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Newcomb Scholars Symposium Featuring presentations of research projects by the Class of 2021

Welcome Note

Dr. Aidan Smith, Director, Newcomb Scholars Program
After a year of struggle and separation, many of us have emerged from our pandemic cocoons. I know I am not alone in reflecting on the renewal of spring and the opportunities for community and exploration that are waiting for us as the world reopens. This year’s Newcomb Scholars symposium offers us a window into what is possible during challenging times, always with an eye toward the future. While some projects speak directly to the challenges of our era, like barriers to telehealth implementation for geriatric populations or the role of juvenile court judges’ contributions to mass incarceration, others take us back in time to ancient Crete’s funerary practices or ask us to consider filmic representations of the Vietnam War and their impact on collective memory.
As always, these students bring us the best of undergraduate research at Tulane University, offering a plethora of methods and epistemological approaches. I invite you to learn more about these impressive Scholars and their work, presented here virtually. Many thanks to all of the faculty advisors and mentors that have worked closely with the Scholars to bring their visions to fruition. Without you, this program would be impossible.

Abigail Bean

The Women of ISIS: Theorizing Justice, Gender, and Terrorism

Bio

Abigail Bean is a senior from Colorado Springs, Colorado, studying Political Science, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and French. During her time at Tulane, Abigail has been passionate about working with first-year students as a TIDES Peer Mentor and Honors Teaching Fellow. She is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi and a student employee at Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Her Honors Thesis explores the intersection of postcolonial feminism and restorative justice, using former female members of ISIS as a case study. Abigail became interested in the politics of the Middle East when she completed research about Palestinian feminism during the summer of 2018 as part of the Mandel-Palagye Program for Middle East Peace in Jerusalem. She also studied abroad in Paris, studying French literature and history. Growing up in Colorado, Abigail was raised with a love of the outdoors, and today she enjoys spending time with her cat, taking care of her collection of indoor plants, and reading as much as possible. After graduation, she plans to stay in New Orleans and work, and eventually obtain a Master of Library Sciences.

Project Abstract

Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana are among the thousands of Western Muslims who travelled to Syria and Iraq to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State and live under the caliphate's rule. Since the collapse of ISIS, these women are living in refugee camps in Syria and have professed regret for their actions and desire to return to their home countries of the United Kingdom and the United States, respectively. Their governments have stripped them of their citizenship, refusing their re-entry and denying them access to due process. This course of action, or inaction, is obviously a major security threat; however, the conundrum of former ISIS women also exposes the inability of the western justice paradigm to provide fair and just due process to women, people of color, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups. Because western judicial-criminal systems are founded on imperialism, racism, and patriarchy, we need a new framework to repatriate and reintegrate former female members of ISIS into their home societies, rather than leaving them stateless. In this thesis, I present the notion of alternative justice, a framework based on restorative justice, postcolonial feminist, TWAIL, and queer readings of terrorism, reconciliation, and peacebuilding as a useful lens through which to view the case of former female members of ISIS from the West. I apply critical analysis of both "traditional" Western justice theories and alternative justice theories to case studies of Hoda Muthana and Shamima Begum, not as a policy proposal but as a theoretical exploration with important implications not only for these women's situations, but also for Western notions of justice, gender, and terrorism more broadly.

Rachel Bear

U.S Antisemitism & Politics: American Jewry’s Political Response to Rising Antisemitism

Bio

Rachel Bear is a Political Science and Social Policy & Practice major from San Diego, CA with a passion for politics and Judaism. She combines these two passions in her research project, which focuses on American Jewish political attitudes and antisemitism. Rachel’s favorite experience as a Tulane student has been being a part of the Newcomb Scholars Program. Other organizations that Rachel has been involved in include Alpha Epsilon Phi, Mortar Board Honors Society, Hers Theirs Ours, and Tulane Hillel. This year, she is a co-producer for Hers Theirs Ours, Tulane’s student-written version of the Vagina Monologues. She is also working in State Representative Aimee Adatto Freeman’s office as a policy intern. Rachel spends her time petting dogs, trying coffee shops, talking about summer camp, and exploring uptown. After graduation, Rachel plans on moving to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in policy research.

Project Abstract

This independent study investigates the relationship between American Jews’ political attitudes and rising antisemitism between 2015 and 2021. There is empirical evidence that antisemitism is on the rise in the United States: 2019 marked the highest number of antisemitic incidents— over 2,000— in the Anti-Defamation League’s four decades of tracking antisemitism. The pandemic escalated this trend; COVID-19 marked a 30% increase in antisemitic online harassment and an influx of main-stream attention to QAnon’s web of antisemitic conspiracy theories. There is another layer to increased antisemitism in the United States: the emergence of an anti-Zionism movement in leftist spaces has raised concern in some American Jews. Many activists have adopted a stance of anti-Zionism, or opposition to the state of Israel and the ideology of Zionism. The anti-Zionist ideology walks a fine line between legitimate criticism of Israel and the use of antisemitic tropes to combat Zionism. This research uses data from annual surveys conducted by the American Jewish Committee and dissects antisemitism in its two most prominent manifestations: far-right white supremacy and anti-Zionism. Ultimately, this study seeks to determine whether rising antisemitism has factored into American Jews’ political attitudes and party identifications.

Emma Brick-Hezeau

Sentiment Analysis of Text Data in A Mental Health Access Study

Bio

Emma hails from Memphis, Tennessee, but is proud to call New Orleans home. While their passions include art, music, and following the comedic trends of Tiktok, they formally study economics and linguistics with a minor in political science. Emma wears many hats, working as a research aide for Newcomb Institute and the Tulane Economics department and is a substitute teacher at Stuart Hall School. At Newcomb, Emma studies gender in higher education, American political leadership, and women’s history, connecting scholars across Louisiana for events that sustain Newcomb’s mission. Their other research interests include computational linguistics, economic history, and cognitive science. While at Tulane, Emma studied Arabic and practiced these skills abroad through the Mandel Palagye Program for Middle East Studies as well as participated in Feminist Camp in New York through a grant from Newcomb. Emma is still deciding on their next adventure but hopes to continue building their skills as a coordinator and writer.

Project Abstract

This thesis examines the potential for computational linguistic methods to frame the analysis of “big data” in an economic study on access to mental healthcare. I examine three textual factors (sentiment scoring, wordiness, and presence of questions) from the email responses of 750 nationally representative mental health providers to patient requests for therapy appointments that may provide information about ease of access to mental health services across intersections of gender and racial identity. Through this project, I attempt to create simple, adaptable scripts in Python to process and identify textual features from the results of a large experimental audit study. My goal is to explore methods for natural language processing (NLP) research to expand our ability to detect subtle discrimination and generate deeper and more efficient inferences about access to care across large pools of text data.

Chapters 1 and 2 introduce and define key concepts in natural language processing and provide an overview of existing work using similar approaches, Chapter 3 outlines my adaptable methodology and Python scripts, Chapter 4 examines the source data and audit study findings, Chapter 5 explores an in-depth summary of the outputs of my Python scripts, and Chapter 6 builds upon these results to provide example applications of text feature analysis through Stata. Though this method shows significant promise, specialized dictionaries and careful data cleaning are required for more reliable results. This thesis builds upon studies in the fields of economics and linguistics by using sentiment analysis to bring light to subtle discrimination. NLP methods can be generalized more broadly to suit other audit studies with large amounts of text data, meriting further exploration of how linguistic methods can inform studies in the field of economics.

Caroline Camus

A Fur-midable Problem: Patterns of Lead and Mercury Exposure in New Orleanian Cats and Dogs

Bio

Caroline is a senior from Watkinsville, Georgia, studying Environmental Biology and Sociology. In addition to Newcomb Scholars, she works at Newcomb Institute, serves as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in the EBIO Department, volunteers at Children’s Hospital, interns at Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and conducts urban ecological studies with Dr. Jordan Karubian. Her thesis research concerns heavy metal pollution and its effects on New Orleanian pets. She is passionate about conservation initiatives and hopes to attend law school in the coming years, focusing on environmental policy. Starting this fall, she will teach high school Biology and Environmental Studies here in New Orleans!

Project Abstract

Anthropogenic activity has greatly accelerated the dispersal of toxic heavy metals, resulting in environmental pollution and increased exposure, especially in urban centers. Lead and mercury, in particular, pose a significant health risk to humans and animals, but far less is known about their impact on animals, namely pets. In the current study, we compared baseline blood lead and total mercury concentrations of New Orleanian domestic cats, Felis catus, and dogs, Canis lupus. Characterizing the nuances between these populations allowed us to determine whether meaningful differences exist among their exposure risk and if the pets' lifestyle characteristics (e.g., behavior, diet, and environment) can be used to predict urban pets' relative susceptibility to lead and mercury intoxication. We tested the specific prediction that domestic cats would present with relatively low lead and higher total mercury concentrations, whereas domestic dogs would present with the inverse. Our findings supported this prediction: species designation (cat vs. dog) was a significant predictor of blood lead and blood total mercury concentrations. Dogs had higher blood lead values, and cats had higher blood total mercury concentrations. Pets' home address, categorized by zip code, was correlated with pets' blood lead, but not their blood total mercury concentrations. Because these toxins are ubiquitous, cause damage even at low concentrations, and were present in every pet sampled, obtaining more pets' baseline heavy metal concentrations is of utmost importance. These data can improve the health of companion animals, urban wildlife, and humans, especially if implemented holistically.

Kira Goeking

A Holistic Approach to International Criminal Justice: “Which Type of Accountability” Rather Than “Peace Versus Justice”

Bio

Kira Goeking is from Mill Valley, California and studies economics, political science, and Spanish. During her time at Tulane, she worked at Reily Student Recreation Center, served as the social media chair for the Tulane for UNICEF organization, and was a member of Alpha Delta Pi. Newcomb Scholars led Kira to her current research assistant position where she researches the intersection of politics, leadership, race and gender in Congress. One of Kira’s favorite college experiences was studying abroad at London School of Economics for a year. In her International Organizations course at LSE, Kira presented on the International Criminal Court, which led her to her thesis topic. Post-grad plans are still up in the air, but she is interested in working in investment banking or pursuing law, and would love to move to a city, such as Boston or New York. Outside of school, Kira enjoys all things health and fitness, from running to weight training to Pilates; cooking dinner and watching the Bachelor with her housemates; and dreaming about moving back to London one day.

Project Abstract

The “peace versus justice” debate is not a new one to the world of international criminal justice, but is one that continues to be discussed with particular reference to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and their dealings in Uganda. Instead of choosing between peace and justice, the question should be: “which type of justice should the ICC pursue to contribute to peace?” The Court must overcome three barriers related to complementarity, distance, and listening to locals, to render the peace versus justice debate futile. The case study in Uganda provides a prime example of where once the Court broadens its approach to justice and peace, it can overcome the three dilemmas. This thesis concludes with specific recommendations the Court and international community should take to adopt a holistic approach to international criminal justice. This thesis will work to change people’s perception of not only the ICC and its current dealings, but what justice and peace truly mean and the future of international criminal justice.

Catherine Grayson

Transitional Justice and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence

Bio

Catherine Grayson, from Reading, Massachusetts, majors in International Development and Economics with a minor in Social Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. By nature, she’s a creative problem solver driven by issues of social justice. Working with a variety of non-profits has given her a glimpse into some of the creative and cultural practices that enable a city like New Orleans to survive - innovation is routine. Catherine has received several awards for her service work, including the Stair Award for Excellence in Community Engagement in New Orleans and the Women in Political Science Community Service Award. She also spearheads a research project to create the first single data set on transitional justice mechanisms addressing violence against women, works as a Junior Evaluator at a local social programming evaluation consultancy, and is a trip leader and president of Tulane Alternative Breaks. Outside of New Orleans, Catherine has studied at the London School of Economics and worked at a startup accelerator in Boston. Her favorite memory from the past four years is taking a semester off to backpack solo across Europe, her treks taking her from tiny villages in Slovakia to a coal town deep into the Arctic Circle.

Project Abstract

Post-conflict societies face a diverse array of challenges as they rebuild, in particular for women and girls. For this group, violence does not end with war; rather, many post-conflict states experience an increase in sexual and gender-based violence. And although transitional justice is one of the most prominent pathways countries take to confront the legacy of war, the mechanisms rarely adequately address the needs of women. At the same time, post-conflict societies present an opportunity for transformative societal change, and transitional justice poses as a promising yet underutilized tool. For most of history, crimes of sexual violence have received near-absolute impunity, and even as theory develops to include women in the peace process, there remains a wide gap between practice and policy in women’s issues and transitional justice. As of now, there are no known macro-level empirical studies that look at whether transitional justice can improve the lives of women and girls by recognizing and providing justice for their experience during war. Thereupon, my research question is whether the type or number of transitional justice mechanisms addressing female victims affects sexual and gender-based violence in post-conflict settings. My methodology consists of a cross-country analysis that looks at SGBV rates during and five years after the conflict. The types of transitional justice mechanisms I am going to examine are criminal trials (domestic, international, and foreign), civil trials, amnesties, reparations, vettings, and truth commissions. I will use the datasets from the Transitional Justice Research Collaborative (TJRC) that includes information on 86 countries from 1970-2012. Based on indicators from United Nations Women, I designed an SGBV index and coded each transitional justice mechanism data set from the TJRC to isolate the inputs by the victim’s gender. Through this new set of coded data, I will be able to compare it with datasets on conflict and post-conflict SGBV levels.

Maddie Grills

Nova: Creating a Score for an Imaginary Film

Bio

Maddie Grills is a senior from Tampa, Florida studying Music Composition and Digital Media Practices, with a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Beyond Newcomb Scholars, Maddie is Music Director of TULA (Tulane University Ladies Acapella) and is a recipient of the Fulton Arts Grant for performance in Orfeo Music Festival in Italy and the Lucille Trueblood Excellence in Music Award. This year, one of her compositions was selected for performance in the 2021 Music by Women Festival. Her honors thesis is a culmination of 11 years of composition and her education of Tulane, exploring her interest in the relationships between music, narrative, and visual elements through the creation of her own narrative musical score on the subject of processing grief. After her acceptance into the 2021 Atlantic Music Festival, she will spend her summer participating in the festival’s composition program. After graduation, she hopes to one day write music for film and television.

Project Abstract

In this project, I set out to create a film score for an imagined film. First, I created the plot of the story: Three friends (Liv, Asha, and Deni) experience grief in different ways and attempt to seek closure for the death of a friend (Nova), with the help of a benevolent forest entity providing guidance along the way. The process of grieving is presenting through physical manifestations: a journey through a fantastical forest with different elements to represent the ways in which each character processes grief. Using the narrative elements, I generated musical material for 10 distinct plot points, starting with themes for each character to be woven throughout the project. I write the score by hand and orchestrate on Sibelius. To complete the project, I hired performers to play the piece and commission art to accompany each piece.

Didi Ikeji

Root Cause Analysis of Low Tele-health Literacy in Geriatrics

Bio

Didi Ikeji is a Public Health major and Mandarin Chinese minor from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sophomore year she began volunteering at Ochsner as a patient coordinator & clinical research intern mainly doing research pertaining to social determinants of health. She also works for the Department of Health Policy and Management as a research assistant on disparities in access to reproductive health among formerly incarcerated women. On campus, Didi has been involved with the Office of Undergraduate Admission as a tour guide and intern since her freshman year. The past two years, she served as the VP of Tours for GWA and a Diversity Fellow working to increase diversity and inclusion on Tulane’s campus. She's loved volunteering through WYSE to teach middle school girls’ sex ed every Monday and has also enjoyed many wins while playing defense for the women’s club soccer team. She's proud of the many events she helped coordinate while serving on the PHUSG executive board. Didi also had the honor of being crowned Tulane’s Homecoming Queen this past year. After graduation, she will be attending UCLA to gain an MPH in Community Health Sciences and medical school after that. She is thankful to the CAE and NI for funding her research while at Tulane.

Project Abstract

Increasing evidence supports the inseparable impact of biopsychosocial factors in shaping health outcomes among diverse settings and populations. With such social factors as income and education influencing U.S. health indicators, reducing disparity in healthcare starts at the biopsychosocial level and in addressing its vulnerabilities. Coordinated primary care with social service interventions are a potential solution to improving health outcomes for medically complex populations that also face compounding socioeconomic barriers to health. The MedVantage (MV) Clinic at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, Louisiana is a novel primary care hub that aims to increase equity of community access to healthcare. At a time when required physical distancing has fortified pre-existing barriers to care, delivery of telehealth targeted to these complex populations is a rapidly expanding solution. Telehealth is defined as a remote, virtual platform utilizing communicative technology to deliver medical care and health education. However, the rapid rise in telehealth has created more barriers for geriatric populations. My work aims at performing a root-cause analysis of the barriers to successful telehealth implementation through survey implementation giving an in-depth analysis of the survey design process.

Meghan Kearney

'Tropic Thunder, Da 5 Bloods' and Contemporary Collective Memory of the Vietnam War

Bio

Meghan Kearney is a History major with minors in Political Science and Economics. Her area of interest is twentieth century history, historiography, and the ways in which pop culture and politics influence each other. She worked as a research assistant for Dr. Anna Mahoney and was co-author of the chapter “#MeToo in the State House” in the book Politicking While Female, published in 2020 by LSU Press. She also worked as an intern at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans. While at Tulane, Meghan also discovered a love of studio art, taking several ceramics classes and spending a summer in Paris studying photography and art history. Meghan hopes to work at a museum or nonprofit in her hometown of Washington DC and possibly attend graduate school after a few years off.

Project Abstract

Tropic Thunder, Da 5 Bloods, and Contemporary Collective Memory of the Vietnam War’ draws upon the theories of collective memory and the use of film as a historical source to analyze two recent blockbuster films about the war. The paper argues that movies about the Vietnam War reflect not the actual historical events, but rather the popular narratives about the war that were prevalent when the film was made. The films are analyzed for what message they convey about the Vietnam War, and whether that message is substantially different than previous movies about the war. Despite surface level differences, Tropic Thunder and Da 5 Bloods still conform to preexisting narratives and tropes that center the experiences of Americans, present American soldiers as victims, deny responsibility for American atrocities, marginalize and objectify women, and exoticize the Vietnamese people.

Fabiana Lacau

The Invisible Hand of Democracy

Bio

Fabiana Lacau grew up in Miami, Florida. She is studying English and Political Science: International Relations with a minor in Sociology. During her time at Tulane, Fabiana was President of the Newcomb Prison Project, a Community Engagement Advocate and Solidarity Fellow. She is passionate about abolition and anti-capitalism studies. Her hobbies include reading, roller skating, and creative writing. Fabiana is currently enrolled in a 4+1 program at Tulane pursuing a master’s degree in English.

Project Abstract

How exactly did Joe Biden, one of the architects of mass incarceration become the President of the United States despite uprisings against the US police and prison system during the summer preceding his election? How, after the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, did the self-proclaimed “top cop of California” become the Vice-President? How did public perception of theses candidate veer from regressive politicians to America’s saviors? And, more important, why? To what end? My project explores these questions. Focusing on a political imaginary I call the Invisible Hand of Democracy, I show how it promotes the electoral system, perpetuates collective forgetting, rehabilitates presidents and sustains the honor of the presidential office, and alienates power from the masses. Drawing on concepts from Karl Marx and Louis Althusser, I examine the inner workings of Democratic fantasy and seek solutions outside of its system.

Christina McCarthy

The Birds, The Bees, and Oocyte Cryopreservation: The Debate Surrounding a Woman’s Decision to Freeze Her Eggs

Bio

Christina McCarthy is a Sociology major and Spanish minor on the pre-medical track from Bogota, New Jersey. In addition to being a Newcomb Scholar, she served as the 2019-2020 Panhellenic President for Greek Life, worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Orthopedics at LSU Health Sciences Center, and interned in the Department of Sociology through NCI’s Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health Internship. Through her internship with NCI, Christina discovered her passion for maternal and child health and hopes to become an OBGYN after attending Tulane Medical School through the Creative Scholars Program. Working alongside Dr. Johnson on both her Working and Nursing Study and upcoming book relating to how different states classify parentage under gestational surrogacy and artificial insemination statutes, inspired her to write her thesis on assisted reproductive technologies. Some of Christina’s favorite Tulane experiences include studying abroad in Madrid, trying new local New Orleans coffee shops, and directing Tulane’s second student-produced musical. Christina is excited to be continuing her education at Tulane School of Medicine this fall. She would like to thank Dr. Johnson, her Newcomb Scholars professors, and Scholars cohort for helping her cultivate her personal and academic interests and never failing to provide their support in all her endeavors.

Project Abstract

Since the advent of assisted reproductive technologies (ART), women’s options to conceive children continue to grow exponentially beyond their biological reproductive capabilities. Specifically, the debate surrounding a woman’s decision to freeze her eggs through oocyte cryopreservation, a medical procedure used to preserve a woman’s eggs (also synonymous with egg banking and egg freezing), is moving closer to the forefront of feminist scholars’, sociologists’, and public health experts’ discussions about the future of reproduction. Oocyte cryopreservation enables women to extend their fertility timeline and store young, healthy eggs for future use. Although the existing literature illuminates the perspectives of scholars in the fields of sociology and public health, it fails to provide the opinions, insight, and knowledge of younger populations of women, who are frequently targeted by marketing companies for egg banking. Additionally, the perspectives of OB/GYNs and Reproductive Endocrinologists are essential in determining how physicians counsel patients who are considering ARTs as an alternative option to childbearing.

Using a sociological lens, this thesis will address how: 1) college women view egg freezing; 2) how OBGYNs and REIs view egg freezing; 3) whether the opinions of the three populations of interest differ. Specifically, how do different specialties within women’s health understand, view, and counsel patients on oocyte cryopreservation? How do younger populations of women talk about egg freezing? Do the majority of college women consider egg freezing a viable option to delay childbearing? Drawing upon existing literature and the data collected from in-depth interviews, it will unpack the complex relationship between assisted reproductive technologies and the patriarchal values that still dominate modern medicine. Furthermore, this project will seek to understand medical professionals’ experiences with patients who considered oocyte cryopreservation as a realistic option to delay childbearing. It will analyze whether reproductive endocrinologists and obstetrician-gynecologists hold similar or differing opinions about egg banking and whether senior college women would consider freezing their eggs to prepare for demanding careers in sectors that remain unfriendly to pregnant women and women with small children/or penalize young workers who need maternity leave or who require flexibility to care for small children. In a society where women’s reproductive behaviors are constantly under the control of patriarchal institutions, it is imperative to conduct studies that question how society, rather than women, can provide a conducive environment that allows mothers to simultaneously balance their roles as caregivers and career professionals.

Riley Moran

Unladylike: Political Participation and White Womanhood in Southern Gothic Literature

Bio

Riley Moran (she/her) is a Floridian and a Southerner. She’s majoring in Political Science, Latin American Studies, and Social Policy and Practice. Outside of Newcomb Scholars, Riley works on the Invisible Histories Project for the preservation of LGBTQ history in the Southeast. She is also a research assistant with the Center for Inter-American Policy and Research (CIPR). Most of her contributions to CIPR have been on the politics of environmental protest in Latin America. In November of 2020, she co-published a paper on the subject in the Colombia Journal of International Affairs. She studied art education and cultural insurgency during her semester abroad in Lima, Peru. She served as vice-chair of the Gender and Sexuality Advisory Council, and on the board of the Diversity Inclusion and Equity Committee. She also volunteers with SAPHE’s sexual violence hotline and leads consent workshops. Riley likes fiction, reading and writing it—she was awarded the Studio in the Woods 2020 Writers’ Residency for Creative Fiction and the 2019 Quarante Club Prize for Best Short Story through Tulane. Riley hopes to continue her education in a Southern Studies program, focusing specifically on Southern lore.

Project Abstract

Between 1940-1960, white women authors used the Southern Gothic literary tradition to make political claims about their identity group’s cognizant contribution to oppressive structures and historical narratives alike. Historically, Southern white women’s bodies were a symbol of cultural purity. The Antebellum “Belle'” stood for tradition, and her inherent virtue was a tool wielded to absolve the South of its sins. In the Southern Gothic, on the other hand, authors warp symbolic white femininity in an effort to repurpose its political utility in Southern rhetoric. Where white women once embodied regional virtue, they now bore the representational burden of the grotesque, of social evils in the South. I argue that Southern Gothic literature is a set of important political texts, because it provides early examples of white women holding their own community accountable for racism, classism, and a dangerous allegiance to bygone, pre-Civil War social codes. The white women who penned Southern Gothic stories did not seamlessly incorporate the accountability measures of their fictions into their own lives. Yet I argue that it because of their personal political position that white women turned to the Southern Gothic to make political claims. Their stories sought to delegitimize white women’s innocence, and to contextualize them as political actors capable of committing atrocities. In turn, white women authors of the Southern Gothic suggest politically productive alternatives to the South’s moral system, emphasizing marginalized voices as the authority.

Sydney Sheffield

An Investigation of Families’ and Providers’ Experiences and Support Needs Following Perinatal Loss

Bio

Sydney Sheffield is a senior studying Public Health and minoring in Chinese. Outside of class, she has been the president of Tulane Water Polo, works as a research assistant on a sexual violence prevention project through the Reproductive Rights and Reproductive Health program, works as the Communications Coordinator for the Tulane University Peer Health Educators (TUPHEs), and has volunteered with Children’s Hospital NICU and Saul’s Light. She also enjoys reading, cuddling with friends at bonfires, and talking to her plants. She plans to apply to medical school in the next few years and build a career as an OB-GYN.

Project Abstract

For the purposes of this study, perinatal loss is defined as the loss of a fetus at or after 20 weeks of gestation or the loss of an infant within 28 days of life. The rate of perinatal loss in Louisiana is significantly higher than the national average, yet New Orleans hospital policies, protocols, and structures regarding perinatal bereavement care remain unstandardized. The current study uses semi-structured interviews to investigate the perspectives of parents who have experienced perinatal loss (N=3) as well as those of healthcare providers who have cared for such families (N=10). The provider interviews were analyzed for themes using NVivo 12, while the parent interviews were constructed into narratives using a phenomenological approach. In the interviews, providers discussed micro-level interventions—including care strategies like sensitive language and comforting gestures that seem to help—as well as macro-level interventions—such as staff trainings, availability of bereavement rooms, and COVID-19 policies. Providers also shared their personal support needs following the provision of bereavement care. The parent narratives corroborate providers’ recommendations for improving perinatal bereavement care in New Orleans hospitals. While attention to and efforts toward providing sensitive perinatal bereavement care have increased in recent years, differences in protocol across New Orleans hospitals persist. The current study aims to provide a framework of possible changes to be made to hospital protocol and policies surrounding perinatal bereavement care based on perspectives from the parents and providers who have lived it.

Grace Slapak

The Effect of Judicial Selection Method on Juvenile Incarceration

Bio

Grace Slapak is from Austin, Texas, and is majoring in Economics with a Social Policy and Practice Coordinate Major and minoring in philosophy and psychology. Her Honors Thesis combines her academic interests in economic methodologies and the social implications of political and legal institutions. She explores the effect of juvenile judge election and appointment using a game theory model and public choice literature, finding that elected judges are incentivized to be more punitive than their appointment counterparts, to the detriment of the juveniles and the broader community alike. During her time at Tulane, she held leadership roles in the Tulane Organization for Global Affairs and the Omicron Delta Epsilon International Honor Society for Economics. She contributed to the Tulane community through her positions as a student member of the Tulane Honor Board, a tutor at the Academic Learning and Tutoring Center, a summer intern for the Title IX Office, and a student employee at the Law Library. Off-campus, she completed numerous criminal justice internships relating to public and pro bono legal defense and support for incarcerated individuals and their families. She is attending law school in the fall to pursue a career in post-conviction advocacy and criminal justice reform.

Project Abstract

Juvenile court judges hold a distinguished position as the sole decision-makers in delinquency trials, affording them immense latitude in pre-trial placement and dispositional sentencing. I examine how different accountability schemes—appointment and election—affect the propensity for judges to incarcerate the juveniles under their purview. There is a dearth of research seeking to answer this exact question, but I pull from previous public choice and game theory literature to construct a demonstrative game model that highlights the perverse election incentives present in an electoral scheme of judicial selection and retention. I find that elected judges are pressured by voters to choose between losing their seats or imposing more punitive outcomes than they would under an appointive scheme. In the final chapter, I use features of the model to analyze various reform efforts and how they would contribute to a different equilibrium that benefits all societal participants. This thesis contributes to a larger conversation surrounding harsh and unproductive incarceration and attempts to provide an approachable illustration for understanding how our political institutions contribute to a flawed juvenile and criminal justice system.

Renée Trepagnier

Death is only the Beginning: Gender Identity and Personhood in Pre- and Protopalatial (3000-1700 BCE) Minoan Mortuary Landscapes

Bio

Renée Trepagnier is a senior scholar receiving her dual degree in Classical Studies (BA) and Anthropology (BS) with a GIS Certification. She is from New Roads, Louisiana. Renée desires to receive her PhD in Aegean archeology in England and has focused her undergraduate education on researching the Bronze Age Minoan civilization of Crete. She has received grants for her research, presented at Classical Studies conferences, and conducted ceramic field analysis on Crete. She is currently writing her undergraduate honors thesis on gender identity in mortuary landscapes of Pre- and Protopalatial Crete (3000-2000 BCE). Renée has interned at the Newcomb Art Museum and the West Baton Rouge Museum. She is also an active pro-life advocate on campus with Tulane University Right to Life Club (TURTL).

Project Abstract

During the Pre- and Protopalatial period (3000-1700 BCE) of Bronze Age (Minoan) Crete, the people from Minoan Crete practiced a variety of funerary and mortuary practices, from interment to disarticulation, and revisitation of the deceased in tholos tombs, house tombs, caves/rock shelters, and cist-graves. This variety of burial practices showcased their beliefs about death, namely that death was a transitory process with multiple stages of burial. The physical manipulations of funerary architecture and the modification of the deceased’s body manifested Minoan beliefs about the changeable nature of an individual’s personhood in death. Personhood refers to the composite of multiple dimensions of identity and social relationships, and includes intersections of gender, age, race, kinship, and class. Gender identity is a critical component of personhood and the focus of this thesis. Using the feminist theories set by Judith Butler, Sandra Harding, and Marie Louise Stig Sørensen, I will use feminism as an analytical lens to evaluate how personhood and gender identity were context-dependent performances within Cretan mortuary landscapes, spaces where the living interacted with the deceased. Through an analysis of the mortuary assemblages and funerary architecture of 22 archaeological sites, I argue that personhood and gender identity were mutable and fluid in death for the communities of Minoan Crete.

Shruthi Velrajan

What is Trepanation and the Sex Differences in Trepanation in the Incan Empire

Bio

Shruthi Velrajan was brought up in Memphis, TN, by Raji and Velrajan Ramachandra. She is graduating from Tulane’s School of Science and Engineering with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Anthropology. During her time at Tulane, Shruthi was a dedicated member of the India Association of Tulane and Tulane Jazbaa Dance Team. Shruthi enjoys culture, dance, as well as research. After a summer as an Immunology research intern at St. Jude Research hospital, she started her Anthropology research at Tulane. With interests both in STEM and the social sciences, she strived to research a topic where the two intersected. During her free time, Shruthi loves baking, running, and dancing! After graduation, she plans on getting a master’s degree in Pharmacology while applying to medical schools.

Project Abstract

Trepanations, the procedure of boring a hole in the skull by either scraping or drilling was primarily performed for medical reasons such as traumatic head injuries. Evidence of this procedure is found in premodern Europe as well as prehistoric Southern America. In this project, there is a cross cultural analysis of the trepanation procedures in pre-18th century and a focus on the Incan empire’s trepanations. This paper looks at the sex differences in the trepanation procedure in Incan skulls. The largest rates of trepanation in the world have found to be of the Incan Era in Peru. In this project 146 Incan skulls were observed and noted for trepanation procedures and their sex was determined. The skulls from the sample were found at these archeological sites: Zora De Cuzcom Ollantattambo, Attaras De Tambobamba, Saqshahuaman, Pachara, Acomayo, Salsawaman, Piquillacta, and Calca, all located in Peru. There were 88 male skulls and 51 female skull, and 7 unknowns, which is statistically significant. This finding shows that men were more likely to get trepanation procedures than females in the Incan empire, this is possibly due to the fact that more males engaged in warfare, fighting, and dangerous behaviors. This paper delves into the possible reasons for why there is this sex difference.

LaKia Williams

Creating Digital Black Feminism: A Podcast Ethnography

Bio

LaKia is a senior studying Neuroscience with a minor in Africana Studies. She is an aspiring abortion provider and works in the Reproductive Justice movement as the Digital Organizer for SisterSong: The National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and as the Communications Coordinator for the Reproductive Justice Action Collective. Post-graduation LaKia plans to continue organizing for Reproductive Justice before attending medical school.

Project Abstract

This project analyzes the podcast Black Feminist Rants using the method of auto-ethnography. BFR is a new podcast that focuses on Black feminism, reproductive justice, and activism. It currently has 23 episodes across 3 seasons. As the host of the podcast, I bring my own personal experiences and goals into the content of BFR. I discuss my advocacy experience including advocating for contraceptive equity, working with various non-profit organizations, and maneuvering through life in predominantly white spaces. I also interview guest speakers about their experiences. By analyzing BFR and audience responses to it, I show that podcasts can by used as an extension of activism and a source of political education to foster political involvement.