Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University

Master's Projects

The following are abstracts of past GloJo master's projects (journalistic works of some 7,000-10,000 words) and, at the top, the pieces we are expecting this spring (2014). Please note that the first European and Mediterranean Studies class entered in Fall 2013 (first projects expected Spring 2015), and The first East Asia class started in Fall 2012 (first projects expected Spring 2014).

2014

Sara Afzal - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies: This journalistic micro-study of urban Tehrani life focuses on the largest apartment complex in Iran’s capital, Ekbatan located in Western Tehran. As a predominately middle class neighborhood, Ekbatan houses more than 55,000 residents. For the over 8 million Iranians living in Tehran and nearly 14 million in its greater metropolitan area, high-rise apartment complexes like Ekbatan are the common housing structures since Tehran’s colossal urban development in the post-revolution years. These urban environments shape social practices, underground cultures, identity formations, and ultimately how Tehranis interact with each other and understand themselves. 

Mel Bailey - GloJo - French Studies: Many of thee estimated 240,000 West Africans who have taken up residence in Paris since 2005 work as street merchants, selling goods smuggled from their home countries to members of their own communities while others work in fast food or car washes and very few pursue schooling beyond what they were able to complete before they left their countries of origin. Through the lives of three of these men, this project explores how West Africans who move to Paris make money, find better quality of life, start up communities and connect with family back home, often through the obligation to remit funds to those family members they have left behind. 

Anna Callaghan - GloJo - International Relations - In 1984, the Olympics heralded Sarajevo's entrance to the world and the city welcomed foreigners with an Olympic smile they learned through television and radio campaigns. For the first time, there was Coca-Cola. Then, as the world's eyes turned toward Sochi, Russia, Sarajevo celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Winter Olympic Games, rousing memories of the turbulent years that followed. The jubilant Olympic city descended into a brutal war and in time, rebuilt itself. Sarjevo is a city of contrasts and extremes, and while the story of war is a tragic one, there are other stories, too. (This piece was published in a number of papers, including the Seattle Times and the Spokane Spokesman-Review.)

Peter D'Amato - GloJo - Latin American Studies - Stretched across the length of the southern Pacific Ocean, Chile’s coastline benefits from one of the most productive ecosystem of fish in the world. A robust fishing industry developed in the middle of the twentieth century, and eventually the behemoth industrial ships and the conglomerates that owned them came to dominate the ocean. In late 2012, as part of the country’s management regime, Chile passed a new law allocating the majority of fishing quotas to the seven major fishing companies in the country, leaving the smaller, artisanal boats with the remaining slivers. What fish there is left to compete over is another question. (Dissent published this piece in part.)

Tamerra Griffin - GloJo - Africana Studies - Ghanaian musicians who identify as Afropolitans have rich international experiences that inform their musical production, allowing them to challenge conventional ideas about African cultures to diverse audiences. This project investigates not only the concept of the afropolitan, but illustrates the ways in which self-identified afropolitan musicians from Ghana incorporate elements from both the United States and Ghana into their music. More specifically, these artists combine hip-hop (the genesis of which is in the Bronx) and highlife (Ghana’s own instrumental genre that originated in the 1930s) to create hiplife, which itself is the embodiment of synthesized artistic influence. 

Tom Finn - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies - In Yemen, the poorest Arab nation and the worst in the world for gender equality according to a U.N. metric based on literacy and other factors, women were at the forefront of the protests that led to the downfall of president Ali Abdullah Saleh in 2012. After starting the uprising on the fringes: delivering blankets, cooking food and tending to wounded protesters – women moved to the frontlines. They led rallies, slept in protest camps, went on hunger strikes and covered the unrest as bloggers and photographers. They were also among the hundreds of protesters killed during the government’s bloody crackdown. In a staunchly conservative society governed, almost exclusively, by men and tribal mores women defied tradition emerging as plotters, publicists and pioneers of the revolution.

Katharina Kempf - GloJo - Latin American Studies - Women are challenging their limited opportunity to participate in an indigenous-style government due to traditional gender roles in two small towns in Oaxaca, Mexico, an area where women have not been allowed to vote or run for office in 80 towns.

Anna Kim - GloJo - International Relations - This project explores the lives of more than 200,000 women in international marriages in South Korea and the dramatic policy and demographic implications of the presence of these "foreign brides." Divorce rates are high as are instances of domestic violence and discrimination.

Michael Lee - GloJo - East Asian Studies -  The world of Otaku in Japan: It's a term used to describe someone who has an extreme level of investment in a particular hobby. A word that has floated around the Japanese lexicon for at least 30 years, it has long stood for a socially awkward, out of touch male whose obsession has consumed his very being. The negative association to the word Otaku has lessened, but the obsessive culture it connotes is still thriving. What makes being an Otaku a phenomenon unique to Japan.  

Lauren Morton - GloJo - Africana Studies - This project examines the rate of maternal mortality in New York City and its disproportionate impact on women of color, a situation exacerbated by the lack of funding allocated by the city to address the issue.

Nicole Disser - GloJo - Russian/Slavic Studies - Sochi-fueled international spotlighting and human rights watchdog organizations have encouraged global demands for the repeal of laws which are seen as threatening the basic human rights of Russian LGBT citizens. But the situation is much more complicated than many Western media outlets have imagined. It is not so simple as a widespread homophobia in Russia that’s to blame, but the combination of a cultural tradition eschewing public discussion of sexuality, and a government seeking yet another conduit toward a separate, exceptionalist vision of Russia against an increasingly globalized and Europeanized world.  

Emma Quail - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies - This project explores the situation of Egypt's 4 million Sudanese refugees, beset by a colonial history that fuels contemporary attitudes of racism and domination of this population and how they resist repression by both the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and the Egyptian state.

Elizabeth Shim - GloJo - East Asian Studies - This project focuses on the lives of three North Korean defectors, whose harrowing tales of escape to South Korea via a highly dangerous route from northeast China to Laos and Thailand, are not only testimonies to a commitment to a better life, but also about the gravitational pull of South Korea, a leader in technology and pop culture in Asia. This story also uncovers South Korea’s growing influence on daily life in North Korea and how bootlegged images of South Korea seduce the imagination of North Koreans to leave their homeland to resettle in a country that is paradoxically Korean and foreign.  

Natalie Shure - GloJo - Russian/Slavic StudiesThere are many reasons to be skeptical about newly state-controlled TB programs in the former Soviet Union, where worldwide drug-resistant rates are the world's highest.

Rosario Yori - GloJo - Latin American Studies - Trafficking of women for prostitution has grown as a result of illegal mining industry in Madre de Dios, Peru. The situation illustrates the Peruvian state’s inability to tackle illicit activity.

 

2013

Amy Elmgren - GloJo - International Relations: Tibetan refugees living in Nepal have faced increasing economic hardship and political repression as China invests more and more money in Nepal's security forces. Nepal—a small and impoverished country dwarfed by its neighbors China and India—has hosted a Tibetan exile community of around 20,000 for over half a century. Because of their cultural similarities with Nepali ethnic groups, Tibetans blended into Nepali society well, and even established a thriving carpet factory industry until fighting between Maoists and royalists disrupted daily economic and social life in the mid 90’s. Despite their relatively successful social integration, however, Tibetans in Nepal have always lived in a legal limbo — most don’t have citizenship and aren’t officially recognized as refugees by Nepal or even the UNHCR, which has helped to run a center for Tibetans traveling by foot over the Himalayas from Lhasa to Kathmandu, en route to India, for decades. In recent years, tensions within Tibetan regions of China have combined with Nepal’s internal political turmoil and the country’s increasing reliance on Chinese aid money to create a situation nearing crisis for many Tibetans who live in Nepal. Without documentation, the exiles can’t work, go to school, or even celebrate the Dalai Lama’s birthday without risking arrest—let alone advocate for a return to Tibet or Tibetan independence. For the most part, delegates of the India-based Tibetan exile government have stepped out of the way as young Tibetans organize in protest. Many speculate that Western intervention in the form of threatening to reduce aid money to Nepal could help to curb the current rate of deportations to China and general level of repression. 

Katie Cella - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies: How statelessness in the Emirates became the result of defining citizenship as exclusionary privilege. The solution became making the citizens of nowhere citizens of somewhere else. (Published February 2014, the Boston Review)

This is a story of how the Emirates became a place where only five percent of the people who live there are citizens. The majority are foreign workers, generating the wealth that has come to define the Emirati national narrative, yet these workers can claim little of it for themselves. At least these people are citizens of somewhere: In the Emirates, as well as in Kuwait and Bahrain, tens of thousands of people reside in the country without citizenship or hope of attaining it. These people, called the bidoun, reflect a wide range of ethnicities, resident localities and professions. On the whole, the bidoun cannot access the free education, housing, health care and marriage allowances that nationals receive as basic provisions. Although the state has attempted to naturalize portions of the bidoun on a few occasions, human rights groups have denigrated these efforts as piecemeal and ineffectual. News articles reported that these initiatives were labyrinthine, unclear, and exceedingly slow. Thus, despite these intermittent attempts, most bidoun remained stateless. Since 2011, the government began to crack down on bidoun activities and make it more difficult for them to accomplish routine procedures like renewing driver’s licenses and obtaining birth certificates. Suddenly, the government ordered that all bidoun must apply for citizenship from the Comoros Islands or risk detention. Reactions to this requirement varied widely. Exclusion and privilege are creating strange and multiple meanings for citizenship, which turns on the people who are fenced outside it.

Sasha von Olderashausen - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies: In the midst of the U.S. and Iran’s fraught politics, two classes (one in Tehran, the other in NYC) connect to each other through language. 

An exploration of U.S.-Iranian relations, specifically in the context of recent international sanctions imposed on Iran, through the comparative lens of two language classes—one, a Persian language class taught in an inner-city high school located in the Bronx, and the other, an English language class comprised of students both young and old, located in Tehran.  

Through these parallel narratives, I aim not only to analyze the real and everyday consequences of increasingly stringent sanctions enacted against Iran, especially as pertains to the young population living in Tehran, but also to explore the role of foreign language instruction within the public school system in the United States. These seemingly disparate realms in fact inform and influence one another. Through this project, I will suggest that the state of foreign language instruction in the U.S.—in particular, the relative dearth of classes offered in Middle Eastern languages—speaks to larger issues of political tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East. In addition to the case of these two classrooms, I will include examples of language programs implemented in schools across the nation that have sought to meet the demands of an increasingly globalized world, which at times have been met with dissent, and in some cases, blatant racism. 

Jared Malsin - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies: Egyptians who participated in their country’s winter 2011 revolution experienced a rapid, sometimes traumatic transformation in self-understanding, changing from ordinary people into self-proclaimed revolutionaries.

 In Egypt today there is a vast community of people referred to as “revolutionaries.” But the existence of such people raises a paradox. Prior to Egypt’s 2011 uprising against President Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime, almost no one, including dedicated activists, expected to participate in a revolution. One of the extraordinary facts about the uprising is that it began simply as a day of large protests. The iconic chant of the uprising—“The people demand the fall of the regime!” did not fully coalesce until January 28th, after three days of continuous street fighting between demonstrators and Mubarak’s police. So how does a wave of protests become a revolution? How do ordinary people become revolutionaries? What I propose is that any answer to this question, however partial, must involve an understanding of individual Egyptians’ experiences of the uprising, and in particular of the tidal wave of demonstrations and the deadly police crackdown on January 28, 2011. My project narrates the story of a 20-year-old computer science student, Mohab Ali, who was shot dead by police during a demonstration in Cairo on the 28th, and also the story of his father, Abu Mohab, who is now a key figure in Egypt’s revolutionary camp, and a spokesman for the “martyrs families” movement. The families of the revolution’s “martyrs” have become the embodiment not only of this deep shift in political self-understanding but also of what they see as an ongoing movement to “complete the revolution.”

Fatima Malik - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies: By studying the case of Rashidabad, a service enclave three hours outside Karachi, my thesis examines development in Pakistan through the lens of Western ideas of development and the Islamic conception of charity. 

Rashidabad, a service enclave three hours from Karachi in the Tando Allahyar district of Sindh, aims to bring basic services to the rural heartland in Pakistan. The most fertile region in the province when it comes to agriculture, the people living in the district remain one of the most poor in the province. The foundation stone of Rashidabad was laid in 1998 by Rashid Memorial Welfare Organization (RMWO), started by a group of retired officers of the Pakistan air force. Today, Rashidabad has three schools, a hospital, an eye clinic, a blood bank, a soup kitchen, a vocation training center for men, part time vocational training classes for women, a squash complex, and its own railway station. Work has commenced on a school for the hearing impaired. Service providers are given housing within the 100-acre premises. The development also provides outreach to schools in the surrounding villages, and relief and aid during floods which are common to the area. I spent a total of about a week living on the premises and talking to both service providers and beneficiaries. By examining the Rashidabad example through the lens of critical development studies literature and at the same time, putting it in conversation with Islamic notions to charity, I hope to make a nuanced argument about welfare in Pakistan. In the discourse of freedom through development, a kind of internal Orientalism seems to be at work, and I aim to outline its affects on the already marginalized people of the region and the further inequalities it generates.   

Samantha Balaban - GloJo  - Latin American Studies: In Peru, volunteer-tourism is growing but unregulated sector of the tourism industry. The effects on the “voluntoured,” whether positive or negative, are often unknown. 

The neoliberal Peruvian government has a vested interest in accepting free foreign aid work. At the same time, volunteer-tourism has become a popular trend in the United States. While people of all ages participate, most tend to be high school or college students and gap-year adventurers. Volunteer-tourism has been researched since the 1980s when it first emerged as a trend. Scholars have concluded that it is clearly beneficial to tourists, who have the opportunity to learn about a foreign culture, practice a foreign language and list the experience on their resumes. There has been comparatively little research, however, on how volunteer-tourism is locally beneficial to those who are toured. In the context of Cusco, Peru I argue that it is especially important to look at volunteer-tourism from the local point of view because of the historical context of the tourism industry's relationship with indigenous culture. Traditionally, the industry has relied on the promotion of a commoditized image of an "authentic" indigenous identity to attract tourists. In rural communities, tourism is perceived as one of the only means of development and is therefore eagerly accepted. I look at how volunteer-tourism organizations operate in this context. Since this sector of the tourism industry is still unregulated in Peru, organizations are not obligated to benefit community members and they often do not. My thesis includes an in-depth case study of one volunteer organization and the perspective of the community members with which this organization worked for one summer. Samatha produced a piece working off this research as part of her PA responsibilities at NPR's "Morning Edition."

Nieves Zuberbuhler - GloJo - Latin American Studies: How the Kirchners rewrite Argentina’s history by ascribing political terror only to the military, glorifying the crimes of the guerillas and denying the human right accomplishments achieved in the 80s.

Since the end of the Dirty War in 1983, the struggle for human rights in Argentina went through an arduous journey. Both, military juntas and guerrilla leaders were convicted and then pardoned. In 2003 the Kirchners reopened the trials for human right abuses committed by the military, ignoring and justifying those of the guerrillas. They rewrote history, installing a discourse of friends versus foes. During the 1970’s, Argentina was shaken by an extreme violence that came from both the armed opposition and the state. The repression carried out by the latter was infinitely worst, because it counted with the power and impunity of the absolute state. However, the atrocious terror carried out by the state doesn’t justify nor cover the atrocious terror that was also carried out by the armed opposition during those years. In the 80’s, during the period of democratic transition, the Argentine government under the newly elected President Raul Alfonsin prosecuted the principal perpetrators of human rights violations. It was an extremely difficult process, with different actors pressing for various courses of action. However, none of this was ever recognized by former President Nestor Kirchner and by his wife, the actual president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. The Kirchners nullified the pardons of the military but not those of the guerrilla leaders, who are now free. Depicting the military as the sole agents of widespread violence means rewriting the history of Argentina. The fact that many military officers were guilty of terrorism does not negate the crimes committed by the guerrillas. 

Dana Varinsky - GloJo - International Relations: Boquete, Panama, now a major retirement destination for Americans, is undergoing an economic and environmental transformation informed by larger changes in the United States and Panama.

In the last decade, Panama has become a popular retirement destination for elderly U.S. citizens. This is no accident: a series of laws in Panama established a permanent residency visa for those receiving a pension and eliminated property taxes for the first 20 years after a new home is built. The mountainous region of Boquete quickly gained a reputation as one of the world’s best places to retire. Now, Americans are estimated to make up 25 percent of the population there. The retiree community in Boquete has established its own networks, services, and local charities, and has changed the area in significant ways, both positive and negative. Businesses now cater to this new population, wages have increased, and property values have skyrocketed. Boquete is Panama’s coffee growing region, so the country’s coffee exports have decreased as farmers have sold their land to residential developers, and landslides and water drainage are becoming bigger concerns as coffee farms get clear cut. Environmentalists are also worried that new construction and a lack of zoning or wildlife protection in the area will cause severe damage to the country’s biodiversity. Viewed in a wider context, the retirement trend reflects important economic dynamics in Panama and the United States. Panama is undergoing rapid economic growth and development-- the canal is being expanded, the banking sector is flourishing, and multinational corporations are increasingly present.  In the U.S., on the other hand, an aging generation is reevaluating its expectations of retirement after the economic downturn.

Laurent Bertscher - GloJo - International Relations: In the streets of Madagascar, thousands of children, left behind by parents and government, are left to fend for themselves.

Behind Madagascar’s legendary and unique beauty lies an ugly reality. Life for the Malagasy is often paved with hardships, the daily routine of the multitude crippled by violence and fear. A sad 151 rank on UNDP’s latest HDI report paints a bleak picture. Those most affected, naturally, are the children. Those who were made most vulnerable, it is they who end up paying the price of corruption and lust. In 2011 and 2012 I spent several months in Majunga, the country’s third largest city. I got to know many of these children through my work (I taught French at a shelter), and as I got to know them I was moved by their stories, and by the resilience they showed in the face of such hardships. While there are several local NGO’s trying to help these children, their resources are limited, and they often found themselves burdened by the corruption and the greed of institutions and families alike. In addition, I was shocked at the behavior of the so-called ‘tourists’, abhorred by that of those foreigners who had moved to Madagascar on a permanent basis. There is in Majunga a large parallel industry of prostitution, a market fostered by the demand of the vahaaza, the white man. If tourism constitutes the 2nd largest revenue stream in the country, it also certainly leads to bad practices. By telling the story of several characters of Majunga, street children from Tanarivo, retired French men living with their young wives, frustrated and unpaid educators and teachers, optimistic NGO workers and fifteen year old sex workers, I hope to show the fragility of the necessary balance between culture and globalization, the contradictions of a post-colonial present in Madagascar. 

 

2012

"Buried in Silence: Lebanon's 'Disappeared' and the Politics of Civil War Memory" (Grace Maalouf - GloJo Near Eastern Studies) The Mar Ephraim monastery, just down the road that slopes into the valley from the town square of Chbaniyeh, could hold clues to the resting place of more than a dozen of Lebanon's "disappeared." Two weeks earlier, a construction worker preparing a campsite on monestary land dug up 17 sets of bones, each in a bag, buried four feet beneath the ground. In a country where 15 years of anarchic fratricide led to the enforced disappearance of thousands, the discovery of a potential dumping ground for victims of mass killing could help bring closure to many remaining family members. Unless, of course, the bones once belonged to animals.

"Middletown on the Edge: A Midwestern City's Route to a Post-Manufacturing Existence" (Ian Duncan - GloJo - International Relations) In 1924, two young sociologists came to Muncie, Indiana, looking to study the typical American city. They found a community with problems, but one benefitting from a rapidly developing economy. They called it Middletown. Nine decades later, Muncie has been nearly buried by waves of globalization, as the manufacturers that were its backbone have expanded their operations abroad to cut costs. The author examins how the shift to global manufacturing supply chains has affected the economic and social life of the city, and how it might revive itself in the course of coming decades.

"Running on Lithium: Evo Morales and the Modern Epic of Bolivia's Lithium Reserves" (Juan Victor Fajardo - GloJo-Latin American Studies) An examination of Bolivia's lithium reserves and its presdient's drive to alter the world's energy paradigm and lift his country out of poverty in the process.

"The Daily Battles of the Turkish Journalist" (Merel van Beeren - GloJo - Near Eastern Studies) In the nine decades since the founding of the Turkish republic, its record on freedom of speech and press has been questionable at best. The author examines the three most evident blocks to Turkey's ambivalent aspirations for a free press: a long succession of repressive regimes, a challenging economy and an ambiguous penal code, meaning a dearth of jobs for journalists and a prevalence of legal actions against them. For the journalists themselves, it is little wonder that the abiding fear for personal safety and the need for economic security often take precedence over any desire to agitate for the adoption of more democratic ideals -- creating a fourth block: self-censorship.

"Anti-Islam and American: The Anti-Sharia Movement" (Abigail Ohlheiser - GloJo - Religious Studies) An exhaustive examination of the Anti-Sharia movement in the United States, especially those who maintain that Islam poses a uniquely serious threat to U.S. security, specifically the possibility that radical organizations or individuals might target the American Muslim community and "radicalize" what are seen as vulnerable members of the population, including young males, poor immigrants, inmates, and those attending mosques led by "radical" Imams.

"The Schoolteacher" (Suzanne Rozdeba - GloJo-Russian/Slavic Studies) A documentary investigation of long-buried family history: the hiding of the village's Jewish schoolteacher by the writer's aunt and grandmother, on the family farm in Chociszewo, Poland, during World War II.

"Nicaragua's Quest for Peace" (Jessica Eise - GloJo-International Relations) Some 25 years ago, U.S. headlines were full of stories about Nicaragua, the Contras, the Sandinistas and most principally the scandalous Iran-Contra Affair. Was Reagan lying? Did he really know about the arms sales to Iran and illegally defied the wishes of Congress? Were we, the U.S. people, betrayed by our president and our democratic institutions? To this day, many of our questions remain unanswered and as time passes, the affair fades from political discourse. Yet a couple of thousand miles to the south, in the second poorest country in teh Western Hemisphere after Haiti, the events of that epoch are inextricably linked to current politics. 

"Cuban Lesbians Emerge from the Shadows" (Von Diaz - GloJo-Latin American Studies) Across the world, the stories of lesbians are always the last to be told, and Cuba is no exception. Lesbians who remained in Cuba after the revolution were thrust into the shadows, but they found ways to find love and maintain their identity although they risked being jailed or socially outcast.  They persevered, and today they are able to be themselves.  But the memories of that time live on. I spent the summer in Havana, talking with lesbians who lived through the fearful years of the revolution. I went to their homes, ate meals with them, and learned the intimate details of those fiercely homophobic years.  In this narrative feature, I will share their personal stories, which speak to the struggles of gays lesbians worldwide. (NPR Latino USA broadcast this radio documentary on May  11, 2012). 

"The Vagaries of Syrian Womanhood (Or, Syrian Womanhood, Prescribed)" (Hania Mourtada - GloJo-Near Eastern Studies) The author's examination of the response of Syrian women to the recent ban on the niqab.

"Are the French Turning Japanese? A Look at the Japanese Pop-cultural Invasion of Paris" (Natalie Rinn-GloJo-French Studies) Teaching English in France from 2005 to 2007, the author started to see signs of the French fascination with Japanese pop culture, from selections of clothing to culinary offerings to vacation itineraries. But over time, the examples, from educational priorities to language study piled high enough to make it clear that something more was afoot. The author examines this surprising fascination.

"Child Trafficking in Ghana" (Dana Sherne - GloJo-International Relations) Although Ghana outlawed human trafficking in 2005, Projects Abroad estimates some 26,000 children are still being trafficked in the west African country each year. The author examines the crime and the organizations established to combat it.

 "End Times: The Impossibility of the Religious Right in a Nation of Independent Voters and Religious Apostates" (Clint Rainey - GloJo-Religious Studies) American Politics and the Religious Right, the story of how the Religious Right has been rejected by the group that once identified itself most with it. 

 

2011

"Brazil May Have the World's Largest Slavery Reparations Program in the Works" (Roque Planas- GloJo-Latin American Studies). Brazil imported more slaves from Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries than any other country in the Americas. In 1889, it became the last nation in the western hemisphere to outlaw the institution. Today, more people of African descent live in Brazil than in any other country in the world besides Nigeria. People of color make up 51 percent of Brazil's population, according to the most recent census. Now, more than one million black Brazilians are calling upon the government to honor their constitutional right to land. Published as a two-part series in the Huffington Post in 2014.