2019 Grant Winners

Thank you to all who applied for the 2019 Summer Thesis Research Grants. Congratulations to the 2019 recipients for their outstanding work!

Summer thesis research grants are generously support by members of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance, donors to the EMR Fund, and the Instituto Cervantes Observatory of the Spanish Language. We are enormously grateful to those who make these opportunities possible.

 

CARLOS AGREDANO

Carlos Agredan

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Latinx Studies

Project Title: Lost Angeles: Archiving Latinx Life in the City of Angels

Los Angeles is often depicted as a dreamland full of fame, glamour, and opportunity. While some of this may be true, those dreamlike depictions often exclude Latinx individuals. Countless artists and curators like ASCO and Veteranas and Rucas have fought against institutions like Hollywood and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for their constant erasure of Latinx life, art, and culture from cultural production.

This summer I intend to look at photographic archives in LACMA, the Getty, LA Public Library, UCLA, USC, and Hollywood production studios that document Latinx life in Los Angeles. In the process, I will focus on the labelling, categorization, and preservation of these archives in order to understand the ways in which Latinx communities are represented. This research will inform my senior thesis which will focus on Veteranas and Rucas, an instagram page dedicated to archiving Latina life in Los Angeles during the late 1980s up to the early 2000s. Through archival research and under the framework of museum studies and critical media theory, I argue that Veteranas and Rucas embodies Latinx cultural practices as a curatorial and archival framework while simultaneously offering a new and accessible way of consuming art in the digital world.

 

 

NADA ATTIA

NadiaAttiaSummer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening and HPV Vaccination for the 'White'(Arab) Immigrant Women of NYC

Cervical cancer ranks among the most preventable cancers, with up to 93 percent of cervical cancers labeled as 'preventable'. This is largely because two types of HPV are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cervical lesions. This study seeks to examine barriers to adherence to cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination recommendations, as two crucial measures of cancer prevention, for Arab immigrant women and their children in New York City. This research is especially important as Arab women are an important understudied population due to their classification as 'white' by the United States government.

 

 

CHRISTOPHER CHOW

Chris Chow

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Asian American Studies

Title: Density, Development, and Dystopia: Chinese Urbanism in Hong Kong

If cities are defined by their built environment, then how does the navigation of the landscape influence one’s relationship to them? Conducted from my perspective as a first-generation Chinese American immigrant from Hong Kong, this photographic project on the city’s urban landscape will explore themes of cultural nostalgia, unfamiliarity and familiarity, and belonging. These topics surface in the histories of migration and Western colonialism in the former British colony, and I expect them to manifest in an additional and nuanced layer for me as a Westernized immigrant returning to Hong Kong. My creative work will focus on mega-development architectural projects in the East Asian metropolis from my lens as someone who has emigrated from there shortly after the British handover of Hong Kong. That is, I am curious to explore the dialogue between my separation from rapidly modernizing Chinese metropolitan spaces and my entrance into historical Chinese-American immigrant communities. My academic work investigates how patterns of modernization and globalization influence techno-Orientalism, or the contemporary Western imagination of the East Asian city through hyper-technological and even dystopic terms. However, here, I intend to rearticulate this cultural urban imagination: I will adopt an alternate sensibility space that is informed by my immigrant experiences in order to render the built architectural environment of Hong Kong. To what end does the fantasy of global and modern mega-development inform my spatial relationship with Hong Kong, a hometown that I simultaneously feel so connected to and distant from? To what extent can I document or disrupt this fantasy?

 

 

JULIE CHUNG 

Julie Chung

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Asian American Studies

Title: Integrating Native Hawaiian Knowledge & Community Members in Biomedical Research: Possibilities and Limits of Academic-Community Partnerships

As an aspiring physician-scholar hoping to work with marginalized communities to improve healing, wellness, and health, I hope to push myself outside of social justice paradigms to question if Western science and biomedicine, given their relationship to Western imperialism, can advance aspirations for liberation and decolonization. My anthropology research project explores the implication of Western science, academic health research, and Native Hawaiian knowledge traditions in sustaining or challenging the hegemony of U.S. multicultural settler power in Hawaiʻi. I interrogate the extent to which health researchers can align their agendas with Native Hawaiian community needs and political aspirations, as they seek to address stark health disparities (Native Hawaiians have the poorest health outcomes in the state). This summer, I will spend ten weeks as a research intern at the University of Hawai’i John A. Burns School of Medicine Department of Native Hawaiian Health, which has prioritized integrating Native Hawaiian knowledge of health and medicine in Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR). I will investigate how actors negotiate asymmetrical power relations and demarcate their respective knowledge traditions in this new space of encounter between Western biomedicine and Native Hawaiian knowledge traditions.

 

YONG HAN POH

Yong Han PohSummer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: Love, Labor, Loss: Voices of Migrant Poets in Singapore

Migrant worker poets have recently gained visibility and recognition for their poetry in Singapore, sparking a broader national consciousness of their poetry and their precarious status. Many, if not all, of these poets hail from diverse countries in the region, including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Myanmar, working either in low-wage industries such as construction and shipyard-building or as domestic helpers. While low-wage migrants have been in Singapore since the late 1980s, migrant worker poetry has only emerged of late, after the first Migrant Worker Poetry Competition held at the National Library in 2014. Since then, its winners have gathered to form a literary collective. The collective, Migrant Writers Singapore, is diverse community that meets every Sunday, organizing everything from poetry recitals to story-telling sessions. What explains the inception and rapid growth of migrant poetry communities? What exactly are they trying to communicate, and why do they choose to communicate in poetry? To what extent is migrant poetry a vehicle for migrants to gain voice and claim rights? And if not, what does poetry mean to these migrant writing communities, and to everyone else involved in the production, consumption, and circulation of migrant poetry?

 

 

SUNDAY HULL

Sunday Hull

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: Vietnamese Women Writing in French: Gender in the Colonial Language

I was really intrigued by the story of Trinh Thuc Oanh and Marguerite Triaire, a Vietnamese woman and a French woman who co-wrote two novels in French right around the start of World War II. These novels follow a collection of young Vietnamese women as they deal with changing gender roles in colonial Vietnam. I am interested in how the choice to write in French shapes their portrayal of gender and what that can teach us about the wider position of Vietnamese women growing up within the French educational system.

 

ASHLEY JIIN KIM

Ashley Kim

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: Working Until You Die: Senior-Citizen Labor in South Korea Amidst Poverty and Alienation

I am a Sociology concentrator with a secondary in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights, writing my thesis on senior-citizen labor and poverty in South Korea. I chose to write about this research topic because of my academic interests in class inequality and labor, as well as my personal interest in the elderly population. My other broad research interests include class identity, cultural sociology, and social movements. 

 

MORGAN LAWTON

Morgan Lawton

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Latinx Studies

Project topic: Identity Formation and Knowledge Distribution around Archaeological Sites on the Peruvian North Coast

I decided to research this topic after participating in archaeological field schools and seeing the different ways in which local people interact the sites in Peru and Brazil. I chose the Peruvian north coast due to its relatively recent archaeological boom and its rich history of past cultures. I am intrigued by the way that the knowledge obtained from excavations is distributed by archaeologists into the local communities and how it is then used by the people through appropriations of iconography/language and in the creation of novel identities.

 

GRACE PAN 

Grace pan

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Asian American Studies

Title: Comparing Suzhi Discourse in Contemporary Chinese and American Society: How Economic Development Influences Societal Values

During a recent trip to Shanghai, I noticed a curious pattern: many people I encountered seemed to place an inordinate amount of attention into choosing material possessions. Surrounded by a relatively new cosmopolitan consumer culture, making decisions such as “Toto versus American Standard” or “Xiaomi versus Apple” seemed to reflect a desire to determine personal identity. I wondered if there were greater economic and cultural forces at play that could explain this phenomenon. As such, for my Social Studies senior honors thesis, I plan to study how young people in urban China connect their personal values to their striving of success and larger national development and to compare these insights with those of Asian Americans defining their place in the modern world. The goal of this comparison is to explore the greater question: in a globalized capital market, is modernization necessarily Westernization?

 

 

ALLISON PIPER

Allison Piper

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: Community and Belonging for Latin American Immigrants in City Heights, San Diego

My project will follow the experience of belonging and community for Latin American immigrants living in City Heights, a neighborhood in San Diego, California. I hope to understand belonging as it operates in a neighborhood that almost seems a magnet for non-profit groups and external funding. As a southern-California native, I grew up in an majority-immigrant community. Throughout my life and my coursework, immigration and Latin American studies have been a passion for me. I hope to use my personal experience with immigrant communities and my own grappling with belonging combined with my strong Spanish-language background to craft my thesis project.

 

DANIEL ROSENBLATT

Daniel Rosenblatt

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Latinx Studies

Title: Puerto Rican Migration to New York City in the Early 20th Century

Throughout college, I have studied the history of migrations to and within the United States, and I am excited to continue on this path through my senior thesis project. In my previous research on Puerto Rican New York, I have noticed that scholarship has generally focused on the post-World War II era and has often overlooked women’s perspectives and questions of gender. I am excited to work to correct these shortcomings, and in doing so, contribute to our understanding of the dynamic meaning of citizenship in the United States.

 

JORDAN VILLEGAS

Jordan Villegas

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Latinx Studies

Title: La Rhiza Génealógica: The (De)coloniality of Becoming Pochx

Examining the nationalistic pejorative “pocha/o,” which marks a perceived cultural/linguistic loss within the Mexican-American diaspora, my project aims to compile an archive of pochismx from the family histories and genealogies of Tejana/os. Arguing that “pocha/o” behaviors and identifications perceived as non-agentive or assimilationist might be better understood as representing histories of survival and third space critique, I hope to rearticulate pochismx as early twentieth-century “borderthinking” within the histories of mestizo genealogy in the U.S. Southwest/Mexico. I claim that Tejana/os' failure to embody obsolescent, binaristic practices of colonial categorization reveal a radical decolonial imaginary of kinship and social critique unconstrained by arboreal genealogy’s hereditary spatio-temporalities.

 

ELMER VIVAS PORTILLO

Elmer

Summer Thesis Research Grant in Ethnicity, Migration, Rights

Title: The Forming of Educational Expectations and Aspirations for Immigrant and Children-of-Immigrant High Schoolers

This research project seeks to explore how immigrant and children-of-immigrants and high schoolers form their educational and life expectations and aspiration. More specifically, what role do high school staff (i.e. teachers and guidance counselors) have in shaping these outlooks? Building off of literature describing the experience of immigrant and children-of-immigrant high schoolers, this project seeks to draw a link between the formation of their educational expectations and aspirations, the effect of institutional figures in shaping these understandings, and the relation these outlooks have to social inequality and reproduction theories.