Event Date
Apr 18, 2013
Salvador Gutiérrez Peraza, UC Berkeley
Rebecca Peters, UC Berkeley
Andrew Levine-Murray, UC Berkeley


Center for Race and Gender Thursday Forum Series

Geographies of Violence and Resistance

Arizona: A Contested Story, Whose History?
Salvador Gutiérrez Peraza, History
In 2010, the Arizona legislature banned the teaching of Ethnic Studies in public schools (K-12) via House Bill 2281.  This bill specifically targeted Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American Studies program.  According to the proponents of this bill, the MAS program was “dangerous” because it promoted ethnic, racial, and class divisions among students.  In my research project, I will go beyond such public declarations to investigate what were the historical and political factors that led to the drafting and adoption of HB 2281.  My methodological approach will consist of archival research at Arizona Historical Society archives, at the University of Arizona Special Collections and at Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records.  Furthermore, I will complement this research with semi-structured interviews with critical actors that were involved in the dispute including local Arizona politicians, MAS educators, and MAS students in Tucson.  My project will directly engage with the growing historical and political literature documenting the struggle of Mexican-American students for education rights in the Southwest.  Lastly, by documenting their fight to revoke HB 2281, I will seek to contribute to the literature on Latino social movements and ethnic political organizations.

Water, Women, and Social Power in Cochabamba, Bolivia
Rebecca Peters, Society & Environment
Mujeres Indígenas y Yaku
examines the ways access to water in the peri-urban margins of Cochabamba, Bolivia are drawn around race, gender, and socio-economic status. The current state of access to safe water in the Cochabamba Department of Bolivia remains dismally low despite longstanding efforts, both private and state-led, for improvement of basic services in peri-urban areas that have never been connected to the municipal water supply. In light of ongoing socially produced inequalities in the hydro-social cycle, women, particularly Quechuan and Aymara indigenous women, are disproportionately impacted. The goal of this research is to understand issues of indigenous women’s access to water in the peri-urban margins of Cochabamba, which are neglected by the government and marked by poverty, migration, and poor water quality due to exposure to raw waste from wealthier northern areas of the city. Through exploring the specific neoliberal legacy in Bolivia, this research will analyze the interacting roles of “the state” (the national government and municipal government of Cochabamba), women, and water cooperatives in contributing to the formation of current conditions of water access, control, and management in the Zona Sur region of Cochabamba.

A Critical Look at Domestic Violence Through the Lens of Young Hmong (American) Women
Mai Nhia Vang, Social Welfare
Domestic violence continues to be a critical issue that has not been openly addressed within the Hmong community.  My research project studies how gender roles have affected the experiences of intimate relationships, particularly partner violence/abuse, of young Hmong (American) women. Through fourteen in-depth, one-on-one interviews, data was collected to critically analyze young Hmong (American) women’s responses to and help-seeking behaviors for domestic abuse.  Their perspectives on addressing and preventing partner violence in the Hmong community suggest that Hmong cultural support systems must be transformative spaces that do not repress women’s voices and stories.

“Don’t Be Ratchet!”: Secondary Marginalization and Boundary Maintenance in the ‘Gay Mecca’
Andrew Levine-Murray, Sociology
The Castro district in San Francisco, California is often represented as the “Gay Mecca,” a utopian safe haven for LGBT-identified individuals throughout the globe. However, demographics of and observations in the Castro illuminate quite a different story, particularly as older, white, middle-class men predominate the neighborhood. Interestingly, on weekend nights, several low-income queer men and women of color consistently congregate on the corner of Market and Castro St., in the geographic heart of the Castro but quite literally at the margins of its social life. Relegated to a heavily policed corner of a single city block due to racial and class exclusion in the wider Castro community, members of this corner group enact boundary maintenance practices that produce an additional level of exclusion in the Castro community based on “ratchet” and non-“ratchet” behavior. Members of this corner group use these exclusionary boundary practices to help protect and maintain their meeting space on the corner as well as their larger stake – no matter how precarious – in the Castro neighborhood and community. Thus, although members of this group express ambivalence toward the mainstream Castro community, this corner holds incredible significance to their lives, particularly as they face a double exclusion from both the Castro – due to their race and socioeconomic class – and their home neighborhoods – due to their sexuality. This project seeks to better understand the effects of secondary marginalization within LGBT communities, particularly by placing individuals with multiple, intersecting identities at the center of analysis.

Faces of Occupy Cal
Noor Al-Samarrai, Political Economy; Creative Writing
The concept for Faces of Occupy Cal began as a media campaign attempting to harness the aesthetics of UC Berkeley’s Thanks to Berkeley campaign for good, and quickly morphed into an art-journalism project. The aim was to capture and make public some of the origin stories of the Occupy movement on the campus, and to illustrate through this tracing the changes in racial demographics at protests since the Occupy movement took hold. While it did reveal many compelling origin stories, the project laid bare an invisibly obvious fact: that student activists of color were made more vulnerable by the camera than their white peers. The camera provides a physical manifestation of double-consciousness – literally freezing in place a static self in a composite of colors, making still an externally-imposed understanding of the self seen “through the eyes of others,” in which one’s soul is “measured … by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” The project has served as a probe and a challenge to this fact. By combining text that acts in dialogue with the photo – providing voice as well as image, the hope is that the student and faculty subjects presented in the photographs are enlivened and dimensionalized by the conversation occurring in the photographs.