Middlebury

 

Sociology/Anthropology Senior Projects

Senior Essay and Thesis Abstracts 2013-14

Mary Ames
“Pretending to Be Poor:” Social Mobility and Government Policy in Township Housing
Within the township of Langa, South Africa, low-income families live primarily in informal settlements, shipping containers and government housing. As of now, there is not enough adequate housing for township residents, and people continue to wait in the backlog of applicants for government houses, which was estimated at over three million in 2003. Because families and individuals cannot expect consistent support from their government, they move between different spaces as their circumstances change. They also innovate within these spaces to accommodate other social and economic elements of their lives. All of these forms of housing have both positive and negative aspects for families, with varying material and psychological implications. Through interviews with residents in Langa and leaders in township communities familiar with the discourse around the South African housing dilemma, my thesis uncovers some of these implications. Moreover, it suggests that people’s narratives can and should be implemented in development planning and government policy. Both research and policy involving low-income residents in Cape Town caters to a macro perspective, which creates a vulnerable and dysfunctional housing system. Beginning to understand residents’ motives and strategies sheds light on how the micro-level perspective must inform macro-level action to make for more effective and efficient housing policies.

Feliz Baca
An Archaeology of My Kitchen Table: The Construction of the New Mexican Identity Through Traditional New Mexican Cuisine
When I first came to college I proudly proclaimed my identity as New Mexican, but many did not understand how I could claim an identity to a state. I would engage in long conversations about the history of my people in the United States, only to have it brushed off as insignificant, and to be categorized as a Latina, a term I had never identified with. However, these experiences began to make me reevaluate my identity and its place within the larger notion of Latinidad, a relatively new concept created by sociologist Felix Padilla as a means to describe a Pan-Latino identity. My senior project is the result of these experiences and reflections. The essay explores how the New Mexican identity has been constructed in terms of traditional New Mexican cuisine and its relation to the extensive and complex history of the land and its people. I argue that throughout the history of New Mexico, the many cultures within the state have all contributed to the formation of this “mestizo” identity, and by doing so New Mexican cuisine has become a method of expressing and claiming this unique identity through food.

Molly Benedetto
Emergency Department Tensions: Social Use and Institutional Design
In this senior project I focus upon the hospital emergency department in order to address the dynamic and sometimes fraught relationship between the social problems of underserved populations in the United States and the systems designed to support them.  Emergency departments in the United States were originally established as centers for patients with acute health problems.  Starting with the financial stratification in the 1980s, and particularly though the passage of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act in 1986, ever-increasing numbers of uninsured Americans use emergency departments as primary care providers. In my essay I examine the changing usage of emergency departments to show the  intertwining of medical care and the social safety net.  I argue that social uses of the emergency department, while cast as problematic by some, are important expressions of agency and constitute an expression of political voice on the part of the underserved and disenfranchised.  I argue that listening to these voices has implications for policy regarding emergency departments and social services.

Emily Bensen
The Dynamics of Social Capital:  A Study of Town Clerks as Key Participants in Exchange Relationships in Addison County Communities
This paper examines social capital in Addison County, and looks specifically at town clerks as key agents in the formation and preservation of this social connectedness in Vermont. Oral histories of current and retired town clerks shed light on how exchange relationships in these communities are created, maintained, and deconstructed over time. Bourdieu's theory of individual social capital and Putnam's theory of communal social capital were both useful in analyzing the complexity of exchange relationships in Addison County. Town clerks are analyzed as soft bureaucrats and emotional laborers, demonstrating their integral role in cultivating social capital. Finally, this paper studies how the job has changed over time. The professionalization of the town clerk and the de-personalization of town government processes are eroding social capital -- relationships that town clerks value greatly and work hard to foster. Although this disengagement is eliminating the part of their job town clerks value the most, this paper ends on a hopeful note. Town clerks have the capacity to exist as both emotional and professional beings, while participating in the construction of social capital in their respective towns. 

Caroline Bullion
Out of Step: Negotiating Identity and Experience as a Cadet of the Reserve Officer Training Corps
The US military has been written about extensively across all fields of study; however, the majority of the research done about this organization has focused on the active duty, full time military. Very little has been written about the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), resulting in a rich and little explored opportunity to better understand all aspects of the military experience. Cadets occupy a unique position of liminality between the military and civilian life. Simultaneously members of both groups, cadets learn to negotiate their two very disparate worlds through various performances. Rituals, language, and clothing are all important pieces of the performances through which they manage their dual identities every day. By carefully selecting and contextualizing various roles between their two worlds, cadets both unite and divide these domains in the way that is most advantageous to their managing of an often difficult position caught between two such different groups. Through their performances they shape not only the way in which they interact with their own world, but also the way in which the world as a whole views them. This experience of liminality and performance crafts singular interactions between cadets and those on the outside looking in at a world which they often do not fully understand.

Luke Carroll Brown
Creating Steubenville
This paper examines media responses to the 2012 Steubenville rape case, a sexual assault investigation that involved three high school students in rural Steubenville, Ohio. After being featured in a  December issue of The New York Times, the Steubenville rape case came to dominate national news media for months in 2013. With one in four women experiencing sexual violence before graduating from college, this paper evaluates why this particular case received such immense media attention. Through a content analysis of three types of news media, I find that the national news media constructed Steubenville as a pathological, athletics-obsessed, blue-collar town in an attempt to project the problem of sexual violence onto one community, and therefore to NOT focus on the broader pattern of sexual violence in America.

Veronica Coates
Loud and Proud: Social and Academic Experiences of Black Women Voiced
This project explores the complexity and struggle, but also the strength, that comes from being a woman of color at predominantly white liberal arts colleges.  I argue that the minority status of Black women has defined their social and academic lives at these colleges, focusing on Middlebury, Pomona, Wellesley, Hampshire and Bowdoin Colleges. This project is highly personal, but also deeply necessary for both Sociology and Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies as a means for Black women to have a voice, to show their multiplicity in experiences, to show how being a Black woman may offer a sense of pressure and violence at an institution that is supposed to uplift and educate. But the constant refrain from students of color has been who is educating whom? I want to write these stories for colleges like Middlebury, for students who attend these schools, and for those who are staunch advocates of diversity, but often times don’t see its traumatizing results. I interviewed eight self-identified Black women about their experiences at small elite liberal arts colleges with predominantly white and wealthy student bodies. Their experiences reveal tales of isolation, confusion, anxiety, and alienation, but also a sense of empowerment, security and solidarity. Their stories speak for themselves.

Cailey Cron
Less Arabic, but still Arabic: Identity, Ideology, and the Arabizi Phenomenon
In this paper I explore the language ideologies that contextualize the use and deliberate nonuse of “Arabizi,” a Latinized written representation of Arabic dialects used by native Arabic speakers primarily in computer-mediated communication (Facebook, Twitter, chat rooms, texting, etc.). I first provide an overview of Arabic sociolinguistics and computer-mediated discourse analysis (CMDA) and demonstrate how my study combines and builds on both fields. I consider how studying language in an emergent context presents a unique challenge and necessitates a third-wave approach to linguistic variation.  I give a brief profile of Arabizi and then, through analysis of semi-structured interviews with native Arabic speakers at a liberal arts college, I discuss Arabizi both in terms of its technological and social functions, and also as a window into native Arabic speakers’ broader language ideologies. I argue that native Arabic-speaking college students ideologize Arabizi with respect to a larger constellation of language varieties, including English, FusHa, and regional dialects, and the relations between them.

Anna Flinchbaugh
Garbage World
Despite widespread fascination with the phenomenon of dumpster diving as a political act, little space has been given to the way in which their anti-consumer activities affect the position that divers occupy within the city, both literally and in relationship to social structures. This project supplements participant observation with existing accounts of dumpster diving and freegan activities to explore these questions, as well as to posit possible connections between mainstream alternative food movements such as local and organic and dumpster diving. In an attempt to bridge gaps not only between localvores and freegans but also between the academic community and dumpster divers at large, the findings are presented in a zine format, comprised of a combination of essays and comics.

Zöe Isaacs
“As Long as We Have Supper:” Urban Food Behaviors in Post-Apartheid South Africa
This thesis describes the unique aspects of post-apartheid dietary change in South Africa’s impoverished urban areas. Using interviews and observation carried out in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg, this paper seeks to shed light on the complexities and repercussions of food insecurity and nutrition transition in South African townships. Ultimately post-apartheid migration and urbanization catalyzed dietary shifts among the urban underclass. These transitions were paralleled by a rise of diet-related non-communicable diseases, as well as cultural shifts in food preparation and consumption. Nutrition transition in South Africa is ultimately defined by the homogenized diet which bridges the traditional with the modern; the global South with the West.

Toby Israel
“I’m a Jew and That Says Something:” Narratives of Female Jewish Identity at Middlebury College
How does Jewish identity manifest for young Jewish women at Middlebury College? How do these students navigate the frequently cited distinctions between religion and culture, the boundaries between the Jewish community and the wider student body, and the shifting contexts of home, school, and abroad? How do they define their Jewish identities by elements like Israel, the Holocaust, nationality and gender?  Fifteen semi‐structured interviews, supplemented by several months of participant observation in the campus Hillel and other Jewish activities, began to provide answers to these questions. The narratives represent a variety of students by class year, background, and attachment to Judaism; together, they offer a patchwork image of the nature of female Jewish identity in a certain generation, in a certain place, at a certain time. Interestingly, I found that women do not define their Jewishness along lines of religiosity, nor does gender explicitly impact the narration of these identities; rather, tradition, community and schemas of persecution arise as some of the core themes of my subjects’ identity narratives.

Eli King
A Review of the Effects of Shifting Interfaces on Text Production and Fan Culture: Temporality, Identity Formation, and the Permanence of Fan Interactions in the Age of Tumblr
This essay examines the ways in which highly volatile and constantly evolving social media platforms influence television media. Inspired by fan studies scholars such as Louisa Stein, I study the ways in which young platform users - -in particular those from marginalized groups - -use these interfaces to network more quickly and more intimately than previous iterations of Internet fandom. Creatively using the existing functions of these platforms and innovating new uses for them, marginalized youth are finding ways to insert themselves into mainstream television canon.

Anna Mack
One Hundred Million People Equal: Experiences of Nongovernmental Disability Advocacy in Modern China
The study of disability in global contexts is fundamental to the field of Disability Studies. Despite growing awareness of the importance of cross-cultural studies of disability, little research has been done on disability in modern China. The United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), signed by China without reservation in 2008, lends itself to analysis of internalization of international disability discourse in modern China. Through a case study of Chinese rights advocacy organization Zhengzhou Yirenping, I show how nongovernmental organizations draw on the CRPD and its social model of disability to challenge biomedical definitions of disability instituted by the Chinese state. Using data from interviews with Yirenping clients and advocates and participant observation field notes, I argue that nongovernmental disability advocacy in twenty-first century China is a form of political resistance for persons in civil society. Utilizing the rhetoric of disability rights as human rights in the CRPD, disability advocates in civil society petition for state recognition of the human rights of all Chinese citizens.

Sarah Marcus
There's a Riot in My P*ssy
This paper examines the Riot Grrrl movement and the art collective Pussy Riot to better understand the emergence of radical feminist discourses at different moments in time. This paper explores the similarities and differences in how both the members of the Riot Grrrl movement and Pussy Riot have attempted to free themselves from the limits and constraints of a dominant societal discourse. Further, I explore how the reaction of societies to these movements in turn coopts the critiques they presented.  I find that particular moments in subcultures and capitalism open the door to the very emergence of, and then the impacts of certain waves of feminist performance. Though Riot Grrrl influenced the emergence of Pussy Riot, the latter’s popularity has in turn breathed a second life into the Riot Grrrl movement.

Vince Mariano
The Body and Christ: How De La Salle University Medical Center (DLSUMC) uses Christ’s Passion Narrative to Create Meaningful Suffering and Redemptive Death
In the De La Salle University Medical Center (DLSUMC) located in Cavite, Philippines, belief in the interconnectedness of body and soul, Catholicism, and medicine combine to create a unique environment that inform how Filipino patients, their families, and the medical personnel react to suffering and death. This ethnography explores how Christ’s Passion narrative is symbolized within DLSUMC and how it allows patients to create “meaningful suffering” and a “redemptive death.” It also examines how religion can help a patient’s family cope with grief. Lastly, it investigates how religion augments the provision of care that DLSUMC doctors and nurses give to the sick and dying.

Jessica Munyon
The Rights of Children in Nicaragua: An Anthropological History
The prevalence of chronic poverty in Nicaragua undermines the country's ability to provide sufficient protection for the nation's children.  Their rights can be strengthened with greater accessibility to social resources.  These resources include microfinance systems, alternative aid contracts, and education and health care systems, and can alleviate some of the pressures causing segments of the population to experience conditions of sustained economic hardship, effectively threatening the strength of children's rights.  Nicaragua has a longstanding history of political and economic difficulties that leave the governing institutions unable to protect the rights of children under both local laws like the Code of Childhood and Adolescence, and international laws like the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Where local institutions lack the capabilities to provide for these rights, non-governmental and civil organizations take their places or try to fill in the gaps. However, despite fluctuations in economic hardship and political stability, what is most necessary is the coordination and cooperation of local, national, and international state actors and organizations that can help provide resources and access to resources necessary to strengthen children's rights.  Without this cooperation, several attempts to strengthen the status of children's rights in Nicaragua have failed.  This analysis helps establish a temporal model over which a trend of political control and manipulation can be juxtaposed. The comparison of trends in economic and political stability highlight the specific structural weaknesses of the institutions that do not support children's rights in Nicaragua.

Rachel Nuñez
“We Can’t Stop:” Analyzing the Media’s Immense Response to Miley Cyrus’s Performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards
In this study, I analyzed the media response to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, which prompted an immense media response in the months following the show.  I chose to focus on three different sources—one mainstream news source, one feminist-oriented blog, and one black womanist oriented blog.  In analyzing the discourses regarding Miley Cyrus’s performance within each of these sources, I found that, though all of the sources were reading the same cultural text, they were projecting very different social concerns and anxieties onto the performance.  It seemed that, although they were all talking about Miley, her performance merely served as a catalyst to trigger debate and discussion about a variety of social anxieties that pre-existed the performance.  Using Pierre Bourdieu’s theory of distinction and Guy Debord’s theory of the spectacle, I analyze how Cyrus’ ultimately failed projection of taste causes her to fail at spectacular domination, thus allowing critics to unearth the underlying social and cultural problems that were embedded in her performance.

Jenna Reichenbach
The Local Factor: Symbol of Solidarity or Model for Change? An Examination of Popular Perceptions and a Flawed Social Movement
This project explores the meanings attributed to the word “local” in relation to food within the Middlebury community and examines how capitalist growth in the food industry isolates individuals and subsequently kindles social resistance and attempts at reform.  “Local” is the face and perhaps the defining symbol of a social movement in Vermont. It is culturally constructed to bring people together through their use of a common term to ultimately gain solidarity.  While demonstrating enhanced unity, “local” is simultaneously hollowed out as a result of its innumerable meanings. Through an in-depth study of public discourse from various angles of the food system, I analyze the symbolic nature of “local” and how this impacts the effectiveness of a local foods movement.  The proliferation of localness as an organized means of solidarity and protest does not provide a constructive mode for changing the way the corporate food regime operates. I challenge the future of a local foods movement and offer possibilities for positive transformation. A more cohesive, regulated system of local labeling is one strategy to manifest a more powerful movement and initiate reforms within the American food system.

Caroline Roos
Cheeseheads:  Examining the Identity of Green Bay Packers Fans in Wisconsin
This study addresses the Green Bay Packers and analyzes how a small market can host one of the most successful sports teams in the country, or even the world. The Green Bay Packers are arguably one of the most popular sports teams in the country, yet the team is located in its 152nd largest city. Owned solely by its fans, the team offers a unique perspective on sports fandom and demonstrates how community can form around a team. Through a case study of Green Bay Packers fans I show how sports fandom is central to individual identity, as well as the culture of the state of Wisconsin. By analyzing fans during the season, fans in everyday life, and the relationship between fandom and Wisconsin identity, I find that “wholesome” values like family, tradition, and community are essential components of both the Packers and Wisconsin. Without the fans, the Green Bay Packers would not exist and the two are constantly influencing one another. Ultimately, in order to be a true Wisconsinite, one must also be a Packers fan, or else be considered as “the Other.”

Molly Shane
Learning Social Responsibility or Protecting the American Nobility? Understanding the Ideological Context of Middlebury College
This essay examines whether the ideological context of Middlebury College serves to cultivate a commitment to social responsibility and service in its students, as the mission statement of the College suggests. Specifically, this research explores whether Middlebury students emerge with an awareness of and desire to address environmental issues, social injustices and inequalities, and global, systemic problems. Through discourse analysis of the College’s  ‘rhetoric of recruitment,’ I construct an understanding of Middlebury’s ideology, which I explain as one of global enviro-social responsibility and leadership. In order to determine whether or not the College teaches the lessons it claims to, this data is supplemented with content analysis of five interviews with Middlebury College seniors, and an analysis of Middlebury graduates’ career choices. I conclude that the College fails to make good on its commitment to social responsibility and service. Instead, the meritocratic ideals of the institution promote an ideology of individualism, in which hard work, personal success, and competition in pursuit of any goal trumps a commitment to working in pursuit of the common good. Institutional ideologies shape individual ideologies, and I suggest that the overwhelming majority of Middlebury students choose not to ‘care’ about working to make the world a better place as a result of the ways in which the institution shapes their choices. Rather than inspiring a commitment to social responsibility and service, I conclude that Middlebury College reinforces the status quo, bestowing additional privileges upon the elite and furthering social and economic inequity.

Ella Sorscher
Applying Ethics in a Time of Panic: The Social Sequelae of Employing Fetal Rights during the “Crack Baby” Scare
This essay addresses the limitations of the fetal personhood argument, when it was used to protect the unborn child during the “crack baby” epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Amidst the cultural anxiety of the War on Drugs, the discovery of the “crack baby” catalyzed a moral panic among people who believed that “crack babies” would grow into a “biological underclass,” dangerous not only because of their developmental and social disabilities, but also as a result of their concentration in already marginalized communities. However, this epidemic  never developed, and widespread fear was revealed to be based upon media magnification, flawed science, and pervasive prejudice. This essay shows how the fetal personhood movement used this opportunity to set a precedent for fetal rights, harnessing pervasive fear of an impending bio-underclass to create a novel argument for the public’s responsibility to ensure the future status of the fetus. Yet this crusade harmed both mothers and children—justifying pervasive disenfranchisement of women, disintegration of families, and stigmatization of “crack kids.” While the fetal rights movement might have gained temporary legal realization, the negative externalities of its courtroom success serve as a cautionary tale both of how moral discourse can be manipulated and its fundamental inability to consider social complexities - illuminating how the language of ethics can consistently be a poor way to enforce social morality.

Andie Tibbetts
Increasing Female Power Through Legitimate Negotiation Agency: An Analysis of the Effects of the Millennium Villages Project on Women in Potou, Senegal
This work investigates the relationship between women’s individual agency and the structural limits of society and culture and how it is affected by a development project. Using qualitative data from the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in Potou, Senegal, I examine economic and political empowerment as sociocultural processes. Senegalese women’s ability to participate in the market economy and local politics is heavily constrained by a structure that limits their legitimate access to the public domain. The MVP has provided extensive gender education and augmented economic and political infrastructure within the project site, which has led to increased legitimate female access to both the economic and political realms, but only in the project area. I argue, therefore, that one viable strategy for empowering Senegalese women is to increase their legitimate access to the public sphere by changing local-scale economic and political institutions and exposing patriarchal ideologies as false consciousnesses. With increased economic agency, Senegalese women are able to negotiate new social positions, which then legitimize less restrictive ideologies.

Isabella Tudisco-Sadacca
When the Circle Opens: Movement and Meaning in Post-Colonial Senegal
When dance shifts from ritual to performance, the role of the body in that dance becomes more of a social actor.  In the emergence in post-colonial Senegal of traditional ballets, African contemporary dance, and hip-hop I will examine the role of the audience and how performance dance allows for dance to be a social force.  Following the historical timeline and social shifts from the 1960’s to today, I will show how the changes in dance align with those social changes.  I will be using post-modern theories, which understand the body as something that is constantly being shaped by its surroundings and then recursively shapes its surroundings through dance. There is a tension between conserving tradition and constructing a new art, and tradition does not fade out, but instead adapts to its changing social context.  My methods for this thesis involved two research trips to Senegal. I did mostly participant observation and interviews about the role of dance in Senegalese society, and I experienced the ways that people engage, connect, and communicate with dance. I also looked at how different dance styles are performed in the two main festivals in Senegal, Kaay Fecc and DuoSolo, as well as the festival Urban Scenos.  These dance festivals serve as the central concrete part of my research and are the lenses through which I analyzed how these different dance forms coexist and assert themselves in front of an audience. I argue how each one of these dance forms reflects the social climate out of which they came and how they today not only continue to show the complexities of our global society that we carry in our bodies but also speak of the social relations that construct our bodies.

Sara Ugalde
Lady Panthers: Feminine or Masculine?  A Study of the Effects of Culture on Gender Performance
In this study, I analyzed how Women’s Lacrosse and Women’s Basketball players at Middlebury are affected by the culture, in terms of femininity and masculinity, surrounding their respective sports.  First, I focused on the culture surrounding each sport: whether it is considered feminine or masculine, how it is passed down, how it compares to the culture surrounding other female sports at Middlebury, and the differences and similarities between the Women’s and Men’s sports of Lacrosse and Basketball.  In order to collect my research I conducted eight interviews, three with Women’s Lacrosse players, four with Women’s Basketball players, and one with an athlete who played both Lacrosse and Basketball.  Through the analysis of my interviews I found that four major themes arose through the discussion of femininity and masculinity surrounding their respective sports.  The sections consist of what they wear on and off the field, who they tend to hang out with and the relationship with the Men’s team of their sport, the pressures and attitudes towards body type, and finally how they perceived their teams’ sexuality and how they believed others perceived it.  Overall, I found that the culture surrounding Women’s Lacrosse is very feminine, while the culture surrounding Women’s Basketball is also feminine, but not to the same extent.  I found that the culture surrounding Women’s Lacrosse and the pressure to keep it hyper-feminized affects many aspects of the Lacrosse players lives, while the culture surrounding Women’s Basketball did not have as much of an effect.  I found that Women’s Basketball players are more shaped by the pressure of societal norms in general and more specifically on the Middlebury campus.

Grace Wildermuth
Voices Not Heard: A Case Study of the Natural Gas Discourse in Wayne County, Pennsylvania
As members of the American urban and suburban population continue to migrate to rural areas in search of a beautiful landscape and quiet way of life, conflict over the meaning of and ownership over the landscape emerges. New and already established populations tend to have dramatically different conceptions of landscape and environment, leading to struggles in local environmental policy. This research focuses on Wayne County, Pennsylvania and uses a current and polarizing issue, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, to illuminate these tensions. The prevailing rhetoric put forth predominantly by those who have moved to the area from urban centers and those who come to the area for recreation has dominated the debate due to abundant resources and access to national and local media. This research was conducted in an effort to elevate an alternative rhetoric absent from the political discourse surrounding this issue. I conducted in-depth interviews with predominantly longtime residents who live and work on the landscape in order to understand the meanings they ascribe to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas on the landscape and the conflicts with new or part-time residents the issue has revealed. The interviews were supplemented with a review of blog comments and media sources. Overall, I argue that the perspective of those who have not been heard is informed, nuanced, and must be acknowledged in order to accurately meet the needs of the area and allow for a more democratic and equitable discourse.

Sade Williams
50 Shades of Grey, A Love Story: Neo-liberal, Racist, Anti-feminist Bondage
Fifty Shades of Grey took the publishing world by storm in 2011. Although romance novels remain the most read fiction in the US, this erotic fan fiction of the Twilight-series-turned-blockbuster-bestseller has quickly outsold even its vampiric source material. Based on a close reading of the three books in the series as well as primary research in Portland and Seattle, I argue that a huge part of the series' popularity was not just the kinky sex, but the way in which the relationship between Anastassia Steele and Christian Grey present the naturalness of white wealth, and imagine a future “whitetopian” space for the series’ protagonists to reproduce wealth, whiteness and normative gender roles. This space not only exists in the fictitious world from where it was imagined, but translates and maps itself on to real-life places and bodies; it works to both quell actual social anxieties as well as to reproduce neo-liberal, heteronormative, white relationships in American society.

Jiayi Zhu
National Parks in Chinese Context: Pudacuo National Park in Shangri-La and the Life of Local Tibetans There
“National park” is a rather new concept in China. The area of Shangri-La, in Yunnan Province, became the first place to adopt this form of conservation by  establishing Pudacuo National Park in 2007. With the help of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and local scholars, Deqen Tibetans Autonomous Prefecture and its state-owned enterprise founded the park. However, does national park mean the same thing in China as in other places? Pudacuo National Park is also the home to Khampas Tibetans. The rapidly growing tourism business in the region brings opportunities and at the same time challenges to both the local government and Tibetans. How has tourism impacted the locals and the environment they are living in? This thesis is an ethnographic study examining these questions related to Pudacuo National Park and the life of local Tibetans who live there.