2005 Fellowships

Summer Graduate Student Fellows

Nina Sun Eidsheim
Teaching Race: The Technology of Pedagogy

Many people claim that they can distinguish, for example, a Black from a White person on the basis of their voices. Such claims are even made about the classically trained singing voice, which is highly stylized to eliminate traces of everyday speech and vocal style. And despite scientific evidence to the contrary, some singing teachers believe that students’ physical racial traits affect their vocal timbres. This work investigates the extent to which racialization of vocal timbre and possible essentialisms circulate through the instructional practices of vocal pedagogues. Do singing teachers, consciously or not, nurture differences that will be read as Black, Yellow, or White? My larger project looks at the historical process of racializing vocal timbre and in this particular part of my inquiry I conduct an ethnography of classical voice teachers in California. I investigate if and how verbal discourses of race influence what is heard as the timbral potential of a voice. This study raises questions around the politics of performance as investigated through ethnographic work and, most significantly, addresses the role of educational institutions as “experts” and “dealers” in codes of cultural capital and whiteness.

Monika Gosin

This dissertation research focuses on media representations of Afro Cubans and on lived experiences of Afro Cuban dance participants in the California Bay Area to understand the complex ways Afro Cubans are positioned and position themselves in the US context. The project examines how Afro Cuban subjects are created on a national level and how this connects to local Afro Cuban experiences. The dissertation focuses on three sites to discuss the different modes of incorporation or exclusion of Afro Cuban immigrants in the US: 1) Media depictions of popular Afro Cuban musical performers Celia Cruz and the Buena Vista Social Club, 2) media discourses and representations of Afro Cubans and immigration with focus on the Mariel exodus of 1980, 3) and on the lives of a sample of Afro Cubans from the California Bay Area who teach and participate in Afro Cuban dance. The project utilizes content analysis and ethnographic research to understand the discourses circulating in popular US culture about Afro Cuban subjectivity, and to investigate the ways Afro Cuban subjects negotiate the meanings of race and identity in the US. The project examines the ways Afro Cubans have been constructed as outside the nation and as subjects without agency while the ethnographic research allows for a discussion of how Afro Cubans involved in Afro Cuban cultural arts assert agency as they manipulate blackness as cultural capital in the US.

Regina M. Marchi
“Altar” Images: The Cultural Politics of Day of the Dead in California

My dissertation examines Day of the Dead events in California as vernacular media that communicate about identity, politics and modernity in the US. Within a dominant Anglo culture that has historically treated Latinos with discrimination, these celebrations are more about communicating a Latino cultural and political presence in the US than about fulfilling moral obligations to the deceased. Given access barriers (such as racism, poverty, limited educational opportunities or undocumented residency status) that marginalize Latinos from proportionate representation in the US news media, electoral politics, and other mainstream channels of political communication, I examine how Day of the Dead celebrations represent an alternative “public sphere” in which Latinos transmit narratives of cultural-affirmation, solidarity and social struggle. Receiving significant media coverage, these events not only honor and validate the growing demographic presence of Latinos in the US, but often evoke a “moral economy” model of protest. Public altars, processions and vigils frequently draw attention to “life and death” issues neglected by mainstream media, challenging the privatization of despair experienced by populations disproportionately dying from socio-economic issues such as violence, war, environmental contamination, labor abuse and a militarized US-Mexican border. Additionally, I explore how California’s Day of the Dead has inspired similar traditions across the US (and elsewhere), providing an alternative model for honoring the departed in a society where dominant discourses of individualism and youth-obsessed capitalism have created widespread reluctance to confront mortality. California’s Day of the Dead events can be seen as a kind of strategic response to the corporate commodification of news and culture, whereby local citizens exercise autonomy as cultural producers and communicative subjects.

Idean Salehyan

Theories of migration suggest that people move in search of better economic opportunities and to reunite with friends and family. However, government policies often work to restrict immigration. Since the mid-1990's, there have been increased efforts in the United States to restrict undocumented migration, particularly from Mexico. Part of the stated logic of increased border enforcement is to deter potential migrants from risking a journey north. This project seeks to determine the impact of heightened border security on the migration decisions of Mexicans. If deterrence is effective, people should be less willing to attempt undocumented entry because of the increased probability of apprehension and/or risk of bodily harm. Over 600 people in the Mexican towns of Las Animas, Zacatecas and Tlacuitapa, Jalisco were surveyed in order to determine whether or not border enforcement measures have had any deterrent effect on migration decisions, or if these factors are outweighed by the substantial material and social benefits of crossing. Preliminary quantitative evidence suggests that although potential migrants are well-informed about the increased risks of crossing, these factors do not substantially impact their migration plans.

Emily Tang
My research project examines how the recent and rapid growth of K-12 charter schools in San Diego affects racial composition within schools and overall racial segregation in the district. It also evaluates how well these charter schools are serving minority groups, as measured by gains on math and reading standardized tests. Charter schools in San Diego serve disproportionately more black and Hispanic students than their traditional public school counterparts. Preliminary findings indicate that black and Hispanic middle school students appear to have improved math scores in charter schools. There do not appear to be significant achievement differences across school types at the elementary or high school levels.





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