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CUMES Undergraduate Research Poster Presentation

Session , 2022 Annual Meeting

On Thursday, December 1 at 4:00 pm

Special Session Description
In 2022, the review committee selected papers from a highly competitive pool of applications. The undergraduate students represent universities from a number of institutions across the United States, with a diverse range of academic disciplines and paper topics. The students will present their work in a poster session open to all registered attendees. All conference attendees are encouraged to view the posters and are invited to engage these young scholars during this open session as they take their first step into presenting at an academic conference.
  • Meadow Guth
    In the Cold War era, the Middle East was the center of a major power struggle, often the setting of proxy wars between the United States and the Soviet Union. In 1958, an outbreak of violence and conflict that erupted in Lebanon became a major turning point in politics in the Middle East. Though it was caused by internal tensions within the socio-political realm and the increased sectarian bias of the government under President Camille Chamoun, this conflict became the site of the first use of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which was intended to combat threats of communism. This research will argue that, while there were international pressures and after-effects stemming from the 1958 crisis in Lebanon, its roots lie in internally generated tensions with no external threat of communism, and thus the Eisenhower Doctrine was not applicable. Using secondary commentaries, primary accounts, public perspectives from news and radio, and historical documents on the validity of the use of the Eisenhower Doctrine, this research will examine the roots of the 1958 crisis, what sparked the outbreak of conflict, why the U.S. intervened using the Eisenhower Doctrine, and how the misuse of this doctrine would affect the relations between the U.S. and the Middle East through the twenty-first century. Through this research, I hope to shed light on the current state of the relations between the U.S. and the Middle East and the ways that Western nations continue their attempts to assert their control over nations in the Middle East beyond direct colonization.
  • Courtney Hicks
    Palestinian embroidery, or tatreez, is a complex, culturally rich practice that holds significant value to Palestinian women, in the past and in the present. Tatreez aids in preserving Palestinian identity, generationally and nationally, and has been dramatically altered by the historical implications of the nakba, or the disaster brought on by Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Before the nakba, tatreez was diverse in patterns, shapes, and possessed a range of creative motifs that represented tribes and villages across Palestinian lands. Women used such motifs to display social status, personal desires, as well as motifs to represent their village in travel and trade. After the nakba, much of the preexisting pieces attributed to Palestinian villages were destroyed, leaving the practice to become one that more broadly represents Palestine as a whole. Tatreez became a practice of economic self-sufficiency for Palestinian women in refugee camps; it became a mode of Palestinian pride and representation for women who migrated outside of Palestine in response to the intifadas, and other Israeli-Palestinian violence. The drastic change of tatreez can be attributed to the mass displacement of Palestinians, as well as the overwhelming destruction of Palestinian villages. In this paper, I wish to further expand on the diverse motifs, color schemes, and patterns attributed to women in various areas of Palestine, as well as expand on colonial and imperial influence on tatreez. Additionally, I will investigate, through preexisting research done by remarkable researchers such as Wafa Ghnaim and Iman Saca, the shift in the practice, allowing women to obtain more political, social, and economic power, and how tatreez has become a culturally rich, feminist practice. I will use academic books, as well as interviews conducted by previous academics to support my research into the shift and reshaping of tatreez for Palestinian women.
  • Billie McClosky
    Arab women are continuously fighting to break stereotypes and reclaim their own image and perceived virtues and attributes, which have oftentimes been falsely perpetuated as something other than themselves. The works of female-identifying artists, activists, and photographers have brought to light some of the stigmatic practices and visualizations that stem from Orientalist art originally intended for the Western gaze. This continuity in sexualization, suppression, and censorship of the female image and voice through Orientalist art has created a juncture from which female-identifying artists like Lalla Essaydi (Morocco), and Manal Al Dowayan (Saudi Arabia) have leapt to advocate for the reclamation and revision of stereotypes represented in such art. The works by these artists are highlighted and analyzed in this paper to express the intention behind their depictions of Arab women through an artistic and advocative lens, being the empowerment and feminist approach to reconstruct the obscured image of a woman in the Middle East. Formulated from a number of sources pertaining to Contemporary Arab Feminist Art and Orientalist paintings originating in the 19th Century, the research exemplified in the following discourse discusses that of the inherently feminine and masculine art forms, and how these contemporary artists are working marry ideas of sexuality and blur the lines of what the distinctly gendered things and cultural norms represent and hybridize the radicalization of gender norms to completely represent the female identity sans extreme sexualization and misogyny.
  • Amelia Medina
    At sunset on Thursday, September 16th of 1982 began the Sabra and Shatila Massacre in Lebanon, which would go on for forty-three continuous hours until midday on Saturday, September 18th. Many facts about the massacre remain obscure to this day, as media coverage in the first few days was limited and any subsequent mention of the massacre was forbidden by the Lebanese authorities for many years. The massacre was carried out by the Lebanese Christian Phalangist Militias as retaliation for the assassination of newly-elected president Bashir Gemayel, with the aid of the Israeli Army. In this paper, I suggest that although the Israeli Army and government leaders deny responsibility for the event, they were key to the massacre’s occurrence by laying the foundations for the Phalangists’ violence, and that this enabling behavior, regardless of the situational forces under which they were acting, is ultimately in accordance with Philip Zimbardo’s definition of evil. Central to this paper is a “situational analysis,” drawing on concepts from Philip Zimbardo’s The Lucifer Effect and Daniel Chirot and Clark McCauley’s Why Not Kill Them All?, as a way to understand what conditions could have made these men stand by while they witnessed horrible acts of violence and even enabled them through their presence and authority. For this analysis, I focus on oral history accounts presented in the documentary animated film Waltz with Bashir by Ari Folman, an Israeli soldier that participated in the Sabra and Shatila Massacre, and the testimonies gathered in Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout’s Sabra and Shatila.
  • Charles Ohene-Karikari
    This paper focuses on the development of race in North Africa using an analytical framework grounded in Critical Race Theory and Anti-Blackness. By modifying these theories to fit a premodern context, I develop a definition of race that operates beyond phenotypic difference. In doing so, I challenge the limiting category of racial formation found in Omi and Winant’s work, which regards premodern conflicts rooted in religion and culture as preceding race. My definition of race is derived from Geraldine Heng’s work, in which race operates as a way of articulating and managing human differences, specifically cultural and religious differences in this context. I focus on the works of Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldun, analyzing their experiences with Black Africans as a microcosm of Amazigh perceptions of race. I argue that the Amazigh conception of race was influenced by prominent Arab literature that relied on formulations of race derived from biblical texts and the Classical period. Amazigh writers adopted Arab discourse to elevate their cultural status at the expense of participating in the marginalization of Black Africans as rationalized by the theory of Anti-Blackness. Furthermore, Amazigh adoption of Anti-Black sentiment would serve as a way to distance themselves from comparisons in early Arab literature that portrayed them as similar in their dehumanized status.
  • Mary Rudolph
    Despite recently abundant research studying the effects of the natural realm on human coexistence across many broad regions, there remains little information published on the relationship between nature and politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Birds and birdwatching present an alternative realm to explore how the peripheral nature and naturality - specifically of borders - allow for information exchange between extraordinarily diverse groups, thus yielding a potential new trajectory of reconciliation for the MENA region and its human populations. Using cultural media analysis of a Vice News YouTube segment, I analyze the cohesive effects of birds in Middle Eastern border areas, particularly Golan Heights. Birds show us that borderlines are not impermeable geographic markers of division but are instead fluid points of cultural overlap. Does birding offer possibilities for a common interest promoting diversity, interaction, migration, and deconstruction of geographical preconception? If so, for whom and in what ways? To further demonstrate the potential for connecting and identity-forming ability of birds to specific peoples and places, I analyze avian migration patterns of birds in Golan Heights, explore historical and cultural significance of birds in Tehran, and navigate a personal Jewish narrative titled “Birding in the Dark”. I also dissect an additional example of a recent New York incident to show that birds and birdwatching fluctuate between the political and apolitical, yet they still maintain the ability to unite diverse groups. Birds and the natural realm have the potential to teach humans, especially in the border-stereotyped MENA region, how to coexist.
  • Sudit Sahoo
    My project explores the Mappila Muslim community’s historical origins by looking beyond national and imperialist imagination to fully encapsulate their dual Arab-Malayali attributes. I argue that Mappila identity is based on their transoceanic roots, maintained through myths, genealogy, migration, remnants of historical maritime trade, movies, social media platforms and cultural elements including language, oral history, and folk music. Mappila Muslims have origins in the spread of Islam in Kerala by traders and merchants from the Arabian Peninsula. Prange says, 'the Muslim faith arrived not in the course of conquest but as a consequence of trade' (Prange 14). They became a community in Kerala by intermarriage with Muslim merchants in addition to conversions (Sutton 1). As descendants of both Arab merchants and locals, they developed a dual identity. The emergence of Arabi-Malayalam is symbolic of this duality - they spoke Malayalam but wrote in the Arabic script. Historical legends highlight how Mappila Muslims root themselves as Muslim-Dravidian within transoceanic structures. Through legends, like Qissat Shakarwati Farmad, Kerala is located, within trade networks connecting it to Yemen, Rome, and Southeast Asia, looking beyond an 'antiquated geographical imaginary' (Devji 86). Interviews with elder generations of the community help perceive their relationship with the Gulf after the emergence of GCC nation-states, post-oil economic boom and the consequential economic migration of Mappilas there (“Muslim Entrepreneurs” 207). The impact of such migration on reconstruction of Mappila identity is through the cultural and religious elements brought in by ‘returnees’ from the Gulf. My project underscores how this historically cosmopolitan group, across generations and on both sides of the Arabian Sea, engages with its identity and how the emergence of post-colonial nation states and external migration affects it. Through interviews, my project underlines the complex realities of identity formation of a community with transoceanic roots in constant flux.
  • Zaid Tabaza
    The eastern Mediterranean region has a deep but often overlooked history of vegetarianism. This vegetarian heritage is particularly worth exploring today, as many individuals in the region are adopting plant-based diets, following a global pattern driven by a myriad of health-related, environmental, and ethical factors. Vegetarianism in the region historically derived from fasting practices amongst Middle Eastern Christian communities and medico-culinary traditions, many of them stretching back to the Abbasid era (750-1258), which reflected beliefs in the curative potential of plant-based foods. This paper examines the historical antecedents of vegetarianism in the region and its current vitality. It aims to do so by exploring the case studies of Hayek Hospital, the world’s first vegan hospital based in Beirut, Lebanon, and Bayt Sara, Jordan’s first vegan restaurant located in Amman. It draws upon books and articles on the historical and contemporary role of vegetarianism in the region. It also presents findings from an interview with Bayt Sara’s restauranteur, Sara Banna, and examines evidence from a TV interview with Hayek Hospital’s owner, Georges Hayek. Finally, it draws evidence from newspaper and website articles, as well as online restaurant reviews. The case studies examined reveal the nature of contemporary vegetarianism in the region as being historically rooted in religious and medico-culinary traditions, while also evolving synchronously with global plant-based movements. Today, the significance of vegetarianism in the region is not limited to its health-related benefits; it also includes environmental and animal rights activism and is underpinned by values of empathy, environmental ethics, and collective liberation. This is accentuated by the involvement of Banna and Hayek in environmental, animal rights, and health-related activism. Both characterize their initiatives as part of a growing societal interest in veganism, indicating potential for further transformation in meanings associated with plant-based food philosophies in a region with a multifaceted vegetarian heritage.
  • This paper has several aims—first, to differentiate between rhetoric, propaganda, and influence operations; second, to provide a criterion for identifying propaganda; and third, to connect these concepts to a specific case study. In pursuit of these aims, I draw attention to Sputnik News, a Russian state-owned media company. My examination of the political cartoons that Sputnik News publishes in a single language, Turkish, reveals a trend—Sputnik News’s Turkish political cartoons consistently portray the U.S. and Turkey as adversaries engaged in a zero-sum game. I then describe how this portrayal fits my proposed criterion for propaganda. Next, I outline additional techniques that Sputnik News uses to disseminate this portrayal to Turkish audiences. I then describe how such multimodal dissemination tactics are indicative of an influence operation. Finally, I list all of the different languages which Sputnik News publishes content in, and then offer suggestions for further research. I discuss how, as consumers of information, we can improve our ability to spot potentially bad-faith actors and manipulation campaigns (state-sponsored or otherwise) by studying case studies like this one.