2004 Fellowships

Summer Graduate Student Fellows

Natchee Blu Barnd, Ethnic Studies Department
Barnd’s research examines native cultural practices that critique the neocolonial (rhetorical and material) incorporation of “Indians” into the U.S. body politic, while continuing to marginalize native peoples. He looks the work of native artists: films like Skinwalkers, Coyote Waits, Skins, The Business of Fancydancing, and Grand Avenue; native artists and performers James Luna and Kimowan McLain; and Oakland based hip hop artist Without Rezervation (or W.O.R.) and Cherokee rapper Litefoot. Barnd is specifically interested in documenting the ways that native forms of cultural sovereignty engage, combat, and sometimes contribute to national efforts aimed at discursively “incorporating” native peoples as full cultural and political subjects.

Nielan Barnes, Department of Sociology
Barnes’ research is on the community-based movement to provide treatment for people with HIV/AIDS in Mexico and how this effort has developed into a binational (U.S./Mexico) struggle for resources and legitimacy. Community-based organizations providing services to people with HIV/AIDS in Mexico have secured in-kind donations, condoms, and other resources from U.S.-based organizations. At the same time, these groups have had to navigate the increasingly political terrain of international philanthropy and engage officials at all levels in the Mexican government. The range of organizations in Mexico involved in this work includes social service groups and more radical social movements, some of which have succeeded in importing medications into the country that would otherwise not make it over the border. The result is that some of these organizations are now more effective at providing HIV services than the state itself. This has not been without difficulties and tensions. Serious internal divisions have emerged within Mexico’s civil society over the provision of care and services as well as concerns about what kind of relationship these organizations should have with the state.

Emily Cheng, Department of Literature
Cheng’s research focuses on transnational and transracial Chinese adoption. She has conducted interviews with informants in the Los Angeles area in order to investigate the role of culture in interracial families who have adopted children from China, and have employed ethnic Chinese caretakers for their daughters. Through her research, she has found that parents cite their nanny’s ability to teach their daughters Mandarin and Chinese cultural values as primary reasons for hiring a Chinese nanny, or “auntie.” On the other hand, the “aunties” themselves described their own work as an exchange of cultures, in which both sides learn from the other. This discourse about the positive fusion of “culture” is suggestive of the role multiculturalism in interracial adoption from China. Taken together, these investigations allow Cheng to explore the changing and conflicting meanings of “Asian” and “Asian-American” identities within Los Angeles and within the context of the new “multicultural” family.

Ricardo Guthrie, Department of Communication
Guthrie examines the progressive history of the African American press in California. He has conducted interviews with journalists and publishers who were involved with the development of an African American newspaper, the San Francisco Sun-Reporter, and the work of its founder, Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett, during the 1950s-60s. He has also conducted archival research at the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, locating files, photographs, memos, letters, clippings, and newspapers from the Sun-Reporter. Guthrie is interested in the history and impact of journalistic institutions on the political and social organizing efforts of the San Francisco/Bay Area’s Black community.

Jinah Kim, Literature Department
Kim examines the experiences of Asian Latino populations in Los Angeles. She has conducted interviews and research in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Lima, Peru, as well as made contact with Los Angeles based groups EnDependencia and KIWA. Her research is focused on locating fictional accounts of the Asian Latino experience and migration, and developing a theory of the Global city. Kim, therefore, is drawing connections between communities in California and Latin America.

Jodie Lawston , Sociology Department
Lawston is studying the women’s prison movement in California. The state’s prison system is warehousing a growing population not only of people of color, but of women of color in particular. The contemporary women’s prison movement is a significant political and cultural force, much like the work done by 19th century female prison reform advocates, organized by white, middle class, highly-educated activists. Lawston is drawing critical links between the 19th century movement and the current struggle in California, focusing on issues of autonomy and agency within prison walls. A prison movement activist herself, Lawston plans to interview activists and incarcerated women within the movement, and work with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), The Action Committee for Women in Prison (ACWIP), and Critical Resistance.

Ashley Lucas, Ethnic Studies Department and Theatre Department
Lucas’s research interests are rooted in ethnographic theatre, i.e. theatrical performances that use ethnographic research techniques as a means of staging a mimetic representation of a particular community. Lucas began researching ethnographic theatre and creating her play in the Fall Quarter of 2003. Through a six-month process of research, interviewing, and corresponding with over 400 prisoners around the country, Lucas wrote the script to Doin’ Time: Through the Visiting Glass. This one-woman show is a series of monologues from the perspectives of prisoners’ family members, discussing the myriad ways in which having a loved one in prison affects their daily lives. The play has been performed El Paso, Austin, and San Diego and has received rave reviews.

Jesse Mills, Ethnic Studies Department
Mills’ research explores the role of social power, race, gender and sexuality in “structures of refuge” in San Diego’s Somali community, in City Heights. Mills conducted ethnographic fieldwork with a research team of Somali women interviewers. The focus for the fieldwork was Somali women’s negotiation of reproductive medicine structures in City Heights. The general topics included public health, clinical services, healthcare practices, and women’s health-related experiences. Mills is also involved in various progressive advocacy efforts in this community.

Theresa C. Suarez, Ethnic Studies Department
Suarez illustrates how the lives of immigrant Filipino soldiers and their families in San Diego are historically tied to the economic, political, and labor demands of the region, the U.S. Navy, and the Pacific Rim--particularly in the Philippines. Suarez examines the role of the U.S. Navy as a colonizing institution. Through interviews, she shows how notions of masculinity, femininity, and normative heterosexuality are critical to the sustained demands for immigrant labor in California. Moreover, the psychic and material aspects of race and racism on Filipino navy families have produced a host of tensions and difficulties as they seek to thrive and create a normal life in the U.S. in the shadow of racism and imperialism.

Thuy Vo , Ethnic Studies Department
Vo studies cultural discourses of anticommunism in San Diego’s Vietnamese American communities. She has conducted interviews with members of the Vietnamese Federation of San Diego and done extensive fieldwork in the community. Vo explores the interconnectedness of war, immigration, anticommunism, and particularly the construction of the refugee as a model minority. By viewing anticommunism as a cultural discourse (rather than merely a matter of politics), Vo believes that we may be able to move beyond a binary understanding of Vietnamese American identity as pro- or anti-communist in favor of a more complicated and nuanced portrait.

Nada Wasi, Economics Department
Wasi seeks to understand the effects of economic and policy-related changes on diverse demographic groups by examining the interaction between household mobility, urban amenities, and economic opportunities and costs. She has collected data on wages, housing prices and characteristics (among many other variables) from the California Census of Housing and Population 1990. Among the factors that she considers are school quality, public safety, and housing discrimination. She is also studying Proposition 13, which, in effect, gives households a property tax subsidy that increases over time, resulting in an incentive to stay put—what is called a lock-in effect. Preliminary results show that the lock-in effect varies across demographic groups. In particular, migrants to California respond more strongly to Proposition 13 than California-born households, and Black and Hispanic households respond more strongly than Whites.





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