At Pomona, students have the opportunity to apply for a funded summer research grant through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program. Below are recent projects conducted by students in the Politics Department.


Going Green Goes Global: A World Wide Study of Views on Climate and Energy

Anna Schwab ’16; Mentor: Richard Worthington; Collaborators: Olivia Voorhis '16, Mahmud Farooque (Arizona State University), Gretchen Gano (Amherst College)

World Wide Views on Climate and Energy, a global initiative founded by the Danish Board of Technology, hosted 104 deliberations in 83 different countries on international climate and energy policy on June 6th, 2015. Those deliberations and their results have served as the crux of our research into public opinion on this policy at the regional, national, and global levels. We attended the Phoenix, Arizona deliberation, one of four that took place in the U.S., where we observed the discussions of two tables of participants. Throughout the deliberation, we heard diverse views from people representative of the Arizona population, and were able to map how opinions developed throughout the day. The notes and recordings from these observations helped inform our understanding of the deliberative process used by World Wide Views. Globally, preliminary results show strikingly similar opinions on climate change between citizens of Northern and Southern countries, and high and low income countries. Although citizens from emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil frequently diverged from high and low income countries, there were noteworthy similarities, such as concern over climate change, support for a carbon tax, and agreement that wealthy countries should increase climate support for poorer nations. These results will be presented at the 21st UN Conference of the Parties in Paris in December 2015.
Funding Provided By: Faucett

Higher Counsel: an Analysis of Christian Law Schools as Support Structures for the Conservative Christian Legal Movement

Adam Revello ’17; Mentors: Amanda Hollis-Brusky and Josh Wilson (University of Denver); Collaborators: Olivia Zalesin '17, Ani Schug '17, Marnier LeBlanc (University of Denver '18)

Legal Support Structure Theory posits that meaningful legal change requires the workings of a supply side (lawyers, law firms, etc.) that brings cases, and a demand side (a judiciary) that can turn case decisions into law. The theory also posits that certain “support structures” can influence both sides of the jurisprudence equation. Our research develops existing scholarly analyses of the “legal marketplace" by introducing a formal supply and demand model in the context of the Conservative Christian Legal Movement (CCLM). Over eight weeks, we collected primary and secondary source data on three potential support structures for the Christian legal movement —Ave Maria School of Law, Liberty University School of Law, and Regent University School of Law. Despite efforts to produce lawyers who will permeate the law with a Christian worldview, these schools struggle to overcome mainstream, secular constraints. Our analysis of law journal rankings and alumni survey data confirms that these law schools have no significant impact on legal discourse, and that their alumni rarely hold legal/policy positions of great significance. These preliminary findings suggest that the three law schools studied are not effective support structures for the larger Christian legal movement.
Funding Provided By: Hart (Revello), Hart (Schug), Hart (Zalesin)

Report on Incarcerated Parents in Oregon: Prison Nurseries and Community-Based Alternatives, Problematic Foster Care Laws, and Fatherhood Programs

Emlyn Foxen ’16; Mentor: Eleanor Brown

I was invited by the Oregon Commission for Women, a governor-appointed legal advocacy commission, to conduct research on the policy needs of incarcerated women in Oregon. My initial findings led me to the broader research topic of incarcerated parents in Oregon, and their particular issues and needs. I wrote a policy review and proposal report for the Commission, in which I focused on three key policy areas: prison nursery programs and community-based alternatives, problematic foster care laws, and parenting programs for incarcerated fathers in Oregon. After reviewing background and best practices associated with policy implementation in each policy area, I focused on policy proposals for Oregon based on my research. My final report advocates for: the need for increased policy attention to be focused on the wellbeing and attachment of incarcerated pregnant women through an investment in the construction of a prison nursery or community-based residential parenting programs, and perhaps the construction of both to work in tandem with each other; a serious reevaluation of the lack of resources available to incarcerated parents with foster children, caretakers of foster care children, and child welfare workers; finally, legislation to create an exception to the 15/22 Adoption and Safe Families Act mandate (a foster care-related mandate) for some incarcerated parents, as well as increased funding for transportation services for children who wish to visit their incarcerated parent.
Funding Provided By: Richter

The Foundations of the Founders

Samuel Breslow ’18; Mentor: Susan McWilliams; Collaborator: Maggie Lemons ‘17

In addition to serving as the architects of our nation’s political system, many of the United States’ founding fathers were also architects in the literal sense of the term. In this project, we explored the built legacy of the founders and its connection to their creation of the American political framework. Through readings, on-site visits, and other forms of research, we found that the founders were extensively involved with the creation of both public and private physical spaces in the fledgling nation, and that they applied their political views to their architectural work, utilizing purposeful imagery, symbolism, and design schemes intended to cultivate civic values such as republicanism, democracy, education, public health, and numerous others. Given the numerous crises generated by the contemporary approach to the organization of physical space in the U.S., from urban sprawl to environmental destruction, it is imperative that we remember the architectural legacy of the founders as we move forward and seek to make repairs.
Funding Provided By: Hart (Breslow), Hart (Lemons)

The Humanitarian Concerns Initiative: An investigation of the emergence and implications of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Laura Breens ’16; Mentor: Heidi Haddad

In April 2010 the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross made a speech arguing that the “existence of nuclear weapons poses some of the most profound questions about the point at which the rights of States must yield to the interests of humanity,” setting off a focus on humanitarian concerns for nuclear arms that continued in the NPT Review Conference three weeks later and eventually manifested itself in the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. This campaign consists of civil society actors and non-nuclear states and has led to conferences with nuclear state participation and attention at the 2015 NPT review conference. However the problem of nuclear weapons is starkly different from previously banned weapons. Why did this movement emerge and what are its implications? Through analyzing primary sources from the most recent conference in Vienna, review of past coalition campaigns and application of theory on transnational activism, my project aims to investigate why the campaign emerged, its effects on disarmament discourse and possible outcomes of applying a humanitarian framework to the most securitized problem in global politics. Preliminary conclusions suggest factors in the emergence of the campaign may include sponsorship by middle powers, campaign restructuring from past bans, the ICRC’s status as a “gatekeeper,” actions of pre-existing anti-nuclear groups who benefit from reframing the nuclear issue and the rise of human security.
Funding Provided By: Seed

The Value of American Summer Camps

Benjamin Brash ’16; Mentor: Susan McWilliams

Those of us who have spent extensive time at an American summer camp understand it as transformative. The question of how, though—how exactly summer camp works to transform children’s lives—is almost hopelessly complex. Between individual camp traditions and the general totality that accompanies spending every waking moment together, the How Question would seemingly take innumerable words to answer. This project serves to explain the power of summer camps as an alternative political space. It begins to reply to the How Question, and by extension, lauds the importance of summer camp’s lessons (e.g., creating and practicing tradition, seeking authority in childhood, learning moral values, and conceiving of community). In order to answer this question, I spent a month traveling around the country visiting over fifteen different summer camps and speaking with numerous camp directors. I then spent ten weeks as a counselor at Geneva Glen Camp in Indian Hills, Colorado. This two-fold system of ethnographic research allowed me a sort of insider view that is absolutely necessary in dealing with a topic so child-centric and so often explicitly non-academic. As to my results, I found that camp is a world in itself, complete with a fairly consistent cast of characters and cultural phenomena. Simply put, camps—pretty much across the board—create a space wholly distinct from other parts of childhood that bolsters children’s moral, mental, and spiritual development.
Funding Provided By: Seed


Emerging Trends in International Human Rights Law: The Judicialization of Human Rights NGOs and Cities Adopting International Conventions

Maggie Munts (2016); Mentor(s): Heidi Haddad

Abstract: I assisted Professor Heidi Haddad in exploring two emerging trends in international law, the first being the judicialization of human rights NGOs within the past several decades. Human rights NGOs have taken an increasingly legal approach to advocacy, relying on judicial enforcement and remedies to protect human rights and address rights violations. After collecting data on the network of organizations, attorneys, and advocates involved, it was evident that the highly integrated social network of human rights NGOs allows for advocacy tactics, like judicialization, to spread quickly. The archives of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights provided evidence of increasing NGO involvement in human rights cases. The second trend we examined was cities’ adoptions of international human rights conventions. We found that since the late 1990s this has become an increasingly common phenomenon, especially in U.S. cities, and an example of both new governance tactics and globalism.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Kinship and Taboo: Another Look at American Gothic

Shayna Citrenbaum (2015); Mentor(s): John Seery

Abstract: My research with Professor Seery focused on the American Gothic painting by Grant Wood, which we feel has been misunderstood, despite its popularity and iconic status. The painting is often interpreted as a homage to rural midwestern life, but it seems there’s a strangeness and a sinister quality to the painting. Like the farmer’s coveralls, like the house’s drawn curtains and the couple’s averted eyes, there’s more that is veiled and Gothic in this painting than a window. Professor Seery is working on a book in which he argues that this painting is about taboo, specifically incest. My work involved delving into criticism, literature, and more of Grant Wood’s oeuvre to help build an understanding of the relationship between American culture, family structure, and taboo. I edited and commented on Professor Seery’s writing, as well as assisting him and Professor McWilliams in editing their book, The Best Kind of College: An Insiders’ Guide to America’s Small Liberal Arts Colleges. This book is a collection of essays written by professors at liberal arts colleges; it addresses some problems in our higher education system in order to better understand the value the liberal arts model. Additionally, I proofread Professor Seery’s compilation of essays by political theorist George Kateb, which focused on the theme of dignity.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

Exploring the Politics of African American Narratives

Cameron Cook (2015); Mentor(s): John Seery; Susan McWilliams

Abstract: My research was to examine African American political thought both in terms of its relation and contributions to traditional political theory. I wanted to examine the ways in which the field stands on its own as well as informs classic American notions of democracy, liberty, freedom et al. This is an impossible undertaking for a three- month exercise. However, through my research, I began to notice prominent patterns of narrative, music, and interracial communication. What follows is a non-comprehensive yet cohesive exploration of how African American narrative, both autobiographical and fictional, can both act as political resistance as well as contribute to the goal of a stronger democracy. The questions I wanted, and still wish, to explore include: How does storytelling either destabilize or strengthen a democratic polity? How are elements of form or medium used or valued in discussion of American political and artistic canon? What can these stories tell us about inclusion/exclusion? What factor does audience play? Ultimately, what stories do we value and why? The end result of my research is a hypothetical syllabus for a course examining AAPT through the lens of narrative, biography and art. To my surprise, the most recurring theme that appeared throughout the course of my research was the importance of music. So accompanying this syllabus is a playlist of music including works both found in my research and those I find representative of certain components.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Troubled Peace: Ecclesiastical and Political Reconciliation in Northern Ireland

Nigel Brady (2015); Mentor(s): Susan McWilliams

Abstract: With religion occupying a primary variable in many instances of global violence, it needs to be seen if this subject can serve as a reconciliatory influence where it has also been an animating force for conflict. Until the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Belfast was such a battle zone between Protestant and Catholic religious, political, and cultural forces. Efforts over the last 16 years have produced a tentative peace, although tensions remain high and sectarianism is a constant threat. Examining the divides between these communities on the ground through observation and interviews with clergy, politicians, and community members, themes of identity formation, collective memory, education, and economic access arise as major flashpoints of continued hostility along sectarian lines. While communication between high-level ecclesiastical leaders is robust, lower-level political, ecclesiastical, and community leaders hold the real influence in shaping dialogue geared towards either reconciliation or continued division in Belfast. Expressed theological principles of reconciliation are voiced by most ecclesiastical leaders and acted upon by committed lay people, chiefly through inter-community relationship building. Small-scale relationship building, coupled with generational turnover and educational change, appears to slowly be making progress. While this is encouraging, it will be a few generations before the current calm and segregation gives way to true peace and reconciliation.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

Promiscuity, the Pill, and the Power of Virginity: Sexual Politics in Romance Novels

Emlyn Foxen (2016); Mentor(s): Susan McWilliams

Abstract: Why did the virginal heroine and rape become so ubiquitous in romance novels during a time in the United States when consensual sex between men and women was being promoted and women were "losing" their virginity before marriage more frequently? Explicit sex, often the rape of the heroine by the hero, became popular in romance with the publishing of The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss in 1972. Since then, white, heterosexual romance novels have promoted the virginal heroine as the woman most worthy of a “happy ending.” An examination of the political and social attitudes surrounding heterosexual femininity during the mid-twentieth century’s “sexual revolution” helps to address these curiosities. The popularity of rape and the virginal heroine in romance novels emerged as a particular response to, and negotiation of, the objectification and loss of sexual “bargaining” power many women experienced during the sexual revolution. The virginal heroine trope in white, heterosexual romance reinforces the harmful conflation of virginity with moral worth. However, this heroine was and still often is a popular character in white heterosexual romance because of her power to negotiate and reshape unsatisfactory gender conventions within her relationship with the hero. An exploration of the virginal heroine’s development within the romance genre sheds light on one of the particular ways romance novels navigate and challenge patriarchal conceptions of female heterosexuality and male “ownership” of the female body.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund


Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas

Natalie Dennis (2015); Student Collaborator(s): Gailyn Portelance (2015); Heather Byrne (2015); Mentor(s): Pierre Englebert

Abstract: In this paper, we research the relationship between Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs) and conflict in Africa. Using a large conflict data set covering the period 1997-2012, we find that conflicts produce fewer combat fatalities in TFCAs than elsewhere, possibly because of remoteness but also somewhat idiosyncratically as a function of the geographical displacement of some conflicts over time. Yet, we find more civilian fatalities from conflict in TFCA areas, an effect which correlates with even greater civilian deaths in border areas in general. In both instances of battle and civilian deaths, the so called “peace parks” of Southern Africa perform better. Looking at the relationship between TFCAs and border arbitrariness, we observe that the creation of TFCAs is more likely in areas of lower partition of ethnic groups across borders. Looking only at borders with conflicts, however, we find a greater proportion of partitioned people among TFCAs but fewer casualties altogether. By and large, a theme that emerges from our still very preliminary findings is that the more peaceful the context, the more likely TFCAs are to develop, as opposed to TFCAs themselves leading to peaceful environments.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. Seed and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (ND, GP); Evelyn B. Craddock-McVicar Memorial Fund (HB)

Decentralization in the DR Congo

Gailyn Portelance (2015); Mentor(s): Pierre Englebert

Abstract: Many African countries have been experiencing rapid growth rates recently, going against most of what has been historically observed in terms of the structure of politics in Africa called neopatrimonialism -where rulers have no incentive to promote institutional or economic development that helps their citizens, because they can secure power through patron-client relationships. Have underlying conditions changed within African political structures so that developmental policy has become possible? Has growth become compatible with neopatrimonialism, are rulers simply becoming more benevolent, or is growth due to other changes (beyond commodity prices), that has become politically more feasible? These are a few of the questions that this research has begun this summer and will continue to be explored. My preliminary research included analyzing and organizing the wide range of literature available concerning causal arguments for development, how governance and institutions play a role, what is changing, if anything, within African politics, and eventually, any contributions or inferences that have been made towards politician incentive to enact developmental policy. Quantitative research included a collection of data on governance indicators and economic policy since 1980 of all Sub Saharan African countries in order to help identify in future research moments in time where major changes have occurred, and how that may correlate with policy enactments by the political elite and reveal incentive. The project will cumulate in a paper and conference my senior year.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. Seed and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

Shifting Grounds for African Secessionism?

Heather Byrne (2015); Mentor(s): Pierre Englebert

Abstract: This summer I assisted Professor Pierre Englebert's research on recent developments in African secessionism given the recent secession of South Sudan in 2011, working to provide a concluding chapter on African Secessionism for an upcoming publication. It is generally admitted that Africa’s international law stands squarely on the side of the territorial integrity of postcolonial states, entertaining the right of self-determination in contexts of decolonization only. The reality is, however, more ambiguous. Building largely upon the examples in this book, we show in this paper that the notion of uti possidetis—the maintenance of colonially inherited boundaries—has been the object of inconsistent implementation and was largely overturned with the independence of South Sudan. Yet, although it represents a doctrinal reversal, the empirical record suggests that South Sudan has not significantly changed the calculus of secession for Africans, largely because of the high humanitarian threshold it sets for recognition. In comparison, the end of the Cold War had a more substantively stimulating effect. Beyond the continent’s salient secessionist conflicts, however, smaller and more ambiguous cases point to a legal and an ideological evolution. The legal one brings renewed emphasis on sub-national referenda. The ideological one suggests an increased coincidence of secessionism and Islamism, a potentially far-reaching trend which challenges our understanding of the nature of secessionism in Africa.
Funding Provided by: Evelyn B. Craddock-McVicar Memorial Fund

Christian Lawyering

Larkin Corrigan (2014); Student Collaborator(s): Tena Thau (2014); Joanmarie Del Vecchio (2015); Additional Collaborator(s): Joshua Wilson (University of Denver); Mentor(s): Amanda Hollis-Brusky

Abstract: In recent years, a Christian lawyering movement has emerged: there has been an increase in lawyers who view law not only as a profession but also as a calling from God. To research this movement, we compiled information about prominent Christian attorneys, Christian Public Interest Law Firms (PILFs), and Christian law schools. We collected data such as student enrollment and bar passage rates at law schools, compiled biographical information of attorneys and professors, and performed literature reviews of law reviews and articles and books published on the Christian legal worldview. Our conclusions are the following: Christian PILFs often have a mix of graduates from top-tier law schools and newer evangelical law schools. While early Christian PILFs lacked many of the features that made liberal PILFs successful, newer Christian PILFs have been more successful, initiating claims in court, increasing their out-of-court advocacy, and becoming more specialized. Some Christian law schools such as Regent University School of Law and Liberty School of Law are successful in their endowment size, alumni networks, and bar passage rates, while schools such as Ave Maria School of Law and Trinity Law School struggle with financial issues as well as the academic success of their students.
Funding Provided by: Hart Institute for American History (LC, TT); Aubrey H. Seed and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (JD)

Investigate the notion of community in America

Trevor Smith (2015); Mentor(s): John Seery

Abstract: After a decline in traditional communities based off of neighborhoods or geographical proximity over the 20th century, a rise in communities based off of special interests exposed what had always been true about American community – instead of transcending or embracing difference, it served to reinforce and reproduce divisions in society. As a result, typically conceived American communities tend to limit a Levinasian infinite obligation to the Other by engendering a society in which the individual is primarily concerned only with the plight of those similar to the self. In attempting to consider the possibility of community that could transcend social and political partitions, I examine why current models of community are so attractive, and how community might function without infusing ideology or identity. In addition to the theory component, I study community identity and organizing in the passage of a controversial 2013 LGBTQ anti-discrimination bill in Pocatello, Idaho, in order to gain a sense of the functions of community both for LGBTQ organizers seeking to make their hometown friendlier to their identities and for their religious opposition resisting a perceived ideological imposition on their community and home.
Funding Provided by: Paul K. Richter and Evelyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund

‘The Excitement of the Hour’: Water Speculation and the Big Bear Valley Dam in Southern California’s Late¬19th/Early-20th Century Citrus Empire

Clare Anderson (2015); Student Collaborator(s): Tara Krishna (2014); Minerva Jimenez (2014 California State University, Fullerton); Mentor(s): Heather Williams

Abstract: The southern California citrus industry guaranteed wealth for early investors. In 1904 the statewide orange harvest was worth 40% more than the California gold industry. Paradoxically, however, the orange’s reputation as a risk-free investment hinged entirely upon an underlying industry that was enormously speculative: water. The Big Bear Valley Dam, on the headwaters of the Santa Ana River, exemplifies the ambitious projects that stemmed from the unholy union of private industry and water management. Water from Big Bear Lake—at that time, the largest reservoir ever built—was conveyed an astonishing thirty miles to groves in Redlands and San Bernardino. Enthused by this feat, water speculators planned to expand the system to the Alessandro and Perris tracts in present-day Moreno Valley, an extension which—had it reached fruition—would have stretched southwest approximately fifteen miles further. Using engineering documents and litigation associated with the Big Bear Valley Dam, this poster will examine the fantastical and staggeringly ambitious nature of turn-of¬-the-century water commercialization. I argue that speculators would take almost any gamble to turn the desert green, so certain was the profit of irrigated citrus land.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. Seed and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (CA); Faucett Catalyst Fund (TK)

A Political Profile of the Santa Ana River: Idealism, Agribusiness, and Conflict in Southern California's Largest Watershed

Tara Krishna (2014); Student Collaborator(s): Clare Anderson (2015); Minerva Jimenez-Garcia (2014 California State University, Fullerton); Mentor(s): Heather Williams

Abstract: In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Santa Ana River Basin’s agreeable climate, fertile soil, and isolation from Eastern industrial life piqued the interest of individuals seeking to build idyllic, self-sustaining communities in the American West. The watershed’s early Anglo settlers—including George Chaffey, Matthew Gage, J.W. North, and Frank E. Brown—established mutual water companies to develop irrigation and citriculture in their colonies, valuing the cooperative emphasis of such ventures. I argue that these companies, ironically, facilitated industrial agriculture in Southern California, solidified the importance of property ownership, institutionalized racial/class inequality, and encouraged the exploitation of natural resources in the river’s watershed—thus disrupting the early settlers’ romantic visions. Public administrations (water districts, state and federal legislatures) interlocked with these private institutions to define water rights in the basin and engineer the river's surface and underground flow for lucrative agricultural, industrial, and domestic purposes. Current efforts to revive the river, spearheaded by environmental organizations like the Inland Empire Water Keeper, complicate the notion of the Santa Ana River as a consumable and salable entity, focusing instead on its recreational and ecological value. This project is an extension of Professor Heather Williams’ forthcoming history of the Santa Ana River.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund (TK); Aubrey H. Seed and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (CA)


Nepal’s Constitutional Crisis

Ryan Wingate (2013); Mentor(s): Pierre Englebert

Abstract: The objective of my research was to examine the democratization process within Nepali civil society, specifically answering the question of whether democratic principles and functioning institutions are consistent and sustainable with Nepalese traditions of caste, ethnicity and regional politics. I conducted my research at the climax of a constitutional crisis, and therefore was able to compare attitudes before and after the Nepali government failed to draft the essential document. My methods for research included personal interviews with individuals from across Nepali society, formal interviews with scholars, and an analysis of literature on Nepali politics, civil society and democratization. I observed that Nepalis simultaneously viewed the now defunct constitution as a possible solution to the failures of the state as well as a sort of alien document that was not originating from the will of the people.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

Is the Church Relevant Today?

Adi Salinas (2015); Mentor(s): Lorn Foster

Abstract: Social institutions change through the years and so do their importance. Commonly questioned is the relevance of the church in our modern world. To answer this question, I researched what needs and roles the church fulfilled in the 20th century and whether they are still addressed today. Through examining the archives of Second Baptist Church in Los Angeles, I narrowed those needs and roles down to spiritual fulfillment, a source of humanitarian aid, a place to create a family, and a source for community engagement. By analyzing minute books, letters, articles and reports, I found that while many substitutes have risen, the church still fulfills these needs, sometimes better than the substitutes. In the How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey, it showed that the instances in which couples meet over the internet have dramatically increased. It also showed that couples that meet in the church stay together longer and have happier marriages. In terms of humanitarian aid, the LDS alone has given over $1 billion in aid to 167 countries since 1985. Finally, Second Baptist Church also serves as a case study for a comparison of the church back then and now.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Greece 2012, Creation, Crisis: A Documentary Film

Jacob Moe (2013); Mentor(s): Jonathan Hall

Abstract: This research project manifests itself as a documentary film. Shot in the months of June and July 2012, the film documents different spaces in Athens during a pivotal moment in national and European history. Following three months with no formal government, the elections of June 17th gave Greece a recognized albeit weak government headed by Antonis Samaras of the "New Dimokratia" Party. This film examines various flashpoints in this process: a political rally the day before elections, the winner declaring victory. It also engages lesser known faces and corners of the city: a man dissatisfied with political progress, the graffiti surrounding the University of Fine Arts. Its main intention is to present a view of Greece at this particular juncture that is rarely seen; a view that steers clear of the formulaic news so often seen in the international media's coverage of the Greek crisis. It draws audio from various sources: an interview with a professor of political theory, a conference on education, sounds of the ambient Athens. This film strives above all to be a testament to the politics of aesthetics; to the idea that film can (and should) engage and expose contested contemporary political and social space in Greece.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund

The Federalist Society: An Epistemic Community Shaping Law in Multiple Doctrinal Areas

Thomas Conkling (2014); Mentor(s): Amanda Hollis-Brusky

Abstract: Professor Hollis-Brusky's 2010 dissertation details how the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, functioning as an epistemic community, has shaped American constitutional law in matters of federalism and the separation of powers. As a Summer Undergraduate Research Assistant to Professor Hollis-Brusky, I helped to expand on her original research as well as extend it into the doctrinal areas of Campaign Finance, Affirmative Action, and the Second Amendment. Examining 28 years of conference transcripts, publications, and newsletters, I collected hundreds of documents relating to these doctrinal areas, put them into a qualitative analysis program, and coded them for certain characteristics. I later read these documents, identified multiple types of legal arguments, and discovered what sources were most called upon to further these arguments. Additionally, I examined major Supreme Court decisions in these doctrinal areas and identified Federalist Society members providing opinions, oral arguments, counsel briefs, and amicus briefs. The products of my Summer Undergraduate Research Assistantship will be used by Professor Hollis-Brusky in her forthcoming book to note how the Federalist Society has shaped law through the Academy, Lower Courts, and the Supreme Court. I will continue my research in the upcoming school year.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

I'm Black, I'm a Felon, Now What?: Racial Inequality and African American Justice

Zachary Williams (2014); Mentor(s): Sidney Lemelle

Abstract: This project explores the significant societal effects of both being an African American ex-felon in the United States. Focusing primarily on the economic impact and considerable social disadvantages of being a stigmatized African American ex-felon, I found vast amounts of evidence that suggest that not only does there exist a high degree of difficulty in obtaining necessities such as: employment, education, public assistance, and the ability to vote, but there also exists a disproportionate effect placed upon African American and Latino men compared to their Caucasian counterparts. The philosophical shift away from a rehabilitative criminal justice system towards a punitive criminal justice system has led to what many social scholars are referring to as mass incarceration. Dramatic increases in sentencing probabilities and sentence lengths (especially drug-related offenses) has accounted for the increase and explosion in both the incarcerated and ex-offender populations in contrary to the fact that crime rates have continued to fall significantly since the late 1970s. It is currently estimated that the ex-felon population ranges anywhere between 12-14 million people of working age and the ex-prisoner population ranging around 5.5 million people. These staggering statistics play fundamental roles in the economic productivity, social welfare, and civil liberties of ex-felons, disproportionately affecting African American men as they face other social disadvantages daily.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

Blinded by the Sun: A Film About Los Angeles

Dylan Howell (2013); Additional Collaborator(s): Travis Wilkerson; Mentor(s): Susan McWilliams

Abstract: The intent of my summer work was to examine the political moment of Los Angeles through the medium film. Although I initially intended to document Occupy Los Angeles, my focus turned to the obverse side of contemporary politics: inertia and apathy in the face of profound alienation and widespread systemic violence. Taking a cue from Tomas Gutierez Alea’s film Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), the film seeks to situate a young man’s narrative amidst his historical and political surroundings, and uses narrative, documentary and essayistic components to do so. To inform the critical position of the film, I drew primarily on Mike Davis’s geographic study of Los Angeles, Jean- Paul Sartre’s writings on existentialism, and Guy Debord’s theory of spectacle capitalism. Although the film’s development is ongoing, the finished piece will relate the refusal of individual ethical choice to the experience of passive alienation in today’s Los Angeles.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

We Have Meddled with the Primal Forces of Nature: Bringing Corporations into American Government Pedagogy

Jeffrey Zalesin (2014); Student Collaborator(s): Charles Herman (2014); Chad Powell (2014); Mentor(s): David Menefee-Libey

Abstract: Corporations play a significant role in society, yet many people do not understand what corporations are or how they developed. This project had two tasks. First, we examined 20 popular high school government textbooks to determine what a student would learn about corporations by reading one. We found that many textbooks explain the basic features of corporations as business firms, but few say much about the distinctive relationship between corporations and governments. Second, we developed a curriculum to help high school and college students understand the history and features of corporations. We prepared for this task by performing a wide-ranging literature review. After identifying the most important information and explanations about corporate history and the role of corporations in contemporary American politics, we designed lesson plans for teachers who want to communicate this material to their students.
Funding Provided by: Pomona Alumni SURP Fund (JZ); Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund (CH, CP)

Derek Ha (2014); Mentor(s): Philip Streich

Warlord Rule in China

Abstract: For most of the early 20th century, central authority in China was weak, and real power belonged to warlords. They are best remembered for their greed and brutality. This image, though accurate in many respects, overlooks that warlords still needed to govern. This project looks at how China’s warlords grappled with the same issues as anyone else hoping to maintain or expand political power. After examining the scholarly literature on this era, especially biographies of several prominent warlords, a more nuanced picture of the warlords emerges – one which highlights the parallels between warlord rule and regular civilian governance. Some warlords broke the pattern of violent exploitation to bolster their political legitimacy. They strove for economic development and enacted social policies that were progressive by the standards of that time. Warlords also extracted revenue from their territory, as rulers of states inevitably need to. The project’s goal is to demonstrate that China’s warlords were not purely militaristic creatures. In many cases, they took on certain characteristics of state-builders and political leaders. This study can contribute to a better understanding of warlord rule in general. It is part of a larger study on warlord behavior that also includes case studies from 16th century Japan and pre-Taliban Afghanistan.
Funding Provided by: Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Student Research Fund

The Materiality of Occupy Wall Street

Quinn Lester (2013); Mentor(s): Heather Williams

Abstract: In order to understand Occupy Wall Street (OWS) as a unique political event I researched the objects that have been collected from the two month occupation of Zuccotti Park, such as signs, flyers, and tents, along with video and pictures of the occupation. My research shows that OWS is best understood as a political action rooted in the material realities of New York City, such as mass homelessness and the decline of public space. As a material action OWS attempted to build an alternate political community based around forms of mutual aid and horizontal democracy, and thus also addressed issues of hunger, mental health, and basic healthcare. This need to respond to local conditions in Zuccotti Park then refutes the idea of OWS as a movement based primarily in social media or ideology. The future of OWS, as a now decentralized movement of activists, lies in organizing around issues, such as debt and home foreclosure, that highlight the material struggles of communities dealing with a lack of access to political/economic power and representation.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Catalyst Fund