Senior Project Abstracts – Class of 2021

Projects in French

Erin Hartwiger

Tekk Teggui and Tontines: Microfinance’s Solutions to Exclusionary Neoliberal Policy in Senegal

This project seeks to evaluate the impact of microfinance on the welfare of Senegalese women through participant observation, oral history interviews, and a case study of FDEA Microfinance. The project explores the effectiveness of microfinance institutions, in terms of their goals of financial inclusion and increasing gender equality. Additionally, the project investigates the extent to which MFIs have adapted their products to Senegal’s cultural context and the outcomes of this adaptation. I answer these questions in part through interviewing four Senegalese women involved in microfinance and tontines, relying on their expertise to assess the dominant narratives about microfinance. Microfinance is a widely used strategy for addressing gender inequality in development and the gaps left in social programs after the implementation of structural adjustment programs. Within the context of neoliberal ideology that places responsibility for development on the shoulders of individuals (specifically, women), this study asserts that microfinance increases women’s access to financial services, may provide opportunities for women to better the lives of themselves and their families, and utilizes their own knowledge, community support, and social connections to succeed. However, there is a dearth of continuing support which must be present in order to promote women’s empowerment through financial inclusion.

Majors: French, International Studies (self-designed)

Advisor: L. Reeck

Daline Saintelus

Vers une Valorisation du Vaudou en Haïti comme Patrimoine Matériel et Immatériel

In the first chapter, we will see the origin of voodoo and its definitions. Each definition comes from a different country; the United States and France. These do not really cover the basics of Vodou, but they have simply generalized and marginalized Vodou into a fear-inspiring image. To combat these definitions I use a definition of Vodou from a Voudouisant ( a person that practices Vodou) because I believe it’s more credible. We will see how Voodoo was introduced to Haiti; the black slave trade. We will also see how Voodoo played a role in the struggle for Haitian independence with the Bois Caïman ceremony. Also in this chapter, we will see the use of the word, <<transculturation>> to explain the transformation and overlap of the different cultures of the many slave that were brought to the island. This word also helps the reader understand why Catholic imagery and symbols are found in voodoo.

To allow the reader to enter the world of Haitian Vodou a bit, I have given examples of gods and spirits and also show the reader what a ceremony might look like depending on the god or spirit invoked. I also introduce the idea that Vodou is a syncretic practice because of its Catholic aspects and we learn that Catholicism was the religion of the colony during French rule, and even after. I then began to present how Vodou was devalued by the laws during slavery on the island and after independence.

In chapter two, we have how Vodou was devalued by Haitian political leaders such as Christophe, Boyer, and Pétion. We saw how it was devalued both in the film Vodou (1943), and in an annual celebration, the celebration of Gede. Through each example, we can see the stereotypes of voodoo and how the general mockery takes away from the credibility of the practice.

In the last chapter, we will see the importance of valuing Vodou in Haiti. I push the reader to understand that Vodou is part of the cultural heritage. We will see temples, the Badjo and Dereal lakou and a documentary, Meet the Vodou Priestess Summoning Healing Spirits in Post-Earthquake, Haiti. These feature artifacts (the tangible heritage) and the community practices of Vodou (the intangible heritage). And lastly I really push the readers to see Vodou in a different perspective.

Major: French

Advisor: L. Reeck

Melanie Torres Cabrera

French Development Aid in Senegal: An analysis of French bilateral, multilateral, and non-
governmental project models

As developing countries in Africa continue to strive towards greater economic
development with the help of countries like France, it is important to analyze how development
aid policies are adjusted to address beneficiary countries’ needs. My research focuses
specifically on the case of France and Senegal. I analyze how France adjusts its development aid
policies to address development needs in Senegal in terms of bilateral, multilateral, and private
non-governmental projects. I argue that differences in priorities between French development aid
policy and the Senegalese government’s development goals create disharmony and inefficiency
in the implementation of development aid. I also argue that non-state actors like NGOs and
migrant groups are a useful resource to identify gaps in current France’s approach to
development aid in Senegal and identify potential areas of improvement for future development
projects and objectives. Through my research, I find that France’s institutional objectives
remained largely the same across bilateral, multilateral, and non-governmental projects.
However, differences between project objectives and institutional/state goals cause issues with
aid effectiveness and often lead to a disproportionate concentration of aid in urban regions near
the Dakar area. Additionally, I find that countries with slightly more developed economies, like
Senegal, are more likely to obtain higher amounts of bilateral aid in the form of loans than
countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, I find that France uses bilateral,
multilateral, and non-governmental projects to either expand the scope of its development aid
policy or reinforce existing institutional objectives/preferences. Ultimately, I find that France
adjusts its use of the three mentioned mechanisms for development aid policy in accordance to a
country’s development as well as its own scope of influence.

Majors: French, International Studies

Advisor: L. Reeck

Projects in Spanish

Kainoa Nagao

Family Matters: Analyzing the Impact of Latinx Culture in the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catastrophic global health issue, and in the United States, minority groups, particularly Latinx, have faced a disproportionately large burden to the pandemic. In the fourteen months since the pandemic hit American shores, studies have worked to connect various epidemiological and socioeconomic factors to this burden, but this project looks to contextualize another determinant of health: culture. This project aims to answer the question of how the culture of American Latinx populations, specifically the fundamental cultural values of simpatía and familismo, have influenced Latinx experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. To answer such a question, I employed a semiotic analysis, focusing primarily on visual rather than verbal signs and symbols, of two Spanish-language films to gain a comprehensive understanding of these two values.

To outline the project, the opening chapter will introduce simpatía and familismo and discuss the concept of the Latino Paradox, the existence of which has for better and for worse influenced research in the area of Latinx health, including that of the two values selected here. Next, the second chapter, written in Spanish, will contain a semiotic analysis of two Spanish-language films, with an emphasis on aspects of the films that provide insight into the functioning of simpatía and familismo. Finally, using the understanding gained with this analysis, the third chapter will contextualize the role of simpatía and familismo into the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss how connections between Latinx culture and health are or should be used in a global health context. The final product will not only answer how the identified cultural values have had an impact for Latinx during COVID-19 but also debate the ethics of using culture to explain public health trends in marginalized communities.

Majors: Global Health Studies, Spanish

Advisor: T. Herrera

Yadira Sánchez-Esparza

¡El Estado opresor es un macho violador!: Feminist Mobilization against the Femicide State of Mexico

Mexico currently averages ten femicides daily and is also home to Ciudad Juarez, a city at one point coined the femicide capital of the world. The watershed to this excessive and brutal gendered violence has been named by academics and activists alike as the implementation of the neoliberal economic policy known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1993. In response, feminist mobilization has increased to specifically address the cultures of violence that exist in the economic, political and social systems that foster the impunity of the murders. Yet, currently the academic literature is lacking surrounding this new wave of feminism, its ideals, goals and overall impact in Mexico. Thus, this project will use specific examples to show how feminists in Mexico mobilize to deconstruct the femicide state of Mexico also known as el Estado feminicida.

Majors: Spanish, International Studies

Advisor: W. Hernández

Catherine Schlenker

Los inmigrantes de que nadie habla: la migración de los Nazis a Argentina y su representación en El amigo alemán (2012) y Wakolda (2013)

The issue of the Nazis in Argentina is a very vague and complex subject, full of mystery and controversy. The truth about the relationship between Argentina and Nazi Germany, as well as the intentions of both sides, died with the people of that era, but one cannot deny that a relationship did exist and that after World War II the migration of Nazis to Argentina (among other countries) occurred. This thesis seeks to explore the reasons why the Nazis chose Argentina as their new home and how this phenomenon is represented in the films El amigo alemán (2012) and Wakolda (2013). The thesis is composed of three chapters that analyze the history and the two films. The first chapter investigates the historical context and focuses on Argentina and their relationship with Germany and the world during the period that surrounds and includes World War II. The other two chapters explore the movies, including a summary of the film and an analysis of the representation of the Nazi migration and the Nazi presence in Argentina. While they provide a visualization of life during this period, both of Argentine citizens and fleeing Nazis, the movies also show the perception of this event and the associated repercussions and sentiments.

Majors: Spanish, Biology

Advisor: T. Herrera