Student Spotlight: Dissertation Proposal Presentations

A big congratulations goes out to the program’s five students who presented their dissertation proposals at the end of the Spring 2016 semester: Liz Andrews, Basak Durgun, Lindsey Macdonald, Christine Rosenfeld, and Caroline West. Stay up to date on these exciting projects by reading a summary of their projects below. 

Liz Andrews is working with Alison Landsberg, Craig Willse, and Michele Greet to complete her dissertation.  Her working title is “An American Icon: Making President Obama," described in her abstract below:

In November of 2008, a black man was elected President of the United States of America. This was a remarkable accomplishment considering the strong history of racial classification, domination, and institutional violence that has characterized the U.S. throughout its history. In order for citizens of the nation to believe that a black man was suited to serve in the highest office in the land, something different from previous presidential campaigns had to occur. Visual images were instrumental in making Obama's election possible through the construction of a public image. This project asks questions about the multiple institutions, individuals, technologies, and images that contributed to the construction of the iconic figure of Obama. In examining images created and circulated during the campaign, this project will trace the process by which presidential candidate Obama became an icon in U.S. politics and culture. 

Basak Durgun is working with Johanna Bockman, Tim Gibson, Rashmi Sadana, and Craig Willse to complete her dissertation.  Her working title is “The Reinvention of Parks and Urban Gardens in Istanbul," described in her abstract below:

This dissertation research examines competing conceptions and multi-faceted processes of the production and reinvention of parks and gardens in Istanbul in the context of unfolding ecological challenges and intensification of uneven development. Beyond simply aesthetic, recreational and ecological landscapes, urban public parks reorganize neighborhoods, concentrate state political power and public consent, constitute modernity and globality and provide a site for citizen action. Committed to interdisciplinary qualitative methods and grounded in fieldwork, this dissertation research intends to unpack the complexities of these intersections, and aims to determine why the state, capitalist developers and residents invest in public urban parks, how these social actors struggle over public green spaces, the institutional mechanisms they employ and how their discourses may have changed over time.

Christine Rosenfeld is working with Paul Smith, Craig Willse, and Johanna Bockman to complete her dissertation.  Her working title is “The Saddle Region of Hawai`i Island: Navigating Indigenous Space" described in her abstract below:

My proposed dissertation will examine the spatial practices of various user-groups in the Saddle Region of Hawai`i Island.  The Saddle is a zone of conflict on the island of Hawai`i in part due to disagreement among stakeholders over the use of the space.  There is an astronomical science reserve, a military training base, a cattle ranch, and a series of roads in the Saddle and each of these spaces are fought over among stakeholders. My project aims to determine how conflict in the Saddle region is spatially negotiated by various groups. 

Lindsey Macdonald and Caroline West also proposed their dissertations.  Caroline's working title is "Picturing Capital: Mass Media and the Art of Visualizing Poverty."