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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 24 Issue 1 2011


Why Do Terrorists Betray Their Own Religious Cause?

Why do Islamic terrorist groups betray their original mission and religious ideology? In this paper, I assert that when Islamic terrorist organizations perceive a threat, their goals are likely to change from fulfilling their original mission and religious ideology to simply perpetuating their own organization. In other words, Islamic terrorist organizations emerge with a fixed mission (often times this involves serving a particular population) and religious ideology (a religious cause central to the group’s mission) and over time betray these causes because they feel threatened by entities outside the organization. These organizations can betray their original cause (hereafter, cause will refer to both mission and religious ideology) in two ways: by disregarding their religious ideology or by abandoning the original population or territory they wished to serve and protect. After this point, organizations specifically focus on perpetuating the organization itself. Throughout this change process, the Islamic terrorist organization reaches its terminus, in which it primarily serves its own interest, through three stages: (1) the organization is initiated with a fixed mission and religious ideology, (2) it perceives a threat to its survival and consequently abandons its original cause, and (3) it then perpetrates and takes actions that are, for the most part, for the financial benefit of the organization itself rather than the original cause that was the basis of the organization’s conception.

Predator, Prisoner, and Role Model: The Evolving Figure of Mrs. Robinson

Since the release of the 1967 film classic, The Graduate, the name ‘Mrs. Robinson’ has become synonymous with older women seducing younger men. However, the historical context produces her character as much as her actions, and the way society portrays women like Mrs. Robinson changes over time. Because of cultural, political, scientific, and legal innovations, a woman today who behaves like Mrs. Robinson has different motivations and will be treated differently by society than she would have in the 1960s. Films and television shows simultaneously shape cultural norms while reflecting existing ones. Thus, depictions of real and fictional Mrs. Robinsons jointly figure her within a particular time period. This essay focuses on three disparate ways in which society has portrayed women who have sex with younger men: calculating predators, liberated role models, or troubled criminals.

Hating the Bear? : Root Causes of Perceived anti-Russian Slant in Western News Coverage of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War

At the outset of the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, Western newspapers were harshly criticized for taking a pro-Georgian perspective and initially portraying the crisis as an unprovoked Russian invasion. Russians protested against the story line, reminiscent of the Cold War, that Russia was implementing a premeditated plan to exert control over Georgia, and accused Westerners of promoting anti-Russian propaganda. On the other hand, the United States and Western Europe have some of the freest and most independent media in the world, so what explains this alleged anti-Russian slant? This paper examines the experience of Western journalists from major publications, and the process by which news articles on the crisis were created, by presenting the results of over fifteen interviews with American, British, and French journalists who covered the conflict. These interviews show that Western news coverage of the war was marked more by particular structural obstacles than by the preconceived inclinations of these journalists. Structural obstacles to balanced coverage included (i) the logistical challenges that accompanied the unique timing and complexity of the war, (ii) the role of decisions made by editors and other home office reporters, and most importantly (iii) limited access to South Ossetia. This paper shows that what best explains the alleged anti-Russian coverage in the Western press is not the personal attitude of Western correspondents on the ground, but rather the lack of access to the Russian and South Ossetian perspectives, which resulted from security threats and the intransigence of the Russian army in South Ossetia.

Raising Arizona: How 9/11 Gave Rise to a "Police State" Climate in Arizona

After the passage of the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act, also known as Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), allegations claiming that Arizona had turned into a “police state” came in droves. The allegations came from everywhere—from reputable news sources down to political bloggers—all demonizing the state for yet another harsh and unforgiving attempt at implementing anti-immigrant policy at the state level. However, these allegations had been made against Arizona before the passage of SB 1070. This project attempted to decipher whether or not there is evidence to give credence to the existence of an Arizona “police state.” What was discovered in the process was significant evidence of a physical and political climate that employs extreme policing methods in the name of stemming the flow of undocumented migrants across the Arizona-Mexico border and, more importantly, that all these developments that created said climate arose or were escalated after September 11, 2001. This work presents five findings in relation to this conclusion: the rise in police presence, the rise of policies criminalizing the undocumented, the rise in the detention/prison complex, the rise of influential extremist anti-immigrant groups, and the rise in migrant deaths in post-9/11 Arizona.