clay Moran
Major(s): International Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Barbara D. Riess
This comparative study of Argentina and Uruguay focuses upon the impact of neoliberal adjustments in economic, political, and social terms. The fundamental question present in the study asks if political institutional characteristics are predetermining factors for the outcome of neoliberal adjustments in countries that undergo these reforms. In order to form a comprehensive assessment to this question, a joint political economic analysis is employed. Through presenting both macroeconomic and social development indicators, it is apparent that Argentina has higher levels of macroeconomic growth and lower social development, while Uruguay has better social development but lower levels of macroeconomic growth. After considering that both countries underwent similar trajectories of neoliberal adjustments, the conclusion of this study is that underlying political institutional factors impacted the effectiveness of neoliberal adjustments. In Argentin a, the presence of caudillismo created a political system founded upon factional competition; in Uruguay, the development of batllismo consolidated power in the urban middle class and erected a common national focus for all social classes. Consequently, regardless of the scope of neoliberal adjustments, these political ideologies created varying levels of institutional strength and predetermined their successful impact on social economic development.

The Cross Analysis of Curriculum Development in After School Programs: A Look at the MLK Mentoring Program and the Nicholas Academic Centers
Lauraolivia M. O’Campo
Major(s): Psychology/Spanish
This research project highlights the importance of ASPs by comparing the qualities of two ASPs: The Nicholas Academic Centers I & II and the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mentoring Program. Specifically the project will focus on making constructive suggestions through the features found in the NAC, psychology journals, and education journals. Quantitative and qualitative data will be discussed. The third chapter is written in Spanish and ties into the research component on the overall project.

Su fuerza y su sacrificio: la historia de las Trece Rosas
Alicia L. Rivera
Major(s): Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Teresa Herrera de la Muela
This thesis focuses on the role that antifascists women had during the Spanish Civil War of 1936. During this time men were the leaders, but for a short time women were allowed to participate in the groups, such as communists group, fighting against the ideas of fascism. In my thesis I investigate the role and activism of these women in two tests and a movie. My focus is on thirteen women, known as The Thirteen Roses, who were mostly minors and were killed because of their participation in these communists groups. I focus on how two writers and a director represent these women through their activism, torture, imprisonment, execution and the messages they left behind to their families and others who learn of their story. Their activism and strong belief in change for a better country fueled these women to keep fighting for something they believed in, something they found worthy to sacrifice their lives for. My thesis discusses how their activism is represented and why it is important for their story to be told.

Política, identidad y etnicidad en las poesía de Enrique Liekens y Andrés Henestrosa
Jake N. Sandler
Major(s): English/Spanish
Following the Mexican Revolution, José Vasconcelos, appointed Secretary of Education by President Obregon in 1921, began to institutionalize the national project of reinventing Mexican identity, referred to as lo mexicanidad. Intrinsic in this process was the inclusion of the ‘other’ México, the indigenous México, which had been forgotten, ignored, oppressed and generally not figured into the pre-Revolution popular conception of Mexican identity. Vasconcelos promoted and employed indigenous, mestizo and white Mexican artists and intellectuals whose work advanced these new notions of Mexican identity, focusing on the combination and integration of indigenous and western conventions and traditions into one, singularly unique and distinctively Mexican style, or identity. Included in these artists and intellectuals were poets, who held an important role in this social process as, among other reasons, poetry can often put into words the feelings and passions of the masses. One indigenous poet employed and promoted by Vasconcelos was Andrés Henestrosa. Henestrosa was born in the Oaxacan district of Juchitán, an Isthmus Zapotec area which was the home to a strong tradition of indigenous poets and intellectuals dating back to the 1860s. Henestrosa represented the third generation of Juchitec writers who settled in Mexico City, and many members of the second generation who fought in the Revolution were present in the capital at the time of Henestrosa’s arrival. One member of this revolutionary generation was the Coronel and poet Enrique Liekens Cerqueda. During the 1930s, both of these poets wrote very similar poems in the amorous style, replacing the tradition subject of the female figure with the land of Juchitán and the culture of the Isthmus Zapotecs from which they’d been separated. Despite their thematic similarities, however, the two poems reveal striking differences that illustrate an essential aspect of the social evolution between indigenous poets of the revolutionary generation and those of the post-revolutionary generation: Liekens focused completely on “you” – the woman, the land, the culture – whereas Henestrosa focused completely on “I”, placing the responsibility of creating one’s identity on the narrator himself and not on external factors such as culture, society or geography. Furthermore, this evolutionary process from “you” to “I”, from the objective to the subjective, can be applied to evolutions not only within poetry, but in art, academics and society in general. Scholars, such as myself, have increasingly turned to methods of investigation that incorporate themselves and their own perspectives subjectively, and are increasingly turning away from the objective style of ethnographic study that was prominent towards the first half of the twentieth century. Through a comparative analysis of these two poems, “Nostalgia” and “Acércate”, we will find that this evolution consists not only in integrative processes in which traditions of many cultures are combined into one form, but we will also find that the evolution from “you” to “I” depends on the agency of the individual, the predominance of the individual conscience over broad societal standards and beliefs. Although this evolution represents a trajectory that continues today, looking at this crucial moment during the 1930s, and the poetic works of two writers positioned centrally to the context of that time, we will see one strong example of the social transition from the pre-Revolution to the post-Revolution, a microcosm of the transition between traditional and modern society.

Brutos y Bellas: jóvenes y el narcotráfico en América Latina (1980-2012).
Daniel Schlossberg
Major(s): Spanish
Project Advisor: Assoc. Prof. Wilfredo Hernández
Everyday teens in Latin America are joining the gangs and cartels that provide illegal narcotics to the United States. The homicide rates throughout Latin America are skyrocketing, and the youth of the poorest neighborhoods are losing their lives in the search of the quick wealth and power associated with the drug trade. Mexico has been the major drug producing country for the past decade, and each year since 2001 there have been thousands of violent deaths related to the war on drugs. The majority of these deaths are young members of the violent cartels. Mexico is the modern example, however, Colombia faced the same issue during the 1980s when the Medellín cartel recruited young men to serve as assassins. In order to show the affects on the youth, a comparison between Mexico and Colombia is essential. Through both academic and popular sources the similarities between the two situations, and their causes are quite obvious. The first chapter discusses push factors into the drug trade by demonstrating the history of illegal narcotics, economic factors in South America and finally through examination of criminality. The second chapter applies this background, with the help of the work of Alonso Salazar and Arturo Alape, to young men in Colombia during the 1980s and early 90s. The third chapter focuses on Mexico and young women. By analyzing the movies El infierno (2010) and Miss Bala (2011), the worsening situation of the nation, and its effects on teenage girls are eye opening. This study concludes that, while the main motivation of most young teens entering the drug trade is monetary, there is an unavoidable motive created by criminality.