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Open Access Publications from the University of California


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.

Issue cover


Fun, Fearless, Feminist?: An Exploration of COSMOPOLITAN Magazine's Ongoing Fight for Feminist Legitimacy Within the Changing Landscape of American Feminisms

This paper examines Cosmopolitan magazine content about feminism and sexuality from 1996 to 2017, and how the magazine has reflected, contrasted with, or ignored prominent ideas in the history of American feminisms. Specifically focusing on Cosmopolitan’s framing of feminism in the 2010s, excerpts from content containing the search terms ‘feminism’ or ‘feminist’ from 1996 to 2017 are contextualized within historical background and reflect upon the historical moments that preceded and created them. Primary source text is considered in conversation with sex-positive feminism(s), as well as intersectional and queer feminisms. In the nuanced context of mainstream American feminisms over the last several decades, the conflict between Cosmopolitan and its critics can be understood as a reflection of the tensions between sex-positive feminists and other feminists from a variety of theoretical backgrounds. Regardless, women worldwide turn to Cosmopolitan, making it a critical locus for the study of women’s sexuality and their engagement with feminism.

Discourse, Public Space, and Politics Regarding the Issue of Korean "Comfort Women": Implications for East Asia Relations

The issue of “comfort women,” sex slaves utilized by the Japanese army during World War II, is treated in this paper as a collective memory in the consciousness of South Koreans. This serves as the underlying basis for increased present tensions between the governments of South Korea and Japan. To understand the complexity of these painful experiences as a collective memory requires a discussion on the impact of colonization as well as on contemporary problems regarding a whitewashing of history and the utilization of public space for the memorialization of these women. The result of these factors is the exacerbation of tension between the South Korean and Japanese governments, mainly due to a widely perceived belief within South Korea regarding the Japanese government’s reluctance to engage in transparent discussions regarding history. This tension will likely impact cooperation between the two countries on issues in East Asia. The paper not only seeks to examine Japan-South Korea relations, but to emphasize the importance of focusing the narrative on the individual women who were subjected to such atrocities.

Red Granite Film Financing Scandal: A Case Study in International Corruption

This article investigates international kleptocracy through the lens of one specific case, the Red Granite financing scandal from 2016. Red Granite, a film financing company run by two Malaysian financiers and a businessman from Kentucky, collaborated with Leonardo DiCaprio to create what would become Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street. However, the Department of Justice discovered that the funding for the film may have been illicit. The subsequent embezzlement scandal involved the investigation of stolen funds from the financial fund 1Malaysia Development Berhard, which was owned by the Malaysian government for the purpose of national economic development. The scandal further demonstrates how domestic legal initiatives are necessary to fight the complex networks of global corruption that too often hinder developing countries’ economic growth.

Evictions in Jakarta Through the Lens of the Media

Studies of evictions in Jakarta often focus on the evictions process, its impacts, and the justifications given by the Jakarta administration. However, these studies often fail to discuss the role that the Indonesian mass media plays in facilitating the discussion surrounding evictions. To address this gap in research, we use a traditional qualitative discourse analysis and Wordle, a visualization tool, to analyze The Jakarta Post’s news articles over a twenty-year period. From this analysis, we conclude that evictions in Jakarta are justified by a need to dredge rivers, that replacement housing remains a common form of compensation, and that resistance methods increasingly involve legal means. Furthermore, we offer a step towards understanding the past and current state of evictions in Jakarta.

A New Neighborhood for an Old City: The Resettlement of the Athenian Agora in the Middle Byzantine Period

When Rome fell in 476 CE, the city of Athens in Greece also shrank, moving inside its walls to protect its people. This left the Agora, the bustling marketplace which sat outside the walls, abandoned. In the tenth century, at the economic height of the Byzantine Empire, Athens expanded outside its walls, ushering in a new period of rebuilding in the Agora. This project sought to characterize the shift in domestic architecture from before and after the abandonment, which led to a better understanding of Athenian identity as expressed through architecture. Research conducted on excavation reports from the American School of Classical Studies in Athens (ASCSA) revealed that the houses in these new neighborhoods were modest, more closely resembling homes seen in the Roman period than contemporaneous Byzantine constructions. While they may not be known for the innovative, extravagant architecture of their ancestors, the Byzantine Athenians are ultimately remembered for the simple accomplishment that they were there at all— attempting to rebuild, repopulate, and worship a new faith in an old city.

Motivation in Los Angeles Factories: Mamá y Papá - What Gets You Up in the Morning

Undocumented Latino workers often work in unsafe and underpaid jobs. There is limited research on this demographic, especially as it relates to the factors that motivate these workers to work under undesirable working conditions. Self-Determination Theory states that relatedness, competence, and autonomy are three intrinsic psychological needs that, when met, will lead to optimal human flourishing. These three needs directly translate to the workplace. A workplace that provides an environment for workers to have a sense of belonging, accomplishment, and self-control, unlocks greater satisfaction, performance, and wellbeing. Moreover, Self- Determination Theory states that intrinsic psychological needs can be challenged by extrinsic rewards and punishments. This raises a question: what motivates undocumented Latino workers to continue working in undesirable working conditions? This study qualitatively examines the potential factors affecting undocumented Latino factory workers’ motivation in the workplace, and this study provides a platform for these workers to share their daily life struggles.

This Year's Staff

2017-2018 Staff

Aleph is a student-run journal publishing the research work of undergraduates at UCLA. Students wishing to join the staff or submit articles for review should visit our website at or email for details.

Author Biographies