2017 Grant Winners

Thank you to all who applied for the 2017 Summer Thesis Research Grants. Congratulations to the 2017 recipients for their outstanding work!

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Asia StewartTopic: "Hurt to the Point of Invisibility": Interpreting the Standard of Social Visibility in U.S. Court of Appeals LGBT Asylum Court Cases: 1995 - Present

Last summer, I had the opportunity to work as a legal intern at the Asylum Program at Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) in their New York office. [...] Mainly, my work was concentrated on supporting PHR's Asylum Network, which helps survivors of human rights violations gain asylum in the United States by connecting them with volunteer health professionals and attorneys.

During my time at PHR, I realized that the U.S. immigration system is founded upon inequality and the assumption that there are certain individuals worthy and deserving of the right to live within the United States and others who are not. The laws that define the U.S. asylum system are particularly convoluted and confusing. Not only is it quite difficult to receive asylum, but thousands of asylum seekers are suspended in a state of limbo until their case decision is reached - often years after they first filed an application for refuge. [...]
As my knowledge and understanding of U.S. immigration laws grew junior year, I decided to focus my senior thesis upon the inequities that members of the LGBT community face in the U.S. asylum system. Ultimately, I will explore how various performances of gender and sexuality affect case outcomes in LGBT asylum court cases. Read More...

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Latina/o Studies

Anastacia ValdespinoTopic: Trajectories of Latina Representation in Television: From Telenovela to Primetime Disney

Given that Ugly Betty and Jane the Virgin are two of the most well-known Latinx-based shows in the U.S. to date, this project will utilize a comparative analysis of the two as a mode of interrogating trends within the televisual representation of Latinas. Though both feature intelligent, accomplished, strong female leads, why is it that each character is defined by her sexuality: Betty through her appearance, and Jane by her virginity (as informed by her Catholic faith)? How have the American adaptations of these Latin American telenovelas created further space for not just Latinx representation in television but also in queer television representation, albeit through secondary characters. In what ways are the characters defined by the success they find in their white-collar career ambitions and how do these achievements potentially make them more palatable to a predominantly white audience? This is only a small sample of the rich and complex tensions these shows implore us to explore which is why I intend to dedicate my summer to this research as well as take a course on the Latin American telenovela next fall during the study abroad program. Read More...

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Ignacio SabateTopic: History of the relationship between NGOs and Colombian journalists during the Drug War

My thesis will examine the intersection of journalists’ rights, the development of human rights-focused non-governmental organizations, state politics, and international human rights law. More specifically, this thesis focuses on the early development of a handful of NGOs focused on protecting journalists’ rights that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. I decided to write this topic after spending time working as a journalist on campus with a particular interest in human rights. After taking a number of Latin America-focused History classes, I knew I wanted to study journalists’ rights in the Latin American context.

After doing some initial research, 1980s and 1990s Colombia emerged as an important—yet academically underdeveloped area—to study the development of journalism-specific human rights frameworks. Set against the backdrop of a violent national conflict, Colombia was one of the most dangerous places to practice journalism. In response to the crisis, a number of non-governmental organizations—some with closer affiliations to the state than others—emerged, marking one of the first examples in history where a plurality of human rights groups began to operate with a specific focus on journalists. This thesis examines the difficulties, complex politics, and innovativeness of these groups as they began to carve out political space for themselves, make claims to authority, and develop national and international legitimacy. Read More...


Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights
Topic: Community and Political Participation Among Syrian Refugees in Jordan