The Haas Scholars

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Save the Date--January 17-18, 2013! 

It’s time for the 14th Annual Haas Scholars Undergraduate Research Conference, and we would love to see you there!  The conference will take place at the UC Berkeley Alumni House on January 17-18, 2013, and it is open to the public.  

As you will see, the Haas Scholars have approached their work with undaunted enthusiasm.  Some have survived dengue fever, bicycled through harsh terrain, navigated swampland, and faced a national revolution to bring their research findings to you.  Others have challenged conventional wisdom in their disciplines, finding new ways to interpret and understand the familiar.  All have done careful, methodologically sophisticated work.  Rekindle your curiosity about the world and join us as the Haas Scholars present the results of their audacious inquiry.

The conference schedule is at:  

We hope to see you there!

Emprendedoras and the source of Empowerment

From Kristen, early August.

The last week here has been rough. I came back from the campo sick and it’s been a bit of a struggle to recover. I’ve had a really high fever, a rash and what appears to be some sort of stomach flu  for over a week now (Dengue?). It has not been easy to get on a motorcycle and ride through the campo around Jinotega in the pouring rain. But, I am not giving up! I am determined to get the data I need before I leave and I cannot afford to let this slow me down. 

To date I’ve completed 43 interviews with women participating in microcredit programs. I have a ton of data. I haven’t had time yet to do a thorough analysis of the data, but I can decisively say that women in Nicaragua (almost unanimously) define empowerment as the ability to work and be financially independent. I can also decisively say that microcredit is empowering women in Nicaragua because for almost all of them it’s putting them to work, and for most, it’s creating financial independence. For the majority of the women in the city, individual profits have risen an average of 50%. That’s a considerable increase. For the women in the campo, it’s a different story. The economy is much more volatile and profits follow the cycle of the harvest.

These are really just the basic facts of what I’ve discovered, and are by no means the whole story. There are some very interesting correlations and I’m actually quite surprised by what I’m seeing. However, I don’t want to put any theories out there until I’ve had some time to do a comprehensive review of the data. The whole story is also not as rosy as it would seem at first glance. I’m really looking forward to getting back and crunching my data. In the meantime I’ve been reading up on some theories that support what I think I’m seeing.

Photo: Hands of a 63 year old trans man I interviewed last week.

My research has been going really well recently. For the last month I’ve
been at the Trans:Thrive health clinic. Mainly I’m hanging out during the
drop in hours and listening to stories from the trans people that come in.
It’s been very eye opening, to say the least. Many that come to the clinic
are homeless and jobless. Many live in shelters or SRO hotels. They come to
the clinic for food, clothes, therapy, hormones etc. I’m beginning to see a
big class difference between trans women and trans men. Or, I should say,
those who pass (usually trans men) and those who don’t (usually trans
women). I think a social stigma amongst trans people is the pass/not
passing element of living. Many trans women who don’t pass live with the
constant threat of violence and most do not have ‘real’ jobs - many are sex
workers. I’ve done 13 interviews! I have 7 to go! It took my quite some
time to gain the trust of the older trans people at the clinic so that I
could get an interview from them. My need is to see how trans health care
has changed in the last ten or so years. The older trans people that have
been in SF for ten plus years are hard to come by. It seems many move away,
either to the east bay or out of state. So, all the interviews I still need
are from those who are in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. It really is mind
altering to hear their stories. Being at this clinic has made me feel like
my decision to get my MSW, Masters Social Work, is a good idea. I really
feel called to working in clinics like this one. I know folks here don’t
make a lot of money, and the work is stressful but it’s fulfilling.
Everyone who works here says so.

Danica’s Update #4 (8/6)

Hello All from the fire hot prairies of South Dakota-

I have been out of town for the past week+ since finishing up the workshops. Chelsea has begun the process of looking through the work the men produced to begin capturing visual images that she interprets as paralleling some portion of the men’s dreams or stories. She will be taking pictures and creating collages. 

I’m trying to digest everything that occurred during the workshop by taking a little break from it. During the six weeks of meetings there was so much focus on processes and getting procedures for getting the men to produce the work and then getting it out of the jail and transcribing it. It has been nice the past few weeks to not have to be coordinating with a ton of people. Whew. 

I have been doing a lot of reading and trying to brainstorm about how I want my piece (seperate from the men’s work) to be organized/what I want to convey with it. I am currently entertaining making it a collection of vignettes- possibly in an attempt to avoid saying any one overarching thing about such complicated places/people/processes.

I hope you all are well.

Stomato 4 (from Irene, early August)

The bulk of my time in the past two weeks has been dedicated to learning statistics and fixing up my data matrix. 

The statistics for the measurements I took in Australia have been driving me a bit crazy.  (If it means anything to you, I’ve been trying to work out ANCOVAs.)  The last statistics class I took was in high school, and the statistics required for my data went way beyond that.  Thus, in the past two weeks, I’ve been catching up on the basics, practicing a computer language called R, and slowly struggling through whatever guidance I could get ahold of online.  Today, Molly (the graduate student I’ve been working with) finally came back from her trip to the East Coast, and my confusion quickly melted away as I talked to her.  No matter how awesome the Internet gets, nothing beats help from a real, live person!

As for the data matrix, I spent a while reading up on stomatopod eyes to figure out how to best characterize them.  Eventually, I came up with a series of yes/no and this-or-that questions, and then got to work adding eye data to my matrix.  Since my definitions of terms always seem to morph by the end of the data-entry process, this time, I wrote out what I meant by each term before starting.  (Progress!)  After finishing with eyes, I fine-tuned definitions for some of my other categories and started correcting for definitional drifts.  I still have some more of that to do, but I’ve got a system in place now, at least!

My ultimate goal with all this data was to run analyses on it against phylogenetic framework (in colloquial English: to run analyses while taking the evolutionary relationships between the stomatopod species into account).  Unfortunately, until more trees are published, I have only a very rudimentary, unresolved phylogenetic tree.  I consulted Molly about it today, and she admitted to having similar problems with her data.  Rather than worrying too much about the analyses, she suggested simply mapping characters onto the tree and describing the general patterns.  It’s a bit of a bummer, but at least I get to skip the frustration of figuring out how to run more analyses.

I don’t have any cool diving adventures to report this time, so instead, I’ve spiffed a picture I took of a stomatopod in lab to share with you all.  (See next post.)  Enjoy!

With lots of stomatopod love,

A Gonodactyloid of some sort currently residing in the Caldwell Lab.  

Note: The original picture was dim, so I made it artsy.  This species isn’t quite this bright in real life.  (from Irene 8/10/12)

Ife’s 2nd to last post (8/10)

Hello Friends,

I have had a pretty successful week. The best week that I have had thus

far!! I have been making minor changes to my topic as I discovered new

things. All the minor changes have added up to a large change. I did

not really notice this until last week.

Reason for the minor changes:

Before I left for Nigeria I read more about my topic and talked to more

Political Science professors who led me to realize that my question was a

bit too large. The reason is that it would be impossible to quantify the

impact of oil on a group of people. Doing so would require that I isolate

one single variable from the numerous issues at play in the region.


Secondly, when I came to Nigeria I was under the impression that there was a

universally accepted definition of youth, but I have come to find out that

I was wrong. Nigerian’s don’t have a ridged classification of who is a

youth and who is not. For example I interviewed a member of the Ijaw Youth

Council who has children, and is almost 40 years old.  Last week A member of The Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People told me that a person can be a member of their youth organizations as long as his mind tells him that he is a youth.  Thus it appears that my research is not really studying youth in the Western/American sense.

Additionally I Intended to focus mainly on peaceful youth organizations

because I thought youth involvement in ‘petro politic’ in the Niger delta

was a recent phenomenon, and because I believed that peaceful groups had

been ignored by reporters. However, I have learned that the new

phenomenon in the Niger delta is mass violence organized by youth groups, which is probably the reason why scholars have paid more attention to them. Also both peaceful youth groups as well as violent ones seem to be off-branches of larger Niger Delta movements that began in the 90’s.


Additionally I have been advised by indigenes of the Niger Delta and Niger Delta scholars not to call their political participation ‘petro-politics,’ but to call it “liberation struggles because it is about more than oil.”

Thus it appears that I am not studying just “petro politics” but social movements in the Niger delta.


I intended to submit this last week but my hard drive crashed, therefore this is a week old Ideas. I have one more week in Nigeria’s Niger Delta L

Photos from Kim, early August

Some of our crew and local workers. Truly amazing people!Cleaning ceramics from our excavations at UNAM in Mexico CityWith Abbey, Don Checo and his amazing wife Dona Conda who cooked all our food and made beautiful shirts for many of the girlsSetting up the grid...first days of excavation!Total station...a pain to set up but boy does it make setting up the grid easier!

The research never stops, and how inspiring it is!

From Kim, early August


Well, I have made it back to the states as of yesterday, and now it’s time to really get back to the books after a little post-research vacation. The research this summer was only the beginning of this project. I have learned so much and given so many opportunities that it’s almost overwhelming. After spending almost 2 weeks in Mexico City where my research was extended due to an opportunity that opened up to begin analysis and learn more about ceramic analysis at UNAM, it was on to vacation. Simply because a reasearcher is on vacation does not mean their interests and passions stop, or does the work. As I was spending time in Cozumel, Mexico getting my scuba diving certification I began talking with the local people about what I’m studying. These conversations lead to an issue that the island people are dealing with right now, which is fighting the construction of over 100 wind turbines being placed on the island. For those of you that are not familiar with Cozumel, it is an island in the Maya Riviera which has multiple Mayan ruins on it. One of the ruins is the site of the god of fertility, and was a pilgrimage site for all Mayan women who were required to make the trip at some point in their life. Beyond just Mayan ruins, the island is also known for it’s world famous reefs, birds, and coastline. The local people fear that the large number of turbines will threaten their amazing island, and many I had multiple long talks with them about the possible alternatives. I had some locals approach me about my archaeology experience to ask if I could survey the site and see if there are any materials that could indicate an archaeological site. This may seem like an easy thing to do to some people out there, but in fact there are very strict regulations for archaeologists in Mexico. I tried to explain to the locals I would do anything I possibly could, but at the same time I am very limited by the needs for permits and other paperwork. I did go to part of the construction site and did not see any archaeological material, but it doesn’t mean it’s not there! 

I wished so much that I would have had more time and the capabilities to do more for the Cozumel locals because I would hate for the history and ecology of the island be harmed by what many believe to be a good thing. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for alternative energy but some forms are better then others and I do not believe wind turbines are the correct choice for the island. I had to leave Cozumel without being able to do much of anything, and as many my fellow scholars can imagine it was not an easy thing to accept. I will be keeping my eye on the development and keep in touch with the friends I have made to see what ends up happening. 

Other then that, my time in Mexico City opened my mind and knowledge tremendously! I have so much more to learn and experience in the Mesoamerican Archaeology world and at times it’s hard to know where to begin. To help with that though, I luckily have a really wonderful mentor who I will be meeting with soon! 

I was accepted to a poster session at the American Anthropology Association conference this fall in San Francisco which means it’s serious crunch time. I’ve only been back in the states for less then a day, but I’m already feeling the pressure as it’s way overdue to get started on GRE studying, Grad School applications, continuing research, and now my poster! And all this is on top of the 16-20 units I’m taking this fall. AHH! Definitely a little scary, but at the same time this research continues to keep me passionate, and excited for what’s to come! 

For the moment though, it’s time for a seista so I can get back to research and reading!

Hope the end of all your research is going well and I can’t wait to swap stories. 

Hasta Luego Amigos

Keng Lam’s Update for 7/20/12-8/10/12

     Yes, we are officially reaching the end of the summer. I am kind of excited to start the Fall semester!

     In regards to my research, I am sorry to say that there isn’t much new, exciting updates here. My mentor has gone to vacation and he’s flying around to save the world, so I am still waiting for some of his feedback on my incomplete draft of senior thesis. I also identified a few things I need to take into account in my Excel models (such as adding the number of people getting infected due to discontinuing early ART). Sometimes it is difficult for me to decide what parameters to use because I need them to be realistic and I also want to be able to justify my reasoning. Estimating cost is very difficult as well, but I am not surprised since researchers often disagree on that field anyway.

            Nothing much is new in the personal side except I started watching the detective show Monk. Summer does allow me to do a lot of non-school related fun things. Regardless, I am looking forward to complete my Haas project and hearing stories from others!

Occupy and the hydrology model: “it has the nature of something in process”

From Kristine

August 10, 2012

As the summer wraps up, I feel like I’ve essentially touched the bases I was hoping to touch with my fieldwork.  

For the last couple weeks, as I play the telephone/email tag game trying to get ahold of the last few informants I hope to speak with, I’ve essentially compiled a syllabus for myself that consists of a revisiting of my initial lit. review, with some new scholars that I’ve added over the last several months.  I will be making use of a modified version of Irene Bloemraad’s handout that she gave us for reflecting on the pieces we read as they relate to our research and I have laid out a matrix on my massive corkboard at home to try to help me visualize the framework of my project as it emerges over the next several months.

In addition, I had the opportunity to attend many of the McNair Scholar Symposium talks/panels/discussions that were on campus on the weekend and made several contacts/learned of several new ideas that will be useful in cultivating this project. (fyi, McNair application deadline is in September and the staff/advisors here at UCB are pretty wonderful…) Included in the most inspirational/generative talks were one by Angel Hernandez (Cal State Northridge) on the anthropology of skateboarding and one by Kristie Hernandez (same last name: totally coincidental!) on food activism in Argentinean soup kitchens.

As I have all summer long, and even before this, I am feeling totally overwhelmed by the thought threads trying to organize themselves in my head…but this is a very good thing!  I am looking forward to the independent study time with Professor Briggs this fall and to his advice on how to refine my analysis of the crazy chats, etc. I’ve had this summer.

See y’all soon, enjoy these last days.


Oh, the title of this submission is a topic I was discussing with Todd Gitlin, whom I interviewed a couple weeks ago…amazing.

Here are the very beginnings of excavations back in May and then next is my unit at its end

Here are the very beginnings of excavations back in May and then next is my unit at its end

From Kim, early August. 

From Kim, early August. 

Ernest at the Wa Central Market.

Ernest’s fourth update (8/9/12)

My stay in Ghana has come to an end and I’m back in San Diego now. I got home last night. After traveling the length and breadth of Ghana interviewing several susu collectors and savers as well as local authorities who oversee the system, now is time for me to sit down and fish through my field notes to see which information will be relevant for proposing a new microsaving scheme for Ghana. I’m taking a few days off before I begin writing my proposal. Overall, my time in Ghana has been very fulfilling and I can confidently say it is the most enriching academic experience of my adult life.

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