Thank you to all who applied for the 2022 Summer Thesis Research Grants. Congratulations to the 2022 recipients for their outstanding work!
Summer thesis research grants are generously support by members of the Harvard Asian American Alumni Alliance and the Instituto Cervantes Observatory of the Spanish Language. We are enormously grateful to those who make these opportunities possible.
"The Colonial Construction of the Southwest Mexican Border: A Trial for the Rio Grande /Rio Bravo"--I decided to write on this topic because the national narrative is failing to account for the true devastation of current border policies to not only migrants but the surrounding communities and nonhuman species that are impacted by attempts at restricting one of the most natural instinctual acts: migration. In the process, the rich social life of Brownsville, Texas and its natural environment is obscured as border policies sever the relationship to land, leaving individuals in a precarious condition as water becomes a finite resource and several species are endangered.
I will be conducting research on the Navajo Ceremonial System, focusing on a specific collection of 1,300+ wax cylinder recordings located at the Ethnological Museum of Berlin. I decided on this topic after writing my junior paper for my Hist&Lit tutorial last year. I was writing on Gender Diversity within Navajo culture and through that research, I identified a nádleeh, or "2-spirit," Navajo healer by the name of Hosteen Klah. Klah was a remarkable figure in the community and knew rare healing ceremonies; the songs consisting those ceremonies were recorded in the late 1920s and are now in Berlin.
Marissa Joseph is a rising senior studying History and Literature with a citation in Spanish. A child of two Haitian immigrants, her research traces the decolonial historicallegacies of the Haitian Revolution. This summer, Marissa hopes to explore the literary relationship between Haiti and Cuba during the 1940s by examining the transnational works of Afro-Cuban writers and their fascination with Haiti as a symbol of resistance.
Inspired by the lived experiences of my parents, I am conducting ethnographical and archival research primarily in Lomé, Togo to explore concepts of neocolonialism and migration through the lens of political trauma. Togo maintains a unique position in postcolonial West Africa with the current family having been in power since independence; the longest ruling African military dictator, Eyadema Gnassingbé, and his regime provides the backdrop for this project, in which I plan to elucidate moments of political action as a response to this abusive state/citizen relationship. Engaging with Togolese theorists and drawing from the psychoanalytic school of social theory will reveal novel insights into the postcolonial state, and how citizens practice agency in this context. I theorize that not only is migration a symptom of political trauma, but it is a traumatic event in and of itself, especially made evident in the Togolese case.
My name is Jeromel, and I am a joint concentrator in Social Anthropology and Comparative Study of Religion. I was born and raised in the Philippines, and my mother and I immigrated to the U.S. when I was 11 years old. My mother is a caregiver, and much of my family outside the Philippines are in the labor of caregiving as nurses. My personal background has shaped my interest in migrant labor and the specific stories of Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs. The Philippines is the world’s largest exporter of nurses and caregivers. The “English only” colonial education policy of the U.S. during its 48 year rule over the Philippines is one of the layers that shape the established migration path where other countries in the world recruit Filipinxs–– specifically Filipina women––as caregivers, domestic workers, and nurses. My thesis will tell the understudied and sidelined stories of Filipina domestic workers in the Middle East. Given structures of unfree labor like the Kafala System that invisibilizes migrant workers, I will work with Filipina domestic workers to tell their stories of how they have endured this through informal spaces and networks of care.
I am conducting senior thesis research on the memory and commemoration of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, an event considered by some historians as the “first American revolution.” I aim to study how monuments shape present-day cultural and political landscapes by visiting various statues in New Mexico, Washington D.C., and Spain, as well as archives in Mexico. Especially after numerous statues of colonial figures were removed or destroyed during protests in the summer of 2020, I hope to better understand the role of storytelling and memory in crafting local and national histories, analyzing how these stories shift across borders.
For my senior thesis, I aim to research the connections between sites containing polluted water and the people who interact with them. These people are activists, farmers, fishers, officials, siblings, teachers, students, and everyone you could ever think of. What ties each of them to my site, The Tar Creek Superfund Site, is that they live near the site and interact with it in some way. I look to explore why locals choose to remain near one of the largest lead mines in the world, and why advocates voice up for remediation while others remain complacent. I grew up near this site, and always wondered why many never cared about how they and their neighbors are being poisoned. Through a series of interviews, surveys, and physical analyses, I aim to explore how people relate to water, to land, to each other, and their homes. By outlining these relations, I hope to give agency to other sites globally who face pollution, propose preservation, and yearn for cleaner futures.