Research is an important component of a Pomona College education, across all disciplines and majors. Here are recent summer undergraduate research projects conducted by students in Gender and Women's Studies.


He Loves Us Like Rhett Butler: Intimacy, Rape, and U.S. Nationalism in Romance-with-Jesus-Literature

Sarah Devereaux ’16; Mentor: Erin Runions

Funding Provided By: Seed


Do You Want to Be in My House? Constructing Family in the Ballroom Scene

Gervais Marsh (2015); Mentor(s): Kyla Tompkins

Abstract: This research uses ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews to examine the construction of familial units within the Ballroom scene in New York City. Due to the changing image of the family in American society, it is important to gain a better understanding of alternative family units that fall outside the definition of white, heteronormative nuclear families. The findings are examined through a framework of comparisons with kinship networks found both in the African- American community and Caribbean society, focusing specifically on the idea of the ‘yaad’ in Caribbean countries, which acts as a communal space where the lineage identity is constructed. This research focuses on the House system that operates within Ballroom culture and examines whether or not the Houses become a familial space for LGBTQ youth, constructing a kinship system that transcends normative biological family relationships. The findings illustrate the advantages of these alternative family units for the LGBTQ community and reinforce the opinion that the definition of family, particularly within the United States, needs to be expanded. 
Funding provided by Faucett Catalyst Fund


Migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong: local perceptions and transnational experiences

Elaine Yu (2013); Mentor(s): Pardis Mahdavi

Abstract: The Court of Final Appeal will decide whether the provision excepting foreign domestic workers (who are mostly women from the Philippines and Indonesia) from being eligible for permanent residence in Hong Kong is constitutional. The litigation has stirred anxiety over public spending and urban planning among many legislators and local residents. My project explores whether the legal language of abode adequately reflects the migrants’ experiences as live-in caregivers, and how the emphasis on the court case muffles other pressing concerns related to pay and abuse. I conducted interviews with domestic workers and a range of practitioners in civil society, politics, academia, and human rights law; carried out participant observation at protests, gatherings, and conferences; and volunteered at a shelter and a walk-in services center that also does policy research and advocacy. My findings show that regulations protecting the caregivers have not been duly enforced due to the “invisible” nature of this type of intimate labor, and instances of abuse are common although they usually escape public attention. At the same time, many migrants are increasingly asserting their identities and rights as workers, creating vibrant communities and solidarity networks, while the activist-minded are also locating themselves within broader development and globalization discourses.
Funding provided by Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies