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Best of NCUR 2006

Humanities and Social Sciences

Bayou Blues: The Social Structure of a Disaster

Brian L. Levy

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jeremy Reynolds

The University of Georgia

 

This paper uses Hurricane Katrina as a case-study to examine the extent to which environmental racism-classism and residential segregation conjoin to produce a greater disaster risk for poor, black Americans.  The concept “environmental racism-classism” suggests that the impoverished and minorities are much more likely than the middle class/wealthy and white Americans to be mal-affected by environmental harms.  Residential segregation indicates that the impoverished and minorities tend to reside in homogenous communities, creating a separation from other social groupings.  Disasters offer a unique realm of analysis for environmental racism-classism because, unlike most other research topics which consider a produced harm after a population is already concentrated, disasters enable analysis of how individuals are housed in areas with a pre-existing risk.  Race is found to be a strong predictor of flood damage, while class is found to be unrelated.  Additionally, location along the coastline is found to be an important variable for predicting flooding.  These results, if accurate, undermine the notion of a race-class nexus for production of harms.

 

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The Iconography of the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Lauren J. Sapikowski

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kathleen Showalter

Washington and Lee University

The sarcophagus of Junius Bassus is a prominent example of early funerary Christian art, completed in 395 CE. It was made specifically for Junius, the son of a consul who followed his father’s footsteps to become prefect of Rome. Given the Christian nature of the sarcophagus, it is curious that Junius was not baptized until he was on his deathbed. This is probably because he was in public office, and most public officials were pagan at the time, as were most Romans. Most of the sarcophagus has been damaged, but one of the more interesting sides remains intact. This side contains scenes from the Old Testament as well as from the life of Christ. Despite the fact that this side of the sarcophagus has been highly studied, art historians have yet to clear up some remaining questions about the arrangement of the scenes on this panel. I will argue that the images on the sarcophagus were arranged in a pattern where like images were placed in opposition to one another. For example, the sacrifice of Isaac in the upper left panel relates directly to the sacrifice of Daniel in the lower right panel. Connecting these images creates a cross – an X. The arrangement of the scenes in such a cross was no mistake; it has symbolic meaning for Christians as it represents the Chi in the Chi-Rho. The Chi-Rho is the symbol of Christ, which is significant, particularly at the time of Junius’ life. In fact, Constantine dreamt he would win a major battle if he rode under the Chi-Rho . The battle was indeed won, which inspired his conversion and the legalization of Christianity. The image pattern of a Chi and potentially a Rho for the sarcophagus is noteworthy. For the newly baptized Junius, it was important that his show of faith last for an eternity. The longevity of his devotion to Christianity would not only be important to him, but would also make an incredible statement for the religion itself.

 

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The Commodification of Children through International Adoption

Karli Knop

Faculty Advisor: Katharine Bjork

Hamline University

For the past two and a half years I have been interested in the topic of adoption, with a particular focus on international adoption in the United States and the Federal Republic of Germany. I have studied how the elaborate structures of international adoption are interwoven into the process of globalization and what effects this relationship has on the people and children involved with international adoption. In this research paper, I argue that because of the language and photographs U.S.-based international adoption agencies use to promote adoption, children are being “marketed” or “advertised”. In short, they are being turned into commodities.


  

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Expectancy, Mood and Motive: An Exploration of Alcohol Consumption Motivations and Protective Drinking Strategies Used by College Students

Rebecca E. Johnson

Faculty Advisor: Dr. J. Clark Laundergan

The University of Minnesota Duluth

This qualitative study explores the prevailing motivations college students have for drinking and examines the consequences of those motivations. Strategies for safe, responsible drinking in college are considered. Data come from a sample of 100 open-ended questionnaires regarding students’ personal alcohol use. They were completed by University of Minnesota Duluth students who took a mandatory class as a result of receiving a minor alcohol consumption ticket. Students say they are drinking for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it’s a way to be social and meet new people. Alcohol is thought to provide confidence, making them funnier, more relaxed, and more outgoing. Typical problems like legal consequences and getting sick from drinking were downplayed and recorded as “not really” problems, but recorded nonetheless. Many students recorded the desire to alter their alcohol decisions in three main ways: Curbing the amount, frequency, and rate of consumption. Students are using safety strategies, but not as many as they know they should or as often as they would like. The most commonly mentioned strategies were using a designated driver and staying with a trustworthy friend. Avoiding the police was recorded as a safety issue, which merits further discussion. Further study of the degree to which social interaction, motivation, and anxiety contribute to college drinking also seems warranted. These data are quantitatively corroborated by data analysis on the 2004 National College Health Assessment on the same population of students.

 

 

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Betts V. Brady: Hugo Black's Forgotten Dissent

Logan Greene

Faculty Advisor: Dr. James S. Day

The University of Montevallo

Justice Hugo L. Black’s voice was one of the most powerful forces on the Supreme Court in the twentieth century.  In spite of public criticism, Justice Black became an advocate of equal rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.  During his tenure on the Court (1937-1971), Black delivered many powerful decisions that furthered the cause of the Civil Rights Movement.  For example, in Betts v. Brady (1942) Justice Black dissented when an impoverished man was denied a court-appointed attorney.  Black believed that all plaintiffs deserved an attorney regardless of federal or state jurisdiction and despite the severity of the charge.  Two decades later, the Court adopted Black’s viewpoint by guaranteeing legal representation in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963).  Thus, Betts v. Brady gains importance as the preliminary to the landmark decision.  Despite this, the Betts v. Brady dissent is largely ignored or forgotten in modern historical studies.  The Supreme Court text, periodical evidence from the time, and Justice Black’s personal records such as the “The Black Notebook” substantiate his critical role in laying the groundwork for civil rights reforms of the 1960s.

 

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