2020 Grant Winners

Thank you to all who applied for the 2020 Summer Thesis Research Grants. Congratulations to the 2020 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.




Project Title: Los Hijos de La Virgen de Guadalupe

La Virgen de Guadalupe is one of the most popular Catholic icons for Latinx communities while also being the mother of all Mexicans. While these assertions are both true and heavily highlighted within
the communities that I grew up in, I believe that her influence and the morals she reflects have a huge role in the identity formation for an ethnic demographic that is neve given an academic voice, children. In my project, I hope research the way that Mexican and Mexican American children in California, aged eight to eleven years of age understand La Virgen de Guadalupe as a Catholic religious icon and how that understanding has helped them navigate their communities and their own individual identities. I want to conduct interviews with children in California during the summer to respond to the gap in literature within United States Religious Studies academic field that lacks and doesn’t include children’s voices or their opinions concerning religious ideas, religious icons, or religious structures.



Ryen Diaz

Project Title: The Price of Kindness: Criminalization and Humanitarian Aid Along the US/Mexico Border

I'm Ryen Diaz, a Social Studies concentrator working on a project entitled "The Price of Kindness: Criminalization and Humanitarian Aid Along the US/Mexico Border". As someone who wants to go into humanitarian work, I was shocked to watch the arrests of a dozen humanitarian activists in the past years.  I want to better understand the purpose for the state's criminalization of human kindness from a legal and sociological perspective, which is why I will be doing a legal analysis of these recent cases, as well as talking to humanitarian organizations about how these cases have changed the nature of their work.




Project Title: A Betrayal of the Fa’asamoa: Domestic Violence in American Samoa

“A Betrayal of the Fa’asamoa: Domestic Violence in American Samoa” will be focused on local government rhetoric and campaign messaging regarding domestic violence in American Samoa. In 2018, the UN estimated that 60-80% of women and girls in the Pacific experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. And just since the start of 2020, there have already been increasingly violent incidents of domestic abuse. I chose this topic because of the lack of research about the effect of Samoan cultural attitudes on domestic violence, in hopes to help local leaders and anti-domestic violence organizations better serve domestic violence survivors.




Project Title: Bustin Loose: Go-Go Music and Black Identity in a Gentrified Washington, D.C

Washington, D.C., long a proud bastion of African American culture, is rapidly changing. Areas like the historically black neighborhood surrounding Howard University, have different sonic realities happening simultaneously on separate sides of the street. On one side, there are trendy restaurants, attended by young white professionals for brunch as indie pop sets a palatable atmosphere. On the other side, there is a black-owned Metro PCS store playing D.C.’s raucous native musical style, Go-Go. On a nearby brick wall, someone spray-painted the words “Gentrification is Genocide.” Within the past 20 years, many cultural helms like the metro pcs store have been replaced, homogenizing communities and entirely altering the soundscape of D.C.




Project Title: Healing and Protest: Black Feminist Anti-Violence Organizing in Chicago

For my senior thesis, I’m going to be conducting ethnographic research with an anti-sexual violence organization in Chicago. I plan to investigate the methods organizers use to facilitate healing and empower black girls. My interest in this project formed through my own anti-sexual violence activism, and the history of black feminist anti-violence organizing in America. I’m interested in how histories of black feminist activism and resistance are conceptualized and incorporated in present-day activist work.