Sophia Fischer

The author, Sophia Fischer


Caring for the Hyperobject: Climate Change and Confusion Among University of Chicago Undergraduates

By Sophia Fisher

This thesis examines the meaning and interpretation of climate change among University of Chicago undergraduates. Beginning with the paradox that undergraduates have largely grown up with the threat and accept its factuality, but often fail to discuss or ponder the phenomenon on a day-to-day basis, this thesis studies how climate change has come to feel simultaneously unavoidable and unvoiceable: a looming, anxiety-inducing threat that yet eludes day-to-day engagement. Examining climate change as an assemblage of various forms of discourse and knowledge, I argue that the phenomenon defies students’ subconscious understandings of spatiality, temporality, ontology, and human sociality. Its timelines are diffuse, mediated, simultaneously distant and looming; its geographic variegation dwarfs our own subjectivities; its ontologies muddle the ways we perceive and categorize events; and its very urgency paradoxically seems to enfeeble humanity. Despite ongoing work to understand and care about climate change, the phenomenon can alienate and overshadow our daily experiences while simultaneously defying our comprehension and care.

Carolyn Hirsch

The author (Carolyn Hirsch) enjoying Peru’s beloved herbal drink, el emoliente, an herbal drink, in the San Isidro neighborhood, Lima, September 2019


Methods of Care: Politics to Safe Abortion in Lima, Perú

By Carolyn Hirsch

Safe abortion in Perú is strained due to the government’s control over legal abortion and the criminalization of non-government-approved abortion providers and seekers. Lima’s reproductive health activists are enmeshed in la marea verde (the green tide), the reproductive health movement across Latin America. They share the slogans: “the National Campaign for the Right to Legal, Safe, and Free Abortion”; “Sexual education to choose contraception to prevent abortion”; “Legal abortion to prevent death.” However, the interventions that manifest from these words differ. This essay focuses on Colectiva por la libre información para las mujeres (Collective for the Free Information for Women). La Colectiva disseminates information on safe methods to abortion through their hotline Línea aborto información segura (Hotline for Safe Information on Abortion). Their interventions against safe abortion are doubted; many activists advocate that governmental decriminalization is the only assurance for safe abortion. I argue that disjuncture is inherent to care and generative, contributing to the canon of María Puig de la Bellacasa.

Taking the Skeletons Out of The Closet: Contested Authority and Human Remains Displays in the Anthropology Museum

By Iris Jacobs

Museum exhibits, as showcases of what is deemed worth seeing at a period in time, reflect societal biases, political influences, and authority-making processes. Exhibits of human remains in anthropological collections have posed numerous contentious issues in representation, with debates centering around who can claim ownership of the body on public display, and the narrative underlying those bodies. Claimants in this debate include descendants of displayed individuals; scientists who assert their right to generate knowledge on behalf of humanity; museums who defend their position as stewards of cultural heritage; landowners or nation-states in which these bodies were found; and lawmakers that preside over these bodies and broker compromise between other claimants. Through personal interviews with a variety of claimants, this thesis traces anthropological displays of the human body at the Field Museum, from the World’s Fair of 1893 to repatriations and paleoanthropological exhibits of today. This thesis culturally contextualizes human remains displays, examines tensions between public spectacle and scientific communication, and discusses how authority is expressed through the medium of the body.

Andrés Cruz Leland

The author with members of IslaminSpanish


Al-Andalus in America: A Historicity of Muslim Spain among Latino Muslims at IslaminSpanish

By Andrés Cruz Leland

This thesis explores a historicity of Muslim Spain or al-Andalus among Latino Muslims at IslaminSpanish’s Centro Islámico in Houston, TX. Through ethnographic research conducted at IslaminSpanish during the 2019 summer, I highlight how Latino Muslims have developed a historicity of al-Andalus and used it to inform and navigate an emerging Latino Muslim identity in the contemporary United States. Al-Andalus works as a chronotope to help connect Latinos with a Muslim past that contextualizes their conversion to Islam and reorients their understanding of Latinidad. IslaminSpanish has developed affective practices through an Islamic practice of dawah, aesthetics, genomics, and a modern interpretation of “convivencia” to embody al-Andalus in America. Convivencia allows Latino Muslims to adopt a contested Andalusian practice that oriented Islamic piety through a practice of tolerance. This practice stabilized the “messiness” of identity that Latino Muslims find as they add a Muslim identityto their hybrid mestizaje. IslaminSpanish engaged in what they called “implement[ing] Andalucía” to orient their practice of Islam as well as construct, communicate, and navigate a Latino Muslim identity in America.

Samuel Zucker

The author, Samuel Zucker


How the Perception of Water Affects its Conservation: Fostering Sustainable Approaches to Water Management in the American Southwest

By Samuel Zucker

The question of how best to manage a finite water supply is one that has plagued humanity since the dawn of civilization. A myriad of technologies and conservation strategies have been created to adapt to the reality of water scarcity, with new innovations still being created. To properly understand the risks of water scarcity to the United States in the coming century, one must understand the way that water has come to be perceived in America specifically. Rather than seen as the scarce resource it truly is, clean water is now taken for granted as a basic utility akin to electricity. The question of conservation is viewed not as an existential one, but as a moralistic one of personal conservation. The time has come to adjust this lens in order to ensure long-term access to water in the future. This thesis looks at how water is perceived in areas of extreme water scarcity and the adaptions made by these regions to ensure future sustainability, and compares this to the water management situation in America.