Welcome to the Berkeley Undergraduate Journal, a biannual publication dedicated to publishing exemplary undergraduate research in the humanities and social sciences.
Volume 29, Issue 2, 2016
Judges and their Allies: The Synergy between the Constitutional Court and Judicial Support Networks in Turkey
Authoritarian regimes create and empower courts in anticipation of various regime-supporting functions of courts such as sidelining political opponents and establishing legitimacy for the government. Recently, however, many courts in authoritarian regimes around the globe have defied their expected roles as regime-supporting pawns, and instead began to challenge the interests of their creators. The Constitutional Court of Turkey (CCT) testifies to such trend. As Turkey gradually evolved to an authoritarian state under Erdoğan’s rule, the CCT has been on the front line in the battle against the Erdoğan government in moderating state power, especially from 2010 to 2014 when the government threatened individual rights and independence of the judiciary. However, the battle between the Court and the government was short-lived when the Court suddenly changed its behavior and remained acquiescent to the government since 2015. What can explain the changes in behavior of the CCT in recent years? What are the sources and conditions that enabled the Court to be active from 2010 to 2014 but passive since 2015? Collecting evidence through academic publications, civil society reports, court cases, and online news articles, this paper finds that the ability of an apex court to engage in conflict with an authoritarian regime depends largely on the mobilization of “judicial support networks,” which are composed of opposition parties, legal professionals and civil society organizations.
Caught Stealing: The Major League Baseball Players Association — A Union for the Few at the Expense of the Many
With over $3.5 billion to divide between roughly 1,200 players each year, the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is described by members and scholars as the most powerful union in the country. When the then-ineffective MLBPA was founded in 1953, private sector unionization was at its zenith. Today, the MLBPA is at the height of its power at a time when private sector unionization has hit a nadir. Considering this, it can be tempting to regard the MLBPA as a formidable outlier that has successfully bucked the trend of deunionization. However, the reality is far less uplifting. To achieve success, the MLBPA has actually repressed low-level workers within the same industry, thereby creating a microcosm of our current era — the New Gilded Age, defined by a growing divide between rich and poor — in professional baseball. This repression has come in the form of restricting minor league player rights and is exemplified by the union’s actions during the 1994-1995 player strike, the rollback of baseball’s antitrust exemption, and changes to the format of the amateur draft. This shift from policies that benefit the largest number of players to ones that favor superstars has resulted in rampant individualism within the baseball world and has perhaps been to the detriment of the union’s well-being. This work illustrates how a large concentration of labor power shared only by a few select workers within an industry can be just as problematic for lower level worker rights as a large concentration of corporate power.
The Mixed Race Mouse: Discovering Mixed Race Identity in Disney Channel Programs from High School Musical to K.C. Undercover
Turn on any action film or drive past a highway billboard, mixed race bodies frequent the media that Americans readily consume. Nevertheless, few scholars investigate the social impact of mixed race representation on such mediums as television. Ignoring multiracial presence in the media allows producers of television programs to shape and construct expectations that are projected onto the mixed race community. My paper contributes to mixed race scholarship by evaluating these projected expectations in pursuit of encouraging readers to seek out authentic representations of the mixed race experience. This paper answers two questions regarding mixed race representation. First, how has the entertainment industry constructed mixed race identity on television? Second, has that identity construction mitigated the demand for diversification and multiculturalism on screen, while simultaneously ignoring the unique discriminatory experiences lived by the mixed race community in the United States? Disney Channel serves as a case study for my research. To evaluate multiracial representation on Disney Channel, I performed a textual and visual analysis on four television programs featuring mixed race actors. I then categorized each mixed race actor as multiracial African American, multiracial Asian American, or multiracial Latino American and compared the identity construction of each character. My analysis indicates that Disney Channel uses mixed race actors and their respective characters to encourage an ideology of racial transcendence and colorblindness which dangerously erases and ignores any history of racial prejudice and discrimination.