2010-11 Brown International Scholars Program Awardees

Susana Aho

Mentor: James N. Green


Responding to State Violence in Argentina: The Politics of Denunciation 1966 - 1979

Currently, I am writing a Senior Thesis on the Visit of the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to Argentina in 1979, during the country’s most brutal and most famous military dictatorship (which took power through a coup in 1976). My thesis seeks to understand how human rights organizations mobilized around the visit, how they used it to gain public awareness of crimes being committed, and how the visit influenced official narratives around violence in Argentina. For this BISP project, I plan to conduct an archival investigation that explores the reaction of political-cultural formations in Argentina to the persecution directed by earlier regimes such as the military dictatorship of the “Argentine Revolution” (1966 - 1973) and the paramilitary violence of the “Alianza Anticomunista Argentina” (1975). I would like to compare forms of denunciation from before and after the coup, and map changes and continuities in the politics of denunciations. I am also interested in understanding the relation between responses of primarily left-wing organizations to persecution before 1976 to responses formulated after the coup.


Samura Atallah

Mentor: Hilary Silver


Student: Norian Caporale-Berkowitz

Mentor: Sharon Swartz


Giant Panda Ethology: A Conservation Based Behavioral Study

I will be conducting observation based research in Giant Panda ethology from June-August 2010 at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in China's Sichuan region. Despite receiving much press from proponents and critics of the Giant Panda conservation effort, this endangered species has received comparatively little attention in terms of understanding its ethology and behavioral ecology. Pandas in captivity have cyclically poor health during the hot summer months, yet this trend is not simply due to the rising temperatures during this period. I will be conducting an ethogram based study of the Giant Pandas at the center, the results of which may be compared to similar studies conducted in the winter months in order to illuminate the sources of these recurring health problems. I am interested in viewing animal behavior through the lens of evolution, and hope that by studying Panda social behavior in this light my research may lead to insights in terms of both the conservation of these animals, and the evolutionary processes which shape their behavioral ecology.


Zoe Durand

Mentor: Kenneth Mayer


Reproductive Issues in Women with HIV in Chennai, India

The Y.R. Gaitonde Centre for AIDS Research and Education (YRG CARE) is a nonprofit clinic, research lab, and outreach organization that is based in Chennai, India. The facility integrates treatment, education, and counseling to provide service to over 5,000 people with HIV. Women of reproductive age are of particular interest to YRG CARE, because of the unique healthcare concerns surrounding HIV and pregnancy. While at YRG CARE, I will be working in the ongoing women’s studies department with Dr. Kumarasamy and Dr. Bella. The projects that I will be involved with include organizing adolescent sexuality workshops to teach about preventing HIV, gathering data to monitor the rate of new HIV infections in prostitute populations, working in the lab, and shadowing clinicians as they provide fertility counseling.


Ana Fox-Hodess

Mentor: Beth Bauer


“Pintaremos hasta el cielo”: Street Art and Social Change in Chile

2009 marked the hundred-year anniversary of Chilean President Salvador Allende’s birth, celebrated officially through televised memorial concerts and speeches by public figures and unofficially in the brightly-colored poster art and ubiquitous images of the martyred president which sprung up around Santiago. This was just the latest chapter in a fascinating history of the discursive construction of the Chilean social experience through the interplay of “official”/elite and “unofficial”/popular art within the public sphere. Utilizing Jurgen Habermas’ definition of the public sphere as the “domain in our social life in which such a thing as public opinion can be formed,” the research will focus on the way in which visual culture in Chilean public spaces, principally mural art and public monuments, have influenced and shaped public discourse and the individual’s interpretation of the social world. The project will examine three historical eras: the years leading up to and including the democratic socialist government of Allende; the Right-wing authoritarian dictatorship of August Pinochet (1973-1991); and the post-dictatorship return-to-democracy, continuing to the present. In the course of the summer, through travel and documentation; interviews; archival research and direct participation, I hope to develop a deep understanding of the history and waves of public art in second half of the twentieth century in Chile, the political and cultural implications of such art, and the role of public art in Chile today. Ultimately, the travel experience will culminate in a research paper and multimedia art installation exploring street art in Chilean society.


Juliana Friend

Mentor: Paja Faudree


Linguistic Diversity and the Digital Public Sphere: An Ethnography of Internet Use in Senegal

While academics and practitioners alike cite the potential of internet forums as spaces in which ordinary citizens can shape political processes at home and make transnational connections with strangers abroad, few have explored how one’s facility in a global language may impact access to this “digital public sphere." I will explore how individuals with varying facilities in French, Senegal’s official language, view and employ the potential of internet use.  In turn, I will trace the discursive norms of the Senegalese blogosphere, and ultimately, the impact of the internet on social relations and textual production in a context of linguistic diversity.


Sophie Fuchs

Mentor: Kathryn DeMaster


“Ecuadorian Organic Agriculture: A Tool for Food Security and Local Empowerment?”

Through the International Scholars Program, Sophie plans to travel to Ecuador to pursue her interests in agriculture, food security, and local empowerment in the developing world. She will be collaborating with Perucho Organic Agriculture Farm to study organic agricultural practices and local farmers’ transition from conventional farming to organic farming. By working and conversing with local individuals in the community, she hopes to explore the ramifications and consequences of organic agriculture in relation to food security, poverty, empowerment, and the environment. She intends to draw on skills from her Development Studies and possible Economics concentrations in addition to personal experience. This project will focus on impacts on a local level in Ecuador, as well as implications for global practices and policies.


Katherine Gannett (Katie)

Mentor: Stephen McGarvey


Evaluating the Impact of the 2010 Football for Hope Festival Upon the Attitudes of Participating Youth Towards Foreign Cultures

I will be traveling to Johannesburg to conduct a research project around the Football for Hope Festival, which will take place during the final week of the 2010 South Africa World Cup.  This festival, co-hosted by FIFA and streetfootballworld, will bring together 32 mixed-gendered teams of adolescents (ages 15 to 18) from Sport for Development and Peace organizations worldwide to compete in a soccer tournament.  I will be evaluating one of the central goals of the festival, which is to encourage exchange and intercultural dialogue between participating delegations.  More specifically, I will investigate the extent to which the attitudes of the participating youth towards foreign cultures change as a result of interactions both on and off the field.  My research will not only influence the future planning of the festival itself, but will also help organizations working in the field of Sport for Development and Peace develop new strategies for promoting communication among and building relationships between youth.


Sarah Grimm

Mentor: Kay Warren


Indigenous Community Development and the Visual Arts

ASOCIACIÓN NAHUAL, Antigua Guatemala, Sacatepéquez Guatemala

This project will consist of various facets of experience, research, art, and volunteer work.  I will work with the Asociación Nahual in Antigua Guatemala as a part of its volunteer workforce, upon which it relies, in various capacities. While doing this volunteer work, I plan to also do a documentary photography project.  With the permission of those who I photograph, I want to bring the project back to Brown to either use in a capstone project or to do some sort of exhibition.  These activities, along with many others I’m sure will come up once I am there, are what I will do.  I believe that what I will investigate, while doing this work, is just as important.  Some of my driving questions are as follows: what does effective community development work look like? What makes it effective?  What kind of social tensions and injustices are present in the social interactions?  What is the role of the outsider (me) in community development efforts? How can the visual arts be wrapped into these social issues?    Ultimately, this project will result in a body of research about the idea of (indigenous) community development and the forms that it has taken in Antigua Guatemala.  It will also result in a body of photography that attempts to document the different aspects of this development and also bring more personalized stories into focus.  I will act both as a participant deeply engaged in the development work and as an observer behind the lens.


Ivayla Ivanova

Mentor: Ross Cheit


The Social and Legal Treatment of Child Sex Crimes in Bulgaria

The rising amount of child sexual abuse and child pornography cases in Bulgaria demonstrates the necessity for comprehensive legal and social efforts towards the eradication of these crimes and the promotion of public awareness about them. Moreover, it reveals the failure of the legal system, law enforcement agencies, and social organizations to adequately acknowledge the problem and develop strategies to improve child protection services. This project attempts to address the multiple challenges that exist in the investigation and research of child sex crimes, and aims to explore recommendations for policy makers and law enforcement officials that can advance children’s legal treatment. I will conduct a study of legal child sexual abuse cases in Bulgaria, will work with non-profit organizations that examine the variety of situations within which the crimes occur, and will discuss alternative methods to the investigative and trial phases of the cases with legal officials. In the international context of the child sex abuse crisis, the project will enhance foreign understanding of the legal and social consequences of sex crimes against children in Bulgaria and will consider potential alternatives for legal methodology that can facilitate prosecution against these offenses in multifaceted cases.


Alina Kung

Mentor: Tao Liu


The Effectiveness of Efforts Abroad: Evaluating healthcare non-profits in China

This project seeks to determine, through participant-observation, the effectiveness of healthcare non-profits working in China.  These specific non-profits would be organized and run by Americans, and based on American organizational models. Over a period of 10 weeks, this project will examine inefficiencies in three key areas: language and miscommunication, motivation and incentive, and regional specific organizational models. In order to incorporate alterate voices and offer a comparative analysis, this project will include consulting professors in Beijing and collecting local opinions. Organizations that may be examined include China California Heart Watch, which is based in Yunnan province."


Dong Li

Mentor: Forrest Gander


Looking for the Night Eyes: a Study and Translation of Gu Cheng and Other Modern Chinese Poets from the 1980s to the Present

Since its introduction to the West, modern Chinese poetry has long been laden with an overt political reading. Few attempts have been made to look at modern Chinese poetry on its own terms: at its poetics and evolved function as personal reflection, escapism, social commentary and political resistance. My thesis intends to open up the question of how to interpret modern Chinese poetry in a post-Tiananmen age and how to reframe a discourse on such poetry. This project involves the task of translating a selective group of poets and that of retrieving the materials left by exiled poets such as Gu Cheng, which are held by prominent Sinologists like Wolfgang Kubin in Germany. From such sources, I will discuss whether a hermeneutic approach is applicable in modern Chinese poetry and how modern Chinese poetry stands in between classical Chinese poetic tradition and Western modernist poetic influence.


Raphaela Lipinsky DeGette

Mentor: Jennifer Clarke


Contraceptives and Culture: A Comparison of Attitudes on Family Planning and Pregnancy Between Women in the Dominican Republic and First-Generation Dominican Immigrants

Limiting population growth and improving women’s health are essential factors for ameliorating poverty and increasing GDP.  An essential question that is often unanswered by those attempting to help women with family planning is whether high birthrates are a result of cultural and religious beliefs, or attributable to inadequate education or access.  If the former is the answer, public health workers will have a difficult time changing women’s contraceptive behavior without a keen understanding of the cultural milieu.  If the answer is the latter, improved aid in the form of clinics and medical supplies can have a substantial effect on public health. This project will, through surveys and personal interviews, gauge the opinions and beliefs of two sets of women on contraceptives and pregnancy: women currently living in the Dominican Republic, and first-generation Dominican women here in Providence.  Through a comparison of the two groups, I will determine the impact of culture and access on family planning behaviors.


Jose Rodriguez

Mentor: Maria Carkovic


The US Financial Crisis and Its Impact on

Los Ciruelitos, Dominican Republic

This investigation will explore the effects of the US financial crisis on the Dominican Republic’s (DR) overall economy and particularly the daily effects on a neighborhood called Los Ciruelitos (in the Cibao Valley), DR. This research will encompass various interrelated areas of concern which include the transnational relationships between the United States and the Dominican Republic focusing on remittances and their relevance in Los Ciruelitos as opposed to other means of earning income. The project will also analyze the direct and indirect consequences on households’ income in Los Ciruelitos before, during, and after the U.S. Financial Crisis and the reaction to the crisis by the local business sector.


Joshua Rowe

Mentor: James Green


Democratizing the Workplace through Solidarity Economics

Josh Rowe, ’12, will be traveling this summer to São Carlos, Brazil to work alongside Jussara Florencio a professional from the municipal government in the area of Solidarity Economics. Solidarity economics is a radical new form business organization centered upon equal representation and democratically agreed remuneration within the workplace. It was originally conceptualized as an alternative to the often stratifying and socially destructive effects of capitalist organization. While in Brazil Josh will explore this nascent field in two phases. In the first he will work closely with employees engaged in solidarity economics businesses in São Carlos—a city of about 200,000. These groups range from letter carriers to food service workers and artisans, and by working with them Josh hopes to learn some of the ins and outs of solidarity economics as well as become familiar with some of its challenges. In the second he will travel to various locales within Brazil visiting think tanks, government incubators, and other businesses engaged in solidarity economics. From this he hopes to gain a broader perspective on how solidarity economics is practiced within Brazil and what the pioneers of this field are engaged in. Josh hopes to culminate his project with a video log, website, and/or manual of profiles about each organization so that he may share the knowledge he gains with the greater community of solidarity economics, and especially the organizations he will work with.


Sara Slama

Mentor: Cynthia Garcia Coll


Exploring Sources of Resilience among Palestinian Refugee Youth in Jordan

The aim of this project is to explore factors contributing to resilient outcomes among Palestinian adolescents growing up in refugee camps in Jordan.  By focusing on resilience, “a dynamic process encompassing positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity,” I hope to contribute to a constructive, strength-focused approach to the study of the psychological development of Palestinian youth. The project will consist of formal data collection through questionnaires as well as less formal exploration of the topic through interviews, conversations, and community service in the camps. I hope to make the formal research component culminate in a senior thesis, and plan to document the informal immersion in the form of a structured blog.