Aleph (pronounced “ah-lef”) is UCLA’s undergraduate research journal for the humanities, social sciences, and behavioral sciences. Aleph publishes one issue each year in both print and open access formats. The journal reflects the quality and breadth of undergraduate research at UCLA, and is sponsored by the UCLA Undergraduate Research Center for the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.
Volume 20, 2023
Aleph - UCLA Undergraduate Research Journal for the Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.20 2023
Table of Contents
Aleph - Table of Contents - Volume 20 (2022-2023)
This Year's Staff
Aleph Staff 2022-2023
Letter from the Editor
Letter from the Editor
From the “Mississippi of the West” to the “City of Second Chances”: Contextualizing the Racial and Ethnic Composition of Las Vegas
Las Vegas’ residential terrain has often been overlooked beyond the city’s history of extreme spatial and economic segregation in the mid-1900s due to its development as a tourist city. This research reflects that history in the 21st century through the lens of population geography, which demonstrates that heavy in-migration to Nevada after 1990 flooded a landscape of severe segregation and thus reshaped the city’s racial and ethnic boundaries. A comparison between patterns of racial and ethnic distribution with access to quality education as well as the distribution of gated communities reveals that historical barriers to minority mobility persisted in new, more fluid forms after these waves of immigration. Namely, the overall geographical tendency of Las Vegas subregions with the highest proportions of gated communities and high-quality educational institutions to be areas with majority white populations demonstrates that systems of community and educational privatization may represent a new era of white flight. As such, this research introduces Las Vegas’ 20th and 21st century residential geography as a significant example of how racial barriers and tools of segregation transfigure over time, especially in environments undergoing immense demographic reorganization.
Racialized Neoliberalism is resculpting the fabric of Southern California’s Inland Empire. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, located directly east of Los Angeles, encompass the largest hub of warehousing and logistics in the United States. These warehouses serve key roles in the supply chains of companies such as Walmart and Amazon. This project attends to the disproportionate placement of warehouses in communities of color, analyzes the discourse of local politicians who support these neoliberal developments and focuses on the experiences of youth (aged 18-22) who are pushed into warehouse work. By illuminating the impact that warehouses have on youth in the Inland Empire through interviews, this project argues that neoliberal economic developments do not empower but, rather, harm minoritized communities. This generational impact is reflected in young workers’ experiences of social mobility, wage slavery, and time poverty. Through Convenience Sampling and Nomination Recruitment Strategy, this project interviewed young warehouse workers. Dedoose software is employed to utilize a codebook for the interviews averaging 45 minutes. This research addresses how logistics impacts the lives of young warehouse workers.
“Time and Momentum Are on Our Side”: An Examination of the People’s Republic of China’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
This paper seeks to reconstruct the People’s Republic of China’s COVID response from the beginning of the outbreak to life after the end of zero-COVID (end of 2019-early 2023). I present four different periods within this timeframe where China adjusted its strategy, both domestically and internationally. Namely, these are the early phase (E), pre-vaccine phase (PrV), post-vaccine (PV) phase, and post-zero-COVID (PZC) phase. Given the recent jettisoning of zero-COVID policies by Chinese authorities in late 2022 following the A4 Revolution 白紙 革命, I believe this paper serves to add greater context to the events leading up to this, contextualize the situation in China after zero-COVID, and situate China’s domestic response to COVID within global discussions of how better to manage pandemic response.
This paper examines how female Daoists achieved ideological political power within the Confucian feudal society in the Tang Dynasty in ancient China. It compares the influence of the three core religions Ru Shi Dao to show the social background of the Tang Dynasty, serving as a basis for discussing women’s empowerment. The paper demonstrates that Daoism played a significant role in helping women obtain the liberation of their physicality, step out of their nuclear family, and obtain social power. The paper employs Michael Mann’s theory on sources of social power to understand the power structure in the Tang Dynasty. It examines classical texts on Confucianism and Daoism, as well as Chinese poems, providing both theoretical support to the social order of the Tang Dynasty and individual experience in the specific social environment.
Lithium Extraction and Hydropower Development in Bolivia: Climate Mitigation versus Indigenous Environmental Justice
Located at the heart of the Amazonian-Andean geobiological interface, Bolivia is uniquely situated with an ecologically diverse landscape, a politically active Indigenous population, and natural resources that attract foreign interest. As climate change mitigation gains international traction, Bolivia’s potential to provide lithium globally and hydropower regionally has prompted exploitation of the land by the Bolivian government. In a nation where the Indigenous majority has defined the rights of Mother Earth in its Constitution, the destructive nature of these projects calls attention to the novel issue of justifying environmental degradation with a promise to save the world from climate change. By examining primary and secondary sources, this paper explores the friction between development for sustainability and Indigenous environmental justice in Bolivia. In my investigation, I question whether investing in renewables that cause environmental degradation is inherently contradictory in the context of Bolivian Indigenous tradition. I consistently find that the methods of development and consultation for these projects are flawed. I suggest that a framework of temporal environmental justice is needed to fully understand this friction between environmental and climate justice.
Stories of (S)kin: Afro-Asian-Indigenous Relationalities and Anti-Blackness in Diasporic Filipinx Hawaiʻi
In this paper, I explore how Filipinx settlers in occupied Hawaiʻi are racialized in proximity to Blackness, in relation to US-centric and colonial articulations of Blackness, and within the settler colonial system of power and domination in the transpacific. Across the Filipinx diaspora, critiques of white skin valorization are conceptualized primarily as colorism where Asian beauty and desirability are routed through the white colonial imagination. However, drawing from ethnographic research on local skin whitening discourse among first and second-generation Filipinx-American settlers in Hawaiʻi, I consider how these stories of skin reveal how Filipinx settlers are racialized in proximity to Blackness, where Blackness is denigrated, whiteness reigns supreme, and Kanaka Maoli are entangled in US racial binaries. As such, I move beyond colorism to argue that the processes of racialization indexed by skin whitening is an anti-Black project of US empire that renders dark-skin bodies abject and undesirable. In confronting anti-Blackness in Hawaiʻi, I contend that Afro-Asian-Indigenous relationalities challenge enduring racial colonial discourses and contribute to alternative possibilities for Blackness, Indigeneity, and settler allyship to become entwined components of an anti-racist and decolonial Hawaiʻi.
Aleph Volume 20 - Author Biographies