Abstracts: Wednesday, February 15th


Polly Lauer | History
Community Radio in Guatemala: Resistance in the Face of Repression
Advisor: Betsy Konefal
This study traces how Guatemalan community radio stations' experiences with their operators, communities, and oppressors have contributed to a growing political indigenous solidarity in the face of sustained exclusions. In twentieth century Guatemala, a mechanism that rose as a powerful medium of mobilizing people, movements, and knowledge was community radio, which proved to be a resource that helped establish a sense of local autonomy for many marginalized communities. However, systems of power, which radio has helped many populations resist, have also pushed back in retaliation, refusing the change encouraged by broadcasters. Over time, the means by which community radio stations are attacked have changed, but the end has remained the same: a community resource is threatened or lost. Despite Guatemala's 1996 Peace Accords and commitment to agreements that secure indigenous access to media, community radios still face brutality reflective of a continued though covert prejudice against the Maya population.    

Rachel Merriman-Goldring | Environmental Science and Policy
Environmental Justice Communication Among Chesapeake Bay Nonprofits
Advisor: Randy Chambers
My thesis will explore the extent to which environmental nonprofits actively engage with the Environmental Justice dimensions of the issues they work on, through their external communications. I am coding nonprofits based on how they discuss the implications of environmental justice for communities of color, poor communities, and other marginalized groups, with the ultimate aim of understanding the variability in how nonprofits engage with environmental justice.    


Quinn Monette | Interdisciplinary Studies 
Natural Debts: The State and the Individual in Immunology Texts
Advisor: William Fisher
Beginning as an exploration of science as an embedded cultural practice, I investigate the ways that political, economic, and social values act as a filter through which the natural world is understood. I look especially at the language of immunology, rife with oppositional categories like self vs. other, homeostasis vs. invasion, and efficiency vs. disorder. These categories form a shared base of ideology, or world-ordering, and serve as ready-made tools to explain natural and social phenomena. The particular assemblages of ideology, which include border creation and enforcement, surveillance, economic productivity, and policing, enter into immunological description with remarkable cogency. Yet are descriptions of the natural world truly value-free? I argue against the objectivity of science, inasmuch as the methods and observations of scientific inquiry must be filtered through contextually situated linguistic and mechanical technologies. I conclude by examining the implications of the language of immunology on subjects and the reproduction of ideology.    

Joshua Zimmt | Geology 
Using Strontium Isotope Ratios to Calculate the Period of Fossil Bed Formation and Interpreting the Preservation of Diversity in the Miocene Calvert Cliffs (Maryland, USA)
Advisor: Rowan Lockwood
Understanding the formation of the fossil record is essential to our knowledge of paleobiology and the evolution of life on Earth. The Calvert Cliffs (Maryland, USA) have served as a testing ground for hypotheses concerning the formation of the fossil record for over one hundred years. Large heavily condensed fossil beds found over hundreds of square kilometers have been the subjects of much of the research at the Cliffs; however, no one has attempted to determine the time over which these massive beds formed. Estimates for the period of bed formation range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of years. We can constrain the period of bed formation by using a technique called strontium isotope stratigraphy (SIS), allowing us to date fossils from the top and bottom of these fossil beds. In doing so, we will be able to critically analyze past studies in a new light.  


Matthew Adan | Sociology
Empirical Measures of Collective Capacity: A Social Network Approach
Advisor: David Aday
The potential for collective action within a community, or community capacity, has been well described theoretically in academic literature, but has yet to be linked with empirical measures. This thesis, rooted in sociology and community studies, will attempt to identify analytical methods suitable for understanding collective capacity and demonstrate that these tools are useful for detecting meaningful changes in collective capacity over time. A structural approach to social networks using Social Network Analysis (SNA) will be used to conduct this investigation.


Ivy Duerr
 | Theater, Speech, and Dance
Female Perspectives and Feminist Performances: Women and Their Roles in Plays and Playwriting
Advisor: Laurie Wolf  
Women have historically been excluded from the world of theatre and theatre production. However, over the past few decades, female playwrights, directors, and producers have banded together to create their own, unique theatre in which the trials of successes of women are performed by women specifically for women. Last semester, I produced and directed my own feminist play, written by a feminist playwright, with an all-female cast, and created by an all-female design team. This project has been an adventure in applying feminist theory, and making my own observations about the world of female production and performance.

Megan Sonner | American Studies
Freakery, Celebrity, and American Ideology: Examining the Tom Thumb Wedding
Advisor: Kara Thompson