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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.


Domestic Violence and Women With Disabilities: A Neglected Problem

Women with disabilities and women affected by violence have been seen as two different groups, when in fact, there is a tremendous co-occurrence that service providers are not equipped to detect or respond to. This thesis will explore the domestic violence experiences of women with disabilities to reveal similarities and important differences to women in general. Chapter one will begin by defining disability and exploring how the social context of disability interrelates with the social construction of femininity. The next chapter will focus on defining domestic violence, exploring women’s experience of domestic violence, and enumerating special factors that may impact women with disabilities. The third chapter will discuss the types of services that exist for domestic violence, the factors that complicate accessing services for this population of women, and how accessibility means much more than removing structural barriers. The final chapter will provide policy and practice recommendations and discuss significant gaps in the literature.

From the Past to the Present: The Guatemala STD Study and Multi-Layered Bioethical Critique

I use the Guatemala STD Study as a case study for modern bioethics and public policy surrounding pharmaceutical human subjects research. The Guatemala Study was a two year clinical experiment funded and executed by the United States Public Health Services (USPHS) to intentionally infect Guatemalan subjects with sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as syphilis, gonorrhea and cancroid, in order to understand the efficacy of chemical prophylaxis. Hope for treatment when none else is available, coupled with infrastructural weakness and social prejudice makes countless populations vulnerable to exploitation, much like the Guatemalan STD study subjects. As a case study, Guatemala highlights gaping holes in human subject protections, especially in regards to structural violence. This article is designed to add to the incisive analyses already provided by academics on the Guatemala case so far. I have taken a multi-layered approach in order to answer three important questions: 1) how the study occurred in the first place, 2) why the researchers disregarded the subjects’ lives and wellbeing and 3) how the current legal-regulatory system manufactures a form of justice (or injustice) for the surviving victims. The Guatemala study was in fact, “a dark chapter in the history of medicine” as NIH director Francis Collins lamented. Nonetheless, it also set the precedent for transnational human subject research, which has grown to extraordinary levels in recent years.

  • 1 supplemental file

"A Time of Great Tension": Memory and the Malaysian Chinese Construction of the May 13 Race Riots

On May 13th 1969, decades of political and ethnic pressures exploded after a contentious general election, changing Malaysia's capital city of Kuala Lumpur from a bustling cityscape into a racialized battleground. Majority Malay and minority Chinese would clash for weeks afterward, leaving behind an estimated two hundred dead and a further five hundred wounded. This paper examines a variety of Malaysian Chinese constructions of the race riots in the decades afterward, piecing together the thoughts and feelings held towards an ethnically traumatic event that still holds sway in the current turbulent sky that is Malaysia's political sphere. Using essays, nonfiction, literature, and surveys from those who had lived through the riots, we see for all the lack of a cohesive narrative and general reticence regarding the riots that while the 'winner' may create history, the 'loser' can develop powerful, flexible lessons for the future.

The Tower and the Telescope: The Gaze and Colonial Elsewheres in Virginia Woolf’s Fictions

Many scholars choose to celebrate Virginia Woolf as a preeminent English modernist who writes from and writes about the hub of empire, while focusing on her major novels and neglecting her short fiction. This thesis takes two of Virginia Woolf’s novels, The Voyage Out and Mrs. Dalloway, and brings them into conversation with the unpublished draft material of Woolf’s little-known, but heavily revised short story “The Searchlight.” Rather than assuming that Woolf is an author who primarily engages with life within England at the turn of the century, it interrogates the colonial elsewheres (or the places of colony that Woolf writes about but never visited herself) that feature in various scenes of looking in her writing. What do Woolf’s characters see when they gaze over people and places that are both known and unknown? And, perhaps even more importantly, what do they imagine? This thesis claims that the act of looking in Woolf’s fictions constitutes a fundamental ambivalence in the ideology of empire – Woolf’s characters gaze at colonial elsewheres in ways that both sustain and dislodge the underlying logic of conquest. Ultimately, the gaze as it operates in Woolf’s fictions is less about accessing a single subjectivity and more about how the gaze is constantly brought into relation with other gazes in the outer world. Any attempt by her characters to achieve a monolithic gaze that aligns with the nationalistic and patriarchal agenda of empire is always disrupted by other objects, people, or places.

Amphibians, Affect and Agency: On the Production of Scientific Knowledge in the Anthropocene

The scientific community agrees that we are in the midst of a mass extinction event caused by human impacts on the environment. Amidst this alarming loss in biodiversity, conservation biology has emerged as the authoritative body of knowledge by which we come to understand mass extinction and what can be done to prevent it. Using evidence from a case study of scientific research done by conservation biologists on amphibian declines and extinctions, this paper argues that conservation biology exists in the tension between an extension and a subversion of a post-Enlightenment scientific rationality. Part I of this paper supports the claim that conservation biology is an extension of post-Enlightenment rationality that positions the conservation biologist as an agent in the continued mastery and control of nature. Part II of this paper supports a counter-narrative that conservation biology is a subversion of post-Enlightenment scientific rationality that instead positions the conservation biologist as a partner with and advocate for nature.

The Significance of the Wasteland in American Culture

In this paper, I examine the sense of restlessness and the resultant apocalyptic fantasy in contemporary American culture by distilling two film genres—the Hollywood western and the post-apocalyptic—down to their basic structural elements. The post-apocalyptic genre’s aesthetic and thematic borrowing from the Hollywood western signifies a cynical critique of the frontier myth. In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner presented The Significance of the Frontier in American History, his “Frontier Thesis,” which mourns the closure of the frontier and celebrates the American institutions built upon it. The frontier only exists insofar as it is available for human exploration and settlement. Though the frontier is long gone, the desire for open space and freedom from social restriction remains prominent in American culture. The post-apocalyptic genre continues Turner’s mourning and indulges the fantasy of free and open space. In essence, it gives the frontier back to viewers by undoing everything that the frontier made possible. The characters in the post-apocalyptic genre then explore the possibilities of rebuilding society and struggle (and often fail) to avoid the mistakes of America’s historical past. In this sense, the wasteland functions as a revision of the frontier myth. This paper explores the post-apocalyptic genre’s view of the frontier myth as a trajectory towards civilization’s collapse. It posits a more cynical view of humanity, and in doing so aims to expose the feet of clay on which our social order stands. In the process, a new myth is generated—the mythic wasteland.

Building Your Resume to be the Ultimate Bride: South Korean Women’s Contradictory Identity in a Hyper-Instrumentalized Society

Rapid modernization in South Korea, derived from industrialization and democratization in the 70’s and 80’s, has helped Korean women to gain higher socio-economic statuses. However, the daughters of the 70’s and 80’s generation still prefer to sustain higher status through marriage, by regarding it the ultimate life goal, as a “job”. My research question asks, “Why do well-educated South Korean women, who are aware of the “second shift”, and other forms of marital inequality still actively resort to marriage as their ultimate life goal despite opportunities for self-actualization?” Drawing from 29 in-depth interviews with South Korean women, born in the 80’s and 90’s, I argue that in the building of South Korean modernity, a compressed process within the 70’s and 80’s, the current South Korea is a hyper-instrumentalized society where women are actively “modernizing” themselves to be “traditional”. As the body of South Korean women interacts with these emerging social institutions, marriage involves a process of resume building through higher education and the career market. My findings show that South Korean marriage is even regarded as a “job” in itself. As a result, we must reconsider the role of ideals like self-actualization, which are typically assumed in narratives of modernization. The end-goal of successful marriage should be considered as part of the changing sociology that drives South Korean women to pursue higher education and prominent job opportunities.

Between "Easter Island" and "Rapa Nui": The Making and Unmaking of an Uncanny Lifeworld

This is a historically informed ethnography of the Rapanui people of Easter Island. The main point of the thesis is that the “restoration” of a dispossessed and ravaged landscape by outsiders into what some scholars call “Museum Island” produces in the Rapanui an uncanny affect when re-encountering their landscape and the emplaced persons within. The ontological, historical, and contemporary entailments of the case are analyzed on the basis of ethnographic data I collected on the island in May-July 2013 and January 2014, in addition to archival research I conducted at the island’s museum. My analysis reveals that after confining the Rapanui in what is today the island’s only town, and then subjecting them to disciplinary and regulatory techniques borrowed from the concurrent treatment of lepers on the island, the Chilean nation-state came to frame the contemporary Rapanui subject through a psychopolitics of melancholy. By means of a government apparatus aimed at developing the Rapanui’s culture, a desire is interpellated in the indigenous subject to be Rapanui at the same time that the ontological and ethical entailments of being Rapanui are relegated to a lost, indeterminable object in the past (in the island’s curatorial arrangement). I show that this is accomplished by rendering the present form of the island a frozen, monologic version of the past. I also explore the ways in which Rapanui subjects today remake their world as a familiar place by regenerating connections with their personalized landscape, a process I liken to disaster recovery. I conclude the thesis with a discussion of a collaborative project in 2014-2015 that attempts to regenerate dominated forms and modes of being in Rapa Nui.

  • 2 supplemental files