Women's Studies Theses and Dissertations

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    (2021) Hoagland, Tangere L; Rowley, Michelle V; Women's Studies; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    The institutions of welfare and incarceration are central in poverty governance. My dissertation builds on the work of scholars who deem the relationship between these two systems to work in a coordinated effort through discourse, policy, and practice under a penal-welfare regime. My research considers the following questions: (1) What realities and vulnerabilities does a contemporary understanding of this regime produce for Black women (2) What kinds of violence do Black women become vulnerable to under this current landscape? (3) How are Black women navigating daily vulnerabilities that lead to or perpetuate their risk of state-sponsored entrapment? This research finds that the state uses the penal-welfare regime to script Black women for erasure by creating conditions of suffering and punishing those who attempt to survive. However, Black women create and locate resources that simultaneously aid in their survival and help them resist the ways the state renders them disposable. My project examines poverty governance to re-think state-sponsored violence against Black women—on both macro- and micro-levels. I explore oppressive systems, the barriers they create, and individual responses to them. My project begins at the macro level with a review of shifts in US welfare policies and prison reform—specifically the 1996 welfare-to-workfare shift and the skyrocketing rates of female incarceration—to understand the vulnerabilities these shifts created for Black working-class women. It then moves to legal case-study analyses of Black women accused of welfare fraud and arrests made in welfare offices to understand how the two distinct systems operate co-dependently. I conducted life-history interviews with twenty Black single mothers currently using welfare or formerly incarcerated. These participants, from Prince George’s County, Maryland, illuminate vulnerabilities experienced in the wealthiest African American county in the nation. Focusing on Black women in this county emphasizes the production of class fluidity within this terrain as participants with middle-class backgrounds—who believe themselves exceptional—found themselves unexpectedly navigating poverty. Overall, my research illuminates the disposability of U.S. Black women whose experiences can be described as a slow death once they are entrapped by the penal-welfare regime, but it also emphasizes their multifaceted tools of survival.
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    Transversal Media: Power, Peril, and Potential in the Ever-Expanding 3D Multiverse
    (2021) Bauer, DB; Lothian, Alexis; Women's Studies; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Transversal media move. They move with ease across a variety of interfaces, communities of practice, and applications. With highly compatible file formats, they move across a multitude of 3D-friendly devices, like virtual reality, holograms, and augmented reality projections, and now with the 3D printer, can enter the physical world, more often than not, as plastic. Transversal technologies, like 3D scanning and computer-aided design (CAD), grant an unprecedented control and access, in both magnitude and kind, to the spatial, material, and physical world. Because of this, media illustrate the biopolitical complexity and nuance of the term capture—long used in media praxis—whose meaning can imply both a desire to do justice to a subject, often by means of representational accuracy, and also a desire to do violence to by means of seizing, possessing, or trapping. In turn, this project explores the many affective, epistemological, and aesthetic contours of meaning and impact when transversal media are read through the lens of capture. Organized by five major keywords—making, transversal, play, capture, and preservation—this project illustrates the far-reaching impact of this particular media type that does particular things in this particular moment. Specifically, this project coins the term, transversal media, to discuss this unique media ontology and concretize it through hands-on creative practice and the work of artists, designers, scholars, and activists by centering the methodological richness of hands-on making, creativity, and play. It also addresses the connections between technical affordance and theory, culture, and ethics, as media scholars have modeled with other emerging media formats of the past, like McLuhan on television, Deleuze on film, and Sontag on photography. This approach reveals how various interface affordances and applied practices converse with, and with varying implications, the people, places, and things they mediate. Overall, this project addresses how cultural ideologies are reflected in the design, practice, and rhetoric of 3D transversal media, and how this media genre pushes notions of materiality, embodiment, and power into new realms of thinking, doing, and being.
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    A Host of Memories: Mixed Race Subjection and Asian American Performances Against Disavowal
    (2020) Storti, Anna; Lothian, Alexis; Women's Studies; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This dissertation develops the concept of racial hosting to conceptualize mixed-raceness as an embodied palimpsest of past, present, and future. A Host of Memories: Mixed Race Subjection and Asian American Performances Against Disavowal argues for the importance of uncovering the disavowed, residual, and violent conditions of racial mixture. The project situates queer theories of temporality and feminist theories of situated knowledge in relation to Asian Americanist critiques of memory. I contend that the Asian/white subject is both an index to track the colonial condition across time, and a host that harbors the colonial desires we have come to name as hybridity, multiracialism, and post-racism. Each chapter builds towards a methodology of memory to, on the one hand, track the sensorial life of mixed-raceness, and on the other hand, document how the discourse of multiracialism obscures mass violence and the colonial ideology of racial purity. Chapter one advances the framework of white residue through an examination of the case of Daniel Holtzclaw, the Japanese/white police officer serving 263 years in prison for assaulting 13 Black women. I then narrate the life of Elliot Rodger, the Chinese/white mass shooter and involuntary celibate. Opening the study in this way dispels the notion that racial mixture renders racism’s past obsolete. I then shift to mixed race artists whose performances of desire, memory, and time include a fervent belief in queer and feminist possibility. Chapter two illuminates how a femme aesthetic of retribution surfaces as a response to racial fetish. This chapter spotlights performances by Chanel Matsunami Govreau and Maya Mackrandilal. Chapter three forwards the concept of muscle memory to study how the accumulation of history is deposited into the body and enacted through movement. Here, I contemplate the queer and trans dance of Zavé Martohardjono. Chapter four de-idealizes hybridity through the oeuvre of contemporary artist Saya Woolfalk. To end, I refer to the photography of Gina Osterloh to force a reckoning with the pressures to remember and claim ancestry. Mixed race subjection, I conclude, is an embodied phenomenon with reverberating implications for the structure of racial form writ large.
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    (2019) Snyder, Cara Knaub; Tambe, Ashwini; Women's Studies; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Brazilians designate their country “O País de Futebol” (The Country of Football) with a singular vigor. But from its earliest years, the sport has been defined along masculine lines; women in Brazil were actually banned from playing soccer for four decades (1940 - 1979). The exclusion of women, gay men, and trans athletes has come under considerable challenge in the past two decades. This dissertation traces how marginalized groups have claimed access to soccer, and what it means for processes of visibility, assimilation, and ultimately, queering the game itself. Combining ethnographic, archival, and visual methods, the project unfolds over three case studies focused on women, trans, and gay players, respectively. The first chapter presents a history of Brazilian women’s soccer: using media sources and interviews, it tracks tensions between women athletes’ demands to be seen and the gendered forms of disciplining that have accompanied their increased visibility. Such disciplining has contributed to the whitening and feminization of women’s soccer, as seen in the case of the Paulistana tournament, and to the subsequent migration of Brazil’s top athletes. These migrant players have since used their transnational networks to jockey for recognition and a more equitable distribution of resources. My second chapter offers an ethnography of Brazil’s first trans men’s soccer team, the Brazilian Meninos Bons de Bola (MBB, or Soccer Star Boys), to explore futebol as a site for combating invisibility and violence, creating transness, and queer worldmaking. Using a combination of focus groups, ethnographic observations, and interviews, I explore how team members theorize oppression, survive transphobia, and thrive. My third chapter analyzes the challenges facing the Brazilian BeesCats, a cis gay men’s soccer team, as they form the first Brazilian contingent to participate in the international Gay Games. Drawing from ethnographic data from the 2018 Paris Gay Games, I examine the ethnosexual frontiers of this international LGBT sporting event. Ultimately, I argue, the athletes described in this dissertation make claims on their national sport as part of deeper struggles for belonging. In the context of a culturally rightward turn in Brazil, they are also queering futebol and subverting gender ordering.
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    (2019) Lee, Sina; Kim, Seung-Kyung; Women's Studies; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Leaving “Home” in Search of the “Homeland”: Transnational Encounters among Adopted Korean Returnees, Adoptive Mothers, and Birth Mothers considers the relationships within adoption triads—returned adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive mothers in South Korea and the U.S.—in order to expand the concept of, “the best interest of the child,” under which transnational adoptions of Korean children were carried out in the mid-twentieth century. The two primary research methods used in this study are participant observation and in-depth interviews. I conducted a pilot study by participating in formal Korean adoptees’ conferences as well as informal gatherings of adoptees held in the northeastern United States. I then returned to South Korea to conduct my field work in 2015. By working as a translator for two motherland tours, I was able to both observe the intense, emotional reunions between the returned adoptees and their birth mothers and interview some of the participants. I also interviewed adoptive mothers, birth fathers, siblings, and social workers. In addition, I volunteered for returned adoptees’ political organizations and participated in their birth family search program. By presenting birth mothers’ stories, this study sheds light on the sending country, which has so far been left out within the field of transnational adoption studies. The complex relationship between adoptees and their adoptive mothers provides a window to understand the construction of normative motherhood in the U.S. This study argues that a primary motivation for adoptees’ returning lies in how they conceptualize their relationships with their two mothers. Careful listening to the stories of adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive mothers, I argue, is needed in order to expand the concept of “the best interest of the child.”