Social Justice Initiative Graduate Research Fellows share their research funded by the SJI

SJI Graduate Research Fellows

On Friday December 12, 2014  the Social Justice Initiative Graduate Research Fellows presented on the research they completed because of funding from the SJI. We hope to continue these fellowships this year and look forward to supporting other graduate student work.

Stephanie Maroney

Graduate Group in Cultural Studies DE:Feminist Theory & Research
“Cultural Fermentation: Reimagining Food Politics with Bacteria“

While I primarily analyze the cultural discourse of nutrition science and dietary health, I am interested in mixed methodological research approaches that often categorize Cultural Studies scholarship. The generous research fellowship from the Mellon Social Justice Initiative allowed me to explore my research on fermentation revivalism through participant observation during a three-week fermentation residency in rural Tennessee. This offered me unparalleled access to one of the main figures of my dissertation research and enriched my reading and contextualization of his written work. I deeply appreciate the opportunity to arrange my thoughts on the residency into a coherent narrative and presentation to share with the other SJI fellows.

Amanda Modell

Cultural Studies DE: Feminist Theory & Research
“Mapping the Music Genome: Imaginative Geography in Pandora Internet Radio and National Geographic’s Genographic Project“

Thanks to the generous support of the UC Davis Social Justice Initiative, I was able to conduct research at Pandora headquarters in Oakland during summer 2014.  I met with several members of the music analysis team, and used what I learned to write an essay.  The essay examines the promotional materials and structuring logics of Pandora’s Music Genome Project and National Geographic’s Genographic Project to understand how “code” works literally and metaphorically to establish a consumer’s sense of self.  I argue that with appeals to consumers’ self discovery, the Genographic Project and the Music Genome Project rely on common sense ideas of race informed by place, or “imaginative geography,” while simultaneously reinforcing those ideas.  In looking at genomics as a metaphor and organizing logic for music, I am ultimately interested in how popular science and popular culture co-constitute common sense ideas of race and identity. -Amanda Modell


Diana Pardo-Pedraza

Graduate Group in Cultural Studies DE:Feminist Theory & Research
“Learning how to walk: landmine occupation of peasant life.”

With the support of the Social Justice Graduate Research Fellowship, I conducted preliminary fieldwork in Arauca, Colombia. During two weeks, I participated in several mine risk education trainings and workshops, informally interviewed local NGO staff and landmine victims and organizers, went to a variety of public and private events with residents and the local humanitarian team, and personal and familiar reunions of some landmine victims. Thanks to these workshops and meetings in different villages of Arauca, 1. I expanded my base of contacts in the province, 2. Secured institutional and local support, and 3. I was able to better my regional understanding in regards to landmine presence, militarization, and local traditional and emerging economies.

I am particularly grateful for the insights I gained through my participation in the mine risk education workshops, which are provided by the government and NGOs. These workshops showed me a particular non-explosive capacity of mines: how landmines presence alters people’s ways of walking their territory and their physical and affective engagements with it. Through these workshops people who decide to stay and remain living amid minefields learn safe behaviors (comportamientos seguros), which are daily, ordinary practices that could prevent possible landmine accidents. Actually, walking is a central “safe behavior” taught and rehearsed during these sessions. Peasants are “trained” to pay attention to “clues” on the land while walking, including footprints of humans and animals, new growing vegetation, the presence of strange and unfamiliar objects, etc.


Bidita Jawher Tithi

Geography Graduate Group DE: Feminist Theory & Research
An Investigation of the Discourse(s) of Climate Change Victimhood and Mitigation in Bangladesh”


Angel Hinzo

Native American Studies DE: Feminist Theory & Research
“Voicing Across Space: Subverting Colonial Structures in Ho-Chunk/Winnebago Tribal History.”



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