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Meet the Fellows

Each year California State University Long Beach, will select four new MMUF fellows from applicants in the rising junior class (last semester as a sophomore.) These newly selected cohorts of fellows join the previously selected cohorts of rising and graduating senior fellows, where they are provided with mentoring and financial support as they prepare for entry into PhD programs and eventual careers as scholars and faculty members.

Cohort I 2018-2020

Nathan Carbajal

Nathan Carbajal
Senior
Chicano & Latino Studies

Graduate Interests: Political Theory, Neoliberalism, Marxism, Political Economy
Scholarships & Award: Honors Program, Leadership Alliance Mellon Initiative Alumni 
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Abigail Rosas 
Project Title: Neoliberal Opinion: A Legal Analysis of Expert Testimony 
Abstract: 
        The turn to neoliberalism in the 1970’s has engendered colorblind racism that has permeated the legal system. Current research focuses on how law enforcement controls and punishes poor, Black and Brown communities through the neoliberal race project. However, there is a lack of research treating expert testimonies within the courtroom that allow for the legal maintenance of colorblind racism. Thus, this project focuses on the expert testimony of Marshall Robert Almonte as it was utilized within the courtroom to maintain the neoliberal framework necessary to uphold racial and class hierarchies. The courts’ legitimization of Almonte’s testimony describing Latinx Catholic images as a proxy to Latinx criminality permits for the use of cultural artifacts as markers to label Latinx people as criminal through their display of Catholic images. Therefore, without mentioning race or ethnicity, Almonte is able to police and criminalize Latinx people through their religious practice. In turn, this means that the court systems are able to dole out “justice” while protecting the white and bourgeois class. 

Anastasia Nesbitt

Anastasia Nesbitt
Senior
History & International Studies

Graduate interests:  
Science and Tehcnology Studies, History of Science
Scholarships & Awards: 
Phi Beta Kappa - Junior-year election 
Phi Alpha Theta – National History Honor Society                       
Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship    
CSULB Department of History 2018  
         HIST 301 Portfolio Award, 2nd Place                                     
CSULB Student Research Competition 2018 
First Place Winner, Humanities          
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Jane Dabel 
Project Title: Children of “vice and misery”: Youth, Reform, and Racial Politics in North Carolina 
Abstract:  
        The fundamental interconnectedness of race and childhood are explicitly clear in the dynamics of reform in the United States, particularly within women’s progressive reform efforts in the late nineteenth century. Through works such as Delinquent Daughters by Mary E. Odem and Gender and Jim Crow by Glenda Gilmore, the politics of gender and race in the context of the Progressive era are clear. However, a discourse specifically examining the racialized construction of the child as a social category is lacking in the discussion of Southern women’s reform efforts. Because the constructions of childhood and race both inform and underpin each other, it is necessary to carry out an analysis that analyzes the language of progressive reformists in light of these intertwined social apparatuses. By examining North Carolina specifically, this paper will reveal how the creation of “the child” as a white category contributed to the division among black and white women reformers. The contrast in language and reformatory approach concerning children between these groups of women exposes the entrenchment of racial ideologies and their centrality to the definition and treatment of children. This paper will explore how the discussion of childhood as a white category disrupted and ultimately divided the cross-racial reform efforts of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of North Carolina. Though the WCTU of North Carolina offers a rare glimpse of cross-racial collaboration during a period marked by white supremacist terrorism, ultimately this collaboration failed as a result of white women’s refusal to consider black women as equal partners in the progressive project and their proposal of the white child as the only child deserving of progressive protection. 

Jacqueline Pina

Jacqueline Piña
Senior
Art History & Graphic Design

Graduate interests: Art history, Mexican Colonial Art, Mexican and Chicanx 20th century art, 
Scholarships and Awards: Iron Mountain Education Fund, 2017-2020 
Edith Macho Art History Scholarship, 2019-2020  
Sally Casanova Scholar, 2019-2020 
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Catha Paquette 
Project Title: The Modern Museum: Leaving a ‘Fantastic’ Existence for Home 
Abstract:         
        The Getty PST: LA/LA series of exhibitions from 2017 to 2018 was a landmark event that finally brought to center stage an inclusive view of Latin American art. In contrast, early survey exhibitions done in the 1980’s produced vastly different spaces that were limited in contextual information, favored the opinions of Euro-American curators, and circulated problematic perspectives. I explore past museum methodology and analyze how it has informed current practices. In discussing current curatorial methods, my research paper highlights how twenty-first century curators have created different spaces that honor the diversity within the field of Latin American art. Comparing the twenty-first century exhibition, Home: So Different, So Appealing, against the twentieth-century exhibition, Art of the Fantastic: Latin America 1920-1978, my research ascertains the progress made, as well as giving visibility to the ongoing need of complex representation of Latin American art. 
        The results of my research indicate and further support the ongoing need for complex representation of Latin American art. While Latin American art exhibitions have improved, improvement is always needed when the field is historically marginalized. By ascertaining the progress made in my research, it is now easier to understand scholars' suggestions and ways to implement solutions. 

Dejah Rodriguez

Dejah Rodriguez
Senior
Communication Studies & Public Relations

Graduate Interests: Rhetorical Criticism and Mass Media 
Scholarships/Awards: Recipient of Award for Outstanding Student in a Foreign Language (RGRLL Outstanding Student Award), Spring 2017 
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Amy Heyse 
Project Title: (Re)Defining Nigerian Female Agency: A Close Reading of Adichie and Achebe 
Abstract: 
        This analysis investigates the concept of “talking back” to colonialist literature through the praxis of defining Nigerian female agency. One of the many problems of colonial literature is how narratives reduce an entire people—and often many colonized communities—to a single story. One of the goals of postcolonial literature is, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her TedTalk, to avoid the “danger of a single story” and show the plurality of human experiences, both good and bad. Bearing that idea in mind, this investigation conducts a close reading of a short story (Girls at War) by Chinua Achebe and one story (The Thing Around Your Neck) by Chimamanda Adichie in light of post-colonial discussions and the concept of “Double Colonization.” In this way, the current analysis examines how Achebe and Adichie “talk back” to colonial authors like Joseph Conrad in his novella, Heart of Darkness. The present analysis also illustrates how Adichie “talks back” to Achebe in terms of redefining feminine agency. The outcomes of this analysis reveal that redefining feminine agency contributes to the ongoing critical discourse about colonialist thought in a post-colonial space. 

Cohort II 2019-2021

Joshua Acosta

Joshua Acosta
Junior
History

Graduate Interests: Early Modern Southeast Asia, Material Culture in the Pacific World, Colonialism, Gender, Religious History 
Scholarships & Awards: Elizabeth Nielsen History Award (Spring 2019) 
Project Title: Visible from the Veil: Identity and Agency in the Early Modern Spanish Philippines, 1600-1750 
Abstract: 
        In 1684, Ignacia del Espíritu Santo, a woman of Chinese and native ‘indio’ descent created one of the first religious orders in the Spanish colonial Philippines. However, within the colonial social hierarchy, Chinese and native people were considered subaltern people, those left at the bottom of the hierarchy of power. Hierarchies emerged from the constructs imposed upon the colonized by the Spanish based on ethnicity to emphasize Iberian superiority and civilization. In this study, I argue that despite rigid ethnic hierarchies and religious norms of the Spanish Colonial period, subaltern people sought to acculturate and negotiate social spaces for themselves within colonial society. Using a biography written in 1749 that chronicled the life of Ignacia del Espíritu Santo by Jesuit priest Pedro Murillo Velarde and the Constitution and Rules Mother Ignacia had promulgated for her order of nuns, this case study will examine the rhetoric and perceptions of how mestizos were perceived by colonizers and how mestizos made themselves visible in the public sphere. 

Batoul Akil

Batoul Akil
Junior
Art History

Graduate interests: Islamic Art History 
Scholarships & Awards: MMUF Fellow Spring 2019-Present
MMUF Mentor: Dr. Mariah Proctor 
Project Title: Orientalizing Calligraphy in Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting, The Snake Charmer 
Abstract: 
        Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904) is a well-known Orientalist French painter. One of his most thought-provoking paintings is The Snake Charmer (1870). This is such a quintessentially Orientalizing painting that Edward Said made it the cover image of his 1978 book, Orientalism, the starting point for post-colonial theory. Nowhere in the Arab world is it normal for a young boy, clearly under the age of 14, to entertain old men with a snake, casually wrapped around his naked body with an old man playing the flute. Further, his performance is being done inside a mosque, something that would never be allowed. This painting is meant to encourage Europeans to perceive the East as people who partake in barbaric events, like snake performances. As Said argues, Orientalist painters also mashed numerous Middle Eastern cultures into one in their works. The ceramic tiles on the wall depicted in decay derive from the Topkapi palace in Istanbul, Turkey. And the stone flooring resembles that in the mosque of Amr ibn al-As in Cairo, Egypt, while, the snake charming performance itself, derives from India. What captures my attention most, however, is Gérôme’s attempt at Arabic calligraphy. Anyone well-versed in Islamic art understands the importance of mathematical accuracy and for words to fit effortlessly in their designated frame. Comparing his version of Arabic calligraphy to the work in the Topkapi Palacee, Gérome’s work is not evenly proportioned. Most importantly, the “Arabic” Gérome pretends to convey in this ultra-realistic detail, is actually nonsense, forming few intelligible words. Many of the letters drawn by Gérôme are clear signs of someone who does not comprehend the artform. Dots are placed unfittingly, creating letters that are not part of the Arabic alphabet. This painting that claims such accuracy through its almost invisible brushstrokes is actually pure invention, and nowhere is this more evident than in the “calligraphy.” 

D'Naja Gates

D'Naja Gates
Junior
Film & Philosophy

MMUF Mentor: Dr. Cory Wright 
Project Title: "Film-making Narratives of Blaxploitation" 
Abstract:
        Blaxploitation was a short-lived subgenre of film in the 1970s. Characterized by depictions of gratuitous violence and negative stereotypical black characters, the family of these films have faced controversy since its inception. What many found redeeming of these films, however, was the underlying theme of black empowerment against “the man”. This theme can be originated, along with the genre, in Melvin Van Peebles’ Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, (1971). Not only is this narrative of “the black man against the system” predominantly present in the film, but it is a narrative that characterizes Van Peebles journey to make the film itself. With Hollywood, at the time, only recently opening its resources to black filmmakers, Van Peebles became disillusioned by the little control he seemed to have over the production of his previous films. Knowing Sweetback could never be made under the close scrutiny of the studios, Van Peebles resorted to tactics of “guerrilla filmmaking” to make his film outside of the Hollywood system. Following the research of scholars Donald Bogle and Ed Guerrero, I would like to expand upon this relation between the products of the blaxploitation era and the experience of the filmmakers behind them. Even if Sweetback’s success opened the door for more similar films to be made and also opened Hollywood’s consideration of the black audience as a lucrative market, the same could not be said of the studio system’s views on the bankable power of black filmmakers. Considering that many of the blaxploitation films to follow were made both by white and black filmmakers within Hollywood, it would be interesting to see how these various productions compare to Melvin Van Peebles’.

Jacqueline Macias

Jacquelyn Macias 
Junior
Physical Anthropology & Forensic Studies 

MMUF Mentor: Dr. Bridget Alex 
Project Title:Using 3D technology in Anthropology 
Abstract: 
        Digital Anthropology is revolutionizing Anthropology, and the study of ancient bones. In my presentation, I will review current applications of digital anthropology and propose potential outcomes and future directions for this research. Biomedical imaging techniques have been a significant advancement to the overall study of anatomy. Researchers are now using these methods in anthropology because they pose minimal risks to fossils, artifacts, and their original matrix or context. This burgeoning specialization known as “virtual anthropology,” combines anthropological techniques (i.e. field surveying and excavations) with the usage of 3D software to create a nearly identical model of objects and contexts. 3D imaging techniques create 3D models, which can be “digitally dissected,” thus avoiding destructions of rare and valuable specimens (e.g. fossils). Specimens can be accurately rendered prior to excavations, and while excavating, an exact reconstruction of the site can be re-created virtually. Furthermore, this improves the accuracy and reliability of differentiating between tooth marks, stone tool marks, and/or other qualitative features of bone modifications. In order to generate 3D anatomical models, a micro-computed tomography scanner is used to obtain X-ray projections of the selected specimen. Then computer software can reconstruct the image sequences that can then be segmented using freeware. I therefore argue that visual reconstructions in anthropology provides a new and potentially effective medium to analyze bones with, which will aid in understanding human evolution and cultures. On a broader scale, this can also democratize anthropological research because people everywhere can access the data and analyze unique artifacts that otherwise would be in exclusive or in hard-to-access collections.