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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, a biannual publication dedicated to publishing exemplary undergraduate research in the humanities and social sciences.

Volume 22 Issue 2 2010


A Conduct Incompatible with Their Character: Patriots, Loyalists, & Spies: Espionage in the American Revolution and the Underlying Social & Ideological Revolution in the American Colonies

The American Revolution was a precarious and uncertain period in American history in which loyalties were tried, ideologies were tested, and identities shifted; the conflicted role of espionage in the American Revolution offers insight into this formative moment in the development of an American identity disparate from Britain. Espionage had a critical function in the American Revolution, both militarily and politically. Intelligence secured by spies affected the strategic outcome of the Revolutionary War and the public imagination was strongly influenced by the exposure of spies. However, experimentation in espionage during the Revolutionary War has been little examined by historians, especially in a social or ideological context. This paper will examine espionage in the context of colonial norms and conventions in order to reveal how it contributed to the underlying social and ideological revolution of the American Revolution and the emergence of a truly American identity.

Birth of the Female Student-Writer in Meiji Japan (1868-1912): Miyake Kaho’s The Warbler in the Grove

The first female modern prose writer in Japan, Miyake Kaho (1868-1944) was a young college student when she published Yabu no uguisu (The Warbler in the Grove). Warbler appears to have a simple plot, in which a young girl’s selfless act is rewarded by marriage to a wealthy gentleman. At a deeper level, however, it delivers progressive ideas about modern women’s lives in high society, ideas which often go against the contemporary government policies. In Warbler, I recognize Kaho’s resistance against the pressures from the dominant discourse in the Meiji era as well as the hope she has provided to her fellow female students. This paper examines the interactions of such issues as women’s education, gender norms in relation to class, and construction of female sexuality in the Meiji period under overwhelming Western influences. I will argue that the main theme of Warbler is the need of a modern education for women in the upper class, which is thought by the author to give them access to national politics. Also, contrary to the conventional views that Warbler is a mere imitation of contemporary male writers’ works, this paper argues that Warbler actually inspired the contemporary male writer’s work, namely, Saganoya Omuro’s Hakumei no Suzuko (Suzuko, the Unfortunate).

The Modern Face of Honor Killing: Factors, Legal Issues, and Policy Recommendations

Honor killing is a phenomenon practiced in at least thirty-one countries on six continents and leads to the murder of thousands of people annually. They come from various nations, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, or professions and all die at the hands of their family or community members after being accused of having compromised their morals. The truth of what these persons have or have not done does not matter. They have no chance to defend themselves, and their fate is not the culmination of a legal proceeding. It is decided by the people not the law. These victims vanish without any consequences for the killer as if nothing has ever happened. This study attempts to define the complexity of legal and cultural factors that allow for, or encourage the practice of honor killing, as well as to make policy recommendations on how to deter it. My thesis contends that gender discrimination and religious perceptions, conventionally accepted as explanations for honor killing, are not the only and most significant factors behind this phenomenon but rather, that poverty, political structure and insecurity, and lack of appreciation for human life play a big role in it. The examination of recent honor killings, history of gender dynamics, and religious prescriptions in a number of countries, where the practice is prevalent, supports this assertion. Each aspect listed is discussed in a segment of my research, followed by legal analysis of existing laws and policy recommendations.

Escorted Ethnography: Ethics, the Human Terrain System and American Anthropology in Conflict

Despite claims that the U.S. military’s new Human Terrain System can ‘save lives’ by using social scientists to construct ethnographic maps of Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby enabling “non-lethal alternatives” to combat missions, the American Anthropological Association has officially condemned the program as an “unacceptable application of anthropological expertise”. Though seemingly based on an insincere investigation of the program’s merits, AAA’s ruling has nevertheless encouraged a broad consensus that the Human Terrain System violates anthropologists’ primary ethical obligation to protect their informants from harm. Through analysis of available documents, literature, and interviews with Human Terrain System members, however, it becomes clear that there is more evidence to support the opposite claim: the Human Terrain System certainly does more to protect the interests of Iraqi and Afghan informants than the AAA’s condemnation-without-alternatives does. The author argues that the AAA’s official stance thus takes a major step away from “the side of humanity” to a politically conventional but morally anemic position. Are American anthropologists willing to put their lives and reputations on the line and ethnographies under military escort to possibly “save lives” in Iraq and Afghanistan, or will they put the opportunity on the shelf and wait for the hostilities to cease before they conduct ‘safer’ ethnographies of the survivors? What does it mean for the discipline when neither option seems to be, as David Price (2008) put it, “divorced from conquest”?

They Hatch Alone: The Alienation of the Colonial American Subject in Toni Morrison's A Mercy

This essay examines the trope of “motherlessness” as a metaphor for the natal alienation experienced by the diaspora who populated colonial America. I closely read the five main characters in A Mercy—Florens, Jacob, Lina, Rebekka, and Sorrow—to show how their behavioral responses to “motherlessness” compound their alienation as seventeenth century American subjects.