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History

Research Presentation Video

Watch Hong Deng Gao '15 discuss her research project.

Watch Aaran Patel '15 discuss his research project.

The Third Force: A Study of China's Forgotten Democracy Movement, 1949-1970

Kathy Lu (2014); Mentor(s): Angelina Chin

Abstract: Conventional historical retellings of the Chinese Civil War (1946-1949) focus on two actors: the Chinese Communist Party and Kuomintang Party. Yet the self-consciously named Third Force, at that moment, was also striving to enter the political fray and shift the entrenched dynamics of power. Based primarily in Hong Kong, the Third Force emerged as not only a cry for a third path between the two behemoths, but also an attempt at fulfilling Sun Yat-sen's vision for a democratic Republic of China, which was lost in the two dominant parties. Active in the 1950s and early 1960s, this group of intellectuals rallied around the twin calls for national reunification and democratic reform, objectives that were intertwined and mutually reinforcing in their minds. The United Voice Weekly (in publication 1958-1964) is one example of a late Third Force publication. This project studies the evolution of the Third Force using articles of United Voice Weekly as a case study. I analyze the unifying themes and shifting trends of both the text and the authors themselves, building a picture of the complex motivations, hopes, and struggles driving this little-studied group of Chinese outside China. Through cataloguing their work, I unearth lost narratives of one of the only political groups genuinely seeking to achieve democracy in post¬ 1949 China, placing the Third Force alongside its competitors in modern Chinese history and retracing the legacy of democracy activists in China today.
Funding Provided by: Pomona Alumni SURP Fund

Taming the Waters: A History of Water Conservancy in Premodern China

Daniel Skubi (2014); Mentor(s): Angelina Chin

Abstract: The regulation of water sources and hydraulic infrastructure has been an integral component of Chinese civilization for over two thousand years. China's two major waterways, the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers, are both focal points for highly productive agricultural systems, but due to their placement have been plagued by flooding and seasonal variation throughout history, necessitating a high degree of management from the Chinese states that depend on them. As a result, Chinese agricultural technology in the imperial era was defined by dense development and complex infrastructure that allowed for very high populations while at the same time increasing the risks associated with the failure of that same infrastructure, as floods and degradation regularly undermined the resource base of both the population and the state. The struggle to maintain this system of water conservancy through the imperial era defined much of the activity of the state and became embedded deeply in the political and philosophical discourse surrounding the state's responsibilities. The intensive development of the land also led to a cyclical process of degradation, repair and expansion that affected both the physical environment and the economic and social fabric of China in ways that are still visible within the nation today, rendering the land extensively anthropomorphized and the political institutions heavily centralized.
Funding Provided by: Pomona Alumni SURP Fund

Searching for Home: The Assimilation of the Children of the Kindertransport

Caitlyn Hynes (2014); Additional Collaborator(s): Wendy Lower (CMC); Mentor(s): Gary Kates

Abstract: Prior to the start of the Holocaust, Jewish parents in Nazi Germany were desperate to secure safety for their children. Primarily prompted by refugee committees, British Parliament allowed for an unspecified number of Jewish children to come unaccompanied to Great Britain under the auspices of pursuing their education. This movement, the Kindertransport, saved over 10,000 children during 1938-39. This project seeks to understand the experiences and assimilation of the Kinder in Britain. The Association of Jewish Refugees has determined that roughly fifty percent of the Kinder re-emigrated following the end of World War II. Only a small percentage reunited with family, leading to the question of why Kinder decided to leave their adopted nation. Although each child’s experience was unique, social experiences shaped their outlook on their future in England. By examining diaries, interviews, newspaper articles and pamphlets it has become clear that experiences of the Kinder were challenging. Young children were often adopted into families and assimilated more easily. Older children however, were more likely to live in a hostel with other refugees, but were expected to find work immediately and faced more discrimination. Branded as 'enemy aliens,' Kinder were treated with suspicion and distrust. Schooling, discrimination, and feeling unwanted shaped the developmental years of the Kinder. Forced to leave behind their families, homes, schools, and language, many found that they were unable to fully assimilate to English society and went on to live elsewhere.
Funding Provided by: Oldenborg International Research and Travel Grant

Parsi Philanthropy and the development of Colonial Bombay

Aaran Patel (2015); Mentor(s): Arash Khazeni

Abstract: The Parsis are a small group of people who arrived on the west coast of India in the 7th century AD. After years of farming and weaving in Gujarat, many Parsis seized the opportunities offered by the dawn of the British colonial era and settled in Bombay at the turn of the 19th century. In addition to raising huge fortunes, many wealthy Parsi engaged in philanthropy and influenced the development of Bombay. Philanthropy is one of the central tenets of the Zoroastrian religion and that combined with a supreme spirit of humanity strongly shaped one man’s private munificence, and later his legend and legacy. Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy was orphaned at a very young age, and after working menial jobs, he remarkably rose out of the miserable conditions that were characteristic of early 19th century Bombay to become a merchant prince and amassed fortunes from the cotton and opium trade. Although he profiteered from the lucrative drug trade, his business ethic was cosmopolitan in character, and his philanthropy was not exclusive to Paris and was influenced by a genuine concern for all the native inhabitants of Bombay. He established the first hospital for the natives of Bombay, a causeway that linked the islands and paved the way for commerce, and the largest school of art in the East. His donation to public works in Bombay displayed remarkable foresight and transformed the island city into the thriving metropolis and economic powerhouse that was subsequently India’s gateway to the west.
Funding Provided by: Donors to the History and English Department SURP Fund

The Sanctuary Movement: Religion, Politics, and Central American Immigration

Diana Ortiz (2014); Mentor(s): Tomas Summers Sandoval

Abstract: Morally convicted Americans who believed that a higher law called them to "welcome the stranger," organized communities of faith into the Sanctuary Movement of the 1980s. The Sanctuary Movement worked in defiance of U.S. immigration laws that denied political asylum to refugees from Guatemala and El Salvador because they were considered economic immigrants from non-communist nations. In response, sanctuary workers created a new underground railroad of churches and synagogues that transported and protected Guatemalan and Salvadoran refugees fleeing persecution and civil war. This research project analyzed the factors that led thousands of Central Americans to risk their lives as unauthorized migrants. Throughout my investigation of The Tidings, the official newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, I analyzed primary sources detailing the social and political involvement of religious leaders in Central America and the United States between 1980 and 1990. Despite the vocal opposition of thousands, the U.S. deported Central American refugees (who qualified for asylum under the Refugee Act of 1980), while providing military aid to right-wing governments in Central America who were committing atrocities. Using the Los Angeles Times I was able to retrieve the testimonies of some of these refugees, whose survival was the focus of the movement. Even though some activists were criminalized, the movement was dedicated to increase national awareness of U.S. foreign policy and unjust immigration laws.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Fund

De Facto, De Jure and Denial: Segregation in the Los Angeles Unified School District, 1940-1980

Jessica Pena (2014); Mentor(s): Tomas Summers Sandoval

Abstract: From 1940 through 1980, the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education decision in the United States evidently did not protect students of color in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) from racism and increasing de facto racial segregation. Today, the LAUSD suffers more from de facto segregation than it did in the past, partially due to a series of decisions made by the Board of Education of the City of Los Angeles during the post-Brown v. Board period. Particularly, the 1963 Crawford v. Board of Ed. of Los Angeles decision and its outcomes were a crucial factor in the rampant de facto segregation throughout LA. After the Crawford decision, the Board was required to come up with a grand desegregation plan for the LAUSD. The California Supreme Court found that the LA Board had been operating a “dual school system” through which public schools were becoming more segregated than they were before Brown v. Board. The LA Board countered this argument and defended their practices by claiming that the segregation was de facto in nature and not de jure; as such, the Board felt that they could not be held accountable for de facto segregation. The Court ultimately ruled that the Board was responsible for segregation within the LAUSD regardless of its nature. Despite the Court’s rulings, several primary sources prove that many of the Board’s injustices have strongly impacted racial segregation and race relations in Los Angeles public schools in the post-Brown v. Board era.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Chimera Chimerarum: How The Rhetoric of Bernard of Clairvaux Precipitated the Albigensian Crusade

Daniel Martin (2014); Mentor(s): Kenneth Wolf

Abstract: With the founding of the Abbey of Cluny in 910, a renewed strict adherence to the rules of St. Benedict spread throughout the monastic life of Europe, placing an emphasis on prayer and contemplation. Life in a monastery was largely confined to behind monastic walls, and abbots were concerned with tending to their monks. Flash forward to 1212, with the Albigensian Crusade in full swing, and monks and abbots were all across Europe, tending to Church affairs, running political maneuvers, and even participating in Holy War. What happened? The answer to this question lies in the history of the Cistercian Order, which grew from one house in 1098 to over seven hundred by the end of the Middle Ages. Cistercians Henry of Clairvaux (d. 1189) and Arnold Amaury of Cîteaux (d. 1225) each led crusading armies against the south of France during their abbatial reigns, but neither can be said to have instigated the change in monastic affairs. This credit goes to Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1143), who by his account reluctantly left his abbey to campaign for popes, preach against heretics, pen on behalf of secular lords, and encourage the Second Crusade. Bernard’s sermons, letters, and treatises, widely read by contemporaries and successors, justified monastic intervention in lay affairs, laying the theoretical foundation for the actual violence of later Cistercians. In one sense, therefore, the architect of the Albigensian Crusade was not Arnold Amaury, remembered for his cruelty, but Bernard, remembered for his beatitude.
Funding Provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities

Debates Concerning the True Religion: How Christian and Muslim Writers in the Early Centuries of Islam Dealt with the “Other” Abrahamic Tradition

Andrew Yost (2014); Mentor(s): Kenneth Wolf

Abstract: The aim of this project is to investigate how Christian and Muslim writers in the earliest centuries of Islam claimed that their own religion was the only true religion and that the other erred in serious ways. Soon after the Arab invasions in Syria in the mid-600s AD, a previously Christian-dominant culture had to come to terms with a new ruler: Arabic speaking Muslims. In the eighth and ninth centuries, there existed a complex social, cultural, and religious milieux in various locations throughout the Near East, all part of a relatively religiously tolerant society. It was in this context that Islamic ‘ilm al-kalam developed. Kalam was a theological but also very rational discourse attempting to determine the truth about different questions. Public intellectual debates ensued, and the main goal of this research project is to determine what sorts of strategies and themes each side used and focused on in order to best defend itself and criticize the other. Common strategies include utilizing scripture and ancient wisdom, as well as applying Aristotelian logic to determine the nature of God. Many secondary sources are analyzed in order to best understand how the modern scholarship has dealt with this issue and what avenues of research remain. This project will ultimately develop into a thesis, and the research will move to Greek Christian primary sources which will be considered in English and in the original Greek, as well as English translations of Arabic Muslim writings.
Funding Provided by: National Endowment for the Humanities

Growing Up in Ethnic Niches: A Comparative Study of the Labor Participation of Children in First-Generation Chinese and Korean Family Businesses

Hong Deng Gao (2015); Mentor(s): Samuel Yamashita

Abstract: In the United States, many children of post¬1965 Chinese and Korean immigrant entrepreneurs have helped out in their family businesses. However, their labor participation in these ethnic niches has been largely overlooked. Scholars from the 1980s and early 1990s mainly disagreed over whether small business ownership served as a form of economic mobility for the Chinese and Korean families. In contrast, researchers from the late 1990s onward have recognized the central role that the second generations play in small immigrant business. In addition to the statistics used in previous studies, these scholars employed in-depth interviews in order to understand the intricate process in which the second generations find themselves. Nevertheless, glaring gaps still exist in the research on how the children of Chinese and Korean immigrant entrepreneurs are faring today. None of the studies that were reviewed has investigated how the children’s labor involvement directly affects their relationships with families, their ethnic attachment, and their educational and professional outlooks. The existing research fails as well to consider the children of newer Chinese and Korean entrepreneurs, who—unlike the earlier cohort of highly-educated middle-class immigrants—have arrived in America with minimum education and few job skills.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Fund

How to Make Chinese Cuisine in France: the Wenzhou Model

Ruiyi Zhu (2014); Mentor(s): Samuel Yamashita

Abstract: The first two Chinese restaurants opened in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1910s. Today there are over five thousand Chinese restaurants in Paris. The fate of these restaurants reflects major events in the history of Chinese immigration to France, such as the recruitment of Chinese labor for World War I, the decolonization of Indochina in 1954, and Chinese economic reforms since 1978. To understand the history and development of the ethnic culinary businesses such as Chinese restaurants, I conducted in-depth interviews with migrants from the Wenzhou area who hold a dominant position in the Chinese ethnic culinary industry in France. My research revealed a dichotomy between professionally trained chefs who adhere to Chinese culinary traditions and "halfway" restaurant owners who value capital accumulation over cooking disciplines. However, the negative media coverage of Chinese restaurants in 2004 seems to have reduced the gap between the two groups. Both top chefs and ordinary restaurant owners have to face the problems caused by the lack of immigration quotas to introduce skilled workers from China and by high French taxes. Whether they actively seek change or passively watch the current developments, Chinese restaurant owners seek a solution to sustain and rejuvenate Chinese cuisine in France.
Funding Provided by: Pomona Alumni SURP Fund

Research at Pomona