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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 23 Issue 2 2011


Marijuana National Forest: Encroachment on California Public Lands for Cannabis Cultivation

Illegal marijuana cultivation on California public lands has become an increasingly significant problem affecting natural resources and public safety. The major perpetrators are Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations exploiting California’s abundant resources and lucrative markets for illegal marijuana. Cultivators degrade some of the few natural places left by altering land, diverting water, applying chemicals, and inhabiting sites for long periods of time. In order to reduce the long-term impacts, clean up and remediation efforts are conducted, but remain hindered by high costs, understaffing, and the remoteness of sites. Environmental remediation depends on the ability of law enforcement agencies to identify and seize sites. As the issue has become increasingly prominent, law enforcement agencies have adapted their efforts, but have only had a limited effect. In order to solve the problems that illegal marijuana production creates, cultivators must be prevented from exploiting public lands, and/or the incentive for doing so must be removed. These objectives can be reached through the right combination of education, law enforcement strategies, and public policy change.

Engaging Regions in Globalization: The Rise of the Economic Relationship between the San Francisco Bay Area and China

International economic policy is primarily perceived to be a product of national governments. However, while traditionally nation-centric policy formations still take precedence in international economic matters, the past decade has witnessed the remarkable growth of regional actors in policy creation. The first part of this paper analyzes the ascent of regional actors in the San Francisco Bay Area and its growing economic partnership with China. Organizations such as the Bay Area Council have capitalized on the region’s strengths, such as its entrepreneurial talents and richly diverse ethnic makeup, to promote economic ties with Chinese regions and businesses. In particular, three economic sectors—the ports, high technology, and green technology—have dominated the relationship between the San Francisco Bay Area and China. Moreover, this paper argues that not only have regional actors become increasingly prominent in policy creation, but also these policies have a positive feedback effect on the regional economy. This paper finds that the Bay Area’s relationship with China has generated tangible local benefits, including the creation of jobs and an expanded tax base, even during the current economic downturn.

The Red Wedge: Towards a Perspective of Soviet Propaganda in Light of Evolutionary Biology

Over the course of the early Soviet Union, the content and nature of propaganda exhibits increasing alignment with advantageous biological traits, particularly the human aptitude for indoctrination. Drawing from evolutionary biology, psychology, and history, Soviet propaganda will be analyzed as a vehicle of education and advertisement. Under the pretext of natural selection by way of an evolutionary theory of motivation, definitive patterns existed within Soviet propaganda, of which those found in posters and newspapers will receive examination. Human behavior is directionally motivated by survival, and the human propensity to accept ideologies contrary to fundamental mechanisms of individual survival suggest that the ability for indoctrination confers some evolutionary benefits. As the Soviet Union’s political situation changed between 1917 and 1932, propaganda experienced simultaneous transformations in accordance with both politics and human evolution. Methods employed under Stalin proved more adept than those previously employed by Lenin at appealing to innate biological predispositions, including the human desire for societal stability through hierarchical organization and the desirable positive associations among ‘in-group’ members when a defined contrasting ‘out-group’ exists. In this light, the evolution of propaganda effectively illustrates unconscious modifications within propaganda machines to better appeal to human biological traits that have been selected for under the processes of evolution.

The Auchinleck Manuscript and Fourteenth-Century Lay Piety

The Auchinleck Manuscript, compiled in the early fourteenth century, is one of the first manuscripts written primarily in English. Its slightly damaged codex currently contains 44 poems, of which 23 are unique copies or unique versions of stories. Scholars have predominately studied the Auchinleck to analyze either individual stories, many of which, if not unique, are the first extant copies, or the manuscript itself to explore early English bookmaking techniques. I, along with a few scholars, have attempted to analyze the Auchinleck holistically. Though crusade romances make up the bulk of the codex in the amount of folios, the passio, hagiography and hagiographic romances, various prayers, exempla-esque stories, and such shorter religious poems are replete throughout the Auchinleck. The continual appearance of such poems indicates a preoccupation not just with religion, but with the unique, visual, and almost physical aspect of spiritual practices of a laity that was becoming more involved in their religious practices and beliefs. The Auchinleck indicates not only political and linguistic changes, but also the evolution of a religious culture into a ‘popular’ culture that is participated in, reconfigured, and recreated by an enthusiastic and increasingly knowledgeable laity.

Narrating Washington, D.C. from the Margins: Urban Space and Cultural Identity in "Lost in the City" and "The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears"

Washington, D.C. is a city of paradoxes. At once the site of a tremendous amount of power, wealth and representations of democracy, the city also contains impoverished sectors where residents are disenfranchised. In the following paper, I explore the ways in which two recent works of literature, Edward P. Jones’s Lost in the City and Dinaw Mengestu’s The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears depict Washington, D.C. from these marginal places. Grounding my discussion in theoretical conceptualizations of symbolic and lived space, and applying these theories to urban space in Washington, D.C., I argue that these works evoke images of Washington, D.C. that differ from dominant discursive constructions of the city. I explore the ways in which these re-configurations of urban space in the capital city, articulated from the margins, present narratives that contest the dominant American Dream myth of striving and success. To conclude, I argue that literary works like Jones’s and Mengestu’s, which articulate experiences often occluded from the dominant urban narrative, provide us with “local knowledge” that highlights cultural difference and inequality in the city. I propose that these local forms of knowledge be incorporated into urban plans for democratic space in Washington, D.C. to make American discourses of “liberty and justice for all” a reality for more residents and users.

Perception and Value of the Fresco in the Bronze Age Aegean

The fresco served an extraordinarily important role during the Aegean Bronze Age not only as a marker of wealth and form of elite consumption, but also as a ritualistic tool and creator of cultic space. However, while there is a wealth of literature present concerning the presence of frescoes and speculations about the symbolic nature of their depictions, there is very little information about the effects of the fresco as an active agent upon a passive viewer. This study delves into the nature of the Bronze Age Aegean fresco as an active media differentiating itself from small-scale ceramic artwork through its ability to physically surround and incorporate the viewer into the narrative. The paper first discusses the origin of the fresco, followed by a break down of the two major forms of perspective used in Bronze Age Aegean frescoes: the “cavalier perspective” and the “incorporative perspective”. Finally, case studies of each perspective are analyzed to demonstrate the effect of the fresco upon a passive viewer and to show the subtlety of the perspectives themselves. This analysis of the Bronze Age fresco as an active agent capable of effecting the emotions of human observers provides a new level of fresco interpretation rarely before considered by archaeologists and art historians.

Framing the City: Windows, Newspapers and the Illusion of Reality in Theodore Dreiser's "Sister Carrie"

Through the lenses of urban planning, consumerism, and print and visual culture, this paper explores Theodore Dreiser’s unsettled vision of the fin de siècle American metropolis as expressed in Sister Carrie (1900). The novel’s troubling discrepancy between the appearance and true nature of things calls into question the apparent success achieved by the title character and envisioned by others. To tease out the implications of this discrepancy, it is important to consider the novel’s representations of windows and newspapers—the media of modern perception through which the novel’s protagonists, Carrie Meeber and G.W. Hurstwood, view the city. Acts of window-gazing and newspaper-reading trigger idealized images of life that challenge each character to transform his or her fantasy into reality. Yet, whether in the workplace, the home, or the streets, successfully bridging the two ultimately remains illusory.

Realizing and Imagining "Aesthetic Bliss" in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Pale Fire

Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and Pale Fire are exemplary works of art that continue to push the boundaries of aesthetic and ethical literary theory. Critics and theorists alike once strove to categorize these tenets so central to Nabokov’s work, but in current reviews many have chosen to defer a deterministic analysis of the novel’s themes and instead relegate the philosophical and artistic value of his texts to the realm of “potustoronnost” (“otherworld”). This paper argues that the artistic puzzle that motivates such a critical assessment is in fact more complexly related to Nabokov’s strong opinions about art, aesthetics, and ethics, and ignoring a finer analysis of these themes renders a general term such as “otherworld” unsatisfactory. My research explores two principle motifs—reality and imagination—in an attempt to join Nabokov’s artistic mechanisms with his well-established aesthetic and ethical axioms. Additionally, I invoke the preceding work of Gustauve Flaubert, Madame Bovary, in order to demonstrate how Nabokov has, almost a century later, complemented Flaubert’s negative representation of art’s integration into his characters’ average realities (via a literary critique of interested aesthetics) with a positive, humanistic perspective that invokes moral sentiment. This essay strives to show how beauty and morality connect reality and imagination to aesthetics and ethics; and ultimately, how these interrelationships provide a dimensionality to art that invites the thoughtful reader to an elevated state of “aesthetic bliss.” I offer a refreshing perspective on Nabokov’s artistic priority of attaining “aesthetic bliss” that synthesizes and expands upon the current dialogue.