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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.


Exploring the Nuances, Ethicality and Functionality of ‘Consent’: Prior Informed Consent as a Legal Mechanism to Protect Malaysia’s Indigenous Communities’ Rights to Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

Indigenous communities worldwide face a new type of capitalist accumulation by the outside world – not only are lands and livelihoods illegitimately seized, as has been the case throughout history, but today indigenous innovations and knowledge systems are commoditized and ascribed commercial value as they present a biotechnological and pharmaceutical marketplace. Researchers, corporations, and governments seek access to and ownership over native plant resources and their associated traditional knowledge, and often do so unjustly, unlawfully, and violently. Thorough and meaningful consent processes for the utilization of such knowledge are rarely undertaken by access-seekers, and when they are, they often have many problems. Governments additionally sideline and marginalize indigenous individuals from the political process that governs these resources. Methodologically, this study utilizes scholarly research to analyze current formal and informal frameworks used to protect such traditional knowledge systems, posing a comparative analysis of the international, national, and grass roots frameworks. It focuses largely on the legal concept of ‘Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC),’ its historical foundations, ethical boundaries, nuances, and the potential functionality of a mandatory FPIC policy governing indigenous biodiversity matters within Malaysian national law. The research concludes by detailing visits to and interviews with four indigenous communities in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak and in Perak, Peninsular Malaysia, sharing locals’ concerns, hopes, and methods for knowledge protection, and recommendations for indispensable legislative action to be taken by both the state and federal governments of Malaysia and other biodiversity-rich countries.

Seems a Fate in It: Misdirection and Foreshadowing in Bleak House and A Pair of Blue Eyes

Foreshadowing in a novel would seem to imply that that novel takes place in a world of fate, but Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Thomas Hardy’s A Pair of Blue Eyes complicate this assumption. Instead of directly arguing against a world of fate, however, their foreshadowing techniques present fate as a subjective experience, most likely shared by people who have been trained to read their own lives novelistically. While Dickens’s novel shows readers a meaningful world in which all secret plot information will be revealed eventually, Hardy’s novel stresses readers’ inability to know the whole story and teases them with withheld information all the way to its end.

In this thesis, I attempt to explore foreshadowing in especially cryptic passages of Bleak House and A Pair of Blue Eyes.  In Bleak House, I focus on the foreshadowing in the scenes leading up to Krook and Tulkinghorn’s deaths.  In A Pair of Blue Eyes, my focus is less chapter-centric, although I spend considerable time examining Henry Knight’s near-death experience on the Cliff Without a Name.  Much of the critical framework for my close readings comes from Peter Brook’s Reading for the Plot and Michael André Bernstein’s Foregone Conclusions.  While Reading for the Plot supplements my commentary on repetition’s relation to resolution in a plot, Foregone Conclusions gives me the vocabulary to discuss different types of foreshadowing and their effects.

Although these critics, and others, inform my work, I add my own perspective on the features of foreshadowing, by looking at how readers’ experiences of foreshadowing change when they re-read a text.

Staging Queer Temporalities: A Look at Miss Gay Western Cape

Miss Gay Western Cape is a beauty pageant that takes place once a year in Cape Town. Though the event began during apartheid, it is only recently that it has gained visibility and emerged as the largest (recognized) gay pageant in South Africa. This project considers the ways in which different queer communities in Cape Town strive to be seen in spaces that remain governed by the logics of racialized segregation. As evidenced with this event, queer communities in Cape Town bare the wounds of the colonial and apartheid mechanism of informing and controlling groups on the basis of race. “Queer” as a politics, aesthetic, and movement takes many shapes within different contemporary contexts and serves as a necessary axis of conflict in relation to the imported, Westernized gay rights discourse. By representing an imagined world—a haven for oppressed, queer individuals to bear tiaras and six-inch heels to freely express their sexualities through feminized gender identities—the pageant becomes a space in which queer practices supersede dominant gay rights discourse. It articulates an untold history through performance.  I thus understand the pageant as both an archive and an act of resistance, in which participants enact a fragmented freedom and declare their existence in the supposed rainbow nation.

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Inmate-to-Inmate: Socialization, Relationships, and Community Among Incarcerated Men

Prison's walls keep prisoners in, but in many ways, they simultaneously keep the public out. Although researchers have studied and investigated different aspects of prisons, an area with particularly little notice has been the interactions between and amongst incarcerated men. With all of the concerted efforts and discussions attempting to create more stable inmate communities, the importance of understanding the social relationships is critical and significant for policy makers and the general public. I focus on California's male prison institutions where, due to sentencing procedures and isolated geographical locations of prisons, men are often sent to prisons far from hometowns, making it particularly difficult for friends and family to visit. Given the difficulty accessing home community relationships, inmate-to-inmate relations often form the basis of social interaction during an individual's sentence, and the inmate community forms a significant aspect of the prison experience.

In attempting to understand the social environment of inmates, the previous discourse has highlighted and emphasized negative occurrences to explain the community and the interactions of its members in its entirety. The mystery of this community by lack of research, combined with hyped news and misconstrued popular media portrayals, has led to suppositions and theories about the relational dynamics amongst incarcerated men that remain simplistic and shallow. In particular, accounts of gang organization and rapes in prison have received exceptional attention. While striking and noteworthy, these types of incidences have overpowered the literature on inmate-to-inmate relationships.

In this thesis, social relations between incarcerated men are given context by recognizing effects of both the institutional structural setting and informal social organization, including oft left-out positive inmate interactions of non-violent, non-criminal relations. By examining inmate-to-inmate relationships from the incarcerated men's perspectives, utilizing documented verification, and placing violent actions into the institutional framework, understandings of inmate-to-inmate relationships are further developed for a truer comprehension of the community, and ultimately of the incarcerated individuals.

Über Alles? Bavarian Particularism and German Integration during the Limbo Years

One of the fundamental challenges the 28 member-states of the European Union face today is a dichotomy between state-level and European priorities.

The Kingdom of Bavaria faced a similar situation between 1866 and 1871, as the state gradually ceded sovereignty to Prussia in the process of German unification.

This essay seeks to illuminate how the members of the Bavarian state legislature responded to Prussian efforts of national integration.

Documents examined include parliamentary records of the Upper and Lower Chambers of the Bavarian legislature, a pamphlet published by the Bavarian branch of the Progress Party (Fortschrittspartei), and the state’s court reference books. Legislative records of the 1867 Treaty Regarding the Continuance of the Customs and Trade Union with Prussia as well as of the 1870 Treaty between the North German Confederation and Bavaria regarding the Founding of a German Federation are also discussed.

This paper’s proposed conclusion is that in the process of German unification, Prussia’s imposed unity further exacerbated traditional divisions in the Bavarian legislature. Split between a National Liberal fraction eager to join a unified Lesser Germany, and a federally, if not democratically, minded Conservative wing that would in 1869 organize the Patriot Party, Bavarians were far from forming a united front vis-à-vis an expansionist Prussia.

Of course this conclusion is very much specific to late 19th century Bavarian politics. However, it does suggest that sustainable (supra)national integration ought to be instigated from the bottom up; spearheaded by, and tailored to the needs of EU member-states.

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Reducing Suggestibility in Preschool Children through Developing Intuitions of Free Will

The current study investigated preschool-aged children’s understanding of their own free will capacities to choose whether to believe or not believe information from an informant. Specifically, we investigated the potential relationship between children’s intuition of their own free will, and their ability to produce accurate testimony in light of a suggestive interviewer. Forty-eight 3- to 5-year-old children participated in the study with two tasks. In the first task, children listened to a scenario, and said whether they had to believe what they were told, or if they could choose to believe that something else might be true. The second task was adapted from the Giles and Gopnik (2002) procedure. The children watched a video followed by suggestive questions regarding what they had just watched. Children’s understanding of choice in regard to belief was highly correlated with their ability to resist suggestion. The results indicated that preschool-aged children are developing an understanding of free will in respect to how they conceptualize belief. Furthermore, children with a more developed conception of their own free will capacities are able to produce more accurate eyewitness testimony, and resist the suggestive nature of biased interviewers.

Getting Our Feet Wet: Water Management at Mt. Laguna in Cleveland National Forest

Integrated regional water management (IRWM) helps us to comprehend the ecological, political, and economic complexities of broad watershed regions in California. In this case study, stakeholder theory served as the framework for an assessment of water management at Mt. Laguna, CA, a rural community on the outskirts of San Diego, CA. After identifying stakeholders, I conducted interviews and surveys to gauge perspectives on water management at Mt. Laguna and to develop categories speaking to the major concerns. In addition, I used a document review to help understand the policy framework surrounding water management in this community. I created four categories: water scarcity and access, fire protection, environmental protection and recreation, and costs of infrastructure and water quality testing. A complex, fractured aquifer system led to disagreements about water scarcity in the region, which combined with rule of capture water law to illustrate how unbridled water extraction could lead to stresses and conflict. I identified fire protection as a top priority, demanding extensive water resources in the wake of the Cedar Fire of 2003. The U.S. Forest Service continues to balance conservation and recreational goals through environmental impact assessments. Finally, costs of infrastructure and water quality testing produced great strain on rural communities, particularly those less affluent than Mt. Laguna. To mitigate these conflicts, it is important that stakeholders develop an understanding of each other’s priorities and the ecological realities of the surrounding region, and participate in collaborative management. Low Impact Development measures to conserve water could also help alleviate conflicts.

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Sensational and Sensual: Monstrous Birth Broadsides and Female Readership

This research paper addresses the rapid rise of monstrous birth literature in Renaissance England and its intended influence on females. Strangely, immersing the public in printed ephemeral depictions of deformed children conflicts with contemporary philosophies about women reading. At a time when women were believed to physically absorb what they read, this literature risked infecting the minds of female readers with monstrous images that could manifest themselves in the women's bodies. This study seeks to explain this paradox by investigating the historical, iconographical, and religious influences of these monstrous birth broadsides and pamphlets.

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