MMUF Cohort 12 (2019-2020)

Anica Falcone-Juengert '22, Sociology Major

Adoptee Perceptions on Identity: Race, Gender, and Sexuality

This research is going to take on the task of bringing transracial adoptee experiences to the forefront of adoption research. The following questions are asked: How do transracial adoptees engage in public discourse about adoption on social media? Which of their identities are salient in this public discourse? How does the relationship between their identities and public discourse change over time? I hypothesize that the adoptive identity and transracial adoption paradox informs how adoptees share their experience of adoption on their social media platforms. Transracial adoption is defined as “…the joining of racially different parents and children together in adoptive families,” the parents adopting generally being White. Data from the United States Census from 2009-2011 reported that the total number of transracially adopted children under age 18 was 437,665, making up 28% of all adopted children. Classic literature on adoption focuses heavily on adoptive parents and continues to in areas such as sexual orientation and cultural and racial lessons taught by White adoptive parents. Adoption research tends to decenter the adoptee, revolve around race, or the identity development and self-esteem of adoptees. When it comes to identity in Sociology, Du Bois highlighted the identity issue a Black man faces through the Double Consciousness; the tension of not being able to be Black and American at the same time. Du Bois described the conflict in understanding and forming perception for oneself while also being limited through the lens of society. Du Bois’s concept can translate to the experience of an adoptee, described through the Transracial Adoption Paradox; the conflict of being seen as a minority in society, but simultaneously seen as or treated as if they are a part of White culture due to their family. Years after Du Bois, the tension between two identities can be found impacting multiple identities, arguably making this focus on identity in need of more exploration. Digital technologies play an increasingly important role in how people gather information and connect with one another which contribute to how groups represent themselves and their identities. Research in Sociology examining social media encompass a variety of topics such as social movements and climate change. This research will examine how adoptees share their identities on social media through content created directly by the authors.

Lisette Gomez '22, Political Science Major

Latina Politics: Intersectional Activism in the United States

Through the support of the Mellon-Mays program, I am undertaking a historical analysis of Latina political history in the United States. This includes exploring what is entails Latina activism and political thought, how may have Latinas engaged in mainstream feminist politics, as well as politics of the broader Latino community. The specific focus on mainstream feminist and Latino politics is intentional.  In the U.S, the feminist movement is illustrated as the pinnacle of social and political advancement for women. Keystone events such as the passage of the 19th amendment for suffrage are presented as proof of the achievement, or at least the advancement of women’s equity. In turn, certain names such as Alice Paul, Gloria Steinem, etc. are more often than not presented as faces of the movement; all of which who are white women. Likewise, when the American public recollect Latino political movements, there is a common theme of referring only to male Latino activists; a common image conjured is Cesar Chavez, and his predominately male entourage- with women, most significantly his political partner Dolores Huerta, being lost to history.  Subsequently, this project aims to give coverage to a group quite under covered in studies of gender and ethnic politics: Latina women. As a social body and political group, Latina activists hold an inseparable identity involving race and gender. They historically had to partake in fighting against structural violence and racism against Latinos- all while juggling the difficulties that come with being part of the female gender. As minority women, they are among the countless groups of women of color that were historically excluded from predominately white feminist movement in the United States. Even in their own communities, their unique, political needs were often brushed off and/or met with hostility by the various, largely patriarchal Latino political movements in the U.S. Consequently, this project fills the need of, 1) uncovering the underrepresented political acts and achievements of Latina women, in both gender and ethnic movements, and 2) reflecting on how gender and ethnic movements failed to be proper political mediums for Latinas in the U.S. This blend of analysis and critique aims to not only recognize Latina’s unremembered achievements, but also maintain an awareness of the academic and political factors that kept these histories unacknowledged in the first place. This is not just aiming to critique segments of academia, but the end goal is to demand and contribute to giving Latina political histories more visibility within gender studies, political studies, and broader social sciences.  

Yasmin Mendoza '22, English Major

Banning Without Bans

The First Amendment prevents the government from making laws that oppress speech amongst other basic values of the American citizen. Even though this amendment prevents the legal banning of any literature, it does not mean that all books are equally accessible. Instead it means that certain books are “challenged.” Challenged books are taken out of circulation through several formal, informal and extralegal means. This can range anywhere from not being placed in public libraries or needing a petition to be placed in a K-12 curriculum, to publicly burning the books, and even threats to the author. Conditions like these make it virtually impossible for people to read challenged books and therefore these pieces of literature are effectively banned without bans.

This leads to my question: How can censorship in America be traced as a form of societal control through the repeated restriction of literature that contains the values of oppressed or minority groups within the last century? I hypothesize that challenged literature exists because the literature itself challenges the oppressive values and beliefs of governmental systems in power. The patterns I will initially seek have to do with the groups or types of authors and books that get challenged and who challenges these works. The case study that I have conducted over summer 2020 analyzed the roles of violence, language, sex, and sexuality within American society and the role they play in censored literature. The novels in my case study are Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. These are all multiple award-winning novels that have been censored, banned, and/or publicly burned for their open discussion of the realities of subjugated communities. This research is important because literature is an outlet in which individuals can express their views creatively or in an informative way. Literature reflects the society at the time and when those