Class Instructor: Sarah Gualtieri

Presentation: Friday, May 1, 2015, 1:00-3:50pm, KAP 445

Breanna Nicole Betts

Remembering & Forgetting Psychiatric Survivors:  Restoration & Restitution in Asylum Cemeteries

Breanna is an American Studies & Ethnicity major with a minor in Gender Studies. Her thesis examines the fraught history of mental illness and psychiatric oppression in the United States. Her thesis analyzes the efforts that contemporary survivors of the mainstream psychiatric system have made to address their trauma and marginalization, with a particular focus on survivors’ use of public memorialization and their reclamation/restoration of space/place. As a scholar living with mental illness herself, Breanna consciously explores themes of memory and (in)visibility in her work in hopes of producing a telling of history that does justice to her community. Thesis Adviser: Dr. Lanita Jacobs


Naomi Kaleela Elizabeth McPherson

“Do What We Do”: Performing Black Women’s Queer Desire in Contemporary Hip-Hop

Naomi is a Narrative Studies and American Studies & Ethnicity double major whose thesis focuses on the engagement of queer female desire in hip-hop. Through a cultural studies analysis of songs, videos, and three MC’s, her work seeks to interrogate how perceptions of Black, female non-heterosexual sexualities are presented through contemporary hip-hop music by male rappers, as well as the ways these narratives are being challenged by Black female MC’s. Thesis Adviser:  Dr. Anthony Sparks




Roxana Vanessa Ontiveros

Criminalization, Racialization, and Informality: Mexican Immigrant Labor Participation in the South Central and Compton Pallet Industry

Roxana is a senior double-majoring in American Studies & Ethnicity (Chicano/Latino Studies) and Political Science.  Her thesis examines the pallet industry in South Central Los Angeles and Compton.  Using ethnographic interviews and participant observations, Roxana mines the story both above and just beneath the pallet (e.g., the wooden crate-like foundation that holds bulk products sold in places like Costco and Ikea) to ultimately advocate for the decriminalization of a highly racialized, policed, and criminalized industry and space.  Thesis Adviser: Dr. Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo



Melina Yung Mee Sutton

Between the Lines: Transnational Adoption Policy and National Identity among Korean American Adoptees

Melina is an American Studies & Ethnicity major with a minor in Nonprofits, Philanthropy and Volunteerism.  Her thesis explores the complex intersections between Korean adoption policies and Korean transnational adoptees’ sense of national and cultural identity. With the first wave of Korean adoptees well into adulthood and Korea’s move to reclaim adoptees as citizens, adoptees are responding critically and agentively. Melina explores how recent policies reflect (contested) attempts to bridge two nations (i.e., Korea and the U.S.) vis-à-vis citizenship policies for transnational adoptees. Thesis Adviser:  Dr. Thomas Gustafson


Betty Thien Phuc Tran

(Selective) Access:  How Some Families Circumvent Policies Restricting Early Childhood Bilingual Education Programs in California Public Schools

Betty is a senior pursuing a double major in American Studies & Ethnicity and Spanish. Her thesis examines the socio- political entailments of students’ disparate access to bilingual education programs in California public schools in the wake of recent educational policies such as Proposition 227. (Prop 227 prohibited instruction of languages other than English to students of 10 years or under in California public schools.) Betty analyzes the impact of this and other bilingual education policies in California since 1964 with this central question in mind:  what factors influence some families’ ability to waive and/or bypass the rules in order for their children to be in bilingual education programs and how might their success (and others’ failure) bespeak deeply entrenched educational inequalities and missed opportunities. Thesis Advisers: Drs. Mario Saltarelli and Marianna Chodorowska-Pilch


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Department of American Studies & Ethnicity

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University of Southern California

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