Student Presentations

Each spring, Africana Studies majors give Senior Presentations on a variety of topics to illustrate their research interests. Below are a few expositions made over the past few years.

Conservation and Indigenous Populations in Africa

Robert (Roby) Fay `16

This paper looks at conservation practices in national parks and wildlife reserves in Gabon, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.   Indigenous people known as the Baka, Bantu, and Fang are affected by these practices.   Fortress conservation directly affects the lives of local people, often calling for the relocation of entire communities. Community based conservation a better option, but it is hard for it to be effective. This paper concludes that fortress conservation has negatively affected the lives of indigenous people.  The work of outside organizations and governments has been misguided and local people have often been mistreated. 

Linguistic Profiling: The Black/Brown Vs. The White Divide in Language     Regard   

Jasmine Santana `16

As a collective reflection of my individualized major, Language and Culture, my capstone serves as a sociolinguistics field-based language investigation. In the current undertaking, I explore how language is regarded according to one’s phenotypic features specifically as it relates to one’s race/ethnicity. In this study, I investigate the beliefs that are attached to speakers with regional variety in accordance with the levels of prestige associated with the dialect. Additionally, I explore how the blackness associated with the dialect, and how much the dialect deviates away from standard Spanish influences Latinxs language attitudes towards specific Spanish dialects. With similar conducted works in mind, I shed light on the underlying attitudes of some of the more stigmatized varieties of Spanish such as Dominican Spanish.  By utilizing an ample amount of research on linguistic profiling, and collecting fieldwork I suggest that when heritage speakers of Spanish view a phenotypically Black Latinx speaking the same dialect as a phenotypically White Latinx there is a racial bias in how the speaker is perceived, and the values listeners associate with them. Ultimately, this study explores what the implications of these findings mean in terms of identity, empowerment, justice, and the growing Latinx population in the United States.

Hair Politics and the Formation of Black Women’s Identities

Erin Durant `16

This research project will primarily focus on the formation of identity in African-American, African, and Afro-Latina women that attend Gettysburg College. This project was conducted with the help of Associate Professor of Africana Studies Jennifer Collins Bloomquist, and the seven women of color who attend Gettysburg College, and wanted to share their stories. Through formal interviews, and professional research I have inquired about their racial identities, childhood upbringings, and their experiences with discrimination and racism to gain a better understanding of how they have come to form their identities and what obstacles stood in the way of their formation. Through a subjective lens, I found that a common factor that prevented a positive identity from forming was the experience these women had in school, in predominately white spaces, and interactions with their families, friends, and strangers. Some women are still in the developing stage of acceptance, while others are comfortable and confident about their identity. Regardless of where these ladies are today, their journey of self-discovery and awareness is reflected upon.

Keesha Johnson

The Sociology of Knowledge: Colonialism, Tradition, and Culture in the Educational Policies of Togo and Benin 

AFS senior students presentations,  Keesha JohnsonRalph J. Bunche's biography on education, delves into the exploration of identity and cultural traditions of West Africa. Looking comparatively at how colonialism shaped education in a colony such as Dahomey to a mandated place like Togo in West Africa. What was the context in which he decided to fight for better education structures? Using the white man's burden approach to analyze aspects of language and music education, this project seeks to explore the African sociology of native education structures being included during colonialism and post colonialism. The inclusion of native education alongside European education forces new and old generations to be confident and embrace the old traditional ideals with the new.       

DeonteDeonte Austin    

Reality Meets History: A Historical and Theoretical Perspective of Black Masculinity

Throughout history, the roles of African-American men have changed in the United States; however, from slavery to contemporary times, black masculinity has, in some ways, also remained stagnant. This paper will examine the development of black masculinity from slavery to the civil rights movement. My research will consider the importance of gender roles in African-American culture and how black male culture has been shaped by both internal and external forces. The purpose of this project is to explain the foundation and progression of black masculinity and to deconstruct linear views of masculinity

Robia Smith-Herman AFS

Robia A. Smith-Herman    

The Psychological Impact of Conflict on Child Soldiers in East Africa 

For my research project, I examined Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, and Sierra Leone and the conflicts that have been occurring in their respective countries for the past few decades. I looked at the psychological effects of the conflicts on children, especially the child soldiers and orphans. I argue that the support and rehabilitation programs that are currently in effect for these children are insufficient and must be reconstructed in order to prevent future generations from growing up in the conditions that these children are currently in.

AFS senior students presentations,  Paige Klunk

Paige L. Klunk    

 Leopold Senghor, a Colonized Intellectual: Political Implications for the Competition of Reggae, Hip hop, and Mbalax in Senegal

Highlighting Senegalese patriots' criticisms of Leopold    Senghor's postcolonial government, Frantz Fanon criticized western-  educated African elites, identifying them as colonized intellectuals.  Senghor believed the best way to develop his nation's identity was  in the arts, which included the modernization of Senegal's popular music mbalax. Senghor's Negritude-inspired political policy hoped to establish Senegal's musical identity in it.  Using the tools of ethnomusicology, this study aims to shed light on the larger issues of postcolonial policies in West Africa, using Fanon's critiques of western-educated African leaders like Senghor and the competition of mbalax, reggae, and hip hop in contemporary Senegal.