Abstract: The digital aesthetics of activism

My research will be focused on the digital aestheticizing of activism in the 21st century and how activist groups are strategizing and capitalizing on the 24/7 news cycle to promote their causes. Activism movements in the past have often exploited the media to publicize their beliefs during a time when social media and self-promotion was much less common. The Black Panthers relied on theatrical self-presentation, creating an image of strength and intimidation in order to be seen as worthy of coverage. AIDS activists carefully calculated what types of protests and demonstrations would garner media attention and used their knowledge to draw crowds of reporters. All the movements took place during a time when a reliance on formal news institutions was necessary. In this digital age, with tools like Twitter and Instagram, activists can create their own images and promote their causes on their own terms. How do activists use the digital realm to spread their messages and through which routes do they do so?

[Read more…]

Salt Marsh Response to Sea Level Rise

Salt marshes are an important part of barrier systems. The ability of salt marshes to keep pace with sea level rise is dependent on balances between rates of sediment accretion and subsidence, erosion and stabilization of slopes, as well as biomass and subsequent decomposition of organic matter. Broad scale processes such as change in sea level also affect the amount of incoming sediment and the ability of the salt marsh to incorporate sediment and continue to grow. As sea level continues to rise globally and coastal communities and ecosystems combat the adverse affects of the increasingly intruding tide, we wish to discover if salt marshes can keep pace with sea level rise. In 2017, multiples storms, including Hurricane Irma, made landfall on the eastern coasts of the United States. In my research, I will look at sediment from salt marshes in the geographic locations where Irma made landfall. Specifically, I seek to address the following scientific question: What thickness of sediment can be deposited on salt marshes by hurricane-related flooding, and how are salt marshes able to incorporate that sediment into their shallow stratigraphy?

[Read more…]

Final summary: Argentina and the year ahead

Well, I’m finally back on campus after 6 months in Argentina and several weeks of hurried unpacking, repacking, moving, and organizing all my research materials. Because I had a limited time abroad, I focused all my energy while there on finding sources for my research project about the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. I ended up with thousands of newspaper articles, hundreds of historical documents from police archives, sources from the Madres, politicians, activists and victims, and of course months’ worth of personal experience to contextualize my project.

[Read more…]

Reading dictators’ documents

In my last post, I talked about my frustration with not being able to find media sources from during Argentina’s last dictatorship that talked about the activities of human rights organizers such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo. The press was ordered by the government not to report on protests and civil disobedience, so there is extremely unfair reporting on and representation of groups such as the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in these public sources.

[Read more…]

Summary

If I were to re-do my summer research knowing what I know now, I would make several changes. I believe that, overall, the study I conducted was successful. However, for the future success of this research (if other researchers go back to replicate this work over a period of years), I would make a few suggestions. The biggest aspect of this project that I would change is the way in which we gave the students the surveys and exams. In the future, I would do it over a period of days so that if a student for whatever reason cannot make the single day chosen for evaluation, he or she can still be included in the study. Furthermore, I believe this would be a better use of resources, as it might cut down on transportation costs (if researchers went to the student, they would have to make less trips and would not have to reimburse participants for travel). Another issue I experienced was that even though my group attempted to train the RAs we worked with as thoroughly as possible, it seems as though not all of the instructions translated into practice. I think that although it is a large expense, holding multiple training sessions would be a worthwhile investment so as to avoid as much skewing of results as possible.

[Read more…]